Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Getting the Right Lawyer

The loss of a loved one can be one of life’s most devastating experiences. When this death is caused by the negligent act of another person it is known as a fatality claim or wrongful death. If your family member died in a fatal car accident or as a result of another person’s negligent act, the lawyers of McLeish Orlando are available to help.

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When a loved one is killed due to someone else’s wrong, it may require a wrongful death lawsuit to be started. No money will ever restore the loss a family suffers when they lose a loved one.  However, the lawsuit may help find answers as to why it happened, how it could be prevented, and hopefully bring change so others are not killed in the same way.  A lawyer experienced in wrongful death cases will understand the issues and will help guide the family through this difficult process.  Essential to this is ensuring the right legal team is in place.

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What Do You Need in a Wrongful Death Lawyer?

  • A lawyer that does not forget a life was lost and seeks to understand how special that person was and what they meant to their family, friends, and coworkers that loved them.
  • A lawyer that seeks to bring justice to the family, while understanding and respecting what the family wants to achieve and when.
  • A lawyer that does not work on a volume of cases but focuses on a few in order to ensure the best possible result is obtained for the family and that the person lost is not just another case.

When Should Someone Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

It is a very difficult time whenever a loved one is taken away.  Taking steps to bring a wrongful death claim is not easy nor should it be taken if it has a low chance of success.

To determine if such a claim will have success depends on various things. Questions the lawyer and the family will consider:

  • Did someone do something wrong and could the death have been prevented?
  • What type of acts result in Wrongful Death Claims?

The wrong done by an individual or company does not need to be criminal or intentional.  Many wrongful death cases involve situations where the Defendant did not mean nor intend to hurt or kill the person.

  • Unintentional acts give rise to wrongful death lawsuits.
  • What one needs to prove is that a person did something that a reasonable and safe prudent person would not.
  • And because of that act, they caused or contributed to the person’s death.

Who pays the compensation in Wrongful Death Claims?

  • In wrongful death cases, the negligent person (or company or government entity) that did the wrong is usually insured in order to protect themselves from potential lawsuits.  Many families think that the person who did the wrong has to pay.  In almost all cases, there is an insurance policy that responds to the claim.
  • It is an insurance company that hires the defendant lawyer
  • It is the insurance company that pays when the case is won. The insurance policies that respond to these types of claims can include:
    • Automobile Third Party Liability Coverage (mandatory in Ontario)
    • Homeowner and Renter Policies
    • Commercial Policies
    • Policies that ensure doctors, hospitals, government, cities, towns, recreational sports facilities, etc.

What Needs to Be Done to Prove Wrongful Death Cases?

When a loved one is killed in a car crash, bike crash, ski doo crash, ATV crash, worksite accident, a recreational sport, during medical care, at daycare, while swimming, or elsewhere, information should be gathered to find out what happened.  This information will come from various sources and an experienced lawyer who has dealt with a similar case will know where to look.

What Resources Will the Lawyer Access in Wrongful Death Cases?

The lawyer will use different resources to help the family with the initial inquiry. Inquiries and information gathering in a wrongful death case may include:

  • Private Investigator hired by your Lawyer (all deaths)
  • Charges laid and police investigation (bike deaths, car deaths, pedestrian deaths, boating deaths)
  • Coroners Investigation, Inquiries and Reviews (all suspicious deaths)
  • Motor Vehicle Accident Report and Police Reconstruction (car, bike, pedestrian deaths)
  • Internal Hospital Reviews and Complaints made to College if in a hospital or under care (malpractice deaths, hospital deaths)
  • Ministry of Labor and Occupational Health and Safety Review  (worksite accident deaths, including falls, equipment, workplace deaths, construction site deaths)
  • Ministry of Long Term Care Investigations [Nursing and Long Term Care Home wrong deaths]
  • Ministry of Education and Investigations under the Child Care and Early Years Act [wrong deaths in Daycare centers]
  • Electrical Safety Authority Investigation into wrongful electrocution deaths
  • Technical Standards and Safety Authority investigations regarding amusement park deaths and elevating devices]

Whenever someone is killed due to a wrong by another, the court will award an amount of money to certain family members for the loss of their loved one. Under the laws in Ontario, only certain family members can make a claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Family Members Can Make a Claim When Someone Is Killed?

  • Spouses (including common law)
  • Parents
  • Brother and Sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren

To bring a claim for a spouse, one does not need to be married.  As long as they are seen to be common-law spouses under the law, they can make a claim.  This is a legal question and the lawyers will ask questions to determine if you will meet the definition.  As well, stepfamily members can also bring claims

What Compensation Can a Family Member Seek in a Wrongful Death Case?

