We are saddened to learn that four drunk drivers recently caused serious car accidents in Orange County. The car accidents occurred in Seal Beach, Anaheim, Fullerton, and La Habra during 24 hours from February 9, 2019 – February 10, 2019.  Two of the car accidents (Anaheim and La Habra) led to the wrongful death of innocent people.  The other two car accidents (Seal Beach and Fullerton) resulted in numerous people injured, and a fiery explosion at a Seal Beach gas station. This post is designed to raise awareness of these car accidents.

Drivers involved in an auto accident with a DUI driver should contact a lawyer right away.  Drivers should only use the information contained in this post to consult with law firms that practice personal injury law.  We do not advise that readers of this post attempt to resolve a case with any of the insurance companies without the assistance of a lawyer.

Accident Details

The first accident involved a drunk driver who took the life of a 54-year-old Fresno man near Disneyland in  Anaheim, CA.  The crash took place on Disneyland Dr. just north of Katella Ave. at approximately 11:04 p.m. on February 9, 2019.  The driver of a 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser was seen driving on Disneyland Dr. where she jumped a curb with her car.  The driver of the PT Cruiser then struck a utility box, tree, and pedestrian on the sidewalk. The victim suffered critical injuries as a result of the car versus pedestrian accident.  Following the crash, the victim was transported to UCI where he was pronounced dead.  The suspect was later arrested on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence (DUI) causing bodily injury.

Then at 1:50 a.m. on February 10, 2019, a DUI suspect drove his car into a crowd of people in downtown Fullerton, CA.  The collision occurred at approximately 1:50 a.m. near 100 W. Santa Fe Ave in Fullerton, CA. According to police, the suspect drove his Toyota Tacoma into a crowd of nine people and then hit a tree before coming to a rest on the sidewalk.  The pedestrians were injured and stuck underneath the Tacoma.  A witness took a cell phone video showing Good Samaritans and firefighters lifting the Tacoma to free the people trapped beneath the truck. Ten people were taken to the hospital with moderate to life-threatening injuries. Fullerton Police arrested the driver on suspicion of drunken driving.  The Fullerton Police Traffic Bureau is requesting that anyone with information or video from the incident contact them at 714-738-5313.

Later on February 10, 2019, a DUI suspect caused the wrongful death of a driver in La Habra, CA.  According to the La Habra Police Department, the crash occurred when two cars met in the intersection of Lambert Road and Idaho Street. Lieutenant Brian Miller said it appeared that one of the cars ran through a red light causing the collision. A person described as being in their late-40s was pronounced dead at the scene.  If you have any information regarding this collision, you should contact the La Habra Police Department at 562-383-4300.

Finally, a DUI suspect crashed into a Seal Beach gas station at 11:30 p.m. on February 10, 2019. The DUI suspect is a Huntington Beach man who was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk.  According to the Seal Beach Police Department, the driver struck a vehicle and gas pump. The collision caused a fire at the Chevron located at 2950 Westminster Ave., Seal Beach, CA. The incident resulted in injuries to a customer pumping gas at the station.  The crash also caused approximately $100,000 of property damage to the gas station.  The Seal Beach Police Department arrested the driver and booked him into the Orange County Jail.

Personal Injury Lawsuits and Wrongful Death Lawsuits as a Result of DUI Drivers.

Drivers in Southern California are told over and over not to drink and drive.  Nonetheless, DUI car accidents happen all too often throughout Orange County.  Victims of drunk drivers often suffer severe injuries, and in the worst of circumstances, lose their lives. Victims of drunk drivers are often other motorist or family members that are left behind. Victims of drivers under the influence should take immediate action to protect themselves from further damages caused by the drunk driver.

Victims of drunk drivers should immediately call the local police to report the incident.  The victim will likely need immediate medical care since car accidents with drunk drivers are rarely minor collisions.  Furthermore, the police will hold the drunk driver accountable and ensure that they cannot hurt another driver.  Responding police will also create a traffic collision report documenting the circumstances of the incident. Victims of drunk drivers are advised to present the traffic collision report to their attorney before going through the life insurance or car insurance claims process.

