A bicyclist suffered severe injuries in a Fullerton car accident, which officials say, involved a drunk driver who has already had a prior DUI conviction.
According to a report in the Orange County Register, the incident occurred the night of November 23, 2014.
Police say Leigh Michael Ziegler, 30, was traveling east in the 700 block of West Orangethorpe Avenue when the mirror of his pickup truck clipped a
bicyclist who was riding west in the bike lane on the same side of the street.
The cyclist was transported to a hospital with bone fractures, lacerations and head trauma, but is expected to survive. Ziegler was suspected to have been drinking alcohol before the crash and was initially arrested on suspicion of felony DUI.
In 2009, Ziegler was ticketed for driving with an open container of alcohol in the car. During that same year, Ziegler was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI to which he pleaded guilty to in 2011.
Drunk Driving Collisions
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2012 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were two fatalities and 56 injuries involving DUI crashes in Fullerton.
In Orange County as a whole, 56 people died and 1,346 were injured due to alcohol-related collisions during the same year.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver in this case struck the bicyclist who was traveling in the bike lane. According to California Vehicle Code Section 21209 (a), motorists are not allowed to drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway.
The only exceptions are when a driver parks where parking is permitted, enters or leaves the roadway or prepares for a turn within 200 feet of the intersection. In addition, officials say he was under the influence of alcohol and that this is not his first DUI conviction. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
In such cases, in addition to facing criminal charges, drunk drivers can also be held civilly liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
An experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer can help protect victims’ rights and explain how their own auto insurance policy might apply to an incident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.