Last fall in Aurora, Colorado, Capetillo Vega, forty three years old, made the not-uncommon decision to drink and drive. He later told Aurora police that he had been drinking for almost six hours and he was pretty drunk when he got behind the wheel, as evidenced by his blood alcohol content of 0.191. As he drove through the intersection at East Montview Boulevard and Dayton Street on September fourth 2016, he struck Madeline Robinson, who was only twenty nine years old. Adams County prosecutors, in a statement, said that she was crossing the street when he struck her.
Vega drove off after hitting Robinson. He was leaving a bar and the police later arrested him. Vega had one DUI conviction in Texas in 1988 but nothing else on his record. In this case, neither Vega nor Robinson were as lucky. After she was hit by his car, Robinson died. On January 13th of 2017, Vega was brought before a judge and pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in addition to the DUI. The judge sentenced Vega to prison on Friday.
The Deputy District Attorney in Adams County, Todd Bluth, said that the sentence the court imposes will never be as harsh as the sentence Vega passed down to Robinson—Vega will be able to positively affect those around him some day. Robinson, however, will never have that option again. Vega was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment for the Robinson’s death.
The criminal suit brought by the Adams County Deputy District Attorney is meant to bring Vega to justice but Robinson’s family may have a civil lawsuit against Vega’s insurance company. When someone dies due to another person’s negligence, there may be a suit available to help the victim’s family recover for the final expenses of the victim’s death. Drunk driving specifically yields a number of possible lawsuits in the world of civil litigation, including a suit against the driver’s car insurance and a possible suit against the bar where the driver was drinking.
Often, cases go to criminal trials before they go into civil because the burden of proof is higher in criminal cases than it is in civil. Therefore, if attorneys prove something at the higher level, it is almost guaranteed that they will be able to prove the same thing at the lower burden of proof in a civil case. This tendency gained widespread publicity during the OJ Simpson trials, where the evidence was insufficient to convict Mr. Simpson at the criminal level but overwhelmingly clear at the civil.
When people die as a result of the negligence of others, their tragic deaths are sometimes brought before the criminal justice system to help keep society safe. However, their grieving families sometimes also have actionable cases against the insurance companies of the people responsible. If you have a loved one who was injured or killed as a result of the negligence of others, you may have legal recourse against the responsible party.