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Wrongful acts may cause a death even without criminal actions

Have you gone to a trusted authority for help? If you didn't get it, you were probably feeling lost and hurt. It's not often that we are taught it is all right to ask for help, and it is even more rare that we get it when we ask for it. But some people and organizations have a true responsibility to the people they serve, and this responsibility may be spelled out by law.

Negligence is one of the ways that a person may cause the death of another through something that Virginia law calls a wrongful act. Criminal acts may result in criminal charges to satisfy the needs of the commonwealth. Civil actions, however, are designed to compensate the actual victims of wrongful acts, which may include crimes.

Criminal charges are not necessary to press a claim in civil court, as some wrongful acts are not crimes. For example, a person who is negligent in a hired duty to keep a space clean is not necessarily guilty of murder or manslaughter if a person slips and falls to his death on a dirty surface.

Some people, like doctors or law enforcement officers, may have a legal duty to protect others or prevent harm to others. This is similar to the fiduciary duty that lawyers and accountants have to represent their clients to the best of their ability.

An attorney can help work out these details and the differences between civil and criminal claims. A lawyer can always help someone wrestling with the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit after a sudden loss.

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