Victims of drunk drivers should call an attorney as soon as possible. Victims occasionally try to navigate the insurance claims process on their own.  Car insurance companies call victims and have adjusters question victims before they have had a chance to assess their damages. Insurance adjusters have a duty to their insured, not the victim.  As a result, insurance adjuster question victims with the goal of gathering information that they can use to lower the value of a victim’s case.  Victims who contact and retain a personal injury lawyer are considered represented parties.  Once a victim becomes a represented party, it is illegal for car insurance companies to make any further contact.

An attorney will gather the available facts to prove that the other driver’s intoxication caused the car accident.  Attorneys can only make the most of the investigative process if they have all the information available.  Bringing the traffic collision report to your initial consultation is essential.  Police often include information in their reports regarding witnesses to the incident. Police also usually inquire with nearby residents and businesses who may have captured the event on video.  An attorney will then gather the available information and evidence that is not ordinarily available to victims. Attorneys use this information to prove liability and damages.

Victims’ of car accidents with drunk drivers have damages that vary depending on if the case is a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Victims of a car accident involving drunk drivers should also consult an attorney regarding the potential for punitive damages.  Insurance companies ordinarily will not pay for punitive damages.  The reason for this is because insurance policies for negligent acts do not ordinarily cover intentional or reckless conduct. However, an attorney will often be able to utilize the potential for punitive damages against the insurer and drunk driver to enhance the value of the victim’s claim.  Therefore, victims need to consult with their attorney about all available damages in order to receive maximum compensation.

Contact a Local Personal Injury Lawyer Right Away!

In sum, if you have lost a loved one, or suffered injuries from a car accident with a drunk driver, call a personal injury attorney right away. No one article can cover everything that people should know after a car accident.  Additionally, car accidents with drunk drivers present unique challenges.  There are many local personal injury law firms throughout Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach that can help.  Contact a lawyer right away to ensure that you receive full justice for your claims.

The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post, or website, should be taken as legal advice for any individual or case situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death action or have pain and suffering from a personal injury case, we are available to assist.  For more information visit our wrongful death page, and car accidents page. For a free consultation, please reach out to our attorneys to arrange a time to discuss your case.  All you have to do is go to our site map or hit the big blue button labeled Contact Us at the top of this page!

Seal Beach bike vs. car accident memorial

We regret to learn that on January 11, 2019 in Seal Beach, CA, a tragic bike accident/car accident led to the wrongful death of a 64-year-old local rider.  This incident is already the third bicycle fatality in Southern California this year.  Moreover, it follows a November 2018 bicycle vs. car accident that occurred in Huntington Beach. That accident also resulted in the death of a 78-year-old cyclist.

As a personal injury lawyer, we become all too familiar with these kinds of accidents. Unfortunately, we usually become aware of this type of accident as a result of a wrongful death action. Generally, understanding where and how these collisions happen is a positive first step in reducing the number that occurs.  We hope that this post serves to remind everyone to be extremely cautious when encountering a cyclist on the roadway.

According to the Orange County Register, this tragic bicycle vs. car accident occurred on Friday morning January 12, 2019. The incident occurred near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway (“PCH”) and Seal Beach Boulevard.  According to witnesses identified by Biking LA, the cyclist was traveling northbound on Pacific Coast Highway when he was struck from behind (rear-ended). The vehicle involved incurred windshield damage.

One witness stated, “I was at the scene when the accident happened, and CPR was rendered by 4 of us before EMS arrived.  We all knew what to do and did our best, but we know the tragic outcome all too often when it’s bike versus auto.  I ride my bike on that route most weekends and have had several close calls at that intersection.  I’m very sad for my fellow rider and his family and friends.  Talk about him a lot… it hurts but it helps too.  Peace.”

The fellow rider initially had his name withheld by the Seal Beach Police Department. He was later identified as 64 year old Long Beach resident and Parkcrest Christian Church parishioner, Paul Smith.  The Seal Beach Police Department later issued a press release about the incident.  The statement indicated that Paul Smith had sustained traumatic injuries at the scene.  His injuries required that he be transported via ambulance to a local hospital. He was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.

On Sunday, January 13, 2019, Paul Smith’s family and friends held a memorial for him.  The memorial which can still be seen is at the intersection of Seal Beach Blvd. and PCH.  Paul Smith was described as an avid and experienced rider who competed around the country.  His friends also described him as a good man who gave back to the community and country. One example was when he went to Texas in 2017 to help flood victims affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Sadly, car accidents and personal injury law regularly remind us that it is always the best that are taken too soon.

