San Diego Union Tribune reporter Harry Jones reported that a unnamed man riding a motorized scooter/wheelchair suffered a severe head injury as a result of being hit by a hit-and run driver in National City Christmas morning. Police Sgt. Robert Rounds said the 57-year-old man was riding along the shoulder of Paradise Valley Road near 8th Street when he was struck from behind by a burgundy pick up truck at around 10:30 a.m. “It totally destroyed the wheelchair and sent the man flying through the air,” Rounds said. Joshua Becerra of San Diego, the 22-year-old driver of the truck, stopped long enough to pick up the debris from the truck and then fled from the scene. Later the same day Becerra’s uncle called police and Becerra was taken into custody. “If the driver had just stuck around, he probably would’ve been OK, but when you leave like that it becomes a felony,” Rounds said. The victim was hospitalized for head injuries and is in serious condition.
Applicable California Law
Becerra will face potential criminal charges for felony hit-and-run (see my prior Blog post for California hit-and-run law). In addition Becerra will have civil liability for the victim’s injuries to include medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity as well as compensation for pain and suffering. However, it is not clear why the victim was riding in the street and not the sidewalk. If the victim’s conduct contributed to causing his own injuries, his claims would be reduce proportionately. Since the victim sustained a serious head injury, Becerra’s liability insurance limits are at issue. If they are inadequate, hopefully the victim is covered by his own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and or an umbrella policy (see my prior Blog post on California uninsured/underinsured liability coverage).
A day of celebration turns into tragedy. Auto accidents and truck accidents involving pedestrians generally result in serious spine and or brain injuries. Knowledge of the law and resources to get proper medical treatment are some of the benefits of talking to an experienced personal injury attorney.