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Wrongful death suit possible in rollover wreck in Colorado

Patricia M. Jarzobski

Two people who were killed in a single-vehicle accident in Garfield County have been identified by police, according to local sources. Colorado authorities responded to calls about a serious accident in Rifle that claimed the life of two passengers and injured a third. The driver may face criminal charges, and state law will also allow the families of the deceased to file wrongful death suits against him in civil court. 

The details of the accident are not clear at this time, but it has been confirmed that the individuals in the vehicle were on a hunting trip on Dec. 29 when the crash occurred. The driver lost control of the vehicle, which was traveling on a private ranch road at the time. The car flipped over, injuring several passengers. No one in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt.

The local coroner confirmed several days later that two of the passengers, who were pronounced dead at the scene, died of blunt-force trauma. A third passenger, a 10-year-old boy, was flown to Denver for treatment. The 40-year-old driver suffered only minor injuries. The Colorado State Patrol has now charged him with vehicular homicide and drunk driving. No court date has been announced. 

In order for the families of the deceased to litigate successful civil lawsuits against the driver, evidence of the man's material contribution to the accident must be presented to the court. If it turns out the man was indeed intoxicated at the time of the accident, this could provide compelling evidence that would support both the criminal case and any civil suits filed, including personal injury and wrongful death. Presenting this evidence may convince the court to award damages to the families, and to the injured parties as well. 

Source: nbc11news.com, "Two killed in Garfield County crash identified", Crispin Havener, Jan. 2, 2018

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