Articles Posted in Hit-And-Run/Drunk Driving

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images.jpgSan Diego News 8 reported that an unidentified woman passenger in a Hyundai Sonata was fatally injured on October 8, 2011. The tragic auto accident happened at around 2:30 a.m. on state Route 78 and Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido, when 21-year-old Joshua Goldbaum of Escondido collided into a Ford Aerostar van. One of Goldbaum’s passengers died, another was injured as well as the driver of the van. The passenger in the van, who sustained major injuries is expected to survive. According to CHP Officer Bettencourt, Goldbaum who fled the scene, was later arrested and taken to the Vista jail and faces numerous felony charges for hit-and-run, gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

Our condolences go out to the families and friends of those who tragically lost their lives

Applicable California Law

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brain-injury2Sign on San Diego Kristine Davis reported that Jessica Bloom, 21, of Rancho Bernardo pled not guilty to felony hit-and-run drunk driving on August 3, 2011. The charges arose out of auto accident on July 31, 2011 at around 12:30 p.m. when she rear-ended Sgt. David Smith, 34, a career Marine originally from Texas. Smith was stopped at a traffic light at Bernardo Center Drive near West Bernardo Drive on his motorcycle when he was hit and sustained a serious head injury. Witnesses saw Bloom hit Smith and flee the scene, she was later arrested. Deputy Attorney Matthew Williams said Bloom’s blood-alcohol level was .37, four times the legal limit. Smith was taken to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido where he remains in a medically induced coma. Smith’s fiancée, Vanessa Potts, said “It’s unfair, we’ve been through a lot this past couple years and he’s been through a lot in his military career, surviving an IED explosion. How do you come home and get hurt doing something that you love? I mean, he genuinely loves riding. That day, the last message I got from him was how beautiful the day was, and how he wished he could ride all day.”

Applicable California Law

Bloom faces felony hit-and-run and drunk driving charges (see my prior Blog post San Diego Hit-And-Run Auto Accident Causes Severe Brain Injury on Hit-and-Run and DUI Law in California). In addition, Smith will have claims for his personal injury; however, it is doubtful that Bloom carries enough insurance coverage to adequately compensate Smith for his injuries. Being put into an induced coma for any length of time will result in tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs and most likely lifelong consequences. Hopefully Smith has the benefit of substantial uninsured/underinsured coverage of his ownown (see my prior Blog post Uninsured / Under-insured Auto and General Accident Guide)

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080812_motorcycle_accidentSan Diego News 6 reported that a bicycle rider was seriously injured when he was hit by a motorcyclist on March 20, 2011. The bike accident happened around 12:30 a.m. on the 200 block of 31st Street when the cyclist rode into the path of the motorcycle according to officer David Stafford of the San Diego Police Department. The bicycle rider is thought to have sustained a broken pelvis. The unnamed motorcyclist fled the scene of the accident after leaving his passenger there. The motorcycle rider was subsequently arrested by police at his home on suspicion of felony drunk driving and hit and run. The bicycle rider had also been drinking, according to Stafford, but was not charged.

Applicable California Law

The motorcyclist will face criminal charges for felony hit and run as well as DUI (see my prior Blog post on California DUI Law and California Hit and Run Law). In addition, the bicyclist rider will have claims for any damage to his bicycle and his personal injuries. This would include medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity, and compensation for pain and suffering. However, if it is determined that his drinking, or his driving contributed to causing his injuries, any claims will be reduced accordingly. If the motorcyclist was in fact driving under the influence at the time of the accident he could be subject to punitive damages (see my prior Blog post on California Punitive Damage Law).

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hit-runSan 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).

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369a90316b6b78c6San Diego News 8 reported that four motorcyclists as well as a passenger in another vehicle were killed and six others were injured on Saturday afternoon, November 13, 2010. The accident happened at around 1:00 p.m. on Route 98, a remote desert two-lane highway in Ocotillo, where riders of a Lakeside motorcycle club were on their way to Yuma Arizona to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Carlos Bobadilla, a resident of Mexicali, was driving a Dodge Avenger when he swerved to avoid hitting a Honda Civic, whose driver was attempting to pass the group of riders. Bobadilla then lost control of his vehicle, driving into the group of riders. Four motorcyclists were killed as well as the owner of the Avenger, a 31-year-old Mexicali woman; six others were injured including Bobadilla who was taken to a hospital for treatment of hand fractures. The driver of the Honda, who apparently caused the accident, did not stop and left the scene. Bobadilla was later arrested for driving under the influence; however, CHP officer DeeAnn Goudie said that it is still unclear if his alcohol consumption contributed to the accident, and thus he is only being charged with a misdemeanor at this time.

Our condolences go out to the friends and families of the deceased and a speedy recovery to those injured.

Applicable California Law

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25404196_240X180San 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.

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SAN DIEGO NEWS 6 reported that David Bruce Menea, 54, was fatally injured while crossing the street on his bicycle on September 11, 2010. The bicycle accident happened when  Menea was allegedly illegally crossing Main  Street  at around 8:50 p.m. in Ramona and was struck  by a Toyota 4Runner driven by a suspected drunk driver 32-year-old Susan Reed. Investigating officers from the CHP stated that, after hitting Menea, the truck swerved and hit a stop sign, jumped an embankment, and struck a parked vehicle, causing it to go into a liquor store. Two people in the car and another person in the store were injured. The CHP reported that  Reed, the driver of the SUV, was taken to Palomar Hospital, and then arrested on unspecified charges.

Our condolences go out to the Menea’s family and friends

Applicable California Law

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East County Magazine reported on July 18, 2010 that a 65-year-old pedestrian was struck by a hit-and run driver in the College area of San Diego. The victim was found lying in the street around midnight on the 6400 block of Alvarado Road. Police reported that the 57-year-old driver of the hit-and run vehicle, who had been drinking, returned to the scene and admitted to having struck something. Further investigation determined that she was the one who had struck the victim, who was transported to a local trauma center and diagnosed with multiple injuries including a broken leg and brain injury.

Drunk driving in California is on the rise, and is increasingly becoming a problem for law enforcement, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians (see my prior Blog post San Diego Woman Arrested For Fatal Coronado Traffic Accident for further details).

Applicable California law

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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.

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UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Karen Kucher reported that two men suspected of drunk driving, 34-year-old Francis Rolan Samson Bueno and Emmanuel Zapien 23 were arrested following an accident that occurred on March 11, 2010 on southbound Interstate 805 near Market Street. Two hit-and-run drivers were also being sought for leaving the scene of the accident.

CHP officer Art Athans said the incident began about 1:50 a.m. when Bueno lost control of his 2008 Saturn and hit the center wall. Bueno’s vehicle was blocking the southbound fast lane when it came to rest and was then struck by Zapien’s 1998 Nissan Sentra when he was unable to stop in time. Firefighters had to help extract Zapien and his passenger because they were trapped in their vehicle.

A third accident occurred when a good Samaritan, 33-year-old Sean Franklen ran across the freeway to try to divert traffic from the accident site. While putting out flares to keep cars away from the fast lane he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The hit-and-run vehicle is believed to be a white 2001 BMW, either a 330i or a 325.