Alleged driver in Fiesta Island crash appears in court

A woman accused of crashing into a group of cyclists on Fiesta Island in San Diego recently made a court appearance on charges relating to the incident. Prosecutors allege that the woman was driving the wrong way when she crashed into a group of cyclists on a training ride, striking about 10 of them. Several of those struck suffered injuries severe enough to be treated at the hospital, and one man was paralyzed in the crash after he reportedly pushed another cyclist out of harm's way.

The woman accused of causing that crash is facing charges for impaired driving and possession of methamphetamine. She has entered a plea of not guilty on both charges but could be facing more than 12 years in prison if she is convicted.

In addition, regardless of how the criminal charges resolve, the alleged driver could also be found liable to the crash victims in civil court. If so, she may be ordered to pay damages, which may include pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and other economic and non-economic losses.

Under certain circumstances, drunk drivers who cause injuries in California can also be required to pay punitive damages, which sometimes referred to as exemplary damages. Payments of this type go above and beyond compensating the crash victims for their actual losses and are intended to punish the at-fault driver as well as discourage similar future conduct.

San Diego's cycling boom raises crash concerns

In recent years, San Diego has been making a name for itself as one of the nation's most bike-friendly cities. With great weather all year round and terrain that includes mountains, beaches and coastal highways - not to mention urban bike trails - it is no wonder that the city is consistently mentioned in lists of the best places to bike in America.

Furthermore, the local enthusiasm for cycling is not limited to leisure and recreation; it extends into the realm of the practical as well. San Diego is ranked third among large U.S. cities for the percentage of people who bike to work. As reported by the San Diego Free Press in December 2013, the city is home to nearly 7,000 bicycle commuters, which is an increase of over 40 percent since the year 2000.

While San Diego's biking boom is in most regards a positive development for the city and its residents, as well as for the environment, the increased number of cyclists in the area also raises some safety concerns. As the recent Fiesta Island crash illustrates, bicycle accidents can and do happen in even the most amenable locations. Cyclists who are hurt in traffic accidents should be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer for advice about how to protect their legal rights and to discuss their options for pursuing compensation.