Damages For Wrongful Death-The Family Compensation Act

Calulating death damages

Damages totaling almost $500,000 were awarded this week to a 10-year-old child arising out of the wrongful death arising from the murder of her mother by her husband. The damages were awarded pursuant to the Family Compensation Act, R.S.B.C 1996, c. 126 [FCA].

 

For additional blogs on the Family Compensation act and wrongful death claims, please visit the blogs on this site dated:

December 13,2012: Claims for Punitive and Aggravated Damages cannot be made in Wrongful Death Claims

August 10,2013: Wrongful Death Claims and the Family Compensation Act

August 11,2013: Wrongful Death Claims – Loss of Financial Support

 

The case is reported asPanghali v. Panghali, 2014 BCSC 647

 

The defendant was convicted of second-degree murder and  sentenced to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole for 15 years.

The issue at trial was the quantification of damages for wrongful death  that would be due and payable to the dependent child of the  victim, and the appropriate statute is the Family Compensation act.

In a nutshell it might be said that the damages for the wrongful death of the mother is really what is the value of the loss of  mother to a young daughter, caused by the wrongful death of another?

Section 2 of the Family Compensation act states as follows:

2          If the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not resulted, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages for it, any person, partnership or corporation which would have been liable if death had not resulted is liable in an action for damages, despite the death of the person injured, and although the death has been caused under circumstances that amount in law to an indictable offence.

Regrettably the damages for wrongful death under the Family Compensation Act  are essentially limited to economic loss , with little or no provision allowable for  the pain and suffering  caused by loss of  a loved one .

The purpose of the FCA to place claimants in the economic position they would have been in but for the death (Keizer v. Hanna and Buch, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 342 at 351).

Recoverable losses are restricted to pecuniary losses, including “the actual financial benefit of which the [the claimant] has been deprived and … financial benefit which might reasonably be expected to accrue in the future if death had not occurred”: Cox v. Takahashi (1977), 5 B.C.L.R. 162 at 164; see also Brown v. Finch (1997), 42 B.C.L.R. (3d) 116 (C.A.).

A summary of the damages  calculation for the wrongful death  in this case are as follows :

a)    Past Loss of Dependency: $54,700

b)    Future Loss of Dependency: $165,000

c)     Past Loss of Household Assistance and Childcare: $129,000

d)    Future Loss of Household Assistance and Childcare: $172,000

e)    Loss of Guidance: $35,000

f)      Public Guardian and Trustee fees of $58,600

g)    Tax Gross-up to be resolved by counsel; failing agreement, liberty to apply is granted.

h)    Court ordered interest as ordered.

i)       Costs to the plaintiffs at Scale B.

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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