Have you lost a family member in a motor vehicle accident or because of faulty medical care? In this post, we explain 6 things you need to know about wrongful death claims in Alberta.

  1. Not all family members are entitled to make a claim

Wrongful death lawsuits in Alberta must follow the rules set out in the Fatal Accidents Act. This act sets out who can make claims, and who cannot. According to Section 3, only the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, brother or sister of the person who died are eligible to make a claim.

  1. All claims for the wrongful death must be brought in one lawsuit

The Fatal Accidents Act only allows one lawsuit per wrongful death. Even if the eligible family members are not speaking to each other, everyone's claims must be included in the same fatality claim.

  1. The person who died did not need to have a will

Many people name an executor in a will, and that executor is often the person who starts a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family. However, if there is no executor or administrator, then the lawsuit can be brought by any of the eligible family members. If there is an executor or administrator, but they fail or refuse to bring a claim within one year of the death, then any eligible family member can bring the claim on behalf of the others.

  1. Only certain family members are eligible for bereavement claims

It is very difficult to put a dollar value on the sadness someone feels when a loved one accidentally dies. Our government took the guesswork out, and prescribed what can be claimed for bereavement in Section 8 of the Fatal Accidents Act. Each living child (meaning son or daughter, not step-children or grand-children) can claim $49,000.00. Parents can claim $82,000.00. If both parents are alive and making a claim, that money is to be divided equally. If only one parent is alive, they are entitled to all $82,000.00.

  1. Certain family members can claim for their loss of dependency

If the person who died had family members that depended on their income or household services, those losses can also be claimed. Experts such as occupational therapists and economists can help calculate the value of those claims, by looking at financial records and/or the market value of services including lawn care, meal preparation, shopping and home maintenance.

  1. Talk to a wrongful death lawyer

At Miller Thomson LLP, our personal injury lawyers deal with a full range of wrongful death claims, from fatal motor vehicle accidents to medical malpractice lawsuits.

While it is impossible to determine who the "best" wrongful death lawyer is near you, Miller Thomson's team is part of a national, full service law firm, with outstanding access to resources and connections. Through our broad network of legal professionals across the country, we are strategically positioned to bring claims in other jurisdictions, investigate complex liability questions, and connect with leading experts.

Our clients get the benefit of a large, national firm and all its resources – but at the same cost as a small boutique firm – because our contingency fee percentage is the same competitive amount as the others.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.