Nova Scotia residents may be surprised to learn that pain and suffering is not mentioned in the section of the Fatal Injuries Act that deals with damages that may be awarded in a lawsuit brought by families who have lost a loved one. While a wrongful death lawsuit is often an extremely emotional experience for plaintiff and defendant, the process by which damages are determined is calculated and methodical.
One of the simplest calculations in a wrongful death lawsuit is the expenses of the dependent family members. Examples of these expenses include funeral or burial costs and travel expenses incurred visiting the deceased individual in hospital prior to their death. The plaintiff may also seek compensation for payments made to individuals or companies providing services, such as nursing or housekeeping, to the deceased individual between the time of their injury and the date of their death.
Other damages in a wrongful death action are more difficult to determine. The lost income of dependent family members will be based on the deceased individual’s current and projected earnings, and this can become a contentious issue. It may also be difficult to put a reasonable figure on the value of the companionship, care and guidance that had been provided by the deceased individual.
There are a number of common misconceptions about wrongful death litigation that an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to clear up. One frequent misunderstanding involves the benefits paid to dependent family members under pension plans or life insurance policies. Many believe that such benefits would reduce the amount of damages that could be awarded in a wrongful death action, but the Fatal Injuries Act clearly states that this is not the case. A lawyer could also assess the merits of a possible wrongful death lawsuit and explain the steps involved in pursuing this kind of legal action.
Source: The Nova Scotia Legislature, “Fatal Injuries Act“, November 25, 2014
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