Death is inevitable, but when an adversity like this strikes, especially due to someone else’s, negligence then what is that you can do? No one can change destiny, but can there be something that will stand with you if God forbid you lose someone you love because of someone else’s fault? Is there any monetary recovery for wrongful death claims in Toronto that you will get? If that is the question which comes to your mind quite often, then by the time you finish reading this article, you will have an answer to it. In fact, the answer to this question lies with a Wrongful Death Claim.
So, without further ado let me begin with the topic.
What is a wrongful death claim?
Wikipedia says ‘Wrongful death is a claim in common law jurisdictions against a person who can be held liable for a death.’
According to the dictionary of law, ‘When a person is killed because of the wrongful conduct of a person or persons, the decedent’s heirs and other beneficiaries may file a wrongful death action against those responsible for the decedent’s death.’
If we talk in layman’s terms then a wrongful death claim can be defined as ‘the compensation for which you can file when someone dies due to any other person or entity’s wrongful acts.’
It was not until recently that the concept of wrongful death claim became well-known with the Common Law being brought from England. In fact, it has been during the last century or so that the federal courts have brought the concept of wrongful death action in place.
This entity could be anyone, a person, a company, a car manufacturer and so on who might be responsible for the death, which might be due to fatalities caused during an accident, medical malpractices being employed by health care clinics/professionals, or product liability cases involving companies.
What are the cases in which the claim can be filed?
Wrongful death can happen due to different reasons. However, according to the legal system, there are certain conditions that the person filing a claim needs to prove in order to get the claim. What are those conditions during which you can file the claim? Well here is a look:
- Car accidents: these are amongst the most common leads to accidental deaths. And, the reasons could vary from driver being fatigue to reckless driving, to distracted drivers to tailgating. If you lose a person because of a car accident caused due to negligence of someone else, then you can file for a wrongful death claim.
- Motorcycle tragedies: you would be surprised to know that Canada is amongst the top 5 countries in the world in terms of maximum road fatalities, amongst which the probability of motorcycle accidents is 18 times more than any other fatality. Motorcycle accidents could happen because of vehicle malfunction, over speeding, defects in the roadway, driver distraction, inexperienced riders and many more. No matter what the reason be, you can file for a claim if you have lost someone because of a motorcycle accident.
- Medical Mishaps: in legal terminology is referred to as Medical Malpractices that can be defined as “when a surgeon performs a type of negligent action, where the level of treatment provided is below the acceptable standard of practice in the medical community.” While the job of a medical professional is to treat patients, there can be instances when even these professionals can make a mistake and under such circumstance you can file for a wrongful death claim and get compensation. These errors could be clubbed as misdiagnosis, medication errors, incorrect dosage of anaesthesia, bacterial infection due to negligence, or nursing home abuse amongst the major ones.
- Defective Products: while human errors are amongst the major causes of wrongful death, there have been instances where the death of a person has occurred because of defective products.
Some of the common reasons for defective products include failure to warn, manufacturing defects, design defects, engineering defects and similar others. And, if you are wondering what are the products that can cause of these damages well here are some of the most common ones:
- Home improvement products
- Medical Devices
- Convertible Cribs
- Motor Vehicles
- Propane Heaters
- Child Restraints
All these could lead to severe injuries and in many cases the worst – death. So, whenever such a circumstance arises, you can be certain that there are government policies that can come to your rescue.
- Work Accidents: Another common type of fatality that can be caused due to someone else negligence is death at work due to some accident. Common reason for these accidents could be negligence of the supervisor, distraction at work, malfunctioning of the machine and similar others. Under all these serious conditions, if the death of a person takes place, then his family members are liable to file a wrongful death claim.
This explains the reasons that could lead to the death of a person because of someone else’ negligence and under what conditions you can file for the claim.
Who can file for a wrongful death claim?
In legal terms the people who are left as survivors after the death of a person can file for the wrongful death claim with the help of a legal representative. They are termed as the Real Parties of Interest in legal language. The executor of the decedent’s estate is usually the representative. Here is a look at the real parties of interest that have been defended by the law:
- Immediate family members are among the first who can file for the claim. These include spouses and children. Adopted children also fall under this type of claim. And, in case the deceased person was unmarried, then parents have the right to recover under wrongful death actions.
