There have been several posts about motorcyclists passing away from accident related injuries since I have joined this site. Some of them had families and children, which makes the loss that much worse.
I am not sure how much the general public knows about the Family Compensation Act or death benefits payable by ICBC, but I think it is important that you and your spouse know that money may be available if the unthinkable happens...
The Family Compensation Act permits claims for pecuniary loss (out of pocket expenses, future monetary losses etc - but not pain and suffering) arising from the death of a spouse, parent or child (in limited circumstances). The goal of damages (money awarded) is to put the children and/or spouse in the same financial position as they would have been had the person not died.
An action can be brought if the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default (can include a motor vehicle accident).
The claim can include:
1. Loss of guidance
This is to try and compensate for the loss of love, guidance, companionship, care and training. There is an upper limit to this award and the amount will depend on the child's relationship with the deceased parent and their age. The younger the child and the closer the relationship, the higher the amount given - to a maximum of ~$35,000 per child. If both parents are deceased then the child would get up to that amount from each parent. This amount would be given to the Public Guardian and Trustee to hold until the child reaches the age of majority;
2. Loss of household assistance
Housekeeping services include handyman work around the house. Normally there is a deduction from the full value of these services as the deceased would also have benefitted from the work. One way to look at this is as an attempt to put a monetary value to the deceased contribution to the household - in addition to income, which is dealt with under paragraph 3;
3. Loss of financial support
Under this head of damage the court will try to award an amount that will allow the spouse and/or child to maintain an approximation of the lifestyle that they would have had, but for the death.; and
4. Loss or acceleration of inheritance
This one is difficult to show and therefore it is not always awarded. An exception is if the deceased was starting out in a high paying career - for example he or she had just finished medical school or had recently started a successful business.
Keep in mind that there are limitation periods and the action should be started as soon as possible - which is often difficult because families can and do grieve for a long time.
Death benefits payable under Part 7 can include:
1. Funeral expenses up to $2500 - as long as those expenses are not covered under some other insurance;
2. A lump sum payment of between $500 and $5000 to the first survivor (spouse or eldest child);
3. Supplemental survivor benefits $1000 to additional survivors (not covered in paragraph 2) and $145/week to the first survivor and $35/week for each other survivor for 104 weeks.
These benefits are deductable from an award under the Family Compensation Act.
There you go. Not a pleasant topic, but it is best to be informed. I hope none of you will ever need it.
None of what I have written is legal advice - I've provided it only for your information.