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Off-Duty Denver Cop Involved in Accident that Killed Pedestrian

A Denver police lieutenant is reportedly under investigation for hitting and killing a pedestrian.

The accident happened at about 11 p.m. on a Tuesday in late February at the intersection of University Boulevard and Hampden Avenue, CBS Colorado reports. 

The unnamed cop, who the news outlet called a “veteran” of the Denver police force, was reportedly driving an unmarked department vehicle at the time of the crash. The vehicle struck a 70-year-old Denver man who was crossing Hampden, killing him immediately.

Colorado State Patrol, which is leading the investigation, said the pedestrian was walking outside of a crosswalk when he was struck. The man was some 30 feet east of the Hampden-University intersection, CSP told CBS Colorado.

The tragic accident comes as pedestrian traffic deaths are on the rise statewide.

More than a third (36%) of people killed in car accidents in Colorado last year were not inside a vehicle at the time of the collision, according to the state transportation department. That is the highest share of fatal accidents in nearly 50 years.

Hit and run crashes are also on the upswing in the Denver metro area, including several that have killed pedestrians.

Just a week earlier, for example, a pedestrian was killed after being struck by a car on I-70. Police said the driver of the late model Honda that struck the pedestrian simply sped off after the collision.

The off-duty police officer stayed on the scene after the more recent collision, according to CSP, which added that there was no sign that either the driver or the pedestrian was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. The driver was also said to be wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision.

Why More Pedestrians are Dying in Crashes

It is not only in Colorado that pedestrians are at risk. Fatal accidents involving people traveling by two feet have spiked across the country.

More than 3,400 pedestrians were killed by drivers in the first half of 2022, according to data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association. That is an increase from the previous year, in which pedestrian deaths reached a 40-year high. 

The GHSA, a non-profit that represents highway safety offices across the country, called the trend “deeply troubling.” Its annual report, which analyzes data provided by State Highway Safety Offices, also found that the increase in pedestrian deaths is more alarming when compared to pre-pandemic levels: pedestrian deaths surged by 18% (meaning 500-plus additional fatalities) between the first half of 2019 and 2022.

Several factors appear to be at play. GHSA blames bigger cars, infrastructure that encourages high speeds, poor road design, and the normalization of dangerous driving behavior that began during the pandemic. 

The organization’s “Safe System” model calls on states to “build an environment that separates people traveling at different speeds (i.e., vehicles and pedestrians) as much as possible, thus preventing the potential conflict that can lead to crashes.” 

“Of course, pedestrians and vehicles will continue to share space for the foreseeable future, but other countermeasures are available to incorporate facilities for safe pedestrian travel, reduce vehicle speed and increase visibility for all road users,” GHSA said in its latest report.

Safety advocates in Colorado are focusing in particular on road and street design as a safety measure. They have urged local officials in Denver to “correct poorly designed areas that invite speeding and other unsafe behaviors.”

Legal Rights for People Injured in Colorado Pedestrian Accidents

A pedestrian or anyone else who is injured in a traffic accident in Colorado has the right to seek compensation from those responsible for the collision.

The monetary damages in these cases are meant to put the injured person back in the financial position that he or she was in before the crash. That usually includes compensation for doctors’ bills and other costs related to the injuries, as well as missed wages and other income while recuperating. Additional compensation is also available for the longer-term impact of the injuries, whether on the person’s earning capacity or ability to participate in and enjoy various life activities.

To get compensation, you have to be able to prove liability. It is crucial to seek the advice and assistance of an experienced accident lawyer.

Pedestrian accident cases are usually based on negligence claims. Negligence is a legal theory that holds people and entities liable when they fail to live up to a certain standard of care.

Car, truck and other drivers, for instance, are generally required to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. They are expected to abide by traffic laws, maintain appropriate speeds and remain alert at all times. They are also obligated to refrain from dangerous behavior like drinking and driving or texting behind the wheel.

When a driver does not live up to this responsibility, he or she is likely to be liable for any collisions that happen as a result. The driver’s employer, and certain other pirates, may also share the responsibility in some circumstances.

In the tragic situation that a person is killed in an accident, his or her loved ones have the right to seek similar compensation by filing a wrongful death claim. State law limits who can pursue a wrongful death case to spouses, children and parents. In the event that a person dies without a spouse, child or parent, the personal representative of his or her estate can sue for wrongful death.

Talk with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you understand your rights and get compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

We 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 car accident lawyer.

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