Family members are entitled to receive compensation if they take care of a loved one who has been injured and/or impaired as a result of an accident. It is natural for parents, spouses and children to provide physical, emotional, and practical support to a family member in their time of need. In such difficult circumstances, many people take time off work, relocate, and undertake caregiving activities that, otherwise, they would not have needed to provide. However, sacrificing one’s career, free time, and financial resources on providing caregiving deserves to be compensated.
Family caregiver benefits and compensation
Families contribute in many ways to helping accident victims with their recovery and rehabilitation. In such circumstances, it is not uncommon for loved ones to:
- Leave their jobs either temporarily or permanently
- Commute long distances
- Renovate or refurbish housing
- Spend all day as a caregiver
These commitments involve assuming significant physical, mental, emotional, and financial responsibilities. Ontario courts recognize the importance of the roles that family members play in such challenging circumstances, and they are willing to compensate them accordingly.
How families can get compensation
In Ontario, there used to be two pathways through which families could expect to be reasonably compensated: attendant care benefits (car accidents) and by filing a lawsuit (all types of accidents and claims).
However, changes to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) in 2019 have, for all intents and purposes, excluded family members from receiving attendant care benefits.
Now, family members must file a lawsuit under the Family Law Act to receive compensation. Usually, the Family Law claim is included within the personal injury lawsuit as a specific type of damages. If a loved one has suffered a slip and fall, car accident, sporting injury, recreational injury or long term disability, a lawsuit is the best way to pursue compensation. Within that legal action, the “FLA claim” is intended to compensate family members for their losses and expenses.
No more accident benefits for the family
Until recently, a family member or a non-professional providing attendant care to a car accident victim was eligible to receive the attendant care benefits part of the Statutory Accident Benefits. However, two salient changes in 2019 have meant:
- Previously separate accident benefits (medical, rehabilitation, attendant care) are consolidated into one lump sum amount
- Attendant care must be provided by a professional who bills the insurance company; the insurance company does not pay any more than the billed amount
Practically this has left families with little choice but to pursue a lawsuit. Speak to a lawyer to understand how families receive compensation in personal injury lawsuits.
Managing medical expenses
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Suing under the Family Law Act
Family members can sue for compensation under the Family Law Act, seeking compensation from the wrongdoer for their intentional and/or negligent acts. Monetary compensation (damages) can be received for:
– Expenses incurred for the benefit of the person injured or killed
– Funeral expenses
– Travel allowance for visiting the person during treatment or recovery
– If a family member provides nursing or housekeeping for the injured person, a reasonable allowance for loss of income or value of services may be granted
– Compensation for the loss of “care, guidance, and companionship” the family would have reasonably expected if the injury or death had not occurred
Tort claims in Ontario include family law claims in addition to the personal injury claim. Speak to a lawyer to understand how both claims can be pursued in one lawsuit.
Who can recover compensation?
The Family Law Act defines the following people as ‘dependants’ who can file claims:
Can my family get compensated for my car accident claim?
There is a clear understanding that when families take time out of their lives to take care of a loved one, they deserve to be compensated. Many personal injury claims include a family compensation component. A prominent example is of Gordon & Morrison v. Greig, in which the parents were awarded $100,000 for their caregiving.
Speak to a personal injury lawyer at Pace Law Firm to find out if you are eligible to receive compensation for taking care of your loved one after an injury. Our lawyers are compassionate advocates who will work with you to secure your and your family’s future.