5 Important Things to Know About Wrongful Death

Written By: Patrick Brown and Nicole Fielding, Student-at-Law

The sudden loss of a loved one is an emotionally devastating event. Families coping with this tragic loss face the prospect of living without his or her loved one, and with life as they know it changed forever.

There is no way to replace an individual’s life taken too soon. However, where death is caused by reckless or careless conduct, either intentional or unintentional, by another party, Ontario law does provide surviving family members a right to file a wrongful death claim for compensation.

Below are 5 important things to know about wrongful death claims in Ontario:

  1. Certain family members of a deceased love one are entitled to file a claim.

Ontario’s Family Law Act governs which family members of a deceased individual are entitled to file a wrongful death claim. Among those eligible claimants include:

  • Spouses and children
  • Parents and grandparents
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Grandchildren
  1. Compensation is available for different types of losses.

Compensation, or damages as they are known, are funds recovered by a successful claimant for losses they have suffered as a result of their family member’s death. These can include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Expenses incurred by families as a result of their family member’s death
  • Damages for the loss of guidance, care and companionship a family member will not receive because of the death of their loved one
  • Damages for the loss of housekeeping services performed
  • Damages for the lost shared family income that would have been earned by the deceased
  1. Fault is not a “black and white” issue.

If your family member’s death was partially the result of their own actions, this should not deter you from considering a wrongful death claim. Courts can and often do split liability between two or more parties, including a deceased individual. Where a person is found to have some fault in an incident that caused their own death, this is called contributory negligence. It is still possible for family members of a person found partially responsible for their own death to claim for compensation.

  1. There is a limit on the time to file a wrongful death claim.

Family members of a deceased loved one usually have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim with the court, pursuant to Ontario’s Limitations Act.

  1. You are not alone.

Filing a wrongful death claim should  be an informed decision that can be made amongst yourself and your loved ones. Obtaining legal advice with respect to your loved one’s death is the most reliable way to educate yourself on whether or not to pursue a wrongful death claim.

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