27 July 2018
When the unthinkable happens: Loss of a spouse from a motor vehicle accident
When a spouse or partner has been killed through the negligence of a third party, the emotional stress is such that finances may not be top of mind. For most of us however, the practical realities of life require us to consider the monetary consequences of our loss and take steps to recover those losses. In cases of wrongful death, the surviving spouse is entitled to damages that would allow them to maintain the standard of living that they had previously enjoyed. This statutory right is encoded in British Columbia’s Family Compensation Act (Keizer v Hanna and Buch,  2 SCR 342).
Recoverable losses are largely restricted to financial losses, including:
- Loss of financial support to the remaining family members as a result of the death. In this instance, the deceased’s take-home income is reduced by the portion of that income that would have been used to cover the deceased’s own personal expenses, the remaining balance allocated to the support of the remaining family members;
- Loss of services that would otherwise have been rendered by the deceased to the remaining family members (childcare, household services);
- Loss of future inheritance;
- Limited out of pocket expenses incurred as a direct result of a death (such as funeral expenses).
In some cases damages may be awarded for non-financial losses such as for the loss of love, guidance, care and companionship (generally for infant children), but these damages are typically lower in value.
To receive compensation for the loss of a loved one, you must fall under one of the following family member categories:
- child of the deceased
- parent of the deceased
- spouse of the deceased
- grandparent of the deceased who has taken over the role of the parent
To determine the financial loss suffered by the claiming family member, a complicated set of calculations must be done. Having the support and guidance of an experienced lawyer and an economist with financial expertise in this area will help ensure that you have a full understanding of the extent of your losses and entitlements. Failing to retain this support may result in a lesser settlement.
In cases of wrongful death, you do not pay any legal fees until your claim is settled. The Watson Goepel Personal Injury Team has extensive experience in personal injury law and fatality claims, and understands the sensitivity required during this difficult time. Call our team today to book a free consultation.
Anastase Maragos is a Partner in Watson Goepel’s Personal Injury Group.