Northern Virginia and the DC metro area are both home to many wealthy residents. When powerful figures are involved in fatal car accidents, though, the victims of those crashes still have the same rights under the law as anyone else. Recently, the co-owner of the Mars candy company, a woman in her 70s, apparently caused a fatal crash.

Earlier this month, the woman was driving her Porsche SUV in Aldie when she crossed the road’s center line. Crossing lanes can easily portend disaster, and this instance was no different. The SUV hit a minivan, and an 86-year-old passenger in that vehicle died at the scene of the wreck. According to a spokesperson for the Mars co-owner, she has been filled with sorrow since the accident.

While a driver’s grief is highly understandable in an incident like this, the family of the deceased is bound to feel even more pain. A car accident victim can experience a emotional shock and physical injuries, and if a fatality occurs the financial surprises can haunt surviving family members. Many families have to deal with funeral expenses, loss of income, medical expenses incurred prior to the victim’s passing and, finally, mental pain and suffering.

The Mars co-owner has been ranked by Forbes as the world’s seventh-wealthiest woman. Still, no matter the income level of the person who caused a fatal crash, family members of victims in Virginia have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. While drivers are sometimes charged with criminal offenses following fatal accidents, civil lawsuits are more focused on the financial and emotional losses of the victim’s loved ones.

Source: ABC News, “Mars co-owner involved in fatal crash in Northern Va.,” Oct. 9, 2013