Massachusetts residents have likely noticed an increase in the number of bicycle drivers on the roads in recent years. For a number of reasons-including the rising costs of fuel, an increasing consensus of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and a growing awareness of the need to curb the use of fossil fuels, more and more people are turning to their bicycles as an alternative form of transportation. Although this is certainly a positive trend in many respects, it has unfortunately led to more car accidents involving bicyclists. As bicyclists are relatively unprotected, they can suffer very serious, and sometimes catastrophic, injuries when they are involved in a car crash.
Such was the case, recently, when a car that was turning left at an intersection struck an 18-year-old bicyclist. Unfortunately, the 18-year-old, who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, died the next day from his injuries in the hospital. The Northampton Police and the district attorney's office conducted an extensive accident investigation to determine whether to charge the driver with criminal negligence; prosecutors recently announced that they would not press charges.
The fact that the automobile driver was not charged with criminal negligence does not necessarily mean that a jury in a civil lawsuit would not find the man negligent in a civil claim for damages. In a case similar to this one, if it could be established that the driver was negligent in colliding with the bicycle, a wrongful death action on behalf of the victim's surviving relatives can likely be pursued against the negligent party. Monetary damages for loss of future wages, emotional pain and suffering, past medical expenses and loss of companionship can be recovered in this type of action.
Source: masslive.com, "Northwestern District Attorney's office: No criminal negligence in vehicle accident that took life of bicyclist Harry Delmolino, 18, in Northampton," George Graham, Dec. 4, 2012