When a loved one dies in a traffic accident

When a loved one dies in a traffic accident

A traffic accident can be traumatizing, especially if you have been injured. However, losing a loved one in a motor vehicle collision is a pain that cannot be measured. In your time of grief, you may have many questions about such things as how you will manage financially or how funeral expenses will be paid.

While no amount of money can ever make up for the death of a family member, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses under Alberta’s Fatal Accidents Act (FAA). The Act allows relatives and dependents to bring legal action to recover damages following a fatal traffic collision. A spouse, interdependent adult partner, child, parents and brother or sister of the deceased are all eligible to make a claim.

The FAA is a complex legal act, and the average person may be overwhelmed by the process of making a claim, especially following a devastating loss. We can guide you through all the necessary steps and represent you if you pursue survivor’s benefits or any other insurance claim you are entitled to and will ensure you receive the compensation you need to carry on with your life.

What does automobile insurance cover in the event of a fatal accident?

If you are in any type of traffic accident in Alberta, your insurance company provides Section B benefits, commonly known as no-fault benefits, to the driver and passengers. These benefits provide up to $50,000 in coverage per person for medical expenses from the first day of the accident, regardless of any personal injury litigation outcome. The insurer for the at-fault driver would be the defendant of any subsequent insurance claim.

If you are in a collision with an uninsured driver or the victim of a hit and run, you would be able to file for Section B medical benefits through your policy.

Suppose you have used up all those benefits. In that case, you may be eligible to apply for coverage under the province's Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program, which was developed to protect victims who would not normally be able to claim damages.

Section B coverage includes a death, grief counselling and funeral benefit, with coverage varying depending on the deceased's age and the relationship of the person making a claim. This coverage also provides up to $5,000 for funeral expenses and a grief counselling benefit of $400 per family.

What does the Fatal Accidents Act cover?

Coverage under the Fatal Accidents Act is not limited to motor vehicle accidents. According to the Act, benefits can be claimed: “when the death of a person has been caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default.”

Close family members of the deceased can claim:

  • expenses incurred for the care and well-being of the deceased person between the time of injury and death; 
  • travel and accommodation expenses incurred in visiting the deceased between the time of the injury and death; 
  • expenses of the funeral and the disposal of the body of the deceased, including all things supplied and services rendered in connection with the funeral and disposal; 
  • fees paid for grief counselling that was provided for the benefit of the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, brother or sister of the person deceased. 

Section 8 of the FAA offers compensation for bereavement.

According to the Government of Alberta s. 8 of the Fatal Accidents Act "acknowledges the grief and loss of guidance, care and companionship suffered by the surviving family members but allows them to deal with the tragedy without the intrusive inquiries that would flow from adversarial litigation. Close family members should not be exposed to questioning or have to testify about the nature of their grief and the quality of the relationship they have lost. This can be particularly difficult in the loss of a child." 

Under this section, certain close family members — spouse, partner, parents and children — of a deceased killed by a wrongdoer has the right to claim compensation for the grief and loss of guidance, care and companionship of their loved one.

Once the wrongdoer's liability is established, there is no requirement for the deceased's family to prove their grief. The amount of compensation is automatic. Parents and spouses may be entitled to up to $82,000 for bereavement, while the children of the deceased may be entitled to as much as $49,000. 

It should be noted that s. 8 does not deal with compensation to the deceased's family members for the loss of actual financial benefits they would have received from their loved one. It also does not address criminal law or such things as workers' compensation. 

Can I claim other compensation?

If your loved one dies in a motor vehicle accident, your family typically has access to two insurance policies that could potentially provide some additional financial assistance to cover your expenses. 

The first policy would cover the vehicle the deceased was in, while the other policy would cover the person at fault (if applicable) for the accident. 

This is assuming both vehicles were insured at the time. It should also be noted that the deceased could bear some responsibility for their own safety. For example, if they weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, they would be found partially responsible for their death, and any financial award would be reduced.

Depending on the circumstance, you may also be able to file a claim if your loved one held a private insurance policy, such as a policy or through work.

These claims could provide compensation for the loss of the family’s income-earner or the loss of a child. You may also be able to seek compensation for the loss of child care and housekeeping if the deceased was primarily responsible for these duties. When awarding compensation, the court would look at the tasks provided by the deceased such as meal preparation, shopping, cleaning and household chores.


AFTER AN ACCIDENT, CONTACT US

A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through your options and help you obtain the compensation you need to help you recover from any injuries. They can also make sure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit the compensation that you are owed. Schedule your Free Consultation by calling (403) 452-2011 or send a message to kantor@kantorllp.ca. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid for our time and attention until we settle.

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