Bike vs. Car Accidents in Southern California

No more demonstrative of this heavy toll are the statistics that reflect bike accidents in Southern California communities.  According to Biking LA, Pacific Coast Highway is regularly referred to as “SoCal’s killer highway.”  Information is available from the California Highway Patrol’s (“CHP”) SWITRS crash database reflecting just how dangerous riding at our beaches can be.

In 2016, Ed Ryder prepared a report called “Bike Collisions on the Pacific Coast Highway.” The report compiled data from the CHP SWITRS crash database. The report also discussed bicycle accidents in Southern California’s Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.

One of the components discussed in the report is when and where these bicycle accidents are occurring.  It was noted that the top 10 cities for bicycle accidents include Newport Beach (#1), Long Beach (#2), Huntington Beach (#3), and Seal Beach (#9).  In fact, for the time period reviewed, Newport Beach had more bicycle accidents than Los Angeles and Malibu combined!  Furthermore, the bicycle accidents disproportionately occur on Saturday (23%) and Sunday (17%).

Understanding when and where these bike accidents occur can be helpful in understanding why they occur. The Ryder report found that bike collisions are historically the most prevalent on weekends in the Orange County beach communities.

The logical conclusion is that there must be a correlation between the increased volume of riders on the road, and the number of auto vs. bike collisions that occur.  However, when focusing on the most serious of automobile vs. bike collisions, more typical causation factors are present.

With regard to cyclist fatalities, Ryder’s report found that in auto accidents, driver’s were found to be at fault 46% of the time.  Sadly, driving under the influence (“DUI”) and biking under the influence (“BUI”) were leading causes for these kinds of accidents.  In fact, driving under the influence (“DUI”) and biking under the influence (“BUI”)  accounted for 47% of rider fatalities.

The other four factors identified were traveling at an unsafe speed (19%), improper turning on the roadway (14%), failure to use traffic signals and signs (10%), and unsafe lane changes (10%).  The potential correlation between an increased number of DUI/BUI drivers at Orange County beaches on the weekends, and the increased number of cyclist, is another potential point of discussion when examining the cause of these collisions.

Drive with Caution Near Cyclists on the Roadway

To minimize the chance of a car crash with a bicycle rider, it is essential that every driver remember the rules of the road.  The rules of the road can be found in the CA Driver’s Handbook.  Furthermore, the CA DMV makes the CA Driver’s Handbook available on its website.

The CA Driver’s Handbook states, “bicyclist have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicle and motorcycle drivers.”  It goes on to state that due to the slower speed of cyclist, drivers should follow at a safe distance.  In the event a driver wishes to pass the cyclist, the Driver’s Handbook recommends changing into another lane.  If the driver cannot turn into another lane, the Driver’s Handbook advises drivers to allow at least 3 feet between the car and bicycle.  Then once the road is clear, the driver should pass at a safe speed to not endanger the rider.  It is also important to remember that riders may be traveling faster than you think.  The Driver’s Handbook states, a driver should not turn in front of a cyclist unless there is enough time to make the turn safely.  Regardless of the situation at hand, the common theme is to operate a vehicle with caution around a cyclist.

We hope that the information presented in this post helps drivers remember to be extremely cautious when sharing the road with a bicycle.  If you have any information regarding this particular incident, please call the Seal Beach Police Department.  Please remember, cyclist have the same rights as drivers on the roadway, and they must be treated with caution.

If you are involved in a car accident with a bicycle, it is essential to call the police and paramedics.  Furthermore, if you have suffered personal injury as a result of a bicycle accident, reach out to a bicycle accident lawyer right away before speaking to any insurance companies.  With this information in hand, get out there and practice safe driving and safe riding practices!

The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this post, or website, should be taken as legal advice for any individual or case situation. For more information on car accident claims, go to our car accidents page.  For more information on wrongful death claims, go to our wrongful death page.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death action or have pain and suffering from a personal injury case, we are available to assist.  For a free consultation please reach out to our attorneys to arrange a time to discuss your matter.  All you have to do is hit this link or the big blue button labeled “Contact Us” at the top of this page!