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How Much Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?

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June 6, 2024

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    Imagine your husband driving home after a long shift at work. After waiting for the change of a traffic light, only a few kilometers away, your husband starts to slowly turn on to the final stretch home–when he is struck by a speeding vehicle in the intersection. 

    The other driver was texting at the wheel and driving at excessive speed, which is why he did not see the red light and was unable to avoid the collision with your husband’s vehicle. Your husband is severely injured. Despite the best efforts of the first responders who rushed him to the hospital, he succumbs to his injuries only a few minutes later.

    What started as a routine commute leads to a tragic end and throws your life into turmoil. While no amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, wrongful death claims can provide financial relief and a sense of justice for the surviving family members. 

    This blog post will provide some insight into the question, “How much can you sue for wrongful death?” We will explore the various types of compensation available for wrongful death and look at the factors that influence how much you can sue for wrongful death in Ontario. 

    What is a “Wrongful Death”?

    When someone dies as the result of negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another party, it can be considered a wrongful death. 

    Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought by the family members of a deceased person against the party responsible for their death. These claims seek compensation and include both financial and non-financial damages. 

    A wrongful death lawsuit can stem from car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace incidents, and other negligent or intentional acts.

    Wrongful Death Claims in Ontario

    In Ontario, wrongful death claims are governed primarily by section 61 of the Family Law Act (FLA). This legislation outlines who is eligible to file a claim and the types of compensation that can be sought. Eligible family members typically include spouses, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings of the deceased. The Act recognizes the profound impact of losing a loved one and provides a legal framework for seeking compensation for both financial and emotional losses.

    Types of Compensation in Wrongful Death Claims

    Pecuniary (Financial) Damages

    Loss of Financial Support 

    Financial support covers the income and financial contributions the deceased would have provided had they survived, including the deceased’s current earnings, future earning potential, and benefits, such as pensions and healthcare. 

    Funeral and Burial Expenses

    These include the reasonable costs incurred for funeral expenses, such as the costs for the funeral service, casket, and burial plot. 

    Medical and Travel Expenses

    Families can claim medical expenses related to the deceased’s treatment prior to death, including hospital bills, medication, and other healthcare costs, as well as travel expenses incurred visiting the deceased in the hospital. 

    Non-Pecuniary (Non-Financial) Damages – Loss of Care, Guidance, and Companionship

    Non-pecuniary damages address the emotional and psychological impact of losing a loved one. This compensation is meant for the loss of care, guidance, and companionship the deceased would have provided to their family. 

    The subjective nature of these claims makes them complex, as they involve placing a monetary value on deeply personal and emotional losses.

    Factors Influencing Compensation in Wrongful Death Cases

    The degree of negligence or wrongdoing by the responsible party can significantly impact the compensation amount in wrongful death claims. Cases involving gross negligence or intentional acts that directly led to the death often result in higher compensation compared to instances of ordinary negligence. 

    The relationship between the claimant and the deceased also plays a role in determining the compensation amount. Close family members such as spouses, children, and parents generally receive higher compensation due to the profound impact on their lives. The age and personal circumstances of the surviving family members is another factor. Younger children, who may face long-term impacts on their upbringing and future, and elderly parents, who depended on their deceased child for support, may receive significant compensation due to the extensive effect on their lives.

    As you can see, there is a robust framework in place for determining compensation in a wrongful death suit. Consulting with a wrongful death claims lawyer is the best way to get information about your specific situation and the ranges of compensation that might be available in your particular case.  Every case is different and you need an experienced injury lawyer that knows how to build your case to ensure that you get fair compensation and don’t miss out on some of the specific compensation claims that can be recovered. 

    Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

    Establishing Negligence or Wrongdoing

    To file a wrongful death claim, it is essential to establish that the death resulted from the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act. This involves gathering evidence such as police reports, medical records, and witness statements. 

    Filing the Claim

    The formal process of filing a wrongful death claim involves submitting the necessary legal documents to detail the incident, the relationship between the deceased and the claimants, and the compensation sought. 

    Discovery and Settlement Negotiations

    During the discovery phase, both parties exchange relevant information and evidence. This allows each side to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Wrongful death settlement negotiations often occur during this phase, aiming to reach an agreement without going to trial. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial, where a judge or jury will determine the outcome.

    Trust the Personal Injury Lawyers at McNally Gervan 

    If you have lost a family member in an accidental death, it is important to seek legal advice to see if you can pursue a wrongful death case. 

    In Ontario, there is no specific minimum, or maximum, for wrongful death claims, however, enlisting the support of a wrongful death lawyer can help you get fair compensation.  

    At McNally Gervan, our lawyers have a deep understanding of personal injury law, and they are here to support you. Whether you have questions about a potential wrongful death claim, a personal injury lawsuit, or other legal matters, an Ottawa personal injury lawyer is here to help. Contact us today. 

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