Which Family Members Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The loss of a loved one can be one of life’s greatest challenges. Grief is not a linear process; it comes in waves, and could persist in ebbs and flows for the rest of a person’s life. Laying a family member to rest can be difficult even when their relatives have had a chance to say goodbye. However, if a family member’s death was premature, sudden, accidental, and caused by someone else’s negligence, the mourning process may be compounded with a sense of anger and injustice.
When another party’s negligence leads to the death of a relative, no amount of money will be able to fully compensate bereaved family members for the loss they have endured. However, when the negligent actions of another person lead to wrongful deaths, the following close relatives of the deceased may be able to pursue financial compensation:
If you have lost a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild because of another party’s negligence, an Ontario wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you recover the costs of financial losses you have incurred as a result of their tragic passing.
How a Wrongful Death Lawyer May Be Able to Help Grieving Family Members
A wrongful death lawyer knows that accident victims are not simply statistics or case files. The untimely, violent death of an unsuspecting accident victim can impact the family members they leave behind in profound ways. Mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons can suffer great emotional losses because of a close relative’s death. They may also incur substantial financial losses, as well.
In accordance with the province of Ontario’s Family Law Act, if the wrongful death of your close family member was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to file a tort claim against the at-fault party to recover pecuniary damages you have incurred as a result of your loved one’s death.
In these situations, pecuniary damages refer to the quantifiable costs you have incurred or will incur because of your family member’s wrongful death. The total cost of these damages can be calculated by tallying up the money you have already been required to spend because of the at-fault party’s negligence and predicting the financial impact your relative’s death will have on your future wellbeing.
Some expenses a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you recover by filing a tort claim against the responsible parties include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical costs prior to your loved one’s death
- Travel costs for out-of-town family members to visit your relative prior to their death
- Loss of care, guidance, or companionship
- Loss of future earnings anticipated over your relative’s lifetime
- Loss of housekeeping services normally performed by your deceased relative
- And possibly more, if eligible
In order to recover financial compensation through a wrongful death claim, an Ontario lawyer may be able to gather and present various forms of evidence to prove the following:
- The at-fault party’s actions or inactions contributed to your family member’s death.
- The accident victim’s death was caused by negligence.
- As a result of your family member’s death, you have incurred pecuniary damages.
Accidents That May Lead to Wrongful Deaths
In 2020, with more than 500 fatal motor vehicle collisions on its roads, the province of Ontario saw a 10.5% increase in deadly car accidents from the previous year. Clearly, driver negligence is one of Ontario’s leading causes of wrongful deaths.
According to Ontario’s Insurance Act, all drivers on the province’s roads are required to provide a reasonable duty of care to other road-users. This means that motor vehicle operators are required by law to drive safely and with a reasonable degree of caution. If a driver violates traffic laws and a fatal accident occurs as a result of their negligence, they may be liable for damages incurred by the victim’s bereaved family members.
The most common causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents in Ontario include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
Data released by the province’s Ministry of Transportation reveals that the situations with the highest risk of fatalities on the road include the traffic law violations listed above, as well as large truck collisions, failure to wear seatbelts, motorcycle accidents, and collisions with pedestrians.
In addition to deadly motor vehicle collisions, slip and fall accidents could have fatal consequences for those involved. While it may not be immediately apparent to the accident victim’s family members, these instances are often caused by another party’s negligence.
This is because, according to Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, property owners or occupiers are legally required to make a reasonable effort to ensure the safety of everyone on their premises. An occupier may be a building’s landlord, property manager, tenant, or other person who oversees the property. If the party responsible for overseeing the property’s safety knows about a hazard on their premises– or should know about it– and fails to adequately remove, repair, or warn people about the danger it poses, they may be considered negligent.
Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, including the age and health of the accident victim, sustaining injuries in a slip and fall accident could have fatal repercussions. When a property occupier’s negligence causes a family to lose a loved one, the deceased victim’s close relatives may be able to pursue damages from them.
Other situations wherein negligence may result in the wrongful death of a family member include nursing home accidents, medical malpractice cases, accidents caused by defective products, and more.
Statute of Limitations on Ontario Wrongful Death Claims
After the death of a close relative, the grieving process can take a long time. In fact, some might argue that we never truly recover from the loss of our loved ones. Mourning the death of a close relative is a singular process. Grief is unique to every person who experiences it. It might take time to feel prepared to face the world after your loss, especially when the cause of your loved one’s death was violent and preventable.
However, the province’s Limitations Act imposes a mandated time limit on wrongful death claims. In accordance with this legislation, grieving family members in Ontario have only two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party responsible for causing their relative’s death.
Due to the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Ontario, family members who wish to seek financial compensation for their losses need to act quickly. For many people, this means filing a wrongful death claim at the height of their grief.
Pursuing legal action against the negligent party who caused you to lose a loved one can be very difficult, emotionally speaking. The assistance of a compassionate lawyer may make the process somewhat easier to endure. Because there is only a narrow, two-year window of opportunity available to bereaved relatives, if you intend to pursue legal action, it is important to contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as you feel up to the task.
By discussing the conditions of your family member’s death as close to the date of their accident as possible, a lawyer may be able to determine if you are eligible to seek compensation. If you are, your lawyer may be able to start gathering evidence while it is still available. They may also be able to work with you in a sensitive manner to calculate your total damages and seek the compensation you are owed on your behalf.
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you lost a family member in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for damages you incurred.
To learn if you are eligible to pursue damages, contact us today online, or call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 1-800-JUSTICE.