lawyer reading from laptop

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim


Date Posted:

June 27, 2024

Share This:

Contact Us Today

    Losing a loved one is an incredibly painful experience. In unexpected situations where a death results from someone else’s negligence, the combination of emotional and looming financial burdens can be so stressful that it feels overwhelming. 

    At McNally Gervan LLP, we understand these challenges. Helping individuals and families cope and recover, despite tragic circumstances, is a core part of our mission; we are dedicated to helping families navigate the legal processes involved with a wrongful death case to seek justice and compensation. As such, we have created this guide on how to file a wrongful death claim in Ontario to help clear up any confusion you may have.

    Wrongful Death Claims

    A wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the negligence or intentional act of another. Wrongful death claims allow the deceased’s family to seek compensation for their loss, holding the responsible party accountable.

    Eligibility to File a Wrongful Death Claim

    In Ontario, the Family Law Act (FLA) permits certain family members–only those directly affected by the loss–to file a wrongful death claim. Eligible individuals include spouses, children, parents, siblings, and, in certain cases, grandchildren and/or grandparents. 

    Statute of Limitations

    Wrongful death claims in Ontario must be filed within two years from the date of death. Exceptions to this time frame are rare but can occur in specific circumstances, such as when the cause of death is discovered later. 

    If you believe such an exception might apply in your case, your best course of action is to consult with an experienced wrongful death claims lawyer

    Types of Compensation Awarded in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

    Economic damages cover financial losses resulting from the death, including funeral expenses and burial expenses, loss of income and future earnings, as well as medical bills related to the deceased’s injury. Non-economic damages compensate for intangible losses, such as loss of companionship and care, and mental anguish and emotional distress. In cases of gross negligence or intentional harm, punitive damages may also be awarded. 

    Steps to File a Wrongful Death Claim

    Trusting your case to an experienced wrongful death claims lawyer is recommended to make sure that your claim is handled correctly. At McNally Gervan LLP, our team is dedicated to supporting families through every step of the legal process.

    To build a strong wrongful death case, the key documents required include the death certificate, medical records, proof of relationship to the deceased, and financial records demonstrating economic loss. Without sufficient evidence, it is impossible to prove negligence or intent in a wrongful death action. Gathering witness statements, accident reports, and expert testimony, each play a role in establishing the circumstances surrounding the death and demonstrating the defendant’s responsibility.

    Filing the Claim

    1. Initial Consultation: Meet with McNally Gervan LLP to discuss your case and legal options.
    2. Claim Preparation: Your lawyer will prepare and file the necessary legal documents with the court.
    3. Notification: The defendant will be formally notified of the claim.

    Court Procedures

    Once a wrongful death suit has been filed, the legal process may include:

    • Discovery: Both parties exchange evidence and information.
    • Mediation: Attempt to resolve the case through negotiation.
    • Trial: If no settlement is reached, the case proceeds to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome.

    Negotiations and Settlements

    Many wrongful death claims are resolved through settlements. Your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair settlement that compensates for your loss.

    Going to Trial

    If a settlement cannot be reached, your wrongful death lawsuit may go to trial. This can be a lengthy and emotional process, but with McNally Gervan LLP by your side, you will have strong legal representation throughout.

    Common Challenges in Wrongful Death Cases

    Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be emotionally draining for families. 

    One of the biggest challenges in wrongful death claims is proving that the defendant’s actions directly caused the death of the deceased person–it requires compelling evidence. The support of an experienced wrongful death lawyer is key to building a strong case that demonstrates the link between the defendant’s actions and the death, which is fundamentally important to proving wrongful death and securing wrongful death damages.

    An experienced lawyer ensures that all legal requirements are met, deadlines are adhered to, and your case is presented in the strongest possible manner, maximizing your chances of securing fair compensation for your loss.

    Contact McNally Gervan to Discuss Your Options

    Losing a loved one is devastating, but you don’t have to face the legal aftermath alone. At McNally Gervan LLP, we are committed to providing compassionate, expert legal support to help you seek justice and compensation. While the process can be challenging, our dedicated team is here to ease the burden and guide you every step of the way.

    An Ottawa personal injury lawyer from our team will help you understand your legal options and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your family. Reach out today to take the first step towards justice and healing.

    table of contents