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Ontario Wrongful Death Law: What Is Compensation Based on?

By Matt Lalande in Wrongful Death on June 25, 2023

Ontario Wrongful Death Law: What Is Compensation Based on?

The unexpected loss of a loved one is one of life’s most profound traumas, resulting in a whirlwind of shock, despair, and devastation. It’s a time when the world as you knew it is suddenly shattered, leaving a vast chasm of absence in its wake. This loss can plunge surviving family members into a complex emotional grief, which manifests in various psychological issues, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, eventually, acceptance. Grief is not a linear process, and each person’s journey is unique, with varying degrees of intensity and duration.

Grief is further compounded when the loss results from someone else’s negligence. Feelings of injustice, anger, and frustration can intensify the grief, as you grapple with the fact that the tragedy could have been prevented. This is where the legal system comes into play, offering a means for holding those responsible accountable for their actions.

Then – there is dealing with seeking justice if someone was responsible for the wrongful death of your loved one. If you suspect negligence was a factor in your loved one’s death, hiring a wrongful death lawyer can be a crucial step in protecting your family’s future. 

Our wrongful death lawyers understand the intricacies of wrongful death law in Ontario and can guide you through the legal process during this emotionally challenging time.  Our Ontario wrongful death lawyers have the experience in seeking justice and compensation to help carry your financial and emotional losses associated with the unexpected death of your loved one.  

Though no amount of compensation can bring back a loved one, it can alleviate financial burdens and provide a sense of justice and closure. Hiring an Ontario wrongful death lawyer can help ensure your rights are protected, and you receive the compensation you deserve. It is one way to regain some semblance of control in a situation that has left you feeling helpless and secure a more stable future for your family in the midst of your loss.

If someone has taken your loved one unexpectedly, contact our Ontario Wrongful Death Lawyers to learn what options you and your family may have. Our Ontario wrongful death lawyers have over two decades of wrongful death experience and can provide professional representation to ensure that you receive compensation that you are your family are entitled to. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment with our firm. Our head office is located in Hamilton and we serve victims all over Ontario. Call us toll-free, no matter where you are in the Province at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form on our website and we will be happy to get right back to you.

When should I contact an Ontario Wrongful Death Lawyer?

Our Ontario wrongful death lawyers understand that the initial phase after losing a loved one is a time of profound sorrow, confusion, and filled with an overpowering sense of grief. During these moments, the natural and most immediate response is to mourn and remember, not to consider financial compensation or other such practical matters.

The pain of loss is so profound that it engulfs all aspects of life, momentarily rendering all else inconsequential. Our Ontario wrongful death lawyers understand that memories shared, the vacuum created, and the accompanying emotional turmoil are often too overwhelming to allow thoughts of monetary compensation or legal proceedings to permeate the grieving mind.

However, as time goes on, and the fog of immediate shock starts to lift, the surviving spouse might begin to grapple with the tangible implications of their loss, including financial hardships. Tasks that were once shared – such as managing the mortgage, utility bills, insurances, and even everyday expenses – now fall solely upon their shoulders.

This realization can be a jarring transition, bringing to light an additional layer of anxiety during an already challenging time. When ready, it may be beneficial to reach out to our Ontario wrongful death lawyer to explore potential avenues of financial support. Our legal professionals can offer valuable advice about possible compensations that may help to ease the financial burden brought on by the loss. Seeking legal recourse is not about valuing a loved one’s life in terms of money, but rather, it’s about seeking justice and ensuring financial security during a time of drastic change. It’s protecting the well being of your family. 

What is Wrongful Death Compensation based on in Ontario?

Pecuniary Damages – a complicated term for “Economic Damages”

In Ontario, when dealing with the devastating loss of a spouse due to wrongful death, the surviving spouse and other claimants may be entitled to what’s known as pecuniary damages – otherwise better known as “economic losses“.

These are compensatory payments awarded for quantifiable financial losses that have resulted from the death of a loved one. The legal basis for these claims is laid out in Ontario’s Family Law Act, which provides that spouses, along with other close relatives, may claim damages in the wake of a family member’s wrongful death.

Pecuniary damages for a surviving spouse can take several forms. One of the most significant is the loss of financial support. If the deceased was contributing to household income, the surviving spouse can claim compensation for this loss. This is typically calculated based on the deceased’s income at the time of death, their future earning potential, and the likelihood that they would have continued to provide support if not for their untimely death.