There are different types of compensation (damages) awarded when one loses a loved one.  They can include:

  • Loss of Care, Guidance, and Companionship: This is awarded to the family member for the loss of the care, guidance, and companionship that the person provided.
  • Loss of Dependency: This is awarded to compensate a family member, spouse, or child for the loss of income that the deceased brought to the family member.  This looks at what the deceased would have earned into the future
  • Loss of Services:  This is awarded for the things the deceased would have continued to provide to the family including household services, handyperson services, cooking, cleaning, childcare, elderly care, and other services.
  • Loss of Income: This is awarded where the person suffers extraordinary grieving due to the loss of the loved one and can no longer go to work or work at a reduced capacity.
  • Funeral and Out of Pocket Expenses: This is awarded for money spent following the death such as funeral expenses, travel, celebration of life events, and other associate expenses.
  • Mental Distress: This may be awarded where the person suffers mental distress following the death of the loved one.
  • Nervous Shock: This may be awarded to a family member who may suffer after being near, at the scene, or at the aftermath of their loved one’s death.
  • Punitive Damages: This may be awarded to punish the defendant for egregious and reprehensible conduct.

Proving Wrongful Death Damages

An experienced wrongful death lawyer will work in ensuring that your damages (compensation) are proved to either the insurance company or at court.

In doing so, they will gather evidence such as:

  • Photographs and videos depicting the love between the family members
  • Tax Returns and Employment Records to prove the deceased’s income
  • Handyperson and Household Services Charts to show what the loved one did around the home
  • Medical Records and where necessary Medical Reports to prove mental distress, nervous shock, or the impact on the family member
  • Reconstruction and Expert reports to prove negligence
  • Forensic Accounting Reports  showing the future income dependency and services loss.
  • Information that shows the type of person that was lost and how it impacts the family and community.

How Can Wrongful Death Lawyers at McLeish Orlando Help?

The wrongful death lawyers at McLeish Orlando have taken on and won a wide variety of wrongful death cases across Ontario.  The cases have included people who lost their lives in car crashes, trucking accidents, nursing homes, daycare, boating, medical malpractice, occupiers, products liability, ATV crashes, snowmobile crashes, drowning, day camps, recreational facilities, and other incidents where someone is wrong resulted in the loss of a loved one.

The lawyers at the firm do not work volume and select specific cases to ensure they give these cases the care and attention needed.

Whether it is one of their high profile cases or not, the McLeish Orlando team of personal injury lawyers, staff and resources are committed to ensuring that person whose life is lost and their family is given the respect and attention it deserves and that justice is obtained and any changes needed are advanced to ensure others are not unnecessarily killed.

Wrongful Death FAQs

What is a wrongful death action?

A wrongful death action is when family members of a loved one begin a lawsuit against people or companies who caused the death. Typically, family members will be claiming the loss of care, guidance, and companionship, loss of dependency, loss of services, mental distress, and sometimes punitive damages.

When can I file for a wrongful death lawsuit? Or Who can file for a wrongful death lawsuit?

You have until two years from the time that the event took place that led to the loved one’s death to sue the responsible parties. This is called a limitation period. Legal advice should be sought to help you understand when the limitation period begins to run.

The Family Law Act is engaged and determines who can sue and what they can sue for. The family members that can sue include spouses, common-law spouses, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and step relatives.

When someone dies, what is the difference between the civil and criminal cases that can be brought regarding the death?

In civil actions, the loved ones of a deceased person are suing those people or companies that caused the death. They sue for an amount  to compensate them for their loss. In criminal or provincial offenses, the police will lay charges that are prosecuted by the Crown or Provincial prosecutor.   Plaintiffs’ counsel in civil actions are not allowed to participate in criminal/provincial offences cases and usually need to wait for those to resolve before they can proceed in their civil lawsuits.

Are punitive damages recoverable in wrongful death actions?

Punitive damages are recoverable in wrongful death actions.  Instead of seeking to compensate the victim’s family, these awards are meant to punish the person or company for the death based on their egregious or reprehensible conduct.  When determining whether punitive damages should be paid, not only is the conduct of the person considered, but the court will also consider any other punishments that have been handed out in criminal proceedings.

Is there a time limit to file a wrongful death suit?

The time limit on filing a wrongful death action is two years from the date of the person’s death. This is called a limitation period.

How does your firm handle wrongful death lawsuits?

At McLeish Orlando Lawyers LLP, we make sure that wrongful death actions are pursued and settled as fast as reasonably possible to ensure that our clients can obtain compensation and move on with their lives. We understand that wrongful death cases are particularly difficult as it involves the death of a loved one. The longer a lawsuit goes on, the harder it is for their loved ones to move on from such a tragic moment in their lives.

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