The sudden unexplained death of your loved one in a car accident can no doubt leave you with many, many unanswered questions. The emotional trauma of such unexpected loss can be gripping and leave a victim’s families with both major psychological grief and with significant financial burdens, such as funeral costs and loss of financial support for the family. More often than not, the spouses or loved ones of car accident victims no longer have the ability to continue to support their family because of the lost shared income normally relied on from their deceased loved one. This can leave close loved family members with serious and significant financial issues.
Matt Lalande has helped families of wrongful death victims since 2003. We can help level the playing field against large insurers who may not be fully interested in compensating your family for your losses appropriately. Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers are passionate Hamilton car accidents fatalities lawyers that have an understanding for the needs of our clients.
We would encourage you to read this article, which focuses on how to hire a lawyer. We understand that it’s very difficult to find and hire a fatality lawyer if you do not have a personal relationship with a lawyer or a referral from a friend or family member. We understand that families are often overwhelmed and emotionally, feel like they are in an insurmountable place in their lives. Our lawyers represent the families of fatality victims province-wide. Matt Lalande has been practicing wrongful death law since 2003 and understands that losing a loved one, unnaturally and unexpectedly, is always a traumatic experience regardless of the cause.
We would recommend that you interview several lawyers and retain a lawyer or law firm that you feel most comfortable talking with. You will meet some lawyers that smile, and some that don’t. You will meet some lawyers that understand your situation, and some which you feel that simply do not. You will meet some lawyers that feel your pain and are passionate, and some that simply recite the law to you from across the table. You will meet some lawyers that you feel that you could pick up the phone and call, and others that you will not. Remember this, a wrongful death car accident case is a very long process – and it’s important that you do not feel intimidated by the person you work with. You need a lawyer to make you feel like you are part of the team. It’s important that everyone works together and everyone has a connection, from boardroom to Courtroom.
Yes. In Ontario, the Trustee Act generally governs survival actions by estates, which cover the deceased’s losses that occur before death. Section 38(1) of the Trustee Act provides that the executor or administrator of any deceased person can sue for the injuries in the same manner and with the same rights and remedies as the deceased would, if living, have been entitled to do. The compensation, when recovered for the victim’s family, shall normally form part of the personal estate of the deceased. The Trustee Act in Ontario allows an estate’s executor to maintain a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased person – however, the executor may not pursue compensation for “death or for the loss of expectation of life” – but rather, for the suffering that the deceased endured.
In Ontario, certain family members have the right to compensation. The Family Law Act allow specifically enumerates and defines the family members that can bring an action for the loss of care, guidance and companionship, as well as pecuniary loss resulting from the injury or death. The legislation permits spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings to make a claim. A deceased person’s same sex partner may also be able to make a claim in Ontario.
In Ontario and for the purposes of a wrongful death case, a spouse is defined as two people that are married to each other or that have been living with each other continuously for three years – or if they are the natural or adoptive parent of a child. Dependent kids could also be kids from a previous marriage who is receiving child support, paid by the car accident victim.
In Ontario, family members are entitled to bring claims for economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages is something your lawyer might call pecuniary compensation. This typically refers to the loss of money as a result of injury. Pecuniary damage in the context of wrongful death, may include loss of potential earnings – meaning the potential earnings that your loved one would’ve made and contributed into the family.
It’s important to understand that the basis of any wrongful death lawsuit is to put family members in the same financial position that they would have been in, had their loved one not been killed. In the case of wrongful death compensation, it’s necessary to measure the financial loss suffered by all surviving dependents.
Typically, compensation such as the loss of income is limited to the spouse and kids of the person killed in a car accident. The financial loss is normally calculated with reference to the income that your loved one would’ve made, after deducting income tax and the amount that he or she would’ve personally consumed, had he or she lived.
In other words, the focus is to allow you and your loved ones to maintain the same quality of life, from a financial perspective, as would have been maintained had your loved one not been killed.
Non-economic damages – there is no actual definition for wrongful death compensation in Ontario. Instead, family members that are considered dependents, are eligible to recover compensation for the loss of guidance, care and companionship that they would have received had their loved one not been killed in a car accident. Typically, this type of compensation is and will be assessed by a judge or jury, rather than statute.
