James Chappell, 29, was killed in a Los Angeles County car accident after he struck a van, whose driver cut him off, officials said. According to a news report in The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the fatal motorcycle accident occurred the morning of September 13, 2012 on the westbound 210 Freeway near Fruit Street.
California Highway Patrol officials say Chappell was riding his 2002 Honda CBR600 motorcycle in the carpool lane, when a 58-year-old Claremont man driving a 2010 Ford E-350 van moved into the carpool lane, crossing the double yellow line, directly into the path of the motorcyclist. Chappell was unable to avoid hitting the back of the van. In spite of wearing a helmet, Chappell suffered sever head trauma and died from his injuries. No arrested or citations have been reported yet. The investigation is ongoing.
I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family members and friends of James Chappell for their tragic and devastating loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
LA County Motorcycle Accidents
According to CHP’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), one person was killed and one other was injured as a result of motorcycle accidents in La Verne. In Los Angeles County as a whole, 74 fatalities and 2,637 injuries were reported as a result of motorcycle crashes, during the same year.
Carpool Lane Violation
Based on this news account, it appears that the driver of the van suddenly entered the carpool lane by crossing over double yellow lines and cut off the motorcyclist. California Vehicle Code Section 21655.8 (a) states: “Except as required under subdivision (b), when exclusive or preferential use lanes for high-occupancy vehicles are established pursuant to Section 21655.5 and double parallel solid lines are in place to the right thereof, no person driving a vehicle may cross over these double lines to enter into or exit from the exclusive or preferential use lanes, and entrance or exit may be made only in areas designated for these purposes or where a single broken line is in place to the right of the exclusive or preferential use lanes.”
Fault and Liability
If the van’s driver is determined to have been at fault here, in addition to facing citations or charges, he can be held liable for Chappell’s wrongful death. In cases where negligence is involved, families of deceased accident victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for medical expenses and funeral costs, lost future income, loss of love and companionship, and other related damages. Families of deceased victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.