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Heiress gets no jail time after fatal Virginia accident

One of the richest women in the world will not face any jail time after police said she caused a fatal car accident in Virginia. The woman, an heiress of the Mars candy fortune, told police she fell asleep at the wheel just before the October accident, when her SUV crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a minivan carrying family members to a wedding rehearsal.

Killed in the accident was a woman in her eighties. Five other occupants of the minivan were hospitalized after the accident, including a woman who was eight months pregnant and lost the child as a result of the crash.

The heiress, who was also injured in the accident, could have been sentenced to a year in jail, but a judge declined to do so after family members of the accident victims read statements in court saying that they forgave her and asked that she not be sent to jail. The heiress will instead have her license suspended for six months and pay a fine of $2,500.

After a fatal traffic accident caused by a negligent driver, victims and their families may find they have difficult emotions to work through. Some may reach a point where they want to forgive the driver and move on; others may look to the criminal justice system to see that those who would injure others through their carelessness are held accountable. However, compensation for losses from an accident is a separate issue from the criminal justice system and victims may need to be compensated regardless of their feelings about the other driver.

The damages suffered by anyone injured in a car accident are very real and can include vast medical expenses and lost wages from time they are rendered unable to work. When these damages are the result of another driver's negligence, the injured can seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: NBC Washington, "No Jail Time for Mars Candy Heiress in Fatal Va. Crash," Dec. 5, 2013

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