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Driver Charged with Manslaughter After Killing Cyclist

In an unnecessary tragedy, a cyclist died Thursday, April 4, 2019, after being struck by a man who was later charged with manslaughter and was under suspicion of being impaired. The accident happened on Claus Road near California Street when a driver heading northbound swerved and struck a cyclist riding on the edge of the road.

According to police sources, the incident occurred at 11:30 a.m., and when officers arrived at the scene and spoke to the driver, they believed he was intoxicated and arrested him on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department reported that the Major Accident Investigation Team has been assigned to the case and will conduct a thorough investigation.

Impaired Driving Bicycle Accidents

Despite decades of improvement, impaired driving is still a problem today for those who travel our nation’s busy streets. In the U.S., around 10,000 people die each year from accidents involving impaired drivers. Out of those, nearly 90 are cyclists. Though this number alone may not seem daunting, considering the number of total deaths for cyclists being struck by motorists is 700, it’s clear that the number of alcohol-related deaths is a significant percentage.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol also plays a role in cyclists deaths when the cyclist is impaired. It turns out, that out of the 700 deaths involving vehicles and bicycles, there are more deaths occurring where the cyclist is impaired that there are where the motorists is impaired. This makes sense considering the vulnerability of the cyclist.

A cyclist is at risk even when sober, and when the cyclist is impaired, he or she is more likely to make a mistake that can cause death or injury. The NHTSA reports that on average, there are 168 deaths were the cyclist had alcohol in their system (27 <.07 BAC, 141 >.08 BAC).

Cyclist DUI Injuries

When a cyclist is riding among the cars on the city streets, he or she is especially vulnerable to accident and injury. A car weighs on average 3,500 to 4,000 lbs which is up to 20 times heavier than the average cyclist and bike. This means even the slightest bump can cause great injury to the rider as they are largely unprotected as they ride.

When a cyclist is in an accident with a vehicle, there are usually two collisions, the first with the vehicle and the second with the pavement. Because of this dynamic, there are typical injuries that cyclists endure when injured in an accident. Some of these are:

  • Head Injuries: Although a helmet can provide some protection, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and brain damage are all common in vehicle-cyclist crashes.
  • Broken Facial Bones: Unfortunately, a helmet doesn’t cover the cyclists face, and many times this leaves the cyclist with facial injuries in a crash.
  • Broken wrists: Any part of the arms are susceptible to breaks, but many times the rider will squeeze tight on the handle bars in anticipation of a crash and cause a break in their wrists.
  • Chest Compression/Ribs: Many riders are thrown forward into the handle bars and risk breaking ribs or trauma to the chest region.

Impaired Bike Accident Liability

Although it wasn’t reported that the cyclist in the above case had alcohol in his system, when a cyclist is killed or injured by a motorist is intoxicated, liability becomes a bit clouded. If the motorist is impaired, his or her insurance will pay for the damages. However, when the cyclist is impaired, many believe that the cyclist can’t recover for their injuries even if they weren’t at fault. This isn’t true.

Since California is a comparative negligence state, the percentage of fault that the cyclist is responsible in the accident will reduce the amount of compensation from the motorist. So even though the fact that the cyclist was impaired, unless the cyclist was completely at fault for the accident, the impairment will only stand put some percentage of that fault on the cyclist and thus reduce—not eliminate—the amount of compensation.

Do I need and Attorney?

If you were injured or you are the survivor of a cyclist killed by another’s negligence, you need to talk to an attorney before you talk to the insurance company or their attorneys. This is true even if the cyclist had alcohol in their system at the time of the accident.

The attorneys at Bay Area Bike Law have the knowledge and experience to help you in alcohol-related bike accident cases. They are the only firm in northern California that deals exclusively with bicycle law. A consultation is free, and if you decide to have them represent you, there are no fees paid until you get paid by the insurance company.

Start putting someone on your side, call us at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.