71 year old Sutchi Hui was minding his own business walking with his wife through a San Francisco intersection when out of nowhere a bicycle ran through a red light at over 30 miles per hour and struck and later killed Hui. The bike rider, Chris Bucchere was arrested and charged with felony manslaughter in the death but that doesn't bring back Hui or help his widow deal with the tragic loss.
This is a terrible situation for several reasons. Often times, injuries like pain and suffering can be compensated with monetary payments. If you miss work or have a sore back we can pay you for your lost wages, get you medical treatment, pay for it and give you money, some amount of money to "compensate" you for your pain.
How do we compensate widow Hui for the loss of her husband? How do we pay her for watching her husband get run down by an uncaring bicycle rider? The short answer is that we likely do not and cannot. Mrs. Hui's compensation may come, if at all, in two ways. First, she may see Mr. Bucchere convicted of a crime and sentenced as a judged deems appropriate. Secondly, Mrs. Hui may be compensated in some way for her loss.
In criminal cases in California compensation may come in the form of restitution from the defendant to the victim. As a term and condition of probation, the defendant may be ordered to pay the out of pocket costs of the victim: medical bills, loss of earnings, etc. But what if the defendant cannot pay? There is a state fund in California that helps to compensate victims for such expenses. The fund can pay for costs of funeral or burial, medical expenses and even attorney fees.
Mrs. Hui may have a cause of action for damages against Bucchere. In the typical traffic collision, the driver of a car has auto insurance to cover bodily injury, property damage and other losses to injured parties. In this case, Bucchere was riding a bike. This will likely mean that Hui will have to sue Bucchere personally because there is no policy of insurance to cover this loss. The way this works is that Hui would sue Bucchere for her damages and likely get a judgment that she may never be able to collect. If she is able to collect on it, it may be in the form of small payments over many years.
Mrs. Hui, I am very sorry for your loss and hope that maybe some small amount of good can come from this tragedy. Maybe other cyclists will learn from this tragedy and try to ride within their own control. Maybe the fear of criminal prosecution for reckless conduct will cause just one cyclist to lay down his bike rather than smash into innocent pedestrians and blog about it afterward. I hope you are soon able to find peace in your life without your husband.