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Wrongful death claims exist separate from criminal charges

Each day that a Lexington resident wakes up and climbs out of bed, there is no way to anticipate the challenges and complications that they may face as their mornings begin. For most people, days unfold in predictable patterns as they engage in the normal activities that require their time, such as taking their kids to school, going to their places of employment to do their work, and returning home to make dinner and spend quality time with their families. For some, though, significant incidents happen and throw their lives into turmoil.

Vehicle accidents, incidents at work and other occurrences can cause individuals to suffer physical injury and harm at the hands of others who engage in negligent and reckless behaviors. When these unfortunate incidents happen, victims can often find themselves unable to work and partake in the events that bring joy to their lives. When these incidents are particularly severe, the victims may lose their lives due to other people's bad actions.

A death caused by the negligence of another person is generally referred to as a wrongful death. When a person dies in a car crash, it is usually the result of another driver breaking a law; failing to follow laws can result in the responsible parties' arrest and the imposition of criminal charges against them for their alleged violations of the law.

An arrest for breaking a law and causing a death does not end a responsible party's liability, though. While criminal sanctions may be pursued in the criminal courts, civil sanctions may be pursued in the civil courts through wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim may be commenced by the personal representative of the deceased party for the benefit of the decedent's surviving close relatives; through a wrongful death claim, loved ones of a deceased victim may seek compensation for their losses despite the responsible party's potential arrest on related criminal charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed September 26, 2017

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