Death Benefits Not Deductible from Tort Damages

In brief supplementary reasons, given in Wright v. Hannon (the original reasons for judgment can be accessed here), Mr. Justice Randall S. Echlin held (or perhaps “confirmed” would be a better word), that statutory accident death benefits are properly characterized as “non-pecuniary” payments and so, are not deductible from an award of tort damages. Such benefits are, he said, “paid ‘in recognition of the values of life’ and therefore are clearly not deductible.” He felt that this issue had already been determined by the 2002 decision of Justice Spiegel in Di Girolamo v. Smolen. (That decision was also applied, to similar effect, in the 2004 case of Carter v. Sanders.)

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2 Responses to Death Benefits Not Deductible from Tort Damages

  1. John MacLean says:

    I always thought that Sect 267.8(7)of the Ontario Insurance Act was quite clear on the deductibility of death benefits.

  2. John’s quite right, that s. 267.8(7) of the IA says that there is no deduction from non-pecuniary damages for collateral benefits. The problem is that s. 61 of the FLA, which creates the right of dependants to sue for damages, says “If a person is injured or killed by the fault or neglect of another under circumstances where the person is entitled to recover damages, or would have been entitled if not killed, the spouse, as defined in Part III (Support Obligations), children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of the person are entitled to recover their pecuniary loss resulting from the injury or death from the person from whom the person injured or killed is entitled to recover or would have been entitled if not killed, and to maintain an action for the purpose in a court of competent jurisdiction.”
    So, it’s the use of the word, “pecuniary” in the statutory cause of action that gives rise a question as to whether s. 267.8(7) applies.

    CW

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