Losing a loved one in a fatal accident is unimaginable, especially at the hands of a reckless and/or impaired driver. Although no amount of compensation can make up for such a loss, Ontario’s Family Law Act does allow for certain family members of the deceased victim to pursue a claim for compensation to help cover losses suffered.
Our legal team at Greg Monforton & Partners discusses the eligibility requirements and how the claims process works. An initial consultation costs nothing. Learn more about your rights and potential legal options without any obligation to move forward after this meeting.
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Fatal Car Accidents and Insurance Coverage
If a loved one was fatally injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, the following family members of the deceased victim may be able to seek compensation under section 61 of the Family Law Act:
- Spouse, including common-law husband or wife
Family members are generally compensated by the at-fault driver's insurance company. If a lawsuit is filed against the at-fault driver, his or her insurance will be required to issue payment up to the limits of the at-fault driver’s policy.
Ontario’s Insurance Act requires that every insurance company offer and every driver buy a minimum of $200,000 in liability coverage. Most drivers in the province carry $1 million to $2 million in liability coverage. In many cases, this is enough to monetarily compensate a deceased victim’s family members.
Compensation Available for Family Members
The Family Law Act considers both the emotional and financial implications of a loved one’s passing and the burden that it may place on family members. Compensation that may be available include:
- Care, companionship and guidance lost
- Financial support lost
- Household services lost
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Reasonable out-of-pocket costs (i.e. housekeeping)
- Income loss that family members suffer due to death
It is important to note that wrongful death claims are a type of tort claim under the Act. Up to $25,000 in death and funeral benefits may be sought under Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) in addition to compensation through a wrongful death suit or claim under the Family Law Act.
At-Fault Driver Lacks Enough Insurance
Even if the at-fault driver has insurance, the coverage may be insufficient or his or her insurance provider may deny coverage. For instance, drivers with a G2 license must maintain a zero blood alcohol level to operate a vehicle.
If the at-fault driver had $2 million in liability coverage but is found to be impaired after the accident, it will be deemed a breach of his or her insurance policy. The $2 million would be reduced to the minimum of $200,000 in liability coverage.
Should the victim’s family take action against the at-fault driver, only up to $200,000 may be accessed to satisfy any claims for compensation. This may not be enough to cover losses if split amongst all eligible family members.
However, if the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle that was owned by someone else – such as a parent – then the full amount of the policy may be available if the vehicle owner is sued by the victim’s family. Owners are vicariously liable for the negligence of others who drive their vehicles with permission.
At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance At All
Driving without insurance is illegal, but some people still do it. If the at-fault driver did not have his or her vehicle insured, the family will need to go through their loved one’s insurer to be compensated. Filing a lawsuit may only be beneficial if the at-fault driver has enough assets to cover your losses.
All Ontario auto insurance policies have an optional coverage known as the family protection endorsement or Ontario Policy Change Form (OPCF 44) endorsement. The OPCF 44 endorsement provides coverage for injuries or death arising from car accidents when the at-fault driver is not insured or adequately insured.
The amount of any OPCF 44 coverage will be the same as the insured’s liability coverage. It is considered excess to any other valid auto insurance policies.
If the victim carried $2 million in liability and OPCF 44 coverage on his or her vehicle, up to $2 million may be available to compensate any eligible family members. If the victim only had the minimum amount of $200,000 in liability coverage, then his or her OPCF 44 coverage will also be $200,000.
If the at-fault driver is uninsured and the victim’s family has no access to any other source of insurance (perhaps the victim had no auto policy on the vehicle), the last resort is turning to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund. Up to $200,000 may be accessed to satisfy any claims for compensation.
Request a Free Consultation To Get Started
If you have unexpectedly lost a loved one in a fatal accident, an automotive crash lawyer in Windsor is prepared to discuss your eligibility for compensation in a risk-free, zero-obligation consultation.
There are no upfront fees for our services. We only get paid if we help you obtain a recovery through a settlement or verdict.
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