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How much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?

In each province, the scope of damages recoverable for family members making a claim for wrongful death is dependent upon what is written in that province’s legislation. A lawyer who has experience handling wrongful death claims can explain exactly what you may be able to recover and file the claim accordingly.

Broadly speaking, there are two main types of damages that you may be entitled to receive: pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

Pecuniary damages are those that are related or can be directly tied to money. Some examples of pecuniary damages that you may be entitled to include:

  • Funeral costs
  • Medical and travel expenses incurred prior to the deceased’s death
  • Compensation for dependants to replace the financial support they would have received from the deceased if not for their untimely death

Non-pecuniary damages are those that are not economic in nature, however they reflect the effect of a loss on the person’s enjoyment of life. In the context of a fatal accident, these damages are intended to compensate the claimant for the loss of care, guidance, and companionship of the deceased.

In the Atlantic provinces and Ontario, claims for these non-pecuniary damages are codified in the corresponding provincial legislation. The amount that each claimant receives is not explicitly set out. However, courts will rely on past case law, or precedent, to determine what the appropriate range of damages should be, based on the particular family circumstances.

In some provinces, such as New Brunswick and Ontario, punitive damages may also be available as part of a wrongful death claim. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the behaviour and act as further deterrence against that behaviour, rather than compensate the recipients. These damages are explicitly prohibited in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island for wrongful death claims.

Additional funds may be available under the CPP death benefit for those who meet the eligibility criteria, regardless of whether someone was responsible for the deceased’s death.

Where a wrongful death results from a car accident, there are specific benefits that will apply under the driver’s no-fault benefits schedule. In the Atlantic provinces, these benefits fall under Section B of the standard automobile policy, while in Ontario they are found in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (“SABS”). These benefits include funeral benefits and a death benefit for spouses and dependants.


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MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.

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