When a car accident results in a death, there are devastating consequences for the victim’s family. In addition to coping with emotional and psychological suffering, there are financial issues that will need to be addressed. Find out what to do following a fatal traffic accident so that you can obtain just compensation.
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, the SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) can help you file a claim for death benefits and funeral expenses.
In this article, our victim lawyers explain how to make a claim with peace of mind.
What to do if a loved one dies as the result of a car accident
When a loved one dies in a car accident, it is important to act appropriately to protect the rights of both the victim and the survivors. Follow this procedure one step at a time:
1. Secure the area where the accident took place
If the accident occurred on a road or highway, it is important to report the accident and implement safety measures to prevent further similar events. If necessary, call emergency services for help.
2. Inform the appropriate authorities
Notify the proper authorities as soon as possible after the accident. Call the police and inform them of the event and the resulting death. The police will come to the scene to investigate and prepare an accident report. This report plays an important legal role when it comes time to determine the circumstances and cause of the accident.
3. Obtain a death certificate
You will need to obtain a death certificate to formalize the death of the victim. A physician at the hospital where the victim was transported can issue the death certificate or, if an investigation into the cause of death is ongoing, you can obtain it from a coroner.
4. Contact the SAAQ
The SAAQ is responsible for the compensation of victims of traffic accidents in Quebec. Contact the SAAQ as soon as possible to make a claim following a car accident death. The SAAQ can provide information about relevant procedures and documents.
5. Consult a lawyer
Find the right lawyer for advice about which legal procedures to follow and learn what your options are in the event of a death in a car accident. A lawyer can also help you negotiate with the SAAQ to obtain just compensation.
Following these steps will ensure that the rights of the victim and their loved ones are protected.
How to make a claim after a car accident death
When a loved one dies in a car accident, the family can be faced with a significant financial burden, including funeral expenses, the cost of medical care and a loss of income. Fortunately, the SAAQ offers compensation to the families of victims of car accidents in Quebec. The procedure is as follows:
1. Make a claim
The first step is to apply for compensation. You have 3 years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a claim with the SAAQ. Your application must be accompanied by relevant documents, such as the death certificate, the police report and proof of any related expenses.
2. Wait for the SAAQ’s decision
After receiving the claim, the SAAQ will investigate and decide whether you are eligