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Wrongful death claim possible in DUI crash that killed 3

Patricia M. Jarzobski

Losing a family member in an accident is a heartbreaking experience. Losing two family members at the same time is understandably even more devastating. A Colorado family experienced just that type of tragedy resulting from an accident during which an elderly husband and wife were both killed by a drunk driver. The driver in that accident has been sentenced to prison, and the victims' family clearly has grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim against the man.

Last July, the 30-year-old man was speeding recklessly on a Colorado Springs road, swerving in and out of traffic and blaring music, according to witnesses. While going over 70 mph in a 40 mph zone, he slammed his vehicle into another one occupied by an elderly couple.  The speeding driver, although severely injured, was the only survivor in the crash. His passenger, his 31-year-old brother, was not wearing a seat belt and was killed in the accident. In the second car, a 73-year-old mother and substitute teacher died at the scene while her husband of 47 years, a 76-year-old Vietnam veteran and real estate agent, joined her soon after from a local hospital.

It was determined that the reckless driver had a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit. He pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular homicide and one count of driving under the influence and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. This was the man's first drunk driving offense.

Although the man has completed his criminal proceedings, he may still have some court appearances to make. The family of the victims killed in the crash may have already filed a wrongful death civil claim against him, and if not, they may still do so as the Colorado statute of limitations for such claims is two years. As the man has already been found criminally responsible for the car accident, proof of his conviction may be offered in a related civil court proceeding to document negligence per se. Once formal liability is established, the court will consider documented claims for monetary damages.

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