Losing a loved one is extremely difficult, no matter what the circumstances. When a death was the result of someone else’s negligent actions, the devastation can be unbearable.

Motor vehicle accidents are unfortunately the most common cause of fatal injuries in Atlantic Canada. If you have lost a loved one from a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to seek financial compensation for that loss.

In today’s post, NOVA Injury Law will be helping Atlantic Canadians understand when and how they can receive financial compensation for a loved one’s fatal injury caused by a motor vehicle accident.

What is a Fatal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death occurs in situations where a person has died due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another party, either intentionally or unintentionally.

In Canada, close family members of the deceased may be eligible to bring forward a wrongful death claim for the losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the death. This is also known as a fatal injury claim.

While the leading cause of wrongful deaths in Atlantic Canada is car accidents, other causes of fatal injuries that give rise to a wrongful death claim include:

  • Medical Malpractice
  • Premises liability (slip and falls, dog bites, pool accidents, etc.)
  • Workplace accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Defective products

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

In general, it is the close family members of the deceased that are eligible to bring a claim for compensation for fatal injuries or wrongful death.

Each province in Canada has its own specific laws that stipulate which family members are entitled to make a claim. Nova Scotia for example, the Fatal Injuries Act allows family members to sue for wrongful death, so long as the executor of the deceased person’s estate does not do so after six months.
Eligible family members include:

  • Spouses
  • Common-law partners
  • Parents of deceased, including stepparents
  • Children of the deceased, including stepchildren
  • Grandchildren of the deceased
  • Grandparents of the deceased

Unfortunately, siblings and other extended family members are not allowed to file a claim in Nova Scotia. If you are interested in finding out who is eligible to file a claim in other Atlantic Canadian provinces or want to review the additional rules and restrictions that exist around fatal injury claims, the relevant legislation can be found here:

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island

Newfoundland and Labrador

What Types of Losses can you Sue for?

The types of damages that are available in a wrongful death claim also vary from province to province and depend on the situation.

Generally, there are two types of damages that are available for those with a valid wrongful death claim: economic/monetary and non-economic/non-monetary.

Monetary Damages: Financial Expenses

Wrongful death claims will inevitably come with associated monetary losses caused by the fatal injury. Also referred to as pecuniary damages, these are the out-of-pocket financial losses resulting from the person’s death.

A common financial expense that occurs with the death of a loved one is funeral expenses. If you have paid for the funeral expenses of a loved one, then damages may be available to reimburse you for those reasonably necessary expenses. This may include the burial of the deceased, transportation, supplies and other services rendered in connection with the funeral. If you reside in Nova Scotia, automobile insurance may cover up to $2500 of those funeral expenses.

Other examples of monetary losses include:

  • Medical bills and expenses.
  • Loss of financial support.
  • Travel expenses incurred in visiting the deceased between hospitalization and death.
  • Future earnings anticipated during the victim’s expected lifetime.
  • Dependency Loss.
  • Reasonable other out-of-pocket expenses incurred for the benefit of the deceased

Non-Monetary Damages: Loss of Care, Guidance and Companionship

Losing a loved one will always result non-financial losses such as grief and sorrow experienced by family members and the loss of care, guidance and companionship that the deceased may have provided had they not passed away.

Of course, if you have experienced the death of a loved one in the past, you understand that no amount of money could ever make up for the loss of that person. Consequently, it is extremely difficult for courts and lawyers alike to attach a monetary amount to these non-economic losses. In determining an amount for these non-pecuniary damages, the court will consider your closeness with the deceased. If it is your spouse, they will look at the length of your relationship, your shared activities, whether you had children, shared expenses and your general commitment and compassion for each other.

Children are also considered for compensation for their own loss of care, guidance and companionship. Younger children are typically awarded greater amounts in damages because they will be without their parent or guardian for a longer time. The courts generally consider the loss of guidance elements of a claim to be more significant for a younger child who did not have the opportunity to learn from their parent.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Fatal Injury Lawsuit?

In Nova Scotia, you only have one year from the date of your loved one’s death to file a lawsuit. The time limitation for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is considerably shorter than in any regular motor vehicle accident.

Understanding these timing limitations, along with the other rules and regulations about motor vehicle fatal injury lawsuits, will be vital to achieving a successful outcome for your claim. While it is always a personal choice as to whether or not you hire a lawyer for your claim, fatal injury cases are not only complicated but also extremely delicate and emotionally charged. Hiring a lawyer to help with your case will alleviate some of the emotional tolls that comes with making a fatal injury claim.

If you have a loved one that has passed away as the result of a motor vehicle accident, NOVA Injury Law’s free case review is a risk-free way of figuring out whether you have a valid wrongful death claim. If we believe there are enough grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit, we can help you move forward with your claim and help you receive the compensation you deserve.

How can NOVA Injury Help?

Losing a loved one is an immeasurable tragedy, and the prospect of being taken advantage of when you are most vulnerable and in need of help should not be something you are worried about.

Unfortunately, in a car accident fatal injury claim, you will almost certainly be making a claim against the car insurance company of the at-fault driver. Insurance companies are businesses with shareholders who are expecting a profit, and it will always be in their best interest to minimize the amount paid-out to injured parties, including the families of deceased victims.

Taking on a wealthy and experienced insurance company on your own for a loved one’s fatal injury could prevent you from receiving the fair compensation you deserve.

Jeff Mitchell is an experienced personal injury lawyer who has navigated fatal injury claims to successful resolutions. Jeff and the rest of the team at NOVA Injury Law are ready and willing to answer all of your questions about car accident and wrongful death claims.

We can provide you with the compassion and support that is needed during this extremely difficult time in addition to honest and practical legal advice that can help you navigate your claim. If your loved one has passed away as the result of a motor vehicle accident, call NOVA Injury Law today for FREE CASE REVIEW at 1-800-262-8104.