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Can Spouses of Injured Drivers Recover?

FAQ: My husband was catastrophically injured in a truck accident in Kingston. My friend told me that as his wife, I may be able to recover from the other driver even though I wasn’t in the car. Is that true?

A: Yes, it is true. An injured driver’s family member who was not involved in the accident may be able to recover from the at-fault driver pursuant to Ontario law.

The Family Law Act (Act) allows certain family members of injured Ontario drivers to recover from the at-fault drivers. Under the Act, only immediate family members have the right to recover, and they include:

  • spouses,
  • children,
  • grandchildren,
  • parents,
  • grandparents,
  • siblings.

The Act also lays out 2 types of damages family members of injured Ontario drivers may receive: pecuniary damages and non-pecuniary damages.

Pecuniary damages are damages that can be measured. Such damages include travel expenses incurred in order to visit the injured driver at a hospital. For example, if a husband is seriously injured in an Ontario truck accident and is admitted to a hospital for 3 months, his wife and children would travel to the hospital to visit him and care for him. The costs incurred as a result of travel, i.e., taxi fares, mileage, etc., may be recovered from the at-fault driver.

Non-pecuniary damages cannot be measured definitively. They are the intangible losses suffered by family members that are directly caused by the individual’s injuries from the accident. Non-pecuniary damages compensate family members for the loss of care, guidance and companionship.

The young children of a father who is catastrophically injured and in a coma for 3 months obviously lose the time they would have spent with their father for those 3 months. Even after the father is out of the coma, he may be permanently disabled, i.e., has to be in a wheel chair due to a permanent spinal cord injury. In this case, the children can no longer do the things they used to do with their father, such as playing sports or engaging in other physical activities with him.

The wife of this catastrophically injured husband is also significantly affected as a result of her husband’s injuries. If they both enjoyed doing outdoor activities, they can no longer do them together. The husband cannot help with the physically demanding responsibilities he used to share with his wife, such as bathing their young children, doing outdoor chores, etc. All of these things now fall on his wife’s shoulders.

Therefore, you may have a claim against the driver even though you were not injured in the accident.

However, the amount of financial recovery received by a family member such as yourself is subject to a deductible of $15,000 if the award is less than $50,000. Therefore, if you are awarded $30,000 for your Family Law Act claim, you will receive $15,000 after the deduction is applied. If you receive more than $50,000, the deductible is not applicable.

Ontario motor vehicle accident and insurance law can be very confusing. It is important to seek counsel from an experienced Ontario car accident lawyer who knows how to help you and your husband recover financial compensation after your husband’s car accident in Kingston. We offer free consultations. Please do not hesitate to call us at 1-866-384-5886.

Contact Bergeron | Clifford LLP

Let us help you if you have been injured anywhere in Eastern Ontario. Contact us at 866-384-5886 or fill out our online form. We can meet at any of our office locations, including Kingston, Ottawa, Whitby, Carleton Place, Perth or wherever is most convenient for you.

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