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What You Need to Know about Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim in Ontario

Motor vehicle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries. In the worst cases, those injuries can be fatal. Loved ones are left to come to terms with shock and grief following such tragic accidents. On top of shock and grief, surviving family members must also deal with unexpected financial strain. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one’s life, a grieving family shouldn’t have to cover expenses or struggle financially after a death.

If your family member has been fatally injured because of the negligent actions or misconduct of another person—whether intentional or unintentional—it’s considered a wrongful death. You can seek justice by bringing a wrongful death claim. This article sets out important information you need to know if you are considering a wrongful death claim in Ontario. If you need more information, please reach out to a personal injury lawyer at our law firm today for a free consultation.

What Kinds of Car Accidents Give Rise To Wrongful Death Claims?

A wrongful death claim can arise from any car accident, truck accident, bicycle accident, pedestrian accident, snowmobile accident, ATV accident, or motorcycle accident that causes fatal injuries.

Fatal accidents can be caused by the negligence of another driver, such as speeding or running a red light. These types of accidents often involve drunk drivers or hit-and-run collisions. In some situations, the fatal accident is caused by a defective vehicle or poorly maintained road.

Who Do You Sue In A Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against anyone who is responsible for causing the accident. The at-fault party may include individuals, companies, manufacturers, and/or government agencies. It is highly recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the fatal accident to discuss who the claim is against and how long you have to give notice of the claim.

How Long Do You Have to Start a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The general rule is that a wrongful death claim must be made within two years of the date of death. That being said, there are numerous deadlines and limitation periods that apply to insurance claims and wrongful death lawsuits. For example, the limitation period is significantly shorter if the claim is against a city or municipality.

Deadlines for notifying certain at-fault parties and filing paperwork with the insurance company can be quite short, so it is always recommended that you complete the appropriate documentation as soon as possible. Your right to bring a wrongful death claim can be greatly compromised—or totally eliminated—if deadlines and limitation periods are missed.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim In Ontario?

Ontario fatality claims are governed by the Family Law Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3. Section 61(1) of the Family Law Act is clear that only certain relatives of a deceased person are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. It states that the following relatives of the deceased person are entitled to bring a claim to recover financial compensation: spouse (common-law spouse or legally married spouse), children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.

What Is the Purpose of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Ontario, a deceased person’s dependants can sue for loss of dependency in cases of fatal tortious acts or omissions perpetrated against a person. The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to award damages that put the deceased’s dependants in the same position they would have been in had it not been for the wrongful death of the deceased.

What Kinds of Losses Can You Sue For?

The damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim can include:

  1. Actual expenses reasonably incurred for the benefit of the person injured or killed;

  2. Actual funeral expenses reasonably incurred;

  3. A reasonable allowance for travel expenses actually incurred in visiting the person during his or her treatment (e.g., payment for visitation costs if the deceased was hospitalized before dying);

  4. Where, as a result of the injury, the claimant provides nursing, housekeeping, or other services for the person, a reasonable allowance for loss of income or the value of the services; and

  5. An amount to compensate for the loss of guidance, care, and companionship that the claimant might reasonably have expected to receive from the person if the death had not occurred.

What about a Statutory Accident Benefits claim?

Regardless of fault for the accident, and regardless of whether you decide to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to no-fault benefits from your own insurance company. In Ontario, Statutory Accident Benefits (“SABS”) from your insurance company will reimburse you for funeral expenses and provide a lump sum death benefit payment.

The amount of death benefits depends on the relationship of the claimant to the deceased and on the amount of optional benefit coverage in place, if any. For example, the standard death benefit for the spouse of a deceased person is $25,000. The standard death benefit for a dependent of a deceased person (such as a minor child) is $10,000. Benefits may be higher if optional benefits were purchased, to a maximum of $50,000 for a spouse and $20,000 for a dependant.

Wrongful Death Lawyers in Sault Ste. Marie

In your time of grief, every task can seem overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support. You can count on the experienced team of personal injury lawyers at Feifel Gualazzi to help you make a wrongful death claim. Our lawyers will handle the insurance adjusters and get the compensation you deserve.

We’re one of the largest personal injury law firms in Northern Ontario and have represented numerous clients and families in wrongful death, spinal injury, brain injury and amputation cases from our offices in Sault Ste. Marie. We are available to assist clients anywhere in the Algoma District. Unlike out-of-town firms, we’re part of your community and leverage local resources that are accessible to our clients. Our dedicated team is committed to getting you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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