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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal car accident?

When a family loses a loved one in a motor vehicle accident because of someone else's negligence or recklessness, nothing is ever the same. The at-fault driver may be charged criminally in connection with the person's death and some sense of justice may be found if there is a conviction.

There are expenses that the family must endure, too. If the person did not die at the accident scene, there may be extraordinary medical bills. Funeral expenses can be difficult to come up with, especially in cases of unexpected deaths. The person who died may have been the primary breadwinner for the family, so the immediate loss of income can create a financial hardship.

Many families decide to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for their loved one's death. In order to do so, the lawsuit must be filed by a personal representative of the decedent.

If damages are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, they are to be distributed to:

-- The surviving spouse

-- The decedent's children

-- The children of any of the decedent's deceased children

If there are no such people, then the damages are distributed to:

-- The decedent's parents

-- The decedent's siblings

-- Relatives who relied on the support from the decedent for support and lived with the decedent

A wrongful death lawsuit may help the family members of the decedent with financial difficulties that arose because of their loved one's death. It might also help them to feel as though justice has been served, although no amount of money can bring back a lost loved one. An experienced lawyer can provide more information on what is needed for a wrongful death lawsuit and what damages may be pursued.

Source: vacode.org, "§ 8.01-50Action for death by wrongful act; how and when to be brought.," accessed June 15, 2016

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