No man or woman is an island.
Every tragedy ripples throughout many lives. Our society has recognized this for some time and our laws now reflect this. Family members such as you may sue for the injuries or death caused to their loved ones. Many times that compensation is nowhere near what is proper. But the numbers have moved up in recent years and that is a good thing.
Our firm has obtained millions in compensation over the years for hundreds of “family survivors” of accidents and negligence. We call such clients FAMILY SURVIVORS because that is what you are: the negligence of another has blown through your lives too and you have a just claim to compensation.
Are you eligible to make a claim? Let’s talk a minute about who may sue. Let us assume that Joanne, age 25, is killed in an accident. Her parents, if alive, may sue. Her siblings may as well and her elderly grandmother. Her married or common law spouse may sue as well. If she had children of her own, obviously they are eligible too. If her common law husband had a child by a different relationship, so long as Joanne treated that child parentally, that child has a claim as well. If she has any such children, as minors they must be represented in court by an adult called a “Litigation Guardian”. That’s pretty much it – spouses, parents, kids, grandkids and siblings.
Is the quality of the relationship important? Absolutely. The court compensates relatives for something called the loss of “CARE, COMPANIONSHIP AND GUIDANCE”. That can vary from person to person. The quality of one relationship is different than that of another. Joanne likely spent a lot of her time caring for her older mom and for her children. If her siblings live in Edmonton, she was unlikely to have a whole lot of companionship with them. Ditto if her grandmother lives in Halifax and they only wrote once a year. If she was completely estranged from her father, he will be entitled to very little since she provided neither care nor companionship nor guidance for him.
What kind of compensation might you receive? There is an understood bandwidth of compensation in these cases. If you aim too high, refuse to settle for within that range, go to trial and obtain a sky high number, the Ontario Court of Appeal will just slash that award down. So it is very important to know the range. For example, if Joanne had a normal relationship with her BROTHER who lived a hour away, the award would likely be in the range of $7,000 to $10,000. If she and her MOM were close, her mother may receive something in the range of $50,000 to $70,000 at the most. As for her LITTLE CHILDREN, not so long ago a jury awarded over $100,000 per child for the loss of a young mother and that was upheld at the Court of Appeal. If Joanne and her HUSBAND were close, perhaps $100,000 to $110,000 might be awarded to him.
What about financial losses? Great question. The answer is yes, they are covered.
- Personal care: If you have provided nursing or personal care for your injured relative, you are absolutely entitled to compensation for that as part of the “past and future care costs” to which that relative is entitled. As part of any court award or settlement there will be a number attributed towards that line item. If you are spending hours caring for your injured loved one, please ensure you track your time and your out of pocket expenses. If the claim is significant enough, we will hire an occupational therapist to prepare a formal report of such time spent.
- Out of pocket expenses generally: If you are out for hotels, mileage, etc, please track those expenses and keep receipts.
- Loss of income: If you took a leave from your job to care for your loved one we will track those losses as well. Obviously, any monies you receive for caregiving will be set off against your income losses.
How can I help your firm to best show the depth of my loss? Paint for us the absolute best picture you can of your losses: A photo album of what you used to do together, cards and letters showing a deep relationship; a statement from you setting forth the contact you had and the guidance or companionship she or he provided. As noted, a summary of your financial losses, if any, and a summary of the time you have taken to care for your injured family member.