When someone is responsible for a motor vehicle accident, civil liability and criminal charges are two different things. A recent motorcycle crash in Colorado Springs provides a case in point.
On February 20, in the early morning, two motorcyclists collided in Colorado Springs. One of the drivers had fled the scene by the time police arrived and found the victim near death. The police unsuccessfully attempted to revive the victim and he died within a few minutes of their arrival on the scene.
The victim was a 23-year-old male who had been riding a dirt bike, which are illegal for street use. Cash Steward, 34 years old, has been arrested on hit-and-run charges.
Motorcycle Statistics in Colorado
Motorcycle registrations have steadily risen in Colorado, suggesting it is becoming ever more popular. As of 2009 there were 174,915 registered motorcycles in the state.
In 2009 nearly one in five traffic fatalities were motorcyclists in Colorado. The number decreased slightly in 2009 after a record high number of 98 motorcycle fatalities in 2008.
Civil Liability and Criminal Charges
In the Colorado Springs motorcycle accident, the motorcyclist who left the scene faces criminal charges. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a serious crime. He may also be sued in civil court for the death of the other motorcyclist.
Criminal charges are those that are considered an offense against the state and can be punished with prison time, probation supervision, or fines. Civil suits are disputes that are not criminal in nature. They usually involve demands for monetary damages or orders to do or not do something.
The burden of proof is very different in criminal cases compared to civil cases. In a criminal trial, conviction requires a showing of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
The standard is not as strict in a civil case. In a civil case, under the “preponderance of evidence” standard, an injured party must show that is more likely than not that the defendant’s conduct caused the injury.