A single-vehicle car accident on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana has left two Harlem residents dead and three others injured. The incident, which occurred during the evening hours of March 21, occurred on private land just north of Snake Butte Road, according to official reports.
Authorities said the two victims, a 34-year-old female driver and her 33-year-old male passenger, were both killed at the scene when they were ejected from the vehicle. The driver had apparently been attempting to negotiate a left turn in the road, but she failed, sending the car tumbling through a nearby field. Neither one of the deceased victims appear to have been wearing a seatbelt. A third victim, a 16-year-old boy, was also thrown from the vehicle; he was transported to a medical facility in Great Falls.
Two other passengers were also injured in the collision: a 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy. These victims were taken to local medical facilities on the reservation. Speed appears to have been a factor in the accident, but investigators are still working to determine whether alcohol played a role.
It is not clear whether the three youngsters in the vehicle were related to the driver and her adult passenger. If the injured teens are not the children of the two adult victims, the youngsters' family members could sue the estate of the driver of the vehicle. The teens probably accumulated significant medical costs in connection with the incident, much of which could be paid by a settlement or judgment from a civil case.
Even if the youngsters are related to the adults, they could still recover damages from the municipality or state if the road was deemed unsafe. A vehicle malfunction could also have been to blame for the wreck, which would indicate a suit directed at the car manufacturers. The accident is still under investigation, so additional information is needed before a civil suit can be submitted.
Source: Billings Gazette, "Sheriff identifies 2 Harlem residents killed in Fort Belknap crash," Clair Johnson, March 22, 2013