Fatal Bicycle Accident Involving Amerifreight Truck
- Posted by Taylor Ernst on
- June 26, 2021
The Ernst Law Group is investigating a fatal bicycle accident including an Amerifreight truck and a bicyclist that occurred at 7:20 am on June 25, 2021 in San Luis Obispo, California.
The collision occurred between Suburban Road and Higuera Street. The bicycle was trapped under the semi-truck resulting in the bicyclist’s death.
The cause of the collision, at this point, is unknown. But The Ernst Law Group has been filing lawsuits against semi-trucks for more than 40 years and there are a few things that we are investigating with this incident.
The first factor is whether fatigue was a factor in the collision. Fatigue is a common factor in truck accidents as truck drivers are pressed to deliver their cargo faster and faster. There are strict regulations on truck driver rest and driver time.
The second is whether or not the logbooks were up to date, and if the driver was operating at the normal hours that are regulated under the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Regulations (FMSCR). This is known as 49 CFR Parts 300-399. These are federal laws that mandate rules and truck driver regulations on semi-trucks to help keep pedestrians and vehicles safe. These regulations include allowed drive time, driving breaks, and more.
The most important part of the FMSCR is part is drug testing. While we have no information at this time to support or claim the driver of the Amerifreight was under the influence of drugs, this is something that must be ruled out, especially with the truck causing the death of the bicyclist.
Drug and alcohol testing are required by part 382 of the FMSCR and are a mandatory part of any truck driver who holds a commercial driver’s license.
We will be providing updates as our firm learns more from our ongoing investigation about this fatal bicycle accident.
Top Causes of Bike Accidents
- Posted by Taylor Ernst on
- May 22, 2018
It’s always better to start with good news. On that note: There are fewer accidents involving cyclists than there ever have been. Now for the bad news: The crashes that do occur involve many that could have been avoided either on the part of the cyclist or the driver.
Whether you or riding a bicycle or driving a car, knowing why these accidents are most likely to occur can help you avoid them. Here are the top five causes of bicycle accidents in San Luis Obispo and across the country.
1. Being Hit By the Front of a Car
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were more than 3,000 cyclists killed in crashes during a four-year period beginning in 2008. These accidents involved a cyclist being struck by the front end of a motor vehicle, and 74 percent of those collisions proved to be fatal. Of the accidents that weren’t fatal, vehicle drivers were responsible for 29 percent of accidents that injured cyclists.
What should be noted is that cyclists are at a great risk when it comes to sharing the road with cars. If you are driving a vehicle, be sure to keep your eyes open for cyclists, especially during warm, dry weather.
2. Being Hit in the Rear
The old rule of thumb was to ride your bike against traffic so that you could see what was coming your way. The rule of the road, however, is that your bike is a vehicle and must be treated as such. You have to ride your bicycle with traffic. Doing so does come with hazards, however. Of all the bike accidents in this study, 40 percent were caused by a vehicle rear-ending a bicycle.
3. Hit While Crossing
Cyclists are often hit by cars when they cross the street. In many cases, the accident occurs because the driver of the vehicle fails to see the cyclist. This can be due to distracted driving or other causes. Another reason for these collisions is a cyclist who doesn’t use hand signals and crosses in front of a car without warning.
Cyclists don’t have the power of invisibility, but they seem to. Most drivers are looking out for other cars and not people on bicycles. This makes them sort of invisible to drivers. The best thing a cyclist can do is to make themselves more noticeable.
Light, bright colors are better than wearing dark colors. A bike should be equipped with both lights and reflectors. As a cyclist, be sure to use hand signals so that drivers know where you intend to go. All of these things will make you stick out — that’s a good thing.
Bicycle accidents are almost always more serious for the cyclist than they are for the driver of the car. If you have found yourself in a bike accident in San Luis Obispo, you have legal rights to be aware of. Call our team today to schedule a free case evaluation and discover more about your options.
Woman Injured In a Crash with a Santa Maria City Bus
- Posted by Taylor Ernst on
- May 7, 2018
On April 2, 2018, Veronica Zamora was hit and killed by a Santa Maria city bus while riding her bike. The police initially reported that Ms. Zamora was in a marked bike lane on Caballero Boulevard near McCoy Lane when she was hit. Ms. Zamora suffered critical injuries and was transported via helicopter to Cottage hospital. Santa Maria police Sgt. Michael McGehee noted that the police department would continue its investigation. There were no initial reports as to whether or not the bus had a forward facing video.
Did The Bus Have A Camera?
