The loss of a loved one is both tragic and devastating. When someone else’s negligence causes that loss, and is to blame for you and your family’s suffering, it can make a difficult situation even more unbearable. While there is no easy way to handle these sensitive matters, the wrongful death lawyers at Beyond Law take great care and compassion in handling wrongful death claims.

Fatal injuries can result from any number of accidents including automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and medical malpractice.

We understand the particularly sensitive nature of these claims and are committed to supporting you and your family as we guide you step by step through your wrongful death lawsuit. Our goal is to provide you peace of mind in a crisis and, while it is impossible to put a price on the loss of a loved one, obtain you and your family compensation to secure your future.

When you are faced with the death of a loved one, contact a Toronto wrongful death lawyer at Beyond Law immediately to find out how we can help you. Call us at 416.613.1225 or fill out our convenient online form.

Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Definition of wrongful death

A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit in which an injured party (a “plaintiff”) seeks compensation against an at-fault party (a “defendant”) for the loss of a loved one. Generally, “wrongful death” is defined as a death caused by another person’s negligence, whether due to a motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice, or another type of claim. 

Types of incidents that can lead to wrongful death claims

A wide range of accidents or incidents can lead to a wrongful death claim. The deceased person may have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or suffered a head injury in a slip-and-fall case. A dangerous product may also be responsible for a person’s death, assuming the death resulted from the manufacturer’s negligence.

Differences between wrongful death and criminal charges

Wrongful death is a civil claim, being a claim for monetary damages. In the case of a wrongful death, there may be companion proceedings against the at fault individual for causing the death, either under the Criminal Code or Highway Traffic Act. Charges may include dangerous driving causing death, careless driving causing death, and other offences. 

A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the family or the deceased’s estate to seek monetary compensation for the wrongful death of the deceased member. So even if the defendant may be found criminally liable, it is a separate legal proceeding from the wrongful death claim. The only way to obtain monetary compensation from the at-fault party is to bring a wrongful death claim.

Eligibility to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit

Under section 61 of Ontario’s Family Law Act, only immediate family members are entitled to bring a claim for damages resulting from the death of a loved one. These include the deceased’s spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and in-laws are not entitled to bring a claim, no matter how close they were to the deceased person. 

Determining the representative of the deceased’s estate

In addition to immediate family members, the deceased’s estate is entitled to bring a claim for damages. These damages will typically include pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life suffered by the deceased before they died, and any expenses incurred by the estate. An estate trustee or other representative must agree to represent the estate for the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Time limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Toronto

The law requires that a person has two years from the date of the family member’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The deceased’s estate likewise has two years to sue.

While two years may seem like a long period of time, if you are dealing with grief and losing a loved one, this period can pass quickly. It is therefore important to contact a wrongful death lawyer, like the lawyers at Beyond Law, as soon as you are able.

If the potential plaintiff is a minor at the time of the family member’s death, the minor may postpone the claim until they reach maturity or are otherwise represented by a litigation guardian. A parent or another family member may act as litigation guardian. The limitation period will not apply to the minor until these conditions are met.

Establishing Liability in a Wrongful Death Case

Identifying potentially liable parties

Identifying potentially liable parties is crucial in order to successfully bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Some examples of potentially liable parties are:

  • A negligent driver
  • A product manufacturer
  • A medical professional, such as a doctor or nurse
  • A nursing home facility

Proving negligence or misconduct

The plaintiff must prove that another person or entity’s negligence or intentional misconduct caused their family member’s death. To prove negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit, the claimant must demonstrate that the defendant (or defendants) had a legal duty of care towards the deceased, that the defendant breached the standard of care, and that this breach caused the victim’s death. While proving these elements may be straightforward in certain cases (such as a pedestrian struck on a sidewalk), they can be very challenging to prove in others (such as in medical malpractice and in complex, multi-vehicle collisions).

Gathering evidence to support the claim

Evidence demonstrating the defendant’s negligence may include medical records, accident reports, eyewitness testimony, photographs, and other pertinent documents. It is important to gather this information as quickly as possible to ensure that relevant evidence is preserved.

