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Wrongful Death Bicycle Accident Law Firm in Hamilton, Serving Victims all over Ontario

When the unexpected of a loved one happens, we’re in your corner.

The pain and confusion of unexpectedly losing a loved one in a bicycle accident can no doubt be brutally overwhelming.  No matter if your loved one was a parent, sibling or child, a wrongful bicycle accident death is an extremely stressful event that can leaved you feeling helpless, emotionally out-of control, and with many, many questions about the accident and what will happen will happen in the future.

There are so many things to think about after the unexpected passing of your loved one – from funeral expenses to paying bills to managing the estate and financial disruption. If your loved one has died in a bicycle accident, fill in a contact form or call us today at 905-333-8888 to discuss your options.  We have been helping families of wrongful death victims killed in bicycle accidents since 2003.

The traumatic death of a child in a bicycle accident

Losing a child is one of the most traumatically painful events that a parent can experience and is often linked to complicated/traumatic grief reactions.  Moreso, because the passing of a child defies the expected natural order of life events, many, if not most parents are unable to properly cope and accept the loss – it is a psychological trauma that never goes away. Grief is often complicated by major stress, emotional dysregulation and PTSD, as well as the onset of psychiatric disorders, sadness, despair and helplessness. Grief can also be complicated by the delayed adaptation to the loss of a child – all of which more likely than not requires lifelong therapy.

We have seen many parents be unable to return to their normal life after their child dies in a bicycle accident. Some parents are unable to return to work. Some couples are unable to remain married. Some parents simply never accept the reality of the loss, particularly around the circumstances of a child’s death after being killed in a bicycle related accident. Adjusting to an environment in which the child is missing is no easy task – and although the waves of pain and intensity will spread and come less frequently, the loss of their child will probably always be life’s harshest blow.

It’s important that if your child died in a bicycle accident or was involved in an accident with a motor vehicle that caused his or her death, you are entitled to certain funeral benefits to cover costs, death benefits and extensive funding for rehabilitation therapy. You’re also entitled to bring a lawsuit for the wrongful death of your child. Economic and noneconomic damages could be claimed in the suit, which should be filed with the court sooner rather than later.

The traumatic death of a spouse, parent or sibling in a bicycle accident

The tragedy of a child’s death no doubt brings profound pain to all affected. When a child is killed in a bicycle accident, often his or her siblings present with incredibly difficult psychological problems that also require extensive therapy.  Many children and teens will express their grief and how they behave and how they feel physically and emotionally. For example, some teens may sleep or cry more than usual, develop problems at school, develop interpersonal problems and may develop irritability and anger issues. Some children may develop childhood traumatic grief (CTG and develop symptoms that are very close to PTSD. The death of a child often leads to structure change within the family and in the roles of the surviving kids, which is not always easy to understand. Bereaved siblings will have a significant need for psychological support.

If your spouse has been killed in a bicycle accident you may have many questions such as how will I pay the bills? How will I pay for my son or daughter’s hockey? How will I pay for the car insurance, my critical illness policy or save for the kids’ education? Who will help me put food on the table? What am I supposed to do? There is no greater sorrow in life than the  loss of your spouse or life partner.  The unexpected loss of a life partner is so disruptive that recovery almost always is so complicated.

Should you file a wrongful death lawsuit after a bicycle accident?

The answer is yes – absolutely.  Although filing a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring your loved one back, it can no doubt help create a stable economic foundation for you and your family as you recover from this devastating loss. We understand that a wrongful death lawsuit may be the last thing that you are thinking of during this period of emotional turmoil, but it’s worth the consultation with our Hamilton wrongful death lawyers to discuss what you and your family may be entitled to in order to protect your financial future.

If I file a bicycle accident wrongful death lawsuit, what am I entitled to?

Depending on who files a claim, you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages: There are many different economic damage claims that a spouse or life-partner can make. For example, if the deceased was a worker and part of his or her wages supported the family (or part of – if the other spouse was working) then your wrongful death lawyer would no doubt explore (a) future earning loss; and (b) lost pension, benefits, and stock options, if any.

For example, the death of a young, up-and-coming worker in a bicycle accident requires your wrongful death lawyer to project into the future lost wages based upon future earning potential, factoring in the probabilities of future promotions, salary increases, and the cost of the lost group benefits (i.e. health and dental).  Evidence of educational background, career goals, work ethic, and work record are important to explore.  We would typically retain vocational specialists and obtain employment documentation from personnel records to support your dependency loss claim, as well the testimony of a supervisors and co-workers in a position to state what the future would likely have held for your deceased loved one if not subjected to the defendants’ negligence. The ultimate question, through much accounting and economic and valuation is – how much of the deceased’s income should be replaced and should the surviving dependents of the deceased be entitled to all of the deceased’s projected income?

Non-Economic Damages: When a family member dies as a result of someone’s negligence, the most devastating loss for their survivors is not always financial.  Because economic damages are tangible and easily understandable, it is all too easy for wrongful death lawyers to focus on them – but – sometimes what really matters is the actual loss of the family member. In Ontario, surviving family members cannot sue for the death or the manner of death, but rather with “non-economic” damages – losses are formulated and defined as the loss of “care, guidance and companionship” pursuant to Ontario’s Family Law Act.

Family members who are considered dependents under section 61(1) of the Family Law Act are eligible to recover damages for the loss of guidance, care and companionship that they would have received from the deceased had the accident not occurred. In assessing compensation for the loss of care, guidance and companionship in Ontario, we are party guided by the factors set out in a case called  Newman Estate v. Swales, which in sumamry as follows:

(i) The age and mental and physical condition of the claimant;
(ii) Whether the deceased lived with the claimant, and if not the frequency of the visits;
(iii) The intimacy and quality of the claimant’s relationship with the deceased;
(iv) the claimant’s emotional self-sufficiency;
(v) Whether the deceased’s spouse has remarried; and
(vi) The deceased’s and the claimant’s joint life expectancy, or the probable length of timethe relationship would have endured.

