What are Family Law Act Claims in Ontario?
Many people are aware that if they have been injured as a result of the actions or negligence of another, they can bring a claim against the at-fault party for damages. However, what many may not realize is that their family members may also have a claim for damages as well.
Who Can Make a Family Law Act Claim?
Part V of the Family Law Act (“FLA”) gives certain family members the right to recover damages if their loved one suffers an injury (or death) caused by another. This means that a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, brother, or sister are able to make a claim for damages.
Under the FLA, the definition of “child” includes a person who a parent has demonstrated a settled intention to treat as a child of their family (with the exception of a foster child). Similarly, “parent” is defined as including a person who has demonstrated a settled intention to treat a child as a child of their family (again, with the exception of a foster parent).
“Spouse” is defined as one of two persons who are married to each other or who have entered into a voidable or void marriage in good faith. The definition also includes a potential or actual polygamous marriage if it was celebrated in a jurisdiction where it is recognized as valid. Part V of the Act also includes the definition of “spouse” from the Support Obligations part of the act, which states that “spouse” includes persons who are not married but have cohabited either continuously for a minimum of three years or are in a relationship of some permanence and are parents of a child as set out in s. 4 of the Children’s Law Reform Act.
What Types of Damages Can Family Members Claim?
Under the FLA, family members can recover a variety of damages, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Actual expenses that are reasonably incurred for the benefit of the injured person;
- Funeral expenses that are reasonably incurred;
- Reasonable allowance for travel expenses that are actually incurred for visiting the person during treatment and recovery;
- If the family member has provided nursing, housekeeping, or other services, a reasonable allowance for loss of income or value of the services; and
- Compensation for the loss of guidance, care, and companionship.
While many of these claims can be easily quantified (such as income loss), other claims, such as those for loss of guidance, care, and companionship, are not so easily put into numbers.
Statutory Deductibles on Family Law Act Claims
There are limits to the amount of damages a family member can recover. Under Ontario law, a statutory deductible applies if the award for the non-pecuniary portion of the claim falls under a certain amount. This deductible increases each year. For 2021, if a family member’s non-pecuniary portion of a claim is less than $66,256.09, then there is a deductible of $19,877.16. In other words, if a jury makes an award of damages for the loss of guidance, care and companionship of $25,000.00, then the family member of the injured or deceased accident victim would receive only $5,122.84.
When a person suffers a personal injury it can affect their whole life – as well as the lives of their family members. An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you on what is involved in bringing a claim and the types of damages available to you and your family.
If you have suffered a personal injury in Ottawa or anywhere across Eastern Ontario, contact one of our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. We can be reached: