Hit-and-Run Driver Seriously Injures Bicyclist
Police have few clues about a hit-and-run driver who rear-ended a bicyclist in Pinellas Park and immediately fled the scene.
Investigators state that a 34-year-old man was riding south on 66th Street when a vehicle rear-ended him. Emergency responders rushed the bicyclist to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.
Officials are looking for a 2006 to 2010 Dodge Magnum or a red 2006 to 2010 Chrysler 300 with a damaged front passenger side.
Glass shells and steel cages protect four-wheel vehicle occupants during collisions. But bicycle riders have no such protection. As a result, even though bicycles make up only a tiny fraction of vehicle traffic, these riders make up a significant proportion of traffic deaths. Designated bicycle lanes and other engineering changes make the streets much safer for cyclists. But these innovations are only available in limited areas.
So, when they are involved in vehicle collisions, bicycle riders often sustain serious injuries, such as:
- Head Injuries: Thin bicycle helmets offer little protection in a collision with a speeding car. Moreover, the motion of a crash, as opposed to the impact, frequently causes head injuries. Doctors can alleviate the symptoms, but a head injury is always permanent.
- Biker’s Arm: When riders fall off their bikes, they naturally extend their arms in order to break their falls. This natural reaction often causes permanent nerve damage in the brachial plexus area.
- Exsanguination: Excessive blood loss is frequently the official cause of mortality in these cases. By the time emergency responders arrive on scene, bicycle crash victims are often on the edge of hypovolemic shock due to uncontrollable bleeding.
Because of these serious injuries, a Tampa personal injury attorney can usually obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
In many jurisdictions, fewer than 10 percent of hit-and-run drivers are apprehended and successfully prosecuted in criminal court. The proportion is much higher in civil court, partially due to an attorney’s efforts and partially because of the applicable law.
Frequently, investigators quickly give up, partially due to a lack of evidence. Law enforcement agencies have limited resources, and there are priorities elsewhere. Additionally, many investigators believe that car crashes are civil matters. So, they do not spend much time on them.
Attorneys frequently partner with private investigators to uncover additional evidence in hit-and-run claim, such as:
- Additional Witness Statements: For many reasons, most people do not loiter at accident scenes so they can give official statements to police officers. People would rather stay in the shadows. Attorneys can often convince these people to come forward.
- Surveillance Video: Investigators often review camera footage taken at the scene, but they rarely take the time to look at footage from nearby cameras. These cameras often catch part of a license plate number. Given the low burden of proof as outlined below, that evidence might be sufficient.
- Body Shops: Hit-and-run tortfeasors often take their vehicles to semi-legal body shops for repairs. There is basically no chance these owners will talk to police officers. But they normally will talk to a personal injury attorney.
The low burden of proof also comes into play. Prosecutors must place the defendant behind the wheel at or near the crash scene. But in civil court, identifying the vehicle’s owner might be enough. It’s more likely than not that the owner was driving a vehicle at a particular time. The burden of proof in civil court is more likely than not (a preponderance of the evidence).
Connect with a Diligent Lawyer
Bicycle collisions usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa bicycle accident lawyer, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.