Personal Injury

Lawyers can offer crucial advice in wrongful death claims: Doris

By Staff

Legal assistance is critical for family members following the wrongful death of a loved one, says Ottawa personal injury lawyer Joseph Doris.

Although the common law does not recognize an individual’s right to bring an action for the wrongful death of another person, legislation allows compensation for certain family members, says Doris, a lawyer with Howard Yegendorf & Associates LLP.

While most of his firm’s wrongful death cases involve motor vehicle fatalities, Doris says a wrongful death claim may arise in many other circumstances. Some of the most common cases allege medical malpractice or product liability — where manufacturers are sued for their defective items.

“Any type of accident resulting in death that is caused by another person’s negligence could lead to a lawsuit,” he tells

With family members still reeling from the emotional devastation of an unexpected death, Doris understands why obtaining legal advice may not be among their top priorities. Still, he says a lawyer can offer crucial guidance as family members navigate the complicated process of a wrongful death claim.

“It’s a big topic, and there are many things to consider,” Doris says.

The critical piece of legislation for most fatality claims is Ontario’s Family Law Act (FLA), which provides certain family members — including the spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers, or sisters of the deceased — with the right to launch an action for damages against those responsible for their loved one’s death.

However, there are no guarantees of success, says Doris, who explains that compensation will only be available to those who can prove not only that the defendant owed their family member a duty of care, but also that they failed in this duty through their negligent, reckless, or careless conduct. In addition, there must be a causal relationship between those actions and the person’s death.

In the following instalments of this series, Doris will take readers through the mechanics of a wrongful death action, before detailing the various types of damages potentially available to claimants, including some lesser-known sources of compensation available under the FLA and to the estate of the deceased.

This is part one of Ottawa personal injury lawyer Joseph Doris’s three-part series on fatality claims. Stay tuned for part two, where he will discuss what to expect when filing and advancing a claim.

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