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San Francisco Cyclist May Face Charges, Wrongful Death Suit

A San Francisco cyclist may face felony charges for causing the wrongful death of an elderly pedestrian in the Castro District last month. Authorities say that the 35-year-old cyclist was speeding through the city streets in a grossly negligent manner at the time of the accident.

“I think the evidence is very strong,” an inside source from the District Attorney’s Office told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The evidence against the cyclist includes motorist accounts of the cyclist blowing through several red lights at extremely high speeds shortly before the accident. Additionally, a speed tracker on the cyclist’s bike shows that he was riding 35-mph in a 25-mph zone at the time of the accident.

There is some debate as to whether the traffic light was red or yellow at the time of the accident, but authorities say that the cyclist’s speed is sufficient to bring charges regardless of the color of the light.

It is also unclear whether the surviving family members of the 71-year-old pedestrian will bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the cyclist. California law provides families with the ability to recover both economic and non-economic damages in wrongful death actions. Such damages often include loss of financial support, burial expenses, and loss of love and moral support. The amount of damages available in a wrongful death action depends on the particular facts of each case and it is unclear what amount of damages could be recovered in this case given the publicly available facts.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “S.F. bicyclist in fatal crash may face felony,” Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross, April 25, 2012