UNION-TRIBUNE staff writer Jose Jimenez reported that nine people were injured when a Mitsubishi Eclipse struck a Metropolitan Transit System bus on 3-24-10 at 3:40 p.m. in City Heights. The Eclipse was traveling south on 37th Street and ran through the stop sign at University Avenue. The car struck the eastbound bus carrying 40 passengers, said San Diego police Sgt. Ron Bailiff. The injured, who sustained spine injuries to their necks and backs, ranged in age from 18 to 55. Two were considered seriously injured and one was treated by paramedics at the scene. The driver of the car described as a man between 18 to 25 years old tried to leave but his car, which sustained major damage, stalled on 37th Street, Bailiff stated. The driver was then seen running north on 37th Street and has yet to be identified by authorities. An open container was found in his vehicle leading police to believe he was driving under the influence at the time of the incident.
Applicable California Law
If the driver of the Eclipse is identified he will face criminal charges for leaving the scene of the accident and possibly for driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition to being liable for the victims injury claims, if he was driving under the influence, he could be subject to punitive damages. If he can not be identified and the vehicle has a different owner, the owner of the vehicle could be held liable under a theory of permissive use, if the driver was driving with their permission. If the driver was the sole owner of the vehicle and is never found the injured victims would have to peruse uninsured motorist claims, if they have the benefit of such coverage. It is not clear if the bus driver contributed to the accident, however if the bus driver did contribute to causing the accident, claims with the MTS must be filed in a timely manner.
Auto accidents involving personal injuries caused by people driving intoxicated are far too common. Bus accidents resulting in spine injuries can be very complicated to handle for someone who does not know the law and the rules in pursuing claims against public entities. If you have been seriously injured in an accident, it is crucial that you get the proper advice and guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney.