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When a Child is Severely or Fatally Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident

When a child has been catastrophically injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, the impact on a family is heartbreaking and incalculable. The loss of a child results in pain and suffering to parents and siblings that elapses not just months or years, but a lifetime.  A family’s grief is similarly overwhelming when their child is severely injured and no longer able to function normally; in such cases, parents and other family members must deal with the emotional pain in addition to the challenges of caring for a disabled or sick child.

A permanent and severe disability, most commonly due to brain or spinal injury resulting from an accident, typically requires help with mobility issues, education, medical needs, and many other facets of day-to-day living, and the victim may not be able to provide for themselves as an adult. Family members of a child that has been catastrophically injured require significant funds to pay for medical treatments, mechanical aids and numerous other expenses that are necessary to improve the health and circumstances for their child.     

In late September 2015, a terrible traffic accident in Vaughn resulted in the death of three young children and their 65 year old grandfather, as well as severe injuries to two grandmothers.  The collision occurred at the intersection of Kipling Avenue and Kirby Road, when the SUV driven by a 29 year old man struck a mini-van carrying a family of six people, including three children aged 2, 5, and 9.  The two occupants of a third vehicle involved in the crash were not injured.  The man alleged to have caused the accident was arrested by York Region Police on 18 charges including Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm, Over 80 Causing Death and Dangerous Driving Causing Death.

In a collision such as this, where children are severely injured or killed in an accident that was preventable, then we expect that the negligent party and their insurer will be responsible for the damages.  A personal injury claim and wrongful death claim are similar in terms of some of the costs involved (such as medical expenses or funeral costs), and also because both resulted from negligence on behalf of another person. However, in the case of a wrongful death claim, there are no long-term medical and rehabilitation expenses, and it is the family members who will be making the claim for damages rather than the accident victim(s).  This differs greatly from a personal injury claim for catastrophic injuries where the accident victim and their families can claim for pain and suffering, as well as for significant long-term expenses, including loss of income, that have arisen as a result of the injury.

In Wrongful Death claims in Vaughn or anywhere in Ontario, immediate family members are entitled to: actual costs incurred for the benefit of the deceased person, funeral costs, and the loss of pecuniary benefits under the Family Law Act.  ‘Pecuniary’ refers to the contributions and support that the deceased person may have made to the claimant over their lifetime, if they had not been killed.  Damages for pain and suffering are not recoverable in these cases.    The trial of Mason v. Peters et al., 1982, was an action against a driver whose negligence resulted in the death of an 11 year old boy.  In this case, the mother was awarded $45,000 and a sister, $5,000, in damages for the loss of companionship due to the death of their son and brother, respectively.  In Ontario, no amount of punitive award is typically given to the victim’s families in a wrongful death case, presumably because no amount of money can compensate a parent for the loss of their child.

Personal injury and wrongful death suits are a specialized and complex area of law best handled by an experienced personal injury attorney.   If you or a loved one has suffered severe injury or death due to a motor vehicle accident, the emotional trauma and shock can make it difficult even to make day to day decisions.  The Personal Injury Lawyers of Ontario (ILO) team has helped many families make claims for damages, and are respectful and understanding of the challenges you are undergoing at this most difficult time.  In a no-obligation consultation, our Vaughn ILO attorneys will give you an idea of what you can expect if you elect to make a claim, and can also offer advice with respect to health care experts in the community.  Call us today; if you are unable to come to our office then we can arrange to meet in your home or in hospital.

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