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The tragic accident last week on the highway between Whistler and Pemberton, in which two men in the prime of their lives were struck and killed by a vehicle, will no doubt reveal yet another example of why B.C.'s wrongful death laws are in much need of reform.
We are often retained to assist families who have lost loved ones in a wide range of cases - ie. auto accidents, cases of medical negligence, or death during recreational activities such as whitewater rafting or skiing. One of the most difficult issues in these cases is explaining to the families the very limited compensation that is available to them under our current Family Compensation Act.
The current Act is in desperate need of reform. In my view, the legislation fails to adequately compensate families for the losses that follow when a loved one passes.
In particular, the Act only allows a family to seek compensation for the direct financial losses resulting from their family member's death. This limited level of damages fails to acknowledge the true impact of such an accident on a victim's family.
As a result, the Act grossly undervalues the impact of the death of a child, seniors and people with disabilities who do not present a measurable financial loss to their family. This is perhaps not surprising when one considers that the Act is based, in large part, on a British statute dated back to 1846.
There are a number of organizations in B.C. that have been calling for these antiquated laws to be reformed and amended so as to properly be compensated following the death of a loved one.
One of the leaders in this regard is an association in which I am an Executive member - the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. With any luck, the efforts of TLABC and others will lead to some much needed legislative reform in the near future. Until then, many families will be inadequately compensated when a loved one is lost in an accident such as that last week.
If you have recently lost a loved one in an accident, feel free to contact us to seek more information as to your family's rights under the current Act.