Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

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Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Damages in wrongful death cases can be claimed in many cases. Learn more by contacting a personal injury lawyer.

Article written by: Glenna M


Damages in Wrongful Death Cases


Losing a loved one is difficult enough, but when you lose a family member due to a preventable accident or an unlawful attack, your pain is multiplied. If your family member has died as a result of the negligence or illegal actions of a person, company, or government agency, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. In Canada, you are allowed to file this type of claim if you are a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or sibling of the deceased person. 

Basically, there are two types of damages awarded in wrongful death claim cases in Canada:


1. Pecuniary Losses. These are the types of losses that can be calculated or estimated in terms of money. They can include: expenses incurred on behalf of the victim, funeral expenses, and loss of income.  

2. Non-Pecuniary Damages. These are losses that cannot be calculated monetarily, such as loss of companionship, care, and guidance, as well as pain and suffering.

Obviously, no amount of money will compensate you for the loss of your loved one. However, knowing that someone has been held accountable for the death is sometimes a step in the journey toward healing. As well, many families find themselves in financial strain after the death of a family member, and a successful claim can help to ease that stress. 

Calculating Damages
When assessing pecuniary losses, most times judges award a spouse 60-70% of the deceased’s net pay for the number of years he/she might reasonably have been expected to work. For example, if the deceased was earning $70,000/year after taxes, a spouse might receive an award in the range of $42,000 - $49,000 per year until the date in which the deceased would have retired. In addition, the spouse may be compensated for the value of services that the deceased might have performed, such as housekeeping duties, or handyman duties.

We are used to hearing about non-pecuniary damage awards in the USA; John Grisham novels, for example, tell tales of multiple millions of dollars being awarded by juries. However, in our country the damages awarded are far more modest. In 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada imposed an upper limit on what non-pecuniary damages could be awarded (later they allowed for this limit to be adjusted for inflation.) The largest amount ever awarded in Ontario for loss of companionship, care, and guidance of a spouse is $85,000. However, other members of the family may also be compensated. For example, in a case from 2008, a wife and her two sons were awarded damages in their claim against the town of Milton. (The husband/father of the family was killed in a bicycle accident due to the poor condition of the roads in the township.) The wife received pecuniary damages relating to wages and housekeeping, plus $50,000 for loss of companionship, care, and guidance. Both her sons also received non-pecuniary damages: the younger one received $20,000, and the older one $5,000.00.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The law surrounding the filing of these types of claims is exact and complex. For one thing, there are strict time limits in place. There is also a great deal of paperwork that must be completed very precisely. For these reasons, it’s important that you find legal representation that can advise you and help to guide you through the process. It’s also incumbent on you to act quickly so that you are able to get started soon. Lawyers sometimes need to gather information and evidence to support your claim, and this should be done as quickly as possible.

There are many personal injury lawyers in Ontario. How should you choose your representative? You might begin by narrowing your search online. There are a few aspects for you to take into consideration, including:

• Values. Have a look at websites on the internet. Do the stated values of the law firm match your own? Does the firm emphasize the types of ideals that you cherish? Do you feel as though the firm might be a good match for you and your concerns?

• Experience. Does the law firm have experience in these types of cases? Do they have a good track record? Do they have a good reputation? Are there testimonials from clients included on the law firm’s website?

• Proximity. You’ll want to hire someone who can meet with you when necessary. Don’t choose a lawyer who is located far away unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes paperwork has to be signed quickly, or questions have to be answered. If your lawyer is close by, this is much easier.

• Communication. Meet with a lawyer to see how you get along – consultations with personal injury lawyers are almost always free. If you prefer to communicate in a language other than English or French, look for a firm that offers multilingual services.

Contact a law firm today, and learn more about wrongful death cases, and whether or not your situation qualifies.