There are no monetary caps in Ontario on the amount of damages that may be paid to dependents for the loss of care, guidance and companionship. However, the Court of Appeal has basically imposed a cap – a range beyond which they will not go.

Who is considered a Dependent in a Wrongful Death Bicycle Accident Case?

Unlike personal injury cases, when the loss of income calculation is focused on the individual plaintiff, there are a number of people that need to be considered in any fatality case where there are surviving dependents. Section 61(1) of the Family Law Act outlines who is considered a dependent and eligible to recover damages. A dependent is considered to be

  • a spouse
  • children
  • grandchildren
  • parents
  • grandparents and
  • brothers and sisters of the deceased person.

Dependents are eligible to claim both economic damages (i.e. damages which may be calculated in financial terms) and non-economic damages (i.e. damages which  are not easily calculable, such as the loss of care guidance and companionship). However, in practice, economic damages such as loss of income are typically limited to the spouse and children of the deceased. This is because claims for loss of income of the deceased are only likely to be successful if advanced by a family member who was living with the deceased, or who was clearly dependent on the deceased’s income.

 How do most bicycle accidents happen?

Contrary to common fears, a rear-end collision, where the motorist rapidly approaches and hits the bicyclist from behind, is extremely rare. In fact, it is perhaps the least common type of car-bicycle collision. Some of the most common car-bicycle collisions are noted below.

The Right Hook  – this is one of the most common car-bicycle collisions but one that insurance companies have a hard time understanding. Generally, the car is traveling faster than the bike. The car passes the bicyclist, then turns right, cutting the cyclist off without warning. Often, the motorist makes the turn so quickly after passing the cyclist that, even if the motorist had activated the right turn blinker, the car is already next to the cyclist, so the cyclist could not see the warning blinker.

The Left Hook: A Variation of the right hook It is basic law in Ontario that a left-turning vehicle must yield to oncoming traffic before turning left. Somehow, adjusters often do not realize that this applies to bicyclists as well.

Dooring:  The bane of all city cyclists is being “doored,” getting hit by a car door suddenly in the cyclist’s path. Many do not know that the Ontario traffic act has a provision concerning opening doors of car. Section 165(1) states that no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on a highway without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle.

Road Design and Roadway Maintenance: At times, the municipalities do not properly maintain their roadways. Was the shoulder of the road, or the roadway itself, poorly maintained, creating a hazardous condition? Hazards that cause bicyclists to lose control include sand and gravel, other highway debris not removed from the shoulder, potholes, or irregular paving.

Side-Swiping Bicycle Accidents: side-swiping occurs when a car or other motor vehicle (sometimes a trailer) impacts a cyclist while passing. Ontario law requires a safe distance when overtaking a cyclist.

Distracted Driving: newswire.ca reported earlier in 2019 that nearly ¼ of Canadians admitted to checking their phones while driving. The amount of people still texting and driving, checking facebook, emails, Instagram or other apps while behind the wheel is alarming. Distracted driving and people on their smartphones is by far the biggest threat to cyclists in Ontario – and the biggest killer.

Drunk Driving: drinking and driving is 100% preventable, however there are still reckless drivers in Ontario who choose to drink and drive and endanger the lived of both themselves and cyclists on the road. Given the extreme vulnerability of cyclists, most bicycle riders who are hit by drunk drivers unfortunately do not survive or in the alternative suffer extremely terrible injuries.

I heard that motorists are automatically at fault for killing a cyclist in Ontario – is this true?

Sort of – the law in Ontario identifies the particular vulnerability of cyclists with a law that we call “the reverse onus”.

What is the reverse onus? – In criminal law the prosecutor has to prove the case be a reasonable doubt. In civil law, a personal injury lawyer and his client have to prove damages on a balance of probabilities. Therefore, if you are hurt in a car accident caused by somebody else, you of the onus of proving 1) that the other person caused the accident and 2) that the other person caused your injuries. This is called having the onus to prove.

Section 193 of the Highway traffic act reverses this onus. The Highway traffic act states that the onus of proof is on the owner driver or leasee or operator of a motor vehicle, and not the injured person. Therefore, this provision shifts the burden of proof on to the motorists and that motorist is presumed negligent and last proven otherwise. The driver that caused your loved ones death has to prove in court that they acted reasonably and properly in the circumstances and could not have avoided causing the car-bicycle accident.

In my entitled to some financial help to pay for my loved ones’ funeral expenses?

Yes – if you or your loved one had a valid auto insurance policy, then your own insurance policy would pay the costs of funeral expenses. In addition, there is a financial benefits (death benefit) which is payable to certain family members of the bicycle accident victim. There is a death benefit provides $25,000 paid to a spouse and $10,000 to each qualifying dependant. Funeral benefits pay up to $6,000 for funeral expenses.

Contact our wrongful death bicycle accident lawyers today

If your loved one was a cyclist who was killed due to the negligence of another motorist, we can help your family recover the financial compensation you deserve. We have been practicing wrongful death law since 2003 – and understand that a bicycle accident wrongful death can cause many family members to be unable to comprehend the finality and consequences of the loss of their loved one. Often times, spouses and children are tossed helplessly into waves of intense emotion which can manifest itself into variable and wide-ranging psychological difficulties. We also understand that losing a loved one unexpectedly may cause major financial pressure and stress on the surviving family members for years, sometimes even decades.

If you have lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, contact our wrongful death lawyers today by filling in a contact form or calling us at 905-333-8888 and we will try our best to return your call or email within 1 hour.

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