Area of Law: Personal Injury
Answer # 482
Wrongful deathRegion: Ontario Answer # 482
Wrongful death refers to the death of a person due to a fatal accident or injury as a result of the negligent actions of another person, either intentional or unintentional. Wrongful death claims are considered civil actions, as opposed to criminal. Therefore, if you have lost a family member due to wrongful death, you may be able to sue for both economic or financial loss as well as non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Wrongful death lawsuits commonly involve:
- someone killed in a car accident by a drunk driver
- medical malpractice cases
- product liability cases (for example, death from a prescription drug, or in a car accident from a faulty car part)
A lawsuit can be brought against anyone who is responsible for the death, including individuals, companies, associations or government agencies.
Who can sue for wrongful death?
In Ontario, the law governing who can claim damages in a wrongful death lawsuit is the Family Law Act.
The court assesses damages in a wrongful death lawsuit when the deceased would have been entitled to personal injury damages had he or she survived the injuries.
The Act states that the following family members may collect damages:
- spouses (including common-law)
- brothers and sisters
What types of losses can you sue for?
The types of damages you can sue for in a wrongful death claim depend on the circumstances of each situation, however, there are a number of general claims that can be made, including:
- The loss of income that would have been provided from the person if death had not occurred;
- The loss of guidance, care and companionship that dependents might reasonably have expected to receive from the person if the death had not occurred;
- The loss of income sustained by the claimant as a result of the death (e.g. not being able to work for a period of time due to emotional pain and suffering);
- The travel expenses of dependents when visiting the person during treatment prior to death;
- A loss of household or childcare services that would have been provided by the deceased;
- Expenses such as medications, treatments or hospital bills prior to death; and
- Funeral and burial expenses
The amount of compensation that can be awarded depends on the claim. For example, in addition to financial damages, the maximum amount currently awarded for loss of guidance, care and companionship is $125,000.
Time limit for starting a lawsuit
Generally, the limitation period in which a wrongful death claims must be made is two years from the date of the death.
If someone you care about has died as a result of someone else’s negligence or violence, contact our preferred Personal Injury experts and see who’s right for you. They offer a free consultation and do not charge up-front fees:
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