A claim of “wrongful death” is brought when a person dies in an accident/event/condition that is caused by someone else’s fault or negligence. This is apart from the possible criminal case that may proceed alongside. Wrongful death claims can be brought against individuals, corporations, entities, governments, institutions etc.
Typical Causes of Wrongful DeathAutomobile Accidents: Traffic fatalities are the most common cause of wrongful death. In most cases, these accidents are caused because the driver was under the influence of drugs/alcohol, fatigued, inexperienced or distracted. Poor visibility, bad weather and road conditions, defective automobile parts, inadequate road-signs/warnings/signals etc are other reasons for fatal auto crashes. Due to the death of the driver/s, co-passengers and pedestrians, the relatives of victims are entitled to receive compensation. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable, especially seniors and children.
Medical Malpractice: includes dental, clinical malpractice caused by physicians, health-care providers, institutions etc. Common types include failure to diagnose or mis-diagnosis, anesthesia-related problems, wrong treatment/medication etc. which lead to death.
Work-place Accidents: are another area where wrongful death occurs. It could happen on a construction site, a busy factory, an office-space, garage or shop premises. Many work-place accidents or injuries are caused by the working conditions themselves or are connected in some way to them. For instance, factory-workers exposed to hazardous substances, nurses working round the clock or death caused by malfunctioning machinery/equipment, etc can result in wrongful death.
Criminal Acts: People who murder others can be sued in a civil court, quite separately from the criminal court proceedings.
Defective or malfunctioning products, unsafe premises, lack of security etc are other reasons for wrongful death.
Ontario Family Law Act and Wrongful Death
Ontario Family Law allows the surviving spouse and certain other eligible family members to collect compensation for:
- Economic and non-economic damages for expenditure incurred before the person died
- Funeral expenses
- Travel expenses incurred while visiting the deceased person in case he/she was undergoing hospital treatment
- Loss of present and future income for dependents
- Shared family income
- Loss of household services that would have been undertaken by the deceased
- Loss of companionship and guidance
- Spouse, children (includes adopted children), grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings
- Parents of unmarried children
- Life-partners and/or those who believe in good faith that they were married to the victim
- In some cases, partners, dependents and companions may be entitled to compensation.
- Parents of a deceased fetus
Punitive damages may be awarded by the judge if the case involved particularly outrageous negligence or breach of rules. In general, the damages awarded are structured so that the survivor or claimant/s receive 60-70% of the net income that the deceased would have earned in the period starting from the time of the accident to the end of his/her working life. An assessment is done to evaluate how much the deceased person would have spent on themselves and this is deducted from the final award.
Based on the circumstances and insurance policy criteria, eligible members who can file such claims may include:
An experienced personal injury lawyer with expertise in handling wrongful death claims can assist you and ensure that your rights are protected.