If a family member lost their life in a fatal accident, you may be able to receive compensation by filing a wrongful death claim. The route of recovery, and the type of compensation you receive, will depend on the incident that led to the fatal accident.
Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents
In the motor vehicle accident context, dependent surviving family members may be able to receive compensation through two concurrent avenues. One is filing an application for statutory accident benefits. The other is suing the parties who caused the accident or incident that resulted in the fatality.
To access statutory accident benefits, contact your auto insurer. The type of benefits you could receive are dependency benefits and funeral benefits. The amounts payable are set out in legislation.
Where there is no auto insurance policy which could be responsible to pay accident benefits, compensation may still be available under the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund.
To sue the parties who caused the accident or incident, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can assess the strength of the case. If your lawyer advises that you should proceed with filing a wrongful death claim, the dependents of the deceased will be the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Dependents may extend past immediate family members, such as grandparents and siblings of the deceased.
Regarding the type of compensation you could recover in a fatal accident law suit, see below.
Other Causes of Death
If a family member dies as a result of a slip and fall, assault, or other negligent act, dependents may be eligible for dependency claims by filing a lawsuit. Unlike in the motor vehicle context, no accident benefits are available.
Compensation Categories in Lawsuits
The two types of compensation you may be able to recover in your wrongful death lawsuit are pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages.
Pecuniary damages are losses that can be measured in money, such as loss of income, loss of pension benefits, and loss of household services. A personal injury lawyer will obtain a forensic accounting report, which will be used by the court to assist in assessing pecuniary damages. This report sets out the past and future dependency losses sustained by the dependents named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The calculations for these economic losses are present valued (i.e. discounted) and based on the expected lifespan and working lifespan of the deceased in accordance with actuarial information, including from Statistics Canada. Query whether the calculations may be impacted in the future as a result of prolonged life expectancy and, in turn, extended working life.
Dependents may also claim non-pecuniary damages, which are losses that cannot be clearly measured in money. They are often referred to as losses for pain and suffering. In a wrongful death claim, they are amounts to compensate for the loss of guidance, care and companionship that the dependents might reasonably have expected to receive from the deceased if death had not occurred. The nature and closeness of the relationship will be the determining factors in assessing the values of these non-pecuniary damages.
Losing a loved one in a fatal accident is traumatic. Let Douglas Strelshik guide you through your legal recourse in a calm and empathetic manner. He has been representing injured parties and surviving family members in personal injury claims for over 30 years. You can call him at 647.348.5422.