Daryl David Benefiel was killed in an Orange County bicycle accident the evening of July 23, 2009, The Orange County Register reports. Benefiel was riding his bike south on Ridge Park Road in Newport Beach, California, when he collided with a car making a left turn from Tesoro, Newport Beach police officials said. The driver of the car, Nathan Tsuchiya, was uninjured. It’s not clear whether Benefiel was wearing a helmet. No citations or arrests were made as a police investigation into this fatal bicycle accident is still in progress.
My heart goes out to the family of Daryl David Benefiel for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. I offer my deepest condolences to them. Please keep them in your prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS), there was one fatality and 92 injuries as a result of bicycle accidents in Newport Beach. In Orange County, 16 fatalities and 1,020 injuries involving bicycle accident were reported in 2007.
Based on this newspaper report, it appears that the car’s driver, Nathan Tsuchiya, did not see the bicyclist as he was making a left turn at that Orange County street intersection. Motorists making a left turn at an intersection (unless they have a green arrow) must yield right-of-way to oncoming traffic. California Vehicle Code section 21801 (a) states the following requirements for drivers making a left turn or a U-turn: “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.”
A bicycle is like any other vehicle on the road. Bicycle riders must follow the same rules as drivers of other vehicles such as motorcycles, passenger cars or trucks. Bicyclists also have the same rights as other motorists. When drivers of larger vehicles make a turn at an intersection, they tend to pay attention to vehicles that are similar in size, but often miss smaller vehicles such as motorcycles or bicycles. I suspect that’s what happened here.
The family of Daryl David Benefiel would be well-advised to consult with an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation, analyze all the aspects of this case and determine whether there was any negligence here.
A skilled Orange County bicycle accident lawyer will also look into whether there was a dangerous condition on the roadway, which may have caused or contributed to this fatal collision. If that was the case, the city or the governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable for the accident and fatal injuries. Please remember that any claim against a California governmental agency must be properly filed within six months of an accident or injury.