Often, public entity buses have a video camera that records both the inside of the bus and is angled toward the front. These cameras are in place for this exact reason— to know what happened when a serious or fatal collision occurs. On April 11, 2018, the police took the extraordinary step of closing McCoy Lane to conduct an accident reconstruction.
Lt. Russ Mengel of the Santa Maria Police Department noted that the department was reexamining the material they already had. This reexamination was due to the new information gathered after the initial investigation immediately after the wreck.
The Investigation Continues
City officials are saying that once the investigation is complete, the findings will be forwarded to the local District Attorney’s office to determine if charges will be filed. Clearly, there is no theory that the bike rider would have been charged, so the only conclusion is that the police are determining whether or not the bus driver will be charged. The driver is reported to be a contract employee with the city.
While the city initially reported that Ms. Zamora was in the marked bike lane at the time of the crash, they seemed to back off that statement later on. Lt. Mengel later said, “That’s not information that is correct with the physical findings that the officers are looking into.”
Is Someone Responsible for Ms. Zamora’s Death?
Sadly, on April 12, 2018, Veronica Zamora died as a result of her injuries. The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with burial expenses.
The extensive post-collision investigation by the Santa Maria police department underscores the importance of the question about the existence of a forward facing camera. In nearly every bus crash we have handled, there has been a forward facing camera. It often produces dynamic and compelling evidence concerning the liability and the severity of the injuries. If the bus driver was a City of Santa Maria employee, the city will be vicariously liable for the actions of the driver pursuant to Government Code Section 815.2.
What To Do When Suing A Public Entity
When you attempt to seek damages from a public entity, there are rules that must be followed that are far different than those that apply to a lawsuit against a private person. When suing a private person for negligence, the injured person has two years to file a lawsuit. This time limitation is known as the Statute of Limitations. However, when suing a public entity for the negligence of an employee, the injured party or her family must file a Government Tort Claim within 6-months of the injury according to Government Code Section 911.2.
There are also very specific guidelines about what must be included in the written claim. The lawyers at Ernst Law Group have handled many public entity injury claims, several of which have involved city or county buses.
If you have been injured or have had a loved one killed as a result of the negligence of a public employee in San Luis Obispo, you are welcome to call our office today to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney about your rights. We will work hard to get you the financial compensation that you and your family deserve.
Commuting by Bicycle? Consider These Safety Tips
- Posted by Taylor Ernst on
- January 10, 2018
Commuting by bicycle is becoming more popular across the nation. While some people know exactly how to operate a bicycle safely, others don’t. Commuting means more than jumping on your bike and pedaling. It means that you’ve got to be hyper aware of the vehicles around you and practice prudent safety. If you are new to commuting or simply need a refresher, we’ve compiled a list of safety tips that should help you get where you are going in the same state you were in when you jumped on your bicycle.
1. Know the Danger Zone
Do you know what your biggest danger is while riding a bike? Car doors. It may be a bit surprising, but more cyclists are injured by running into suddenly opened car doors than anything else. When you are riding past vehicles, leave space enough between you and the line of cars so you won’t be struck if someone opens their door unexpectedly.
2. Turning Cars
Another common cause of injury is the turning vehicle. It’s not unusual for a vehicle to overtake a bicycle that is moving slower and then attempt to make a turn in front of the cyclist. Always look over your shoulders as you come to intersections, exit ramps, driveways and alleys.
3. Passing Pedestrians
If you have a need to pass a pedestrian, pass behind them. In other words, don’t cut them off. Use your words and let a pedestrian know that you are passing on the right or passing on the left. This will prevent any type of surprise on the part of the pedestrian’s part that has them jumping out of the way — directly into the path of your bike.
When you are on your bike, don’t make little gestures. Now is not the time to be shy. Be big and be bold. If you plan on turning, use every part of your body to indicate that. Look over your shoulder, stand up on your pedals, turn with your body and use a hand signal. Do not keep your hands and arms close to your body while you are making signals. They could easily be missed.
5. Ride the Lane
You may think that you are safer riding on the curb, but you are often more safe riding in the lane if you are on a city street. It is your right to do so, and you might as well take it. Staying to the side of a quiet road is fine. When you are on a busy street, riding in with the cars is often safer for a bike rider.
You don’t want to be in an accident while you are commuting by bike. Use the safety tips above to stay as safe as you can. If your efforts fail you and you are involved in a bicycle accident in San Luis Obispo, reach out to our office. We can help you determine fault and, if applicable, help you secure the compensation you deserve.