Can Family Members Get Car Accident Compensation In Fatal Accidents?

In 2020, Ontario traffic fatalities reached an all-time high, up 22% from 2019. Of these fatal accidents, 62 deaths were caused by speed. Another 51 were caused by alcohol or drug use behind the wheel. 45 deaths were caused by driver inattention and another 55 were attributed to lack of seatbelt use.

Additionally, another 42 motorcyclists were killed in 2020. This is an increase from 2019 when 27 motorcyclists were killed.

What is especially troubling about these numbers is the fact that collisions in 2020 decreased by 26%. This means that while there were fewer car accidents taking place, more people died from them.

The Rise In Car Accident Fatalities Means More Families Left Heartbroken

Unfortunately, every time there is a fatality from a car accident, there is also a devastated family left behind to mourn the loss. In some circumstances, these deaths leave families not only heartbroken but also scrambling to come up with the money to afford day-to-day necessities as well as funeral costs.

We understand that while no amount of compensation can make up for a loss of this magnitude, the last thing a mourning family deserves is to worry about where their next meal will come from or how they will afford to lay their loved one to rest.

Ontario’s Family Law Act

That’s where Ontario’s Family Law Act comes into play. It allows for certain family members to pursue a claim for compensation to help cover losses or damages suffered. To apply for the Family Law Act, you must meet the eligibility requirements under section 61.

Who Is Eligible For Car Accident Compensation Under The Family Law Act?

Under the Family Law Act, the following relationships to the deceased may be able to apply for compensation:

  • Spouse (this includes common-law relationships)
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren

In these cases, compensation is generally awarded by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If a lawsuit is filed against the at-fault driver, then their insurance company will have to issue payment up to the limits of the driver’s policy.

The Insurance Act requires that every insurance policy in Ontario includes a minimum of $200,000 in liability coverage. However, many drivers in Ontario have liability coverage between $1 million to $2 million.

What Car Accident Compensation Is Available?

Fortunately, the Family Law Act doesn’t just take into consideration the financial implications of losing a loved one. It also considers the emotional implications when determining compensation.

Compensation that may be available to loved ones includes:

  • Financial support lost
  • Household services lost
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Care, companionship, and guidance lost
  • Income loss that family members suffered due to the loss
  • Out of pocket expenses (such as housekeeping)

Other Car Accident Compensation Available To Family Members

You may also apply for compensation under Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). That is in addition to the compensation you may seek by pursuing a claim under the Family Law Act or by pursuing a wrongful death suit.

What Happens If The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Sufficient Insurance?

In some cases, the at-fault driver may not have enough insurance. As mentioned above, all insurance policies must have a minimum of $200,000 in liability coverage, but the damages you are seeking may be greater than that.

Additionally, in some cases, the at-fault driver may have their insurance company deny coverage. If the at-fault driver broke a condition of their insurance, it can be determined to be a breach of policy.

Some instances of this include:

  • Illegal activity
  • Lying during a claim
  • Using your personal vehicle for commercial purposes
  • Failing to make car insurance payments
  • Criminal convictions
  • And more

In these cases, the driver may have had $2 million in liability coverage, but once the insurance provider denies their coverage, then the coverage would be reduced to the $200,000 minimum.

What If The At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance?

In Ontario, driving without insurance is illegal. However, this doesn’t prevent some people from doing it. In these cases, to access liability compensation, you will be required to go through your deceased family member’s insurance.

You can also file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in these cases.

Car insurance policies in Ontario have optional coverage you can obtain which is called Ontario Policy Change Form (OPCF 44) endorsement or the Family Protection Endorsement. This additional coverage will be for the same amount as the liability insurance. However, this doesn’t mean that family members will receive double the amount. If your Family Protection Endorsement and Liability Coverage are both for $2 million, then the family members of the deceased will only receive a portion of the $2 million, not $4 million.

If No Other Protection Exists, You May Apply To The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund

In the case where the at-fault driver has no insurance available and neither does the family, there is still compensation available. You can apply to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund in Ontario, but the compensation available will only be $200,000 at most.

Retrieving Car Accident Compensation As A Family Member Can Be Difficult. Let De Rose Help.

De Rose understands how complicated it can be to retrieve compensation for the loss of a family member. We have 40 years of combined experience retrieving compensation from insurance companies and at-fault drivers. We can help your family get the compensation that they deserve in this difficult time.

Each case is unique. Give De Rose a call today for a free, no-pressure consultation to learn more about what your options are.