Do You Have To Be An Immediate Family Member Of The Deceased To File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The sudden demise of a loved one is an emotionally devastating and distressing event. The pain is harder to cope with when the victim happened to be an earning member of the family and the family is faced with financial hardships. In most cases, the death of a person does not give the family members the right to seek compensation for their loss. However, in circumstances where the death is a result of the negligence or recklessness of another party, dependents of the deceased may have a right to compensation for wrongful death under the Family Law Act (FLA).
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death occurs in situations where a person loses his/her life and due to the recklessness, wrongdoing, or negligence of another. Common causes of wrongful deaths are vehicular accidents, product liability injuries, workplace injuries, and medical malpractice.
Most people in Ontario are not aware of the full extent of their rights to compensation under these circumstances. Too often, they are submerged in their grievances and do not have the will, patience, or money to exercise their rights. Unexpected but significant expenses, such as burial and funeral costs may also add to financial hardships.
The law in Ontario offers relief for those suffering the loss of a family member under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) for auto accidents and the FLA in order cases Under the SABS, one can avail of the compensation regardless of the deceased’s fault while under the FLA, a civil tort claim may be commenced as against a party that caused the death.
You may be entitled to two types of relief –
- Pecuniary damages
- Non-pecuniary damages
Pecuniary damages refer to the compensation of quantifiable monetary losses. These include the reimbursement for funeral and healthcare expenditures not covered by OHIP and the loss of potential income. These can be claimed in accordance with the FLA and the SABS.
Non-pecuniary damages are covered entirely under the FLA and the jurisprudence to compensate dependents for the loss of companionship, care, and guidance.
Who has the right to file for a Wrongful Death Claim?
The FLA states that only immediate family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim for compensation. The following relatives of the deceased have the right to commence legal proceedings–
A wrongful death claim may be filed against any entity or person for damages that the victim would have been entitled to have they been alive.
What damages are you entitled to recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The following damages can be claimed by the immediate family members of the deceased in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Expenses incurred on the victim’s behalf
- Travel expenses incurred by the victim’s family in cases where the death occurred following the period of recovery or treatment
- Housekeeping, nursing, or other services provided due to the accident
- Damages for the loss of income, care, guidance, and companionship the family member will not receive as a result of the victim’s demise
Computing damages in the events of wrongful death can be difficult and will vary depending on the circumstances. For instance, minor children and spouses who are reliant upon the deceased person’s income for financial support might be entitled to damage recovery based on the number of earning years lost due to death. On the contrary, older children might not be entitled to receive as much compensation due to the decreased number of years of dependency.
The emotional trauma that the family members suffer over the loss of a loved one cannot be recovered in a wrongful death claim. The victim’s family members who sustained expenses for therapy or counseling to overcome the emotional pain and distress might be entitled to recover the expenses for damages as being caused due to the loss of guidance and companionship of the deceased.
Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A Statute of Limitations refers to the time limit imposed by the law for commencing a claim. In Ontario, the immediate family members of the deceased have a time frame of 2 years from the date of expiry of the victim to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, in certain cases, this may change. For example – if a child who was a minor at the time of the death of his/her parents wants to file a wrongful death claim after they turn eighteen.
- The statute of limitations may also be extended in another case, where new information comes to light after2 years showing that your loved one died of negligence on someone else’s part. Most often this is the case with medical product malfunction or medical malpractice, which may take years to uncover.
It is best to commence your wrongful death claim at the earliest. The sooner you seek compensation, the better chances you have of recovering the damages entitled to you.
Where should you seek consultation?
We understand that the last thing you want to do while grieving and coping with a family member’s death is to consult a lawyer. And that is where we step in, to make matters easier for you. We will treat you with the utmost respect and compassion. Most clients discover that the financial compensation they receive prevents them from taking on additional debt and it may help to make their lives easier financially.
At Claim Settlement, our network of lawyers have 20 years of experience in handling personal injury and accident cases and has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for our clients. Our initial consultations are absolutely free and you don’t pay until our networks of lawyers have procured you the compensation you deserve. If you have suffered an injury or been in an accident call us at 1-833-892-5246 for a free consultation or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org