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CHP story changes related to fatal motorcycle accident

It's a rare thing when the media follows up on a motor vehicle accident. Even when the crash involves fatalities and multiple vehicles, and significant questions linger about possible causes of the crash, the last thing we typically hear reported is that an investigation is underway.

We have a break from the norm in one particular case. And it just so happens that this blog addressed the matter one month ago. That being so, we feel compelled to match the media's effort. 

At the time of the initial post, we approached the story of this motorcycle crash from the standpoint of its possibly being a case of wrongful death. Since then, there have been a few developments that seem to answer that question. But the latest report on the case raises a different issue from a legal perspective.

The crash occurred late in March and claimed the life of a 37-year-old man. About a week after that, there were claims made by the victim's family that the death might have been caused by a California Highway Patrol officer, that the officer might have actually attacked the victim after the crash, and that officials were being less than transparent about things.

A CHP spokesman denied the claims and said that the accident happened when a patrol attempted to pull the motorcyclist over for running a stop sign. He said the motorcyclist refused to stop, was speeding, and died when he lost control and crashed.

Just over a week ago, the victim's grieving girlfriend told The Record newspaper that the information provided by the CHP was incorrect. She claimed that her boyfriend had done nothing wrong. Indeed, she said she was following him in a car at the time and suggested that the patrol had actually violated a stop sign to begin the pursuit -- cutting her off.

The CHP now confirms it erred and provided incorrect information when the story first came to light. At the same time, the victim's autopsy has been made public and states that he died of blunt force trauma suffered in a solo vehicle accident.

The new information may or may not provide the victim's family with some solace. However, it certainly reinforces the notion that investigating an accident and protecting your rights can be complicated. Working with an attorney can help.

Source: The Record, "CHP account of fatal crash changes," Joe Goldeen, April 25, 2014

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