- Second category encompasses those people who were financially dependent on the deceased person. There are certain states that even allow a “putative spouse” liable to file the claim as well. (A putative spouse is a person who believed that he or she was married to the victim).
- There are states that allow more distant family members of the deceased as well. These include brothers, sisters, and grandparents who can file wrongful death lawsuits. Under circumstances when a grandparent was raising a child, then he may be able to bring an action for the claim.
- Also, any person who has suffered a financial loss because of the death can go ahead and file for the claim. In this condition, the person not be necessarily should be a blood relative of the decedent or even married to the victim.
- And, in worst cases when there is death of fetus due to someone else’s negligence, then a wrongful death claim could be filed against the person responsible.
Who can the claim be filed against?
Now that you are well versed with the conditions in which you can file a claim, comes even more important question: ‘Who May Be Sued for a Wrongful Death?’ And, the answer to this lies in the type of incident that led to the death of an individual. For instance, in case there was an accident that caused the death of an individual, then here is the list of individuals against who the claim could be filed:
- The driver or employer who was at fault during the accident
- In case the death occurred because of faulty road manufacturing, then the designer or builder who was responsible for the faulty roadway
- If the mis-happening occurred due to the negligence of not placing a sign board, then the government agent who did not provide adequate warnings for the road hazard
- In case the accident occurred because of faulty automobile, then manufacturer, distributor, or installer of a faulty or dangerous part of the vehicle
- In case the driver was impaired while driving, then the persons who sold, served, or gave alcohol to the driver as well as the owner of the premises where the alcohol was served.
These are some of the common conditions that can be the causal agent of a wrongful death and the people who might be responsible for the adversity.
However, there could be certain cases when the person responsible for the death might be immune for the claim. This can happen in case a wrongful death happened because of the actions of some government agencies or individuals. Certain government officials and agencies are immune against wrongful death claims.
What are the damages covered under this type of claim?
Now, let us move on to the most important question. What types of damages are covered as a part of a wrongful death claim? Well here is the list:
- Economic – Death brings quite a number of economic losses. For instance, the people who were dependent on the deceased person, they will now have hardship in making ends meet. This is the reason that economic damages are the first to be covered by this type of claim. Here is what all type of expenses can be covered in economic damage:
- Expenses related to medical charges that were born as well as monetary spending during the funeral
- Damage caused due to loss of victim’s expected earnings
- Pension plans or medical coverage losses
- Untimely death leading to loss of an inheritance
- Loss occurred to the value of the goods and services that a victim would have provided to his family and people dependent on him/her.
- Non-economic – Losses born are not always tangible. In fact, there are quite a number of non-tangible damages as well that the person’s death leads to. For instance,
- Compensation for the Mental trauma, anguish and pain
- Compensation for the loss suffered from the deceased due to any of these reasons care, protection, guidance, advice, training, and nurturing
- Loss of consortium, love and companionship from a deceased spouse
- Punitive – There are certain provinces in which the law permits special cases to punish the person responsible for death. These types of damages are covered under punitive damages. The major reason for these type of claims is that this helps in preventing such instances from occurring in the future.
Well, the question that arises here is who is going to calculate the amount of damage? What are the factors that will be considered while calculation of these damages? The answer to these questions lies in the fact that there are expert witnesses used by both parties for calculating these damages. These experts include economist and actuaries who can share their opinion before the final calculation of damages caused by a wrongful accidental death. While it is worthy to say that no money can bring back the lost one, but it is sure that the money can definitely help the people at the receiving end of the wrongful death to lead a better life.
Now you know much more about these claims and the type of benefits that you can avail with these claims. However, the best deal is to get in touch with a legal advisor or a law firm that can help you to stay away from all the hassle of legal documentation and other technicalities that are going to be involved in the entire process.
After all, losing someone you love is a big tragedy that will take time for you to recover from. And, when you are going through such tough circumstance, it can be a bad idea to get amidst the trouble of legal formalities involved in the filing of a claim.
As the last thing about these claims, I would like to simply add here that there is a time period of two years from the date of the incident, during which you can file for the claim. For instance if the mis-happening took place yesterday, then you can file for the claim till 2 years minus one day from now, beyond which the claim would not stand legal.
All that being said, God forbid any such adversity ever arises in your life, you have ample knowledge as to what you need to do in order to get a claim and what sort of monetary recovery for wrongful death claims in Toronto you can expect to get.