Those who travel by bicycle in Costa Mesa or in other parts of Orange County need to be aware that the whole country is experiencing a bit of an epidemic of fatalities related to hit-and-run accidents. For its part, our state does not fare well in terms of hit-and-run deaths, as it ranks among the states with the highest rates of hit-and-run fatalities. On average, we see about 2.0 hit-and-run fatalities per 100,000 residents. Other states have rates as low as .19 per 100,000 residents.
Across the country, the number of deaths related to hit-and-runs has been increasing steadily, to the point of prompting experts to question why. In 2016, the last year official statistics were available, there were just under 2,050 fatalities due to hit-and-runs, which is a 35 percent increase since 2012 and a 60 percent increase since 2009.
The figure is at its highest point since 1975, when experts started tracking it. But for one year, the number has been steadily increasing since 2012.
While there are a number of explanations for this concerning trend, one thing that is clear is that pedestrians and bicyclists constitute the majority of victims. More than 2 out of 3 of the reported fatalities have been either pedestrians or bicyclists.
An Orange County family who loses a loved one to a hit-and-run bicycle accident is going to have to fight an uphill emotional battle for months and even years. In addition to dealing with the shock of a sudden death, it may be hard to understand why a driver would simply take off after killing someone instead of taking responsibility.
Moreover, hit-and-run accidents can leave a family in a financial pinch if they are unable to get compensation from the responsible driver. Fortunately, legal options may be available to them in such situations.