On January 9, 2019 at approximately 7am, Dawn Chiasson (“Chiasson”) was walking her dog in a poorly lit, unmarked crosswalk at 26 Avenue at 5 Street N.W. when she was struck by Wesley Kevin Harder’s (“Harder”) pick-up truck.  At the time, Harder was making a left turn, but was looking to his right for oncoming traffic. 

Chiasson was taken to hospital in life threatening condition where she succumbed to her injuries 11 days later. 


Harder pleaded guilty to a Traffic Safety Act charge of failing to yield to a pedestrian.  The Crown prosecutor sought the maximum fine of $2,000 and a driving prohibition. 

Harder offered the court and Chiasson’s brother and sister who were seated in the courtroom an apology.  He stated:

I’d like to say to the family members that I’m so sorry this happened.  I have no words to express how I feel.  I wish I could turn back time to make it right. 

Provincial Court Judge Josh Hawkes considered the legal arguments by both the Crown and Harder’s lawyer and ordered Harder to pay a fine of $1,500.


During his sentencing judgment, Judge Hawkes emphasized that Calgary drivers need to do better as there are too many pedestrians being killed by inattentive drivers.  He stated:

We have all become too familiar with these headlines that we read in the city of Calgary every day about pedestrians being killed.  …

The enormity of that … isn’t brought home until it happens in your circle. …

And then you see the terrible price. …

This is not an uncommon driving infraction … it happens frequently. …

Even minor errors or lapses in attention or judgment can have and do have a catastrophic effect…. We must all do better.


The loss of a family member as a result of a motor vehicle accident is devastating. 

In Alberta, if your loved one has died as a result of personal injuries sustained in a car 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, brother/sister of the individual who died are eligible to make a claim.

Under the Alberta Fatal Accidents Act, the following claims may be made:

  1. 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, brother/sister (section 7(a));
  2. 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, brother/sister (section 7(b));
  3. 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, brother/sister (section 7(c));
  4. Fees incurred for grief counseling for the benefit of the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, brother/sister (section 7(d));

A spouse or child may make a loss of dependency claim if the deceased was gainfully employed and was supporting or partially supporting those dependents. 

The deceased’s family members may also make a claim for bereavement, which is an amount for grief, and loss of care, guidance, and companionship. 

Section 8 of the Fatal Accidents Act sets out the amount for bereavement for fatal collisions occurring after May 1, 2013 as follows:

  • A surviving spouse or interdependent partner may claim  $82,000;
  • Surviving parent or parents may equally divide a claim of $82,000, and
  • Each surviving child of the deceased may claim $49,000

Unlike other provinces in Canada, brothers, sisters, and stepchildren cannot receive any financial compensation for bereavement.


As with other personal injury claims in Alberta, proceedings for wrongful death must be commenced within two years from the date of death.  However, limitation dates may vary if the claimant is a minor or dependent adult.

Legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer is strongly recommended in order to avoid failing to commence an action outside of a limitation period, which could be disastrous to your claim.

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 LLP, 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.