Eric Billings, 54, was killed in an Orange County bicycle crash after, officials say, a car struck him while he was riding in the bike lane. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal collision occurred the evening of March 15, 2013 on Santa Margarita Parkway between El Toro Road and Los Alisos Boulevard in Mission Viejo.
Police say Hast Fakhrai-Bayrooti, 39, was driving the 2003 Acura that struck Billings who was riding in the bike lane. It is not known if any citations were issued. Billings has been described as a beloved member of the community, a deeply spiritual man and a mentor to teens and young adults in the community.
There were no fatalities, but 11 injuries involving bicycle collisions in Mission Viejo, according to California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). During the same year, three people died and 1,187 were injured as a result of Orange County bicycle crashes.
Bike Lane Law
Based on this news report, it appears that the Billings was riding his bicycle in the bike lane when he was struck. 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.
I trust officials are looking into whether the driver, Fakhrai-Bayrooti, was impaired, distracted, inattentive or otherwise negligent at the time of the collision. If he is determined to have been at fault, then, he could be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death. If a dangerous condition on the roadway is determined to have caused the collision, then, the governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can also be held liable.
Families of deceased victims in such cases can file a claim seeking compensation for damages including but not limited to medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income and loss of love and companionship. An experienced Orange County personal injury attorney will be able to advise victims’ families in such cases regarding their legal rights and options. Please remember that any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident.