Wrongful Death : Frequently Asked Questions

The loss of a beloved family member in any capacity and under any circumstances is difficult to endure, both emotionally and financially, especially if the death was accidental and sudden. If your loved one lost their life in Toronto due to someone else’s negligence, then you should seek the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer immediately. We’ve provided some of the most common questions clients ask regarding wrongful death cases.

1. What is wrongful death?

A wrongful death occurs when some entity’s—either an individual, group of individuals, or a company—actions or negligence directly causes the death of another person or persons.

2. Who can file a wrongful death claim in Ontario?

In Ontario, wrongful death claims can be filed by the following people related to the decedent:

  • Spouse or children
  • Parents and siblings (if the decedent wasn’t married or didn’t have children)
  • Grandparents (if none of the above are able)

3. How is compensation determined?

Wrongful death compensation is determined based on a number of factors, including:

  • Loss of the decedent’s income for their family
  • Their health at the time of their death
  • Funeral costs
  • Personal habits pertaining to the accident itself

4. When should I file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Despite the tragic circumstances of your case, the sooner you file a wrongful death lawsuit, the sooner your attorney can start preparing your case to ensure that you receive the proper compensation you and your family deserve.

5. How are damages divided in a case with multiple heirs?

In Toronto, wrongful death damages are usually divided according to the stipulations of the surviving family members involved. If they can’t reach an agreement on their own, then the presiding judge or legal mediator will need to step in and make the decision for them.

6. What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Ontario?

In Ontario, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is generally two years starting from the date of the death if the deceased was over the age of 18. If the deceased was under 18, then the two year statute of limitations period commences on their 18th birthday.

7. Are punitive damages recoverable in a wrongful death action?

This is usually determined on a case-by-case basis.

8. Are all wrongful death laws the same throughout Canada?

While most wrongful death laws may be similar from one province to another, they’re not completely the same. Each province and territory operates on a provincial level.

9. Are the survivors entitled to recover damages for their emotional distress?

Unfortunately, the survivors aren’t entitled to recover damages for their emotional distress, but they can recover some compensation for costs related to their emotional distress such as therapy, guidance counselling, and suffering from the lack of companionship their loved one would have provided.

10. What if one or more of the survivors who are entitled to bring a wrongful death case decide that they don’t want to sue?

Suing for wrongful death in Canada can be a very complex ordeal. Some family members might be adamant about being rewarded some form of compensation while others might just want to drop the case and move on with their lives. If this is the case, then the latter family members need to produce a written statement in which they forfeit their rights to any compensation throughout the forthcoming trial to their family members who are actively pursuing a wrongful death settlement in Ontario.

11. What economic damages are the survivors entitled to in a wrongful death case?

The survivors may be entitled to the following economic damages:

  • Loss of income
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of love and guidance
  • Loss of emotional and financial support

12. Do I need an attorney to pursue a wrongful death case?

While it’s not mandatory to retain a wrongful death attorney in Ontario, it’s inadvisable to represent yourself in a court of law or in mediation as these types of cases are often very complex, especially for people who aren’t familiar with the laws and legal procedures. Also, the last thing you need during this very emotionally and financially trying time is to be responsible for trying to navigate through the complicated legal procedures involved in filing a wrongful death claim by yourself. It’s better to hire an experienced and highly qualified wrongful death law firm to handle your case for you.

13. Can the heirs hire separate lawyers?

Yes, the heirs can hire separate lawyers to represent them individually.

14. How quickly should I contact a lawyer?

You should try to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so that they can begin gathering evidence, researching, and preparing your case.

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