When bicycles are on the road they are supposed to be treated the same as automobiles. But cyclists have a duty to allow other vehicles to pass them as easily as possible. The Massachusetts legislature passed a bill that specifically addressed these issues in 2008 to better protect cyclists, and to make cyclists protect themselves by following the rules of the road.
It's not clear if these rules were being followed when the driver of an 18-wheeler struck and killed a bicyclist in Wellesley on Aug. 24. Investigators are searching for witnesses, many of whom have been identified by traffic cameras, according to the Boston Globe.
If the cyclist's relatives sue the driver and trucking company (if they are different), then they will also need to hear from these witnesses for a wrongful death lawsuit to succeed.
A wrongful death suit seeks compensation for a person's death when it's caused by a wrongful action. This type of action can be criminal, reckless, or merely negligent. Damages recoverable from this type of suit can include funeral expenses and the amount of income the victim would have made.
In the Wellesley fatal bike crash, it is unlikely that there was an intentional act committed by the driver. But it's possible that some type of negligence by the driver may have caused the accident.
A negligence claim arises when a person breaches a legal duty to a victim. This legal duty can be outlined by a law or by court decisions.
In this case, if the truck driver had been breaking a traffic law, that could be evidence that a legal duty was breached. If the law that was broken was meant to protect bicyclists, then the cyclist's family would likely only have to prove it was that action that caused the cyclist's death.
Hopefully witnesses will come forward to help explain what happened on that road in Wellesley. A family needs closure.
- Call a Personal Injury Attorney in Boston (FindLaw)
- Four Loko Wrongful Death Suit for Boy, 15 (FindLaw's Injured Blog)
- Vincent Cila's Family Settles Wrongful Death Suit (FindLaw's Personal Injury News)
- Wellesley Police identify driver in fatal hit-and-run bike crash (WCVB-TV)