Another important category of pecuniary damages is the loss of household services – or the loss of housekeeping and home maintenance that your spouse or partner provided when alive. This is compensation for the loss of services that the deceased performed around the home, such as childcare, home maintenance, cleaning, cooking, and other daily tasks. If the surviving spouse now has to pay for these services or take time off work to perform them, they may be entitled to compensation for this loss.

Funeral and burial expenses are also a significant part of pecuniary damages. These costs can be considerable, and the surviving spouse can seek to recover these expenses as part of their claim.

Ther are also dependency claims which can be made. In Ontario, a dependency loss in the context of a wrongful death claim refers to the financial support that the deceased person was providing to their dependents, and which has been lost due to their death. This could include income that the deceased was earning and using to support the family, but also other forms of financial contributions, such as benefits and pensions.

Dependency claims are usually made by family members who were financially dependent on the deceased, such as a spouse, children, or in some cases, parents. The amount of compensation that can be claimed will depend on a variety of factors, including the deceased’s income at the time of death, their future earning potential, the age and circumstances of the dependents, among others. 

It is worth noting that calculating dependency loss can be complex, and it may be advisable to seek legal counsel to ensure a fair and accurate assessment. A wrongful death attorney would be able to guide you through this process, explaining the specifics of the law as they apply to your unique situation, and helping you to navigate the legal proceedings.

Through the pursuit of these pecuniary damages, the law attempts to provide some degree of financial relief in the face of profound personal loss. Yet, it’s important to remember that these processes can be complex, and seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is crucial to ensure all losses are accurately accounted for and pursued.

Non-Pecuniary Damages – a complicated term for “non-economic damages”

Also known as general damages, non-pecuniary damages are “non-economic” losses which compensate for intangible losses.   

Non-pecuniary damages, in a straightforward sense, refer to compensation awarded for losses that are not easily measured in monetary terms. In the context of wrongful death in Ontario, non-pecuniary damages are referred to as the loss of care, guidance, and companionship which would have flowed from the deceased to the surviving family members. .

This type of damage addresses the emotional and psychological impact experienced by the surviving family members due to the death of a loved one. It represents the love, emotional support, guidance, and companionship that the deceased person would have provided to their family members had they not passed away. 

In Ontario, under the Family Law Act, a spouse, children, parents, and siblings of the deceased can claim this type of non-pecuniary damage. It’s worth noting that while these damages are meant to provide some form of relief for the emotional suffering caused by the loss, they can never truly compensate for the personal, emotional, and psychological loss experienced by the surviving family members. 

The Loss of Care, Guidance, and Companionship in Ontario

The wrongful death of a loved one due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing can cause immense grief for their family, who may be eligible for compensation under the Ontario Family Law Act for loss of care, guidance and companionship. In Ontario, the Family Law Act recognizes this unique kind of pain and allows close relatives to seek compensation for their loss of care, guidance, and companionship.

What is Loss of Care, Guidance, and Companionship in Ontario?

In Ontario, the Family Law Act allows family members to recover damages for loss of care, guidance, and companionship that they might reasonably have expected to receive if the death had not occurred. This is a non-pecuniary (non-financial) type of damage that is designed to compensate for the emotional impact of losing the love and companionship of the deceased. 

It’s important to note that this is not a measure of the grief or sorrow caused by the death, but rather, it acknowledges the inherent value of the relationships that have been lost. Family members who were close to the deceased, such as spouses, children, parents, siblings and grandparents, may claim these damages.

Calculating the loss of care, guidance, and companionship is complex and subjective, as it involves putting a monetary value on intangible and deeply personal aspects of a familial relationship. Courts consider various factors, including the age, physical condition, and personal circumstances of the claimant, as well as the nature of their relationship with the deceased. Given the complexities involved, it is often advisable to seek the assistance of a legal professional when pursuing such a claim.

How is the “loss of companionship” defined in Ontario Wrongful Death Claims?

The loss of companionship was defined way back in 1982 in a case called Mason v. Peters. In that care, the Court stated “or one measurable in pecuniary terms. The most significant loss suffered, apart from the sorrow, grief and anguish that always ensues from such deaths, is not potential economic gain, but deprivation of the society, comfort and protection which might reasonably be expected had the child lived — in short, the loss of the rewards of association which flow from the family relationship and are summarized in the word “companionship”.”

In other words, the “loss of companionship” refers to the deprivation of the society, comfort, and protection that one person provides to another. This can include various aspects of a relationship such as the right to each other’s company, cooperation, and assistance in every aspect of their relationship. This means everything from taking care of finances, housework, enjoying time with each other, and even having sexual relations. 

