By Brent L. Handel Q.C.
At Handel Law Firm we are committed to supporting you through this difficult time of loss and providing you with an understanding of your legal rights in Alberta.
Car Accident Injury Compensation in Alberta
Alberta is a fault-based jurisdiction in motor-vehicle accidents. This means that the party at fault for the accident is responsible for the damages caused to the innocent victim. In a fatality this means that the innocent victim, the deceased, through his or her family, the survivors, have a claim for bereavement and a large claim for the loss of future financial support that the deceased would have provided to the widow or widower or interdependent partner and the minor children.
In addition, in a fatal accident claim, amounts can be claimed for the loss of services around the home that the deceased provided including housekeeping services, yard work, childcare services, etc. All this may be calculated based upon the hours the deceased contributed to the household which the deceased is no longer around to provide. This is a significant loss over and above the loss of financial support from the deceased’s income from his or her job.
In addition there are amounts for the travel costs and any health care costs up to the time of death as well as a bereavement amount for the spouse or interdependent partner and children.
Handel Law Firm’s Experience
In Alberta there are over 350 fatal accidents each year; however, given that there are over 8,700 practicing lawyers in Alberta, this means that there are obviously very few lawyers in Alberta who have a great deal of experience dealing with fatal accident claims.
Handel Law Firm has a great deal of experience dealing with fatal accident claims and is compassionate and passionate about ensuring that the victims’ survivors are properly compensated.
Who Is On Your Side?
You must remember that despite the tragic nature of the claim, the auto-insurance company for the party at fault does not owe you a legal obligation to advise you what is a fair amount or to provide you with a fair settlement. Indeed, the obligation of the private, for-profit, auto-insurance company is to its shareholders to increase profits – which means minimizing the payout of an auto insurance claim, even a tragic fatal accident claim.
Therefore, the only way the surviving innocent victim’s family will achieve a fair result is if they hire an experienced fatal accident lawyer to bring a claim against the party at fault and his or her auto-insurance company. Frequently, after gathering the appropriate documentation, financial, potential job promotions, household contribution, et cetera to prove the future loss owing the insurance claim can be settled with a mediation, without going to trial. However, at a mediation please keep in mind that the final settlement is a direct function of the experience and talent of the lawyers involved. Written briefs must be prepared prior to the mediation and then at the mediation the tactics and skill of counsel involved make a dramatic difference in the final outcome. Do not leave your future financial independence in the hands of a junior lawyer or someone who does not have a great deal of experience negotiating fatal accident claims. Ask direct questions about a potential lawyer’s fatal accident experience.
Word of Mouth Referrals – Are They Reliable?
Receiving a word of mouth referral is not always the best way to obtain a lawyer experienced in this very small area of fatal accident claims as very few lawyers have experience in this small area of law. It is unlikely a relative or a friend will be able to refer you to a lawyer experienced in this very small area of law.
Although word of mouth seems like a reliable way to find an experienced lawyer, and it usually is in broad practice areas, it is not a reliable way to find a lawyer in a very small practice area such as fatal accident claims, even in a large city with large law firms. It is human nature to trust the referrals of people you know but unless those people have direct experience with a lawyer in a fatality situation, then the referral is really of limited value. You must find a lawyer with extensive experience in fatal accident claims and then ask that lawyer direct questions about the amount of experience they really have in dealing with fatality insurance claims.