Law enforcement routinely investigates accidents in California. Often after a fatal crash, law enforcement may release details of its preliminary investigation to media sources. However, accidents often involve many details and a deep investigation of the facts surrounding an accident can be complex. California personal injury attorneys often conduct an independent investigation into the facts surrounding an accident as the interests of the state and the interests of an accident victim can differ.
The California Highway Patrol says it has conducted an investigation of a fatal bicycle accident involving a big-rig near Portola Valley that occurred last November. Roughly a month after the fatal accident, the CHP blamed the bicyclist for the crash. The CHP had believed she made an unsafe turn and fell into the front wheels of the rig. Thursday, after further investigation, the CHP announced they now believe the bicyclist was not at fault for the bicycle and truck accident on Alpine Road that killed the 47-year-old Los Altos Hills woman.
Because the state's interest in an accident differs from that of an accident victim, San Francisco bicycle accident attorneys know that the determinations made by law enforcement about fault in an accident may be helpful in a personal injury claim, but the law enforcement assessment of an accident is not binding on a jury.
The Nov. 4 fatal accident occurred on Alpine road with no apparent witnesses. Remote accidents can be difficult to investigate as witnesses can often be helpful in outlining the details surrounding a crash. A CHP Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team continued to investigate the early November crash over the past 10 months. The team conducted forensic testing and created a reconstruction of the fatal accident.
Last week, the CHP announced they now believe the woman's Trek bicycle was actually in an upright position when the fatal collision occurred. The new findings contradict the earlier belief that the woman had fallen into the front wheels of the big-rig.
The woman's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the aftermath of the accident. Named in the suit are the truck driver, the driver's employer, San Mateo County and the State of California.
Source: Palo Alto Daily News via San Jose Mercury News, "Los Altos bicyclist not at fault in collision that killed her," Jason Green, Sept. 16, 2011