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A Fatal Accident Leaves a Bay Area Bicyclist Dead and Spawns Litigation Over an Allegedly Unsafe Roundabout Intersection

Bicyclists face a wide array of dangers on the road, including speeding drivers, inattentive drivers, and impaired drivers. Another thing that bicyclists shouldn’t — but sometimes do — have to deal with is roadways whose construction places bicyclists like them at enhanced risk of harm. Whether your bicycle accident was the result of a negligent driver, an unsafely constructed roadway, or both, you may be able to recover substantial compensation through legal action. Get in touch with a knowledgeable San Mateo bicycle accident lawyer right away to discuss your legal options.

An example of a bicycle accident allegedly caused by both driver error and roadway construction was a recent incident in Contra Costa County.

The accident occurred a little after sunrise at an intersection in Lafayette. A woman in a Lexus SUV was navigating a roundabout intersection when she crashed into the bicyclist. A nearby nurse provided immediate care but the bicyclist died a short time later at the hospital, according to an East Bay Times report.

The 86-year-old man who died was a seasoned bicyclist and had taken safety precautions for his early morning ride. KPIX reported that the man was attired in “a bright helmet and colorful clothing,” and had “lawfully entered the roundabout” before the driver struck him, according to the District Attorney’s office.

The District Attorney’s office, after investigating the accident, concluded that the woman’s failure to yield the right of way amounted to criminal misconduct, and charged her with misdemeanor vehicular homicide.

How Criminal Charges Can Impact Your Injury Lawsuit

If you’re hurt in a situation that ultimately leads the state to bring criminal charges, those criminal charges may be an aid to your civil court case. If the District Attorney secures a conviction, or if the accused works out a plea deal in which she pleads guilty, that finding or admission of guilt may go a long way in establishing that driver’s civil liability to you. The law of “negligence per se” says that, if you have proof that the defendant engaged in criminal wrongdoing and that criminal wrongdoing caused your injuries, then that finding or admission of guilt creates a presumption that the defendant was also negligent.

Of course, getting the most from your civil case may require doing more than just suing the driver who hit you.

The Way the Roundabout Was Constructed May Also Have Been a Factor

In the case of the Lafayette bicyclist, the culprit may have been not just the SUV driver’s negligence but also the construction of the roundabout itself. The intersection was often congested with traffic so, in 2016, the city reconfigured the intersection into a roundabout. According to the East Bay Times, bicycling activists opposed the inclusion of “bypass lanes” that allowed drivers to “quickly slip into a right turn,” arguing that they presented an elevated danger to bicycle and pedestrian traffic and that a single-lane roundabout would be safer. One bicyclist cited a 2010 National Cooperative Highway Research Program report that backed his viewpoint.

The city, however, ultimately constructed the roundabout with bypass lanes.

That could potentially indicate that the city, in addition to the SUV driver, was liable for the bicyclist’s death. While government entities are immune from suit in a lot of circumstances, you can sue and collect from a government entity if it engaged in certain activities. The negligent construction of a roadway or intersection that creates a “dangerous condition” can be one of those situations.

Bicyclists face serious risks every day they seek to share the road with vehicle traffic. If you were hurt (or a loved one was killed) because of driver negligence, unsafe road construction, or both, you need the right legal team on your side. For knowledgeable and helpful answers to the many questions you inevitably have, look to the diligent San Mateo bicycle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Bicyclists deserve to be able to ride in safety and we’re here to fight for those bicyclists hurt by others’ negligence. To set up a free consultation with one of our helpful attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.

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