Who Can Seek Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim in Ontario?

Spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings can seek compensation for loss of care, guidance, and companionship in Ontario.

Funeral Expenses in an Ontario Wrongful Death Claim

The price of a funeral service may differ considerably depending on individual choices and traditional practices. However, common expenses include:

  • The cost for professional services from the funeral home
  • Casket or urn prices
  • Burial plot or cremation fees
  • Costs associated with memorial or grave markers

In addition to the costs of burial or cremation and grave markers, there may be additional expenses such as travel and accommodation for family members attending the service. When you meet our Ontario wrongful death lawyers it’s important that you bring in all our of pocket expenses that your accident benefits did not cover. 

Assessing Past and Future Housekeeping Capacity Losses

In a wrongful death case in Ontario, a claim for the loss of housekeeping capacity arises when the deceased was responsible for household tasks and maintenance, and their death has resulted in the surviving spouse or other family members having to assume these responsibilities or hire someone else to do them. This claim aims to compensate the surviving spouse for the deceased’s lost capacity to perform housekeeping and maintenance tasks.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has affirmed the legitimacy of these types of claims. It has stated that the measure of damages for loss of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity should reflect the deceased’s lost capacity, not necessarily the actual cost of replacement services. The court recognizes the intrinsic value of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity, acknowledging that it forms an integral part of a household’s overall well-being.

In a typical situation, our Ontario wrongful death lawyers would retain a qualified occupational therapist to report on both indoor and outdoor housekeeping needs that are required presently, and in the future. 

Remember, the value of loss of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity can be significant, and it’s crucial to ensure your claim fully accounts for this loss. Each situation is unique, so tailored legal advice based on your specific circumstances is always recommended.

Direct Pecuniary Losses – Pension and Benefits

When someone dies due to wrongful death, the financial impact can be devastating. This includes both past and future direct pecuniary losses, which are quantifiable monetary damages that result from the decedent’s untimely passing.

In Ontario, these losses often include things like loss of benefits or pension reduction. For instance, if your spouse was contributing to a retirement fund or receiving certain benefits at their workplace before they passed away, you may be entitled to compensation for these lost resources. The same applies if your spouse’s premature death results in reduced pension payments.

To accurately calculate these amounts, it’s crucial to work with experienced long-term disability attorneys who understand how various factors such as age, health status prior to death, and expected lifespan come into play.

Beyond pensions and benefits, other potential sources of direct pecuniary losses might include:

  • Lost wages: If the deceased was employed at the time of their death,
  • Earnings capacity: If they were not currently working but had potential earnings based on skills or education,
  • Savings: Money that would have been saved over time if not for premature demise.

The process of assessing past and future direct pecuniary losses can be complex. It requires detailed analysis by professionals well-versed in wrongful death lawsuits in Ontario – experts who can ensure all relevant factors are considered so survivors receive fair compensation.

Income Loss for the Surviving Spouse

Losing a spouse or partner in a wrongful death accident can be profoundly distressing, causing not only emotional turmoil but also often leading to significant financial strain. In Ontario, if your spouse or partner’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to make an income loss claim as part of a wrongful death case.

You may need to take time off work to grieve, attend therapy, care for your family, or manage the estate. All these scenarios can lead to a substantial loss of income, which the law recognizes as a compensable damage. You can claim for both past and future income loss. Past income loss refers to the income you have already lost due to the time you have taken off work since your spouse’s death. Future income loss, on the other hand, seeks to compensate for the income you will likely lose in the future due to ongoing challenges such as therapy or raising the family alone.

Past and Future Healthcare Costs

If your loved one has been tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario, as a surviving spouse and/or dependent, you may be eligible for accident benefits under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). This coverage is a part of every auto insurance policy in Ontario, regardless of fault.  If you claim damages against the other driver, you are then entitled to claim future care expenses as part of your lawsuit. The accident benefits could then be “signed over” to the defendant’s insurance company. 

Specifically, some of the benefits you may have access to are Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits. These can cover the costs of medical and rehabilitation expenses that are not covered by OHIP or other health plans. This could include necessary expenses like physical therapy, counseling, or attendant care services. 

How do I access accident benefits? 

1. Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Generally, the notification should be given within seven days of the accident, or as soon as practicable thereafter.

2. Complete an application for accident benefits (OCF-1 form) which will be provided by your insurer. This application should be submitted within 30 days of receiving it. Be sure to include as much detail as possible about the injuries sustained and the circumstances of the accident.

