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When asked, “are family members entitled to damages in a personal injury lawsuit?” the answer is generally, yes. Family members can be burdened with extraordinary challenges when a loved one is seriously injured or killed. The law in Ontario recognizes this, and grants certain rights to family members of people who are injured or killed due to the fault of another party. When asked, “are family members entitled to damages in a personal injury lawsuit?” the answer is generally, yes.  Family members can be burdened with extraordinary challenges when a loved one is seriously injured or killed.  The law in Ontario recognizes this, and grants certain rights to family members of people who are injured or killed due to the fault of another party.  The Family Law Act, and the Insurance Act define these rights.[1]
 
If a person is injured or killed by the fault of another (under circumstances where the person is entitled to recover damages), his or her:

  • spouse,
  • children, 
  • grandchildren, 
  • parents, 
  • grandparents, 
  • brothers and sisters,

are entitled to recover damages arising from the injury or death from the person at fault.
 
If the injuries or death are sustained in a motor vehicle accident, most family members’ claims will be subject to $15,000.00 deductible.  In very serious cases, family members’ claims may be exempt from the statutory deductible.
 
Compensation available to family members of a person who is injured or killed may include:

  • expenses incurred for the benefit of the person injured or killed;
  • his or her funeral expenses;
  • travel expenses incurred in visiting the person during his or her treatment or recovery;
  • an allowance for the loss of income sustained by a family member who provides nursing, housekeeping or other services to the injured person; and
  • an amount for the loss of guidance, care and companionship that the family member might reasonably have expected to receive from the person, if the injury or death had not occurred. 

 
“Spouse” is a legally defined term.  In this context, you are a “spouse” of someone if you:

  1. are married, or
  2. are not married and have cohabited:
(a)continuously for three years or more, or
(b)in a relationship of some permanence, if you are the parents of a child.

 
There is case law to indicate that people who live together for less than three years may meet the definition of “spouse”.  This will be determined based on the facts of each case.
 
If you have questions about your legal rights please contact Emily Foreman or call 519-672-2121 and ask to speak to Emily Foreman for a free consultation.


[1] In addition to the relevant legislation, there is also a body of case law which defines the rights of family members in this context

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