Losing a Loved One: Your Legal Rights
By: Michael B. Murphy, QC, Senior Partner
Did you know that the Fatal Accidents Act in New Brunswick is one of the most restrictive in the country? In order to claim for the death of a child, that child must be under the age of 19, or over the age of 19 if you are dependent upon that child for care. Also, there is no claim for pain and suffering for the loss of a child above the age of 19.
Essentially your claim, when you lose your spouse, becomes for the loss of the disposable income and valuable services. Disposable income means that portion of money, after taxes and personal use, that would have been available for the family. This is over the lifetime of the deceased. Everyone has to look at what your health was, and the health of your deceased spouse. If your deceased spouse was only expected to live another 10 years, then the claim is restricted to that. If, however, they were only expected to live another 5 years, then the claim is restricted to that. There is also a claim for valuable services meaning what your spouse would have done around the home and for you throughout his or her lifetime.
There is no claim for loss of growth of the estate. If you were married to a 30-year-old who had the potential to make millions of dollars, then you cannot claim for the deceased estate as though they would have lived to 75. This is a well-known case of a young women by the name of Higgins who was killed as a pedestrian. That case went to the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick. The only claim of the estate is for funeral expenses and some debts that would have been outstanding.
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