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Wrongful death suit possible in Colorado DUI car accident

Patricia M. Jarzobski

One woman is dead and a 21-year-old man is in custody following a motor vehicle accident. According to the Colorado State Police, the man is believed to have been driving drunk at the time of the crash. Separate from the criminal case against him, the family of the deceased woman may also choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against him in civil court for his role in the tragedy. 

According to the information provided by police in Loveland, the man was headed southbound around 2:17 a.m. the morning of Aug. 9 when he appeared to lose control of his vehicle. The pickup truck he was driving left the road and struck a traffic pole with enough force to eject his passenger. The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene by arriving medical personnel. Her identity was not released initially pending notification of next of kin. 

The man was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries before being remanded to police custody. He stands charged with vehicular homicide (reckless driving), suspicion of vehicular homicide (DUI) and multiple misdemeanor counts, including open container violations. If he is found guilty, he could face years in prison. 

In addition to any criminal sentencing decided upon by a Colorado court, state law allows for a civil lawsuit to be filed by the woman's family. Wrongful death claims can be supported by evidence gathered by police to prove the driver's negligence caused or materially contributed to the accident, which in this case appears to be intoxication and speeding. A successfully presented claim could result in a monetary judgment to cover documented financial losses.

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