The loss of care guiding companionship is hard to quantify. Typically for a spouse there would be a loss of companionship. For a child, Courts would assume there is a loss of guidance and care. Judges and Juries typically try and do their best to properly compensate a family who has lost a loved one in a car accident. In fact quantifying the loss of your loved one’s life in terms of money doesn’t really make sense, but it’s the only remedy which a court has available to it in the circumstances. Calculating compensation and wrongful death cases is not an easy thing because there is no amount of money the can ever replace a loved one’s life, or the contribution that he or she makes to the people around him or her. Emotional bonds cannot be calculated in terms of dollars and cents.
What’s important to understand is, despite how they feel, judges and juries are not entitled to award millions of dollars in compensation for the loss of care guidance and companionship. They must follow a range consistent with compensation previously made by other judges in other cases. It’s important to talk to the lawyers that you interview about this. Experienced car accident fatality lawyers will be able to give you a range of compensation in this regard.
Factors in assessing non-economic damages – in assessing damages for the loss of care guidance and companionship for all family members and dependence, courts typically follow comments in cases previously made by other judges in other cases. For example several factors that have been examined by judges in awarding compensation and wrongful death cases are:
Your income loss – in addition to the loss of your loved ones income into the family, the living spouse might have suffered a personal loss of income due to the psychological grief he or she suffered as a result of the death of the family member.
Loss of benefits – if your loved one had medical dental and drug coverage benefits, you may be able to claim these losses as a pecuniary losses.
General expenses – dependents may advance claims for expenses as pecuniary losses. Recording of all such expenses including funeral expenses, parking, meals, travel or any other expenses incurred as a result of the death of your loved one should be kept and provided as a part of your losses.
Rehabilitation or attendant care services: you or your surviving family members may require counselling services and other rehabilitation type services to help move on through the grieving process. Some surviving dependents have required lifelong psychological care. You and your loved ones may be entitled to future care costs if those costs are not provided for in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.
Household and Childcare Services – you or your surviving family members may be able to claim household and childcare services. Spouses and children are entitled to be compensated for the value of the loss of household services provided to them by the deceased family member. Children also must be compensated for the value of loss childcare services that would’ve been provided by the decease, had he or she survived. These awards are typically not dependent upon the likelihood of replacement costs being incurred. Rather the awards are an attempt to monetize the value of the deceased contribution to the household.
Loss of inheritance – in certain situations, dependents may advance a claim for loss of inheritance. In other words, if not for the deceased premature death, the accident victim would have built up a larger estate that would’ve been available to beneficiaries, and therefore the beneficiaries would’ve been deprived of the benefit of the increase in the estate.
Car accident wrongful death in Ontario is when a fatality is caused due to the negligence or carelessness of an at-fault driver. Whether it was running a red light, speed racing, not obeying a stop sign, using a cell phone, being distracted – an individual can be held responsible for the death of another if that individual’s conduct caused his or her death.
The driver will not pay your compensation personally. The negligent driver’s automobile liability insurance will cover claims made up to policy limits, which is typically $1 million- $2 million in Ontario. Compensation can never bring your loved one back and no award of damages can replace the love and care that you received, but compensation is a remedy that could help you adjust financially and replace financial support that your loved one would have contributed into the family. If you depended on your loved one to help pay for the mortgage, car payments, hockey, dance lessons, insurance, summer camps, food, utilities etc. then you should not be deprived of these family requirements and necessities that you have been used to, because a negligent driver killed your spouse.
If a person’s wrongful or careless conduct has caused the death of your loved one in a car accident, it’s important that you seek legal advice early on. We understand that you have been grieving extensively – but it’s also important that you help protect your family’s financial future, sooner rather than later. By hiring our lawyers, you can assure that the person that caused your loved one’s death will be held financially responsible for his or her negligent conduct.
Call us at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form and we would be happy to get back to you without delay. Our firm is easy to talk to, approachable and there is no obligation to retain us. Consultations are 100% free and we will take as long as you need to answer all of your questions.
Let our family help yours in a time of need.