26th January 2012
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Fatal Accidents Act by Dallas Romeril

Jim was a happy family man, with a wife and two small children. One day, while driving home from work, he was involved in a very unfortunate car accident and killed tragically. The accident was not Jim’s fault. Rather, the driver of a semi-truck, who had fallen asleep at the wheel and veered into Jim’s lane of travel, was to blame for the accident. Although Jim had died in the accident, his wife, Vanessa, wondered if she or her children had any right of recovery for Jim’s accidental death?

To deal with situations such as this – i.e. where someone else is responsible for the accidental death of another, the Alberta government has passed the Fatal Accidents Act.

Under this legislation, the spouse or adult interdependent partner, parents and children of the deceased person can claim bereavement damages resulting from the grief and loss of the guidance, care and companionship of the deceased person. Spouses or adult interdependent partners are entitled to $75,000 for the loss of a spouse or adult interdependent partner, parents are entitled to $75,000 for the loss of a child, and children are entitled to $45,000 each for the loss of a parent.

In addition, if any of the following expenses and fees were reasonably incurred by any of the persons by whom or for whose benefit the action is brought, then those expenses and fees, in a reasonable amount, may also be included in the damages awarded:

(a) expenses incurred for the care and well‑being of the deceased person between time of injury and death;

(b) travel and accommodation expenses incurred in visiting the deceased between time of the injury and death;

(c) expenses of the funeral and the disposal of the body of the deceased, including all things supplied and services rendered in connection with the funeral and disposal;

(d) fees paid for grief counselling that was provided for the benefit of the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, brother or sister of the person deceased.

It is important to note that this form of recovery only applies in cases where the person dies from a wrongful act, neglect, or the default of another, that would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the injured party to maintain an action and recover damages against the wrongdoer.

For more information regarding the Fatal Accidents Act of Alberta, or to find out if this legislation applies to your particular situation, please contact me or any other of our knowledgeable lawyers.

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Written by Dallas Romeril