Expert witnesses and their role in a wrongful death case

Expert witnesses can play a significant role in a wrongful death case. An expert witness is a person with specialized knowledge, training or experience that can provide objective and impartial testimony about the cause of death and the extent of damages suffered by the deceased’s family. This can include medical evidence, accounting evidence, and engineering evidence.

Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

What can you sue for in a wrongful death lawsuit

The family members of a deceased individual can sue for various damages. These include loss of care, guidance, and companionship, the loss of services provided by the deceased, loss of shared family income, out-of-pocket expenses (such as funeral and burial expenses), and mental distress. The specific damages that can be successfully claimed will depend on the nature of the case and losses suffered.

Punitive damages and their availability in wrongful death lawsuits

In Ontario, you may be able to claim punitive damages as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. Punitive damages are not “compensatory” (that is, they are not designed to compensate a plaintiff) but rather designed to punish the wrongdoer for their conduct. Punitive damages may be warranted if the at-fault person’s conduct was particularly blameworthy, such as drunk driving. 

Factors that can affect the amount of damages awarded

Many factors can influence the amount of damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, such as the deceased’s age, earning capacity, and the impact of the death on the surviving family members’ emotional and financial wellbeing.

Working With A Wrongful Death Lawyer

Importance of hiring an experienced wrongful death Lawyer

Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer is critical. Given the complexity of personal injury law, you need a lawyer to help you navigate the legal process from start to finish, especially as the opposing insurance company attempts to defeat or reduce your claim. 

Finding The Right Wrongful Death Lawyer In Toronto

When researching online, there are a few factors you should focus on.


Even though most wrongful death cases are settled without a trial, it is crucial that your lawyer can also represent you in court with confidence and experience. They should have experience with both negotiations and trials.


You should find a reputable wrongful death lawyer you can trust. Check the lawyer’s website for client testimonials and websites like Google for reviews by previous clients. You can also contact the law firm and ask them to put you in touch with former clients as a reference. This can give you additional information on the quality of service.


Communication is critical in wrongful death cases. You need a professional who will listen to your story, communicate clearly and promptly, and answer any questions. Cases involving wrongful death can often take a long time to resolve. As cases can take months, if not years, it is crucial to have a competent lawyer available for any questions or issues that may arise and feel comfortable talking to regularly.

Understanding attorney’s fees and payment structure

Most wrongful death lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid once and if they successfully obtain compensation for you. This fee model is designed to alleviate the financial hardship and stress experienced by their clients. The fee our Toronto personal injury law firm charges at the end of your case is based upon a percentage of the amount achieved.

Communication and collaboration with your lawyer

Communication is critical to a successful strategy, and your wrongful death lawyer will be by your side to answer any questions. You are far more likely to receive a favourable financial settlement by working with an experienced wrongful death lawyer than you would otherwise. Typically insurance companies will downplay or dismiss the seriousness of a claim and try to take advantage of their lack of familiarity with the legal system.


Losing a family member due to another person’s negligence is extremely difficult. While no amount of money will be able to replace the loss of your loved one, we aim to assist you with care and compassion to ease your financial burden and secure your future. 

When a loved one has passed away due to an accident or negligence, contact one of the compassionate Toronto wrongful death lawyers at Beyond Law immediately to find out how we can help you. Call us at 416.613.1225 or fill out our convenient online form.

Beyond Law offers free, no-obligation consultation sessions to identify potential compensation paths and help you understand the law and your rights as a survivor. 

Wherever you live in Ontario, Beyond Law is here to help in your time of need.

About the Authors

  • Josh Nisker

    Josh is a founding partner of Beyond Law. He is recognized as one of the Top Lawyers in Toronto by Post City Magazines. He strives to build and maintain trust with his clients by being attentive, responsive and honest at all times. He also frequently mentors other practicing lawyers through the Law Society of Ontario.

  • Kate Mazzucco

    Kate is the co-founder of Beyond Law who has more than 15 years of experience in personal injury law. She believes that every client is unique and so are their losses and needs. Therefore, she represents every client with a personalized approach tailored to them as an individual.