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Kansas woman pursues wrongful death claim for daughter's death

The daughter of a Kansas woman died in an out-of-state pedestrian accident last year. The mother filed a wrongful death complaint for the fatal crash near Aspen, Colorado, where the 29-year-old victim was struck and killed by a bus.

The lawsuit claims the bus driver and her employer, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, were guilty of negligence in the New Year's Day accident. Recent court papers showed the bus company was preparing its defense witnesses and testimony for the so-far unscheduled trial.

Reports said the victim was a recent resident of Basalt, Colorado, when she died. Authorities know the woman disembarked from a RFTA bus near her new home on the day of the accident. Police are not certain how or why the woman later turned up near the ski area in Aspen. Investigators said the victim did not get back on a bus.

Deputies reported the woman was run over while walking in a bus lane. Authorities later revealed the victim's blood alcohol count was extremely high -- a level that exceeded 0.29. A driver is considered intoxicated with a BAC reading of 0.08.

The driver of the RFTA bus that struck the woman said she never saw her. The bus driver was not criminally charged.

The $400,000 lawsuit is being disputed. Court records say bus company witnesses are prepared to talk about RFTA's hiring practices, substance abuse testing policies, employee work schedules and bus maintenance records.

A wrongful death jury would have to be certain the driver and her employer were negligent for damages to be awarded. In some cases, one defendant carries a greater burden of blame than another. Certainly, the victim's intoxicated condition will be a consideration in the liability case.

Jurors must decide whether "reasonable care" was used by the driver as she drove through the bus lane. A lack of criminal charges is no guarantee the driver would be free of liability.

Source: aspendailynews.com, "RFTA executives may testify in trial over woman's death," Chad Abraham, April 3, 2013

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