The death of a family member or loved one is a devastating experience in any circumstance. This is especially so when this death was caused by someone else’s actions, for example, by a drunk driver, a negligent driver, a negligent doctor, or a school that failed to supervise a child, etc.
Separate from criminal charges that the individuals may face, such as manslaughter, the family of the deceased can also bring a civil lawsuit against the negligent parties. In Ontario, the Family Law Act allows the spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters of the deceased to claim monetary damages from the defendants.
While money is no substitute for the life of a loved one, it is the only way civil courts can compensate the family for the wrongful death. Only a criminal court can sentence someone to imprisonment.
To have a successful wrongful death case, it has to be proved that the deceased died as a result of the negligence or fault of someone else and that the plaintiffs have suffered as a result of that death.
The Family Law Act allows the deceased’s direct relatives to claim some or all of the following from the defendants:
- Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses in relation to the deceased prior to his/her death;
- Traveling expenses to cover the costs associated with visiting the deceased before his/her death;
- If a family member had to take time off work to care for the deceased person before his/her death, that family member can ask for reimbursement of lost income;
- If the deceased person was providing money to his/her family or was contributing financially to the household, the family members can ask for this amount of money that would have been provided by the deceased were it not for his/her death;
- If the deceased person was providing services to the family, such as mowing the lawn or repairing the house, the surviving family members can ask for the cost of hiring these same services from another party;
- Increased expenses occasioned by the deceased person’s death—for example, the cost of home maintenance and repairs if the deceased person had performed such services previously;
- Funeral expenses; and
- Even if there were no out-of-pocket expenses and no loss of income, the family members can still claim an amount of general damages to compensate for the loss of guidance, care, and companionship of the deceased.
If the deceased was killed in a motor vehicle collision, there are some other benefits that the family members may be entitled to through Ontario’s ‘no-fault’ Accident Benefits insurance system.
This means that even if the deceased person died as a result of their own actions in a motor vehicle collision and nobody else is at fault, the family members can claim for:
- Death Benefits in the amount of $25,000 to a spouse, $10,000 to a supported former spouse, and $10,000 per dependent (or more if no spouse)*; and
- Funeral Benefits in the amount of up to a $6,000 maximum*.
*These amounts may be higher if optional extended coverage was purchased.If you have lost a family member in a fatal accident or incident, you may be able to sue for financial compensation. Please contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP for a free initial consultation at (800) 715-1082.