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Loss of Companionship: Can You Claim Any Benefits from Losing a Loved One in an Accident?

February 22, 2022

You may be entitled to compensation if your loved one has died in a fatal accident caused by another’s wrongful act or negligence. This is called loss of companionship. If you are a surviving spouse, parent, or child, here is what you should know about compensation for your loss.

What Is Covered In Loss of Companionship Benefits?

BC law allows you to claim for benefits after losing someone in an accident, but only certain types of losses and damages are covered. Wrongful death claims usually include funeral costs, medical expenses, compensation for loss of financial support from your loved one, and compensation for loss of your loved one’s contribution to household services and/or childcare. Children of the deceased person can also claim compensation for the loss of care, education, training, and guidance from their parent. It may also be possible to claim for loss of inheritance.

Loss of Companionship Limitations in BC

Fatal accident claims are meant to put surviving loved ones in the economic position they would have been in were it not for the wrongful death. In BC, claims are limited to “pecuniary” benefits—that is, losses that can be measured in money like income loss and the expenses discussed above. Some Canadian provinces have fatal accident legislation that permits recovery of damages for loss of companionship, but BC does not. That means that in BC, there is no entitlement to claim for “non-pecuniary” benefits such as loss of love, care, and companionship.

Does Your Benefit Claim Depend On How The Wrongful Death Occurred?

Yes. Common causes of wrongful death include:

The type claim you can bring and your entitlement to benefits are impacted by the cause of death. For example:

  • A claim against a doctor or hospital for medical negligence or a claim against a company for a defective product is brought under the BC Family Compensation Act (“FCA”).
  • A claim for a fatal vehicle accident that occurred before May 1, 2021 can also be brought under the FCA.
  • A fatality claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred after May 1, 2021 cannot.

The law in BC changed as of May 1, 2021, removing the right to sue for wrongful death arising from a motor vehicle accident. You would instead have a claim for benefits under ICBC’s Enhanced Care. Your entitlement to death benefits, including the formulas/factors for calculating lump-sum benefit payment based on the deceased’s age and income, are set out in the Regulations.

Get Legal Advice If You Have Lost a Loved One In A Fatal Accident

Wrongful death claims are complex and often require actuarial evidence from an economist as part of the analysis. It is highly recommended that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer if you or a loved one intends to bring a wrongful death claim arising out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred before May 1, 2021. Simpson Thomas & Associates has the expertise necessary to handle any fatal accident claim, don’t hesitate to contact us to receive guidance about your claim. Call us at 604-243-5825 or fill out our online form to request a free initial legal consultation with one of our team of lawyers.

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