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Emotional harm alleged by Charleston crash victim's relatives

Physical suffering may come to mind when you think about civil claims for traffic accidents. West Virginia motor vehicle accident claims also may cause other types of harm, including financial losses like gargantuan medical bills. Direct or indirect emotional anguish also may result.

A pair of sisters accompanied their great-grandmother to a Charleston convenience store in August 2012 and saw something they'll never forget. The great-grandmother got out of a vehicle to go into a 7-Eleven, while the girls waited. The older relative was run over by a pickup truck in the store parking lot and suffered fatal injuries.

A lawsuit recently filed by the sisters stated the plaintiffs were traumatized by their great-grandmother's violent death. The complaint stated one great-granddaughter apparently witnessed the approach of the Ford pickup and saw the truck hit and roll over the older woman. The other great-granddaughter quickly became aware of the accident and witnessed the aftermath.

The wrongful death claim was filed last month in a Kanawha Circuit Court. The defendants include the man who drove the Ford truck, Terminix and a fleet management company. The truck driver worked for the pest control company.

The lawsuit requests punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages for the emotional distress imposed upon the great-granddaughters.

Wrongful death lawsuits concentrate on the losses suffered by surviving family members. Some states limit the relatives who may file wrongful death actions. The list may be confined exclusively to spouses, parents and children.

Other family members deeply affected by the loss of a loved one may not have the opportunity to take claims to civil court. However, some states realize a family's losses following a tragedy can be extensive and permit claims by other relatives and dependents.

Liability attorneys assess victims and families' claims following an accident and explain the qualifications necessary to file a lawsuit. Lawyers also help plaintiffs gather evidence necessary to support claims.

Source: The West Virginia Record, "Children witnessed great-grandmother’s death, lawsuit claims" Kelly Holleran, Aug. 11, 2014

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