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Families often demand justice following hit and run accidents

The unexpected loss of a family member is a tragedy for which no family is prepared. Losses resulting from hit and run accidents can seem especially shocking as family members think of their loved one being abandoned by the person causing their injury. Often, such incidents prompt a desire for justice, but the family members of a hit and run victim in Colorado are questioning whether a recent plea deal actually serves that purpose.

The plea deal is in regard to a fatal accident that occurred in Sept. 2015. According to reports, the accused was driving a vehicle with the victim as a passenger. While many of the details of the accident are unclear, police say the 23-year-old victim exited the sports utility vehicle from the rear when he was struck. The driver is accused of reversing on the road, striking and killing the man before fleeing the scene.

The driver and his vehicle were discovered after the vehicle allegedly crashed at an intersection. Although initially charged with vehicular homicide, prosecutors agreed to a plea deal. As part of it, the 24-year-old doctor will plead guilty to charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident. Claiming that the driver had a blood alcohol content of. 213, family members of the victim called for the judge to reject the agreement.

For victims of hit and run accidents and their surviving family members in the event of a fatality, criminal court is not the only avenue to justice. A wrongful death lawsuit, which has a lower burden of proof, can be filed in a Colorado civil court. If negligence can be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, families could receive a monetary award that can help them with the financial ramifications of their loss and also ensure that responsible parties are held accountable for their actions.

Source: chieftain.com, "Victim's family upset with plea deal for Penrose man charged with running over friend", Tracy Harmon, Jan. 4, 2017

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