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Was truck driver criminally negligent in fatal accident?

A jury will need to answer this question in a case against a truck driver who hit and killed a trooper with the Colorado State Patrol. The fatal accident occurred back in Nov. 2016, and the criminal proceeding is just now going to trial. It will be up to a jury to decide whether prosecutors prove the truck driver's criminal negligence beyond a reasonable doubt.

On that day back in Nov. 2016, the trooper was one of two officers to respond to a motor vehicle accident in the northbound lanes of Interstate 25. As the trooper worked the accident in the shoulder, he had no way of knowing that a truck would soon take his life. Reports indicate that the truck drifted onto the shoulder and slammed into the trooper.

The driver's criminal defense counsel asserts this was nothing more than a tragic accident. However, prosecutors insist that he allowed his truck to drift onto the shoulder and failed to make sure his vehicle remained away from the crash scene. At the time of the crash, there was no Colorado law requiring vehicles to move over in any way when approaching or passing an accident scene.

Even if the truck driver is not held criminal responsible for the crash, that does not mean he is not financially responsible. Under state law, surviving family members who lose a loved one in a fatal accident may pursue damages in a wrongful death claim filed in a civil court. The burden of proof required in such a claim is not as strict as it is in criminal court. For this reason, many families are able to find some sense of justice and closure in the civil courts even when a conviction from a criminal court does not happen.

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