After Your Spouse Died in a Car Accident
The first thing you need to do is hire an experienced fatal accident lawyer who will hire an accident reconstruction engineer to determine who was at fault for the motor vehicle collision. This is crucial as in Alberta fault determines the amount that may be claimed as a payout for compensation.
For example, there are many tragic motor vehicle accidents on Highway 63 between Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alberta involving high-income earners. The death of this high-income earner is a catastrophic financial loss to the surviving widow and children. However, if the deceased husband was the innocent victim or only partially at fault for the motor vehicle collision, then the surviving widow and children have a claim for the loss of the future income that her husband would have earned over the balance of his normal life expectancy.
Of course, deductions are made for the income tax the husband would have paid and the amounts he would have spent on himself, called “personal consumption”, and there are other deductions as well. However, there are also “positive contingencies” to be considered such as future job promotions, the inflation rate, change to a different job, etc. which would have resulted in an increase in the income of the deceased husband which must now be projected. These competing economic assumptions can make the calculation very complex. You cannot rely on the insurance company to do this for you and make a fair offer as they have no legal obligation to advise you what is a fair amount. On the contrary, their job is to minimize the amount of the insurance payout to you and your family.
The bottom line is that the widow and children have a very large claim for the long-term future loss of income of the deceased husband. If the deceased is in his early 30’s with another 30 years of expected career earnings, this claim is very large and the widow and family should contact an experienced fatal accident lawyer to immediately investigate the accident and not just rely upon the RCMP analyst report and investigation. The RCMP are looking at the collision only with respect to criminal charges and they are not looking at other aspects such as partial liability or contributory negligence of each of the drivers. This is important in a civil claim as the deceased family and widow can still have a claim for partial compensation if the deceased husband was partially at fault for the motor vehicle collision.
We have acted for families who have been involved in the all-too-frequent tragic fatal accidents along Highway 63 to Fort McMurray (known as the “Highway of Death”) as oil sands workers travel back and forth often exhausted from long days working in Fort McMurray. As well, we have acted for families in the Grande Prairie area with the two-lane highway also resulting in many tragic and preventable fatal accidents between Edmonton and Grande Prairie. Fortunately, Highway 63 to Fort McMurray is in the process of being twinned into a four lane highway but the process is lengthy and the projected completion date is not until 2016. Our firm can assist a family who has suffered the tragic loss of a husband or wife to ensure that the family has the lost income replaced entirely for the benefit of the widow and the children.