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2013 was a bad year for fatal car accidents in Montana

Data released by the Montana Highway Patrol shows that traffic fatalities in the state increased by almost 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. According to the data, 224 people were killed in 198 crashes in 2013, which is higher than the 204 killed in 191 crashes in 2012. The only good news is that alcohol-related fatal crashes dropped by 30 percent, from 53 in 2012 to 37 in 2013. Of course, for the family members of those who died in drunk driving crashes in 2013, this statistic will provide little comfort.

One such car accident caused by a drunk driver occurred on April 30, 2013 and killed a 51-year-old woman and her 16-year-old granddaughter. The crash occurred when a 1999 Mercury Cougar, driven by a 22-year-old woman, struck the victim's vehicle. According to the report, the Montana woman had been drinking at a bar prior to the crash. The alleged drunk driver pleaded guilty to the vehicular homicide charges and received two 20-year sentences.

In another 2013 case, a 1990 Eagle Summit driven by a 49-year-old man hit a bicyclist. The accident left a 29-year-old bicyclist with a fatal brain injury. The driver allegedly had a blood alcohol content of 0.25 at the time of the crash. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide, aggravated DUI and failing to remain at the scene.

Montana residents injured by a drunk driver, and the families of those killed, have the legal right to hold the negligent drunk driver accountable for the injuries or the death. Victims have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver to recover damages including pain and suffering, loss of support and companionship, and medical expenses.

Source: Independent Record, "Top stories of 2013: Drunk driving takes heavy toll," Julie Baughman, Dec. 30, 2013

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