San Diego News10 reported that a bicyclist, who had been drinking, was struck by a hit-and-run driver on October 14, 2010. The bicycle accident happened in the bike lane on Pomerado Road, near Caminito Vecinos at about 8 p.m.. According to police he was not wearing a helmet, did not have reflective gear or lights on. The rider had been drinking and was wearing a backpack with beer containers inside it, which may have saved his life. San Diego police Sergeant Art Doherty said “He had a number of beverages in the backpack. It probably absorbed the impact.” The man refused to cooperate with police and there was no description of the driver or the vehicle; however, debris from the car found at the scene could lead police to the identity of the vehicle. The bicyclist sustained abrasions, bruises, a fractured vertebra, and was transported to the hospital.
Applicable California Law
The driver of a vehicle who is involved in an accident has the responsibility to remain at the scene of the accident (see my prior Blog post on California’s Hit-and-run laws). Bicyclist have the same rights and duties, under the law, as any other vehicle on the road (see my prior Blog post on California’s Bike laws), which also prohibit drinking and riding (see my prior Blog post on California’s Drunk Driving laws). If the driver of the hit-and-run vehicle cannot be identified, the rider can pursue an uninsured motorist claim if he has the benefit of such coverage. However, the fact that he was intoxicated, riding without a helmet, not wearing proper reflective gear, or using lights would diminish the value of his injury claim to the extent he contributed to his own injuries.