The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is an agency that promotes causes relating to highway safety. They report annually on auto accident data within the state. Unfortunately, over 26,000 individuals are arrested for Driving under the Influence (DUI) in CO each year. In 2015, the state had 507 fatalities in auto accidents; this number rose in 2016 to roughly 555, a disturbing trend that seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Approximately one-third of these deaths can be attributed to a vehicle operator who was intoxicated at the time.
Conviction by Denver District Attorney
Jesus Carreno, a 23-year-old man, was convicted of vehicular homicide, reckless driving, and driving under the influence recently. Carreno's vehicle struck and killed Colleen O'Connor, a 60-year-old reporter for the Denver Post, while traveling near East First Ave. in Denver. Carreno is awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for March 3, 2017. The offender may be sentenced to a period in prison of up to 6 years, along with fines and probation. O'Connor has worked for the Post since 2004 and was described as “one who gravitated toward those struggling”. Carreno has apparently taken responsibility for his actions and displayed remorse; in fact, he has drafted a formal letter of apology to O'Connor's friends and family. There has been no indication of a possible civil action against Carreno as of yet.
CO Wrongful Death Actions
Wrongful death cases are based on the death of an individual due to the negligence of another party. A surviving spouse or other heirs of the deceased may bring suit against the negligent party, seeking economic and non-economic compensation for damages. Such cases have a two-year statute of limitations after the occurrence of death. In proving these cases, the plaintiff can recover after proving that if the deceased had lived, they would have qualified for recovery for damages against the defendant.
To prove liability the CO laws require the plaintiff demonstrate that the negligence of the decedent can be determined by a percentage as being less than the percentage assigned to the defendant(s). This is addressed in the state's statute regarding comparative negligence. In situations where there are multiple defendants, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the plaintiff's percentage of negligence is less than the total combined percentage of all negligence allotted to the defendants. Any awarded damages to the plaintiff may be reduced by a corresponding percentage equal to their own determined negligence in the accident.
The unexpected death of a loved one in an auto accident is overwhelming, and the sorrow is only exacerbated when it stems from the careless or reckless behavior of another party. If you have a loved one who has died in a vehicle accident in Colorado, contact the office of The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal. You may be entitled to significant compensation under the law for your loss.