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wrongful death

Wrongful Death Claims in Personal Injury Law: Your Legal Rights and Protections

December 16, 2023

Losing someone you love can feel unbearable, especially when it happens because someone else was careless.

Personal injury law is a crucial field that advocates for individuals who have suffered harm due to another party’s negligence. One of the most severe outcomes of such negligence is a wrongful death. This guide digs into the nuances of wrongful death claims, outlining your legal rights and protections.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim in Canada is what you file when someone you loved dies because someone else did something wrong or didn’t do something they should’ve done. It’s a legal way of saying, “This shouldn’t have happened, and someone has to answer for it.” It’s for the family or the people who were being taken care of by the person who died. They can go to court and ask for money to help with the pain of losing someone before their time.

Here’s a bit more on what that all means:

When Tragedy Strikes Because of Someone’s Mistake

We’re talking about situations where, say, a doctor messes up badly, a driver isn’t paying attention, or a company ignores safety and someone ends up dying because of that. It’s like the law’s way of letting the family hold that person or company responsible, not just morally, but in a way that affects them financially too.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

It’s mainly for the people who were directly dependent on the one who passed away. The eligibility to file a wrongful death claim varies by province in Canada, but it is generally limited to close family members, such as spouses, children, parents, or legal dependents of the deceased. The claim is typically filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.

Steps to Start a Wrongful Death Claim

What’s this claim all about? It’s not just about getting some money, it’s a lot deeper. It’s about acknowledging that the person who died was important, and their loss leaves a big hole in the lives of those who loved them.

The money part is just to help with things like funeral costs, the sudden loss of income, and all the ways life is going to be harder without them.

What Do You Need to Start This Claim?

You can’t just say someone’s responsible and expect it to be done. You have to prove it in court, which means having enough evidence to show that the person or company really is to blame. And there’s a time limit for when you can start this process. Wait too long, and the chance to file the claim might be gone. So, follow these steps:

1. Confirm Your Eligibility

To start, you’ll want to ensure that you’re the right person to file the claim. Typically, this means you’re a close family member like a spouse, child, or parent of the person who has passed away.

2. Gather Supporting Evidence

Your next crucial step is to collect all the evidence that points to someone else’s actions or negligence as the cause of the death. Think of it as gathering puzzle pieces, including medical records, accident reports, statements from witnesses, and any other relevant documents.

3. Obtain the Death Certificate

Don’t forget to secure an official death certificate. It’s a must-have document required for a wrongful death claim.

4. Seek Legal Counsel

Consider reaching out to a legal professional who specializes in wrongful death claims. They’re like your guides in this legal journey, providing valuable advice, assisting in evidence collection, and navigating you through the process.

5. File Your Claim

Work closely with your lawyer to prepare and submit a formal document known as a ‘statement of claim’ to the court. This document outlines the specifics of who you’re suing, the reasons behind the lawsuit, and the amount of compensation you’re seeking.

6. Notify the Other Party

It’s crucial to ensure that the person or company you’re suing is formally informed about the legal action taken against them. This typically involves serving them with a copy of the statement of claim.

7. Explore Settlement Options

Quite often, claims are resolved through negotiation without the need for a court trial. Your legal professional will engage with the defendant’s insurance company to try and reach a fair settlement.

8. Go to Court (if Needed)

If negotiations fail to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to a trial. During the trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments, and a judge or jury will make the final decision.

9. Collect Your Compensation

Once your case is successful or you reach a settlement outside of court, the final step involves receiving the compensation that has been awarded to you.
These steps are part of a process that can be emotionally challenging, but they are crucial for seeking justice and support during a difficult time.

Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

In wrongful death claims, damages come in various forms:

  • Economic Damages: These cover the financial contributions the deceased would have made. It includes lost wages, potential future earnings, and financial support.
  • Non-Economic Damages: These relate to the intangible losses, such as the emotional pain, suffering, and loss of companionship or guidance experienced by the survivors.’
  • Punitive Damages (Sometimes): In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded as a form of punishment for particularly reckless or malicious conduct.

Your Legal Rights and Protections

Wrongful death lawsuits are considered civil cases, and they are governed by specific rules and regulations.

  • Timeframe: One of these regulations pertains to the timeframe within which you must initiate your wrongful death lawsuit. In Ontario, there is a limitation period of 2 years for filing a wrongful death case.
  • Protection against predatory practices: Canadian laws prohibit unfair practices by insurance companies and ensure that claimants are treated fairly.
  • The opportunity for a fair presentation of your case: You have the right to present your evidence and arguments without being taken advantage of.

Reasons to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Filing a wrongful death claim can serve several important purposes:

  • Financial Compensation: It provides financial support for the beneficiaries, helping them cope with the economic impact of the loss.
  • Accountability: It holds the responsible party accountable for their actions or negligence.
  • Deterrence: By taking legal action, you contribute to discouraging negligent behaviour in the future.
  • Raising Awareness: It can raise public awareness about issues related to wrongful deaths and safety.
  • Closure: For many families, pursuing a claim offers a sense of closure and justice.

These aspects are critical to understand when considering a wrongful death claim in Canada.

Dealing with Insurance Companies in Personal Injury Law

Once you have legal representation, notify the insurance company of the responsible party about the wrongful death claim. Provide them with the basic details of the incident and inform them that you are represented by a lawyer.

Avoid providing recorded or written statements to the insurance company without consulting your legal professional. Insurance adjusters may use your statements against you, so it’s crucial to have legal guidance. Identify the insurance policies that may cover the wrongful death claim. This could include liability insurance, auto insurance, or other relevant policies held by the at-fault party.

In order to get an equal payment, your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf with the insurance provider. A lot of back and forth may be needed to come to a decision that fairly compensates for the losses. If a fair compromise is not possible, your lawyer will file a lawsuit to start the legal procedure. Prepare yourself in case you have to appear in court, and have faith that your lawyer will navigate the legal system on your behalf.

To sum up, wrongful death lawsuits are an important area of personal injury law that give survivors a way to pursue compensation and justice. Follow the steps and get justice.

By the way, the LawVo Subscription packages offer dedicated assistance to navigate these difficult times, providing guidance every step of the way. Let LawVo be your advocate in seeking justice and compensation. Subscribe now and take the first step towards protecting your rights and honouring the memory of your loved one.

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