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What is the Penalty for Wrongful Death?


Date Posted:

January 12, 2024

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    The term ‘wrongful death’ echoes with a profound sense of loss and injustice. For those grappling with such a personal tragedy, a wrongful death claim offers a path to some form of redress. 

    In this article, we cover what the penalty for wrongful death is, the process of pursuing a wrongful death claim, and how working with a personal injury lawyer can help you in achieving the support you need to get through this difficult time. 


    Defining Wrongful Death and Its Legal Implications

    A wrongful death arises when an individual’s demise is caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of another person, company, or organization. In legal terms, it is a claim against a party who can be held liable for a death. 

    In Ontario, the Family Law Act forms the legislative foundation for these claims. Specifically, the Family Law Act allows close family members to seek damages and compensation for the loss of guidance, care, and companionship, as well as financial losses and emotional suffering. This legal framework ensures that those left behind have a means to seek not just financial payment but also a form of justice for their loss. 


    The Causes of Wrongful Deaths

    Wrongful death suits often arise from a variety of tragic circumstances. As a personal injury law firm, some of the causes we see most frequently include:

    • Medical Malpractice: Failures in healthcare, such as misdiagnosis, surgical errors, or inadequate treatment leading to patient death.
    • Car Accidents: Fatalities resulting from reckless, impaired, or negligent driving.
    • Workplace Accidents: Deaths occurring in high-risk industries due to safety violations or inadequate safety measures.
    • Product Liability: Defective or unsafe products causing fatal injuries.
    • Criminal Acts: Assaults or other criminal behaviours that result in a person’s death.

    Each case reflects an instance where negligence or misconduct results in the death of an innocent victim.


    Wrongful Death Penalties

    The criminal charges associated with wrongful death claims are typically manslaughter and criminal negligence. Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being without the intention to cause death, while criminal negligence causing death, on the other hand, involves causing the death of another person through an act of negligence that shows a wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of others. 

    Both of these offences carry severe penalties in Canada. The maximum penalty for either criminal negligence causing death or manslaughter, when an individual is responsible, is life imprisonment. In both cases, the family of the victim has the right to seek compensation for their loss.


    Pursuing a Successful Wrongful Death Lawsuit 

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    When initiating a wrongful death suit, the first step involves gathering evidence to support the claim. This includes medical records, witness testimonies, accident reports, and other relevant documentation. The challenge lies in using this information to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions, or lack thereof, directly caused the death.

    Once the groundwork is laid, the process to file a wrongful death case formally begins. This includes drafting and filing a legal complaint in a court with appropriate jurisdiction that outlines the basis of the claim and the sought-after damages.

    The phases following the filing include discovery, where both parties exchange information, and potentially, settlement negotiations. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the case proceeds to trial. Here, both sides present their arguments and evidence, and the decision rests in the hands of a judge or jury.

    Successful wrongful death cases culminate in the court awarding damages to the plaintiffs. These damages can cover medical and funeral expenses, loss of income and consortium, and sometimes, punitive damages. The success of these cases hinges on the plaintiff’s ability to construct a compelling, evidence-based narrative that fulfills legal criteria for wrongful death.


    How Personal Injury Lawyers Can Assist With Wrongful Death Lawsuits

    At McNally Gervan LLP, our dedicated legal team guides families through the complexities of wrongful death claims. We understand that each wrongful death case is not just a legal matter but a deeply personal tragedy for those involved. Our lawyers bring a comprehensive, client-centered approach. Every aspect of your case is handled with the utmost care and attention to detail.

    From the initial consultation, we offer a supportive environment where clients can share their stories and receive clear, honest advice. We review the incident, from the circumstances leading to the wrongful death to the impact on the family. Our team then builds a strong, evidence-based case, handling all legal proceedings and negotiations with insurers and opposing counsel. This includes gathering necessary documentation, interviewing witnesses, and collaborating with experts to strengthen the case.

    McNally Gervan LLP is committed to achieving justice for our clients, offering a combination of legal prowess and compassionate advocacy to help navigate their personal injury case effectively.


    McNally Gervan – Helping You Through the Aftermath of a Tragic Loss

    The journey through a wrongful death claim is as much about finding closure as it is about seeking justice. 

    If you are grappling with a wrongful death, a long-term disability claim, or any other personal injury matter, McNally Gervan LLP is here to support you. Contact us for a consultation, where you can discuss your case and receive trusted legal advice.

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