Claims arising from wrongful deaths in British Columbia are governed by the Family Compensation Act. In order to make a claim for compensation, there must be three factors present.
First, one must be able to prove that someone was negligent. For instance, in a traffic accident, you have to be able to prove that somebody else was responsible for the death. Second, of course, the death has to ensue from the injuries suffered in the accident. The death may occur at some point further on, but if it is from some other cause, such as a long-term illness, there would not be the causation that’s necessary to bring a suit for negligence. If the accident resulted from of the negligence of somebody else, then it is compensable. The accident does not have to involve an automobile either. If someone, for instance, was going to a restaurant and he slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot, hit his head and died, there could be a claim also.
In British Columbia, we have what is called contributory negligence. The courts might find that the deceased was not using an available seatbelt. In such a case, the court might deduct some percentage from the compensation if it believed that the failure to wear a seatbelt contributed to the injuries causing death.
The third requirement in British Columbia is that the deceased has economic dependents. For instance, if an eight-year-old child is run over in the road and killed, there is, unfortunately, no economic compensation as the child would not have dependents.
To summarize, in order to bring a claim under the Family Compensation Act, there must be proof that someone was negligent; the death must be clearly caused by the negligence of this person or persons and there must also be dependents affected financially by the loss; they are the ones who would initiate the claim.