A wrongful death claim isn’t a criminal case. It is a civil claim seeking financial compensation for family members or other beneficiaries of the deceased.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the loss of your loved one, specific requirements must be met for their death to be viewed as a wrongful death in the eyes of the law. To recover compensation in a legal claim for a wrongful death, you must prove that the death was caused by someone else’s negligent or intentional act and the damages that have resulted from the death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
At Warnett Hallen LLP, our compassionate team recognizes the serious nature of your loss and we will work together with your family to find answers and seek justice for the loss of your loved one.
Some common situations that can result in a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical Malpractice
- Industrial Accidents
- Defective Products
- Occupiers’ Liability
- Murder and Other Intentional Criminal Acts
If any of these situations or another cause led to the death of your family member, you should talk to our knowledgeable wrongful death lawyers about your situation right away. Our lawyers can provide helpful insight into what your claim might look like and give you guidance on how to proceed.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in BC?
Because wrongful death cases are meant to compensate family members for the loss of their relative, only specific family members may initiate a wrongful death claim. Spouses are the most common family members to take on this role, but children and parents may also be eligible in some cases to assert a wrongful death claim.
In cases where the wrongful death victim has a spouse or domestic partner, you may have questions about how British Columbia defines “spouse” within the confines of who may be allowed to bring a wrongful death claim. According to the Family Compensation Act, British Columbia law broadly construes a “spouse” as someone who was married to the deceased or lived with them in a marriage-like relationship. If the partner was unmarried, they must establish the foundation of their relationship and that they cohabitated with the deceased person for a minimum of two years prior to the death.
At Warnett Hallen LLP, we understand that the specific circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death may be upsetting. That is why we are at your disposal to carefully review the law pertaining to your situation in the most sensitive way possible.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Damages available for compensation in a wrongful death claim are typically made through either Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) or an individual personal injury claim. The potential compensation for either option can vary depending on the specifics of the case.
As the universal auto insurer of British Columbia, ICBC will accordingly handle claims for any type of auto accident that result in wrongful death. Damages from an ICBC claim will depend on who was at fault for the accident and the circumstances that caused the accident.
In a wrongful death ICBC claim, you and your lawyer will work to prove through evidence that the death of your loved one was caused by another party so that you can recover damages. These damages can include the following:
Pain and Suffering
The pain and suffering experienced by your loved one due to their injuries can be compensated to the family and beneficiaries. While we know that this can be particularly difficult to think about, this is the most common type of ICBC injury claim.
These types of damages can become complicated because ICBC non-pecuniary damages are capped at a maximum limit. Your lawyer can review these limitations as well as the overall amounts that you may expect to receive for your loved one’s wrongful death.
There is no exact formula for calculating these damages. Rather, these values are established by precedents set by other British Columbia wrongful death and personal injury cases. Our wrongful death lawyers can conduct a thorough review of your claim and determine an educated estimate of what your case may be worth in this area.
Loss of Income
A wrongful death claim may include compensation for the loss of income incurred by your loved one in the time period following their injuries. This is an area you need to review with a lawyer because it may be subject to limitations, which we can explain to you.
Loss of Future Income
When a life is cut short, so is the earning potential of the individual. You and your family may have depended on this income for support, and you could be entitled to compensation for this loss. Our wrongful death lawyers can review these specifics with you so you can have a full perspective of the damages that may be available in your case.
Cost of Medical Care
Medical bills accumulate quickly, and even with the loss of your loved one, you may face significant financial obligations for their care after their accident or injuries that ultimately resulted in their death. These medical care causes may be covered by a wrongful death ICBC claim.
Damages to Compensate Service Providers
If there was a period when the deceased was cared for by family members, they may be eligible for compensation for the efforts in nursing care, domestic services, and other expenses they may have incurred in these capacities.
It will be essential to explain to your lawyer if you performed any of these services for your loved one and be prepared to show time and subsequent wages you may have lost from acting as a caregiver. This can strengthen your claim and your ability to recover in this area.
Other damages may include punitive damages for especially egregious offenses, funeral and burial expenses, as well as any other out-of-pocket expenses paid by family members or beneficiaries in the care of the deceased.
Because ICBC represents both the victim and the at-fault party in an auto accident, ICBC typically tries to pay out the lowest amount of damages as possible. It is always a good idea to talk to an experienced lawyer before originating a claim with ICBC in order to achieve the best possible results.
Personal Injury Claim
Damages in a wrongful death claim that did not occur as a result of an auto accident will be similar to those available for compensation in personal injury cases and in similar categories as listed above. The primary difference is that any potential damages will be paid from the negligent individual or business responsible for the wrongful death.
These damages could include:
- Medical Expenses
- Funeral and Burial Costs
- Loss of Inheritance
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Financial Support
- Other Damages
In some cases, recovery may come from corporate insurance company that may assume liability for occupiers’ liability, or industrial/job site accidents that result in wrongful death. At Warnett Hallen LLP, we will review the specifics of your claim and determine the proper parties pursue for the compensation owed to you for the wrongful death of your loved one.
Understanding the Family Compensation Act
The Family Compensation Act is a British Columbia statute designed to financially assist the family members of a wrongful death victim. The Family Compensation Act was instituted in 1846 as a way for courts to financially compensate families when they suffered the loss of their main wage-earner. The Act only compensates for loss of wages and future wages in British Columbia.
Other Canadian provinces have expanded the Family Compensation Act to include compensation for grief, loss of companionship and other potential damages associated with a wrongful death. However, British Columbia has not adopted these kinds of changes to date.
Wrongful death victims’ family members who need assistance after they suffer a loss may bring Family Compensation Act claims, but there may be some negative aspects to seeking this kind of recovery. A Family Compensation Act claim can be difficult to navigate, and for these reasons, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer to learn whether this is something you should pursue in your case.
Our wrongful death lawyers are always available to assess potential avenues for recovery available to you and provide you with legal guidance on the best ways for you to proceed.
Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in BC
The British Columbia Limitation Act defines time limits for bringing claims in BC, including for wrongful death. Families have a maximum of two years after death to bring a wrongful death claim. This goes both for ICBC claims and personal injury actions.
These timelines are very strict. You will give up your ability to recover any potential compensation if you exceed the limitation date. Be sure to talk to a wrongful death lawyer at Warnett Hallen LLP soon.