Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

Losing a loved one is a painful experience that is never easy regardless of how the person dies. However, when the death occurs because of the preventable, negligent act of another party, the weight of the death can be overwhelming. While nothing can change what has happened or ease your grief, you can take steps to get justice for your loved one and your family.

What is a Wrongful Death?

When a person’s death occurs as the result of another party’s negligent acts or omissions, the death is said to be “wrongful.” A wrongful death can result from any personal injury accident traffic-related accidents, slip and fall accidents (premises liability), medical malpractice, defective product, or dangerous drug. If the death is the direct result of the negligence of another party, family members can file a claim against that party to recover damages and losses because of the death of their loved ones.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Ontario?

The Family Law Act applies to wrongful death claims filed in Ontario. According to the law, if a person dies because of the negligence of another party, blood relatives are entitled to recover the pecuniary loss (loss of income contributed to the family) for that person.

The following family members are entitled to recover this compensation under the Act:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents

Damages in a Wrongful Death Action

In addition to being compensated for the loss of income the person would have provided for the family, the family is entitled to compensation for other damages. In most cases, the family can receive money for:

  • Medical costs between the time of injury and death
  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Loss of support, care, love, companionship, and guidance from the deceased
  • The suffering and emotional pain of the surviving family members

We use an economist or other financial experts to assist in calculating lost wages based on many factors including your loved one’s age, health, education, and profession. However, calculating the true loss, the loss of life, is much more difficult. There is no amount of money that can take the place of your loved one. However, a monetary award can help provide the financial means for you to continue to take care of yourself and your family.

In some cases, the family may also receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are decided on a case-by-case basis. These damages are intended to “punish” a defendant for grossly negligent behaviour that resulted in the death of a person.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Yes, Ontario has a statute of limitations that applies to wrongful death claims. In most cases, you must file a wrongful death action within two years from the date of death. However, you should not assume you have two years to file your claim. There are some exceptions to the rule that could shorten or lengthen the time to file a lawsuit.

It is always best to contact an Ontario wrongful death lawyer to discuss your case as soon as possible. While filing a lawsuit will not bring your loved one back, it can serve as a warning to others that this type of negligent behaviour will not be tolerated without consequences. Obtaining a judgment against the negligent party can also provide some small measure of closure too.

Have You Lost Your Loved One Because of Another Person’s Carelessness, Recklessness, or Negligence?

The team of lawyers at Diamond and Diamond want to help you get justice for your loved one. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.

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