Wrongful Death Law Reform Group

October 24, 2008

Voices against wrongful deaths get louder, by Tom Zytaruk (Surrey Now)

Filed under: General Posts — wrongfuldeathreform @ 9:59 pm
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Beatrice Pereira’s mother died in hospital two years ago after being admittined for cataract surgery. The grieving daughter wanted to sue for negligence, but was told by lawyers such cases are generally difficult to prove.

What’s more, she was told, it would be difficult to sue for lost income because her mom was retired.  And the fact she was in a coma made it hard to argue that she’d suffered.

So nothing happened.

Until now.

Pereira is one of a growing list to join the Wrongful Death Law Reform Group, to protest B.C.’s lack of a Wrongful Death Act.

“We weren’t able to pursue anything,” she said concerning filing a lawsuit. “We went through so much pain and suffering.”

So far 96 organizations besides the WDLRG – including the Coalition Against No-Fault, the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities and the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. – are supporting the initiative to change legislation.

“The law definitely needs to be changed,” Pereira said. “You can’t imagine how much more pain is caused for grieving family members when they find out that B.C.’s current legislation fails to provide them with help, and instead leaves them hopeless.”

Burnaby lawyer Don Renaud, who volunteers his time to the cause, says the state of things is “tragic and it has been this way for far too long.”

“For wrongdoers – the people who cause fatal accidents to occur- it is far cheaper to kill than to injure. We need a Wrongful Death Act that will end this dreadful situation. Too many families have been let down and further anguished by B.C.’s lack of fair and effective legislation.”

As it stands, B.C. legislation governing wrongful death is still modeled after the Lord Campbell Act of 1846 – legislation that fails to compensate for the loss bereaved families experience.

Catherine Adamson, whose 17-year-old daughter Heidi Klompas was run down by a teenaged driver at Stokes Pit in South Surrey in 1997, is still calling for justice 11 years after Heidi’s death.

She’s channeled her grief in a book published three years ago in her daughter’s honour entitled Heidi Dawn Klompas: Missed Opportunities.  “There is no compensation allowable for the pain and suffering of parents when they lose a child,” Adamson writes.

She and others in the cause are seeking legislation that would direct the courts to consider solace and bereavement, personal anguish, emotional stress, loss of companionship, comfort, love and affection, loss of advice, counsel, guidance, protection and care, and the descendants’ mental anguish, pain and suffering from the date of injury to death, as factors to be considered in awarding punitive damages to the descendants’ estate.

(Written by Tom Zytaruk; October 10, 2008 Surrey Now)

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