Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

By Anu Malhotra | March 19, 2018

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, but dealing with a sudden loss can be even more difficult, especially if families are left trying to sort through new and large financial responsibilities.

‘Wrongful death’ is a term applied to a situation where a death ought not to have happened. When a wrongful death is the result of a motor vehicle accident, there are several claims  available to help decrease the financial burden for grieving families.

Statutory Accident Benefits

Statutory Accident Benefits, also referred to as “no fault benefits”, can provide compensation to a victim’s family by the victim’s own motor vehicle insurance company regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

This includes death benefits for the spouse and children, up to $6,000 for funeral costs, and other claims such as grief counselling or prescribed medication for family members as a result of the accident. In some circumstances, family members can make a claim for Income Replacement Benefits if they are unable to return to work due to a death in the family.

Tort claims

A tort claim is a civil lawsuit that the victim’s family can file if someone else was at fault for the accident which resulted in the passing of their family member. In order for this type of case to proceed, negligence of the defendant must be proven showing their acts or omissions were the  cause of the fatality.

Under a tort claim, compensation can be provided for several types of damages, including the following:

  • Loss of care, companionship and guidance: This compensation is provided to family members for their loss, where compensation is based on their relationship with the victim such as how often they saw the victim, and the nature of the relationship.
  • Pecuniary damages: This compensation is provided for monetary costs directly related to the fatality such as extra funeral benefits.
  • Dependency claim: This compensation is provided to family members such as the spouse and children who were dependent on the victim. Compensation is based on a multitude of factors including, but not limited to, the victim’s age, health, family contribution, etc.
  • Loss of services: This compensation is provided on the basis of services lost. A spouse or family member often takes an active role without monitory gain, such as driving the kids to school, cleaning the house, etc. that would have a monitory value if someone had to be hired to replace these roles.
  • Pain and suffering: This compensation is provided to the estate  of the victim, if the victim was in pain and suffered  before their passing.

Within the province of Ontario, a family wishing to make a wrongful death claim must do so within two years of the accident. This timeline is important to note as there is extensive preparation involved to ensuring a successful claim.

For more information on wrongful death claims contact Anu Malhotra.