3. The healthcare provider will complete a Treatment and Assessment Plan (OCF-18 form). This form outlines the proposed treatment, the costs, and why the treatment is reasonable and necessary. Submit this to the insurance company. 

The insurance company then has 10 business days to respond to the OCF-18. They can either approve it, deny it, or ask for an examination by a healthcare professional of their choosing. If they do not respond within 10 business days, the treatment plan is deemed to be approved. 

It’s crucial to be timely and thorough with these steps as delays or incomplete information can lead to denial of a claim. Given the complexity of the process and the emotional distress you might be going through, it can be helpful to engage our Ontario wrongful death lawyers to guide you through the process and ensure that your interests are represented effectively.

Management Fees for Lump Sum Awards in Ontario

In the context of personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits in Ontario, management fees refer to the costs associated with managing, investing, and disbursing the settlement funds over the agreed period.

Management fees can be claimed as a future cost of care in a personal injury lawsuit. Essentially, they can be included as part of the damages in the lawsuit to cover the cost of managing the awarded funds. However, the claim for management fees must be reasonable and supported by evidence, often provided by a financial expert, such as a financial planner or economist.

The decision to award management fees as part of a  wrongful death settlement will depend on the specifics of the case. The court will consider factors such as the amount of the award, the duration of the structured settlement, the plaintiff’s ability to manage a large lump sum, and the evidence supporting the claim for management fees.

It’s important to note that management fees are different from legal fees, which are the costs associated with hiring a lawyer to represent the plaintiff in the lawsuit. Legal fees are usually a percentage of the total settlement amount and are separate from management fees.

If you’ve lost a loved one, our Ontario Wrongful Death Lawyers can help.

As Ontario Wrongful Death Lawyers, our goal is to not only obtain compensation on your behalf for your pain and loss, but also to help financially protect your children and family. Our wrongful death lawyers understand that the surviving spouse and family members can be profoundly impacted by an unexpected wrongful death, experience immense grief, financial challenges, and a loss of emotional support and companionship, disrupting their entire life. Similarly, the loss of a child can have devastating psychological effects on a parent, causing profound grief, feelings of guilt, shattered dreams, and a lifelong void that can impact their overall well-being and mental health.

Our firm makes it easy. We encourage all wrongful death inquiries, and we will discuss your legal options thoroughly. Our consultations are free of charge, free of obligation, and completely confidential. Our lawyers are flexible and can arrange a consultation at a time that is convenient to you and your family—and we are happy to answer any questions you have.

To schedule your free consultation with our wrongful death lawyers, call us toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-888-LALANDE or local throughout Southern Ontario area at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can chat with our live operator 24/7 or send an email through our website and we will be happy to get right back to you. 

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Ontario Wrongful Death FAQ

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death refers to a situation where a person dies due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of another party.

What is negligence in wrongful death cases?

Negligence in wrongful death cases refers to the failure of a person or entity to exercise reasonable care, resulting in the death of another.

How can wrongful death lawyers help?

Wrongful death lawyers specialize in advocating for the surviving family members, seeking compensation for their losses and holding the responsible parties accountable.

Who are Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers?

Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers is a reputable law firm in Ontario that handles wrongful death cases and provides legal representation to grieving families.

What damages can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit include funeral expenses, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and other related losses.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Ontario?

In Ontario, you generally have two years from the date of the wrongful death to file a lawsuit, but it’s crucial to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure compliance with all applicable deadlines.

Who is Ontario’s best wrongful death lawyers?

One of the most reputable wrongful death lawyers is Matt Lalande from Hamilton, Ontario. Matt has handled several well publicized cases in the Province.

What factors are considered in determining wrongful death compensation?

Factors such as the deceased’s age, earning capacity, and the impact of the death on the surviving family members’ emotional and financial well-being are considered in determining wrongful death compensation.

Can I sue for wrongful death if my loved one was partially at fault?

Yes, Ontario follows a comparative negligence system, which means you may still be eligible for compensation even if the deceased was partially at fault, although the amount may be reduced accordingly.

Can I afford a wrongful death lawyer?

Many wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win the case, making legal representation accessible to those who may not be able to afford upfront fees.

How long does a wrongful death lawsuit typically take?

The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit can vary depending on the complexity of the case, but it generally takes several months to several years to reach a resolution, either through settlement or trial.

How long do I have to sue for wrongful death in Ontario?

The limitation period for bringing a wrongful death case in Ontario is 2 years. However, no-fault claims and disputes have different timelines.



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