The loss of a family member as a result of a motor vehicle accident is devastating.
In Alberta, if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. Alberta’s Fatal Accidents Act permits a legal action to be brought to recover damages for the benefit of certain family members.
According to section 3 of the Fatal Accidents Act, only the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister of the individual who died are eligible to make a claim.
FATAL ACCIDENTS ACT
Under the Alberta Fatal Accidents Act, the following claims may be made:
- Expenses incurred for the care and wellbeing of the deceased between the time of injury and death may be claimed by a spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(a));
- Travel and accommodation expenses incurred in visiting the deceased between the time of the injury and death may be claimed by the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(b));
- Funeral expenses including all things supplied and services rendered in connection with the funeral and disposal may be claimed by the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(c)); and
- Fees incurred for grief counselling for the benefit of the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(d)).
Proof must be provided to claim these expenses.
A Loss of Dependency Claim may be claimed if the deceased was gainfully employed and was supporting or partially supporting a spouse and/or children. Experts such as economists can help calculate the value of this claim by looking at various financial records.
The deceased’s family members may also claim for bereavement, which is an amount representing grief, loss of care, guidance, and companionship.
In Alberta, section 8 of the Fatal Accidents Act sets out the amount for bereavement for fatal collisions occurring after May 1, 2013 as $82,000 to a surviving spouse or interdependent partner, $82,000 to the parent or parents divided equally, and $49,000 to each surviving child of the deceased no matter his/her age. Interest is added to these amounts to the date of payment or settlement of the fatal car accident insurance claim.
Unfortunately, brothers, sisters, and stepchildren do not receive any financial compensation for bereavement, unlike in other provinces in Canada.
Damages for bereavement appear to be a fixed amount as set out by statute, however, the insurance company will often try to reduce this amount by alleging contributory negligence on the part of the deceased driver (i.e. if the deceased driver is found 25% contributorily negligent for the accident then the bereavement amounts for each individual will be reduced by 25%).
Bereavement claims can also be reduced by 10% to 25% for contributory negligence if it is found that the deceased was not wearing his/her seatbelt at the time of the accident and that this contributed to his/her death.
OTHER DAMAGE CLAIMS
The deceased’s family may also claim a loss of housekeeping services if the deceased was primarily responsible for taking care of the household and for child rearing. This calculation is based upon the hours the deceased worked in the household providing shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, child care, transportation services, maintenance, etc.
LIMITATION PERIOD FOR CLAIMS
Claims made for wrongful death must be commenced within two years from the date of death. Failing to commence an action within this time period may result in a missed opportunity to make a claim and therefore may be fatal to your case. Limitation dates may vary if the claimant is a minor or dependent adult. Other considerations may also come into play in each individual case, therefore it is highly recommended to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
If you have a loved one that died as a result of someone else’s negligence, our personal injury law firm can help. At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, our team of personal injury lawyers are knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate, and we can help ensure that you receive fair compensation while helping you and your family move forward. Please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free consultation to help you understand your rights under the Fatal Accidents Act and help you and your family receive compensation for your loss.