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Colorado Driver Gets 12 Years in Prison for Fatal I-25 Crash

A Colorado man has been sentenced to more than a decade behind bars for causing a single-car accident that left a passenger dead last year.

The 33-year-old wrecked his vehicle in a November 2002 crash on Interstate 25 in Douglas County, CBS News reports. A backseat passenger died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, while the driver and another passenger were injured.

The driver was found guilty of manslaughter after a three-day trial. Prosecutors said the driver was speeding – going more than 100 miles per hour – and swerving in and out of traffic in the moments leading up to the crash.

“This tragedy was 100% preventable,” Deputy District Attorney Keegan Doheney said in a statement following the sentencing. “This defendant’s selfish actions put the lives of everyone in that car in danger. It’s a miracle no one else was killed.”

The crash occurred on a Friday afternoon near exit 184 in Castle Rock. Police arrived at the scene to find a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer on its side in a drainage ditch along the interstate and a female passenger who had been ejected from the vehicle.

“Investigators determined the driver…was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic before losing control of his car and crashing into a guardrail,” CBS reports. “After crashing into the guardrail, the car became airborne and rolled before landing in the ditch. While the vehicle was airborne, the backseat passenger was thrown from the car.”

The backseat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, the investigation reportedly showed. The driver and the other passenger were both buckled up, according to investigators.

The driver received the maximum sentence available under state law.

“There was no logical reason this defendant needed to endanger his passengers and other innocent motorists on I-25 by driving more than 40 mph over the posted speed limit,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Doug Bechtel said in a statement following the sentencing. “While no prison sentence can replace the sudden loss of a loved one, I hope this maximum sentence can bring some closure to the victim’s family.”

Seatbelts Save Colorado Lives

Seatbelts are vital safety tools. Buckling up can be a matter of life or death.

People who are not wearing seatbelts when accidents happen are far more likely than others to be injured or killed in those collisions. That is primarily because the safety devices work to keep people in their seats – preventing them from being thrown around in the car or ejected from the vehicle, a situation that typically causes catastrophic injury or even death – in the event of a crash.

More than 26,000 people are killed in car accidents across the country every year, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Approximately half of the deaths are people who are not wearing seatbelts, the federal agency says.

A person in the front seat of a passenger car can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45% by wearing a seatbelt, NHTSA says. Seatbelt use also cuts the risk of a moderate to critical injury by 50%, according to NHTSA.

The benefits increase for drivers and front-seat passengers in light trucks. Buckling up reduces the risk of a fatal injury by 60% and cuts the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%, according to NHTSA.

The good news is that more and more people are buckling up before they hit the road.

Seatbelt usage has climbed to nearly 92 percent of all drivers and passengers, up from 86% a decade ago, NHTSA’s most recent data show

Coloradans are a little behind the curve. The state saw a more than 88 percent usage rate in the first eight months of this year, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The rate has increased from roughly 82 percent a decade earlier.

Money Damages for Car Accident Injuries

There is some good news for people who are injured in Colorado car accidents

You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries from those responsible for the collision. You also do not need to go it alone. A seasoned Denver personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and take action.

The compensation typically available in Colorado car accident cases is intended to help an injured person get back into the financial position that he or she was in before the collision. That means money for doctors’ bills, vehicle damage, missed wages and other impacts of the injuries.

Getting compensation often requires going after a negligent driver and his or her insurer. Colorado car accident cases are usually based on Claims of negligence, a legal theory that holds people responsible when they do not live up to a certain “duty of care.”

Drivers, for instance, are obligated under state law to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner and to refrain from dangerous behavior like speeding, drinking and driving or texting behind the wheel. They generally are liable for any accidents that happen when they do not live up to this responsibility.

Wrongful Death Claims Stemming from Car Accidents 

In the tragic event that a person dies in a car accident, his or her loved ones can seek similar compensation for wrongful death.

No lawsuit and no amount of monetary damages will ever allow you to go back in time, stop an accident from happening, and bring back a loved one.

A wrongful death action can, however, help ease the financial strain that often comes with the loss of a loved one. It can also provide a certain level of closure by getting justice and ensuring that those responsible are made accountable for their actions.

Speak With a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Colorado, an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer at Levine Law can help. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

Our lawyers are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver personal injury lawyer.

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