Two people died in a crash involving several vehicles including a motorcycle in a horrific accident on the 55 Freeway in Orange. According to an article in The Orange County Register, California Highway Patrol investigators believe the chain of events started with a motorcyclist who lost control of his vehicle for an unknown reason and hit the center divider near Lincoln Avenue.
The male driver, who has not been identified, was thrown in the opposite direction and died after he was struck by several vehicles. A Honda driver, who swerved to avoid hitting the body of the motorcyclist, lost control and crashed into the guardrail, bounced off the center median and was hit by two other vehicles on the driver’s side. The Honda’s driver was pronounced dead at the scene, the article said. No other injuries were reported.
There are so many things that could have gone wrong there. The first thing to figure out with this one is what caused the motorcyclist to lose control. Eyewitness accounts say speed was a factor, but it must be determined if it was speed, negligence, debris on the freeway, mechanical malfunction in the motorcycle or some dangerous condition on the roadway that caused the initial accident.
The other question to ask too is if the motorcyclist was alive when he got thrown off his bike on to the southbound lanes. If he was alive, did the Honda driver have reasonable time to avoid hitting the downed motorcyclist? If so, the Honda driver could be held civilly and criminally responsible for the motorcyclist’s death. In fact, depending on when the motorcyclist sustained his fatal injuries, any number of drivers may be held partially responsible for the fatality.
On the other hand, if the driver of the Honda did not have reasonable time to stop before hitting the motorcyclist, the motorcyclist could be held liable for the death of the Honda driver. In that case, the motorcyclist’s motor vehicle insurance would be compensating the heirs of the Honda driver. Then, there is also the question of where in the sequence of events the Honda driver sustained his fatal injuries. Was it the initial contact with the guard rail or when he bounced back and hit the center divider or was it when he was hit by the other two vehicles? The answer to those questions would determine who must be held responsible for the death of the Honda driver as well.
This tragic loss of lives very likely was due to totally avoidable negligence on the part of one or more of the drivers. However, without a complete and thorough investigation, it is tough to determine if mechanical failure, roadway conditions or other factors contributed to this accident. All involved parties and their families would be best served in retaining personal injury attorneys as well as consulting with their auto insurance carriers.
Also remember that the injuries and damage caused by these auto accidents is not just physical. There is also, in many cases, intense psychological damage to drivers who struck the motorcyclist. There are also the underinsured and uninsured motorist issues lurking in this tragic event.