The Family Compensation Act.

The term “wrongful death” is a very American expression, although it has crept into usage here in Canada.

Historically in Canadian law, if somebody was killed through the fault of somebody else, there was no compensation available. The compensation died with the person who was killed. If they were badly injured, they could obtain compensation against the person who had badly injured them, but if they died, that claim died with them. Their estate had no entitlement and nobody else had entitlement.

That approach has been changed by legislation in Canada, but the legislation has a number of different names depending on where you live. In British Columbia, it is called the Family Compensation Act. If someone dies through the fault of somebody else or the negligence of somebody else, then the family, the dependents, those people who are economically dependent upon the deceased, are entitled to bring a claim. That is why it is called the Family Compensation Act. It is almost purely an economic claim. Actuaries calculate the claim based upon what the deceased’s income was prior to the accident, what support he was giving to his various dependents, which includes children and spouses. In some cases even parents may be included if the youngsters support them. The age of the children is important, because the claim looks at supporting them until they are able to support themselves.

Typically we represent the whole family and obtain the compensation for everyone altogether. An actuary will look at the earnings and then deduct amounts that are personal to the deceased. They also look at expenses historically, such as private school tuition for the children or support payments as well as other things deceased may have provided. The claim for compensation is then calculated based on those expenses.

It’s important to recognize that in the Family Compensation Act, the claim is brought by the dependents of the deceased. The children and the mother, for instance, would be the plaintiffs named, not the estate of the deceased, and this is something that’s been added by statute to ensure that the dependents are compensated for their loss.


If you, or someone you care about, is dealing with Personal injury law issues in the Vancouver, British Columbia Region, contact Stephens & Holman.

This article is taken from a March 27, 2008 interview with Simon Holman, LL.B., Personal Injury Lawyer with Stephens & Holman in Vancouver , a Personal Injury Law Firm.

Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.