October 7, 2012—Fountain Valley, CA—According to the Orange County Register,a motorcyclist was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Fountain Valley, California, caused by a 75-year-old man who is now in custody. Police are asking any witnesses to the crash to come forward.
The accident occurred on Wednesday around 4:30 p.m. when the rider of a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle who was traveling west on Talbert Avenue near Mount Washington Street crashed into a Lexus that made a left turn in front of her. The driver, Douglas Jenan, 75, of Huntington Beach, fled the scene but was arrested a short time later. He is being held in the Orange County Jail on a $100,000 bond.
The victim, a 29-year-old woman, was thrown to the sidewalk and suffered a serious leg injury. The police do not suspect that alcohol or drugs was a factor in the crash. Witnesses to the collision are asked to contact the Fountain Valley Police Department.
My best wishes for a very speedy recovery go out to the victim in this crash.
Hit-and-Run A Common Occurrence in Orange County
There were 771 collisions that involved injury or death for motorcyclists in Orange County in 2010, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. There were also a total of 912 hit-and-run collisions of all types during that same period in Orange County.
Studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that hit-and-run is a factor in one out of eleven accidents reported to police. While pedestrians are at the most risk from hit-and-run drivers, motorcyclists, car drivers, and bicyclists can also suffer injuries from a driver who flees the scene.
What Will Happen To the Driver In This Crash?
In California, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries is a felony. The driver in this case has already been charged with felony hit-and-run. If convicted, he could face more than one year in prison and hefty fines.
However, the criminal charges will have nothing to do with paying the victim for her hospital and doctor bills, possible physical therapy costs, lost time from work, and pain and suffering. In order to recover those costs, the driver will have to file a civil lawsuit.
Civil Liability In Hit-and-Run Accidents
In some ways, the fact that a driver flees the scene has little impact on a lawsuit for damages. If the driver is identified and arrested, he or she is liable for the same damages as if the flight had not happened, including medical bills and lost wages. However, the fact that a driver fled the scene may entitle the victim to punitive damages.
Punitive, or exemplary, damages are paid when a driver has been so negligent as to constitute criminal behavior, or when a driver was engaged in some activity that any reasonable person would know it was dangerous. Punitive means “punishment,” and punishment damages are usually awarded when a judge or jury feels that the driver caused the injuries with willful disregard for the victim’s safety.
A professional hit and run accident attorney can help the victims of hit-and-run accidents understand how to recover damages from a vehicle collision.