Richard Harold Smith, 50, of Newport Beach, was killed after a car accident in Costa Mesa which officials say involved a hit-and-run driver.
According to a news report in the Daily Pilot, the fatal crash occurred on the night of Jan. 20. Officials said they were called to the scene of a hit-and-run and found Smith knocked out of his wheelchair with significant injuries. The driver who struck Smith had left the scene of the crash.
Ongoing Hit-and-Run Investigation
Smith was transported to a local hospital but died from his injuries. Costa Mesa Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team responded to the incident and is investigating. Police have described the suspect vehicle as a black Toyota Highlander, possibly a 2009 or 2010 model.
Officers also say the vehicle sustained front-end damage from the collision. Anyone with more information, who witnessed this fatal crash or who is able to identify the suspect or vehicle, is asked to contact Costa Mesa traffic investigators at 714-754-5264. Investigators are seeking surveillance video from any businesses nearby that might have captured the collision.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of Richard Harold Smith for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Laws and Liability Issues
California law considers wheelchair users to be pedestrians. Under California Vehicle Code Section 467 (b), the term “pedestrian” includes any person “who is operating a self-propelled wheelchair, motorized tricycle, or motorized quadricycle and, by reason of physical disability, is otherwise unable to move about as a pedestrian.” That means motorists are required to yield the right-of-way to individuals who are in wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
In cases where a driver’s negligence may have caused a pedestrian’s death, families of deceased victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of love, care, and companionship.
A knowledgeable Costa Mesa pedestrian accident lawyer will also be able to advise families whether a dangerous roadway caused the accident. If that’s the case, they may also have a claim against the governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway. Such claims must be filed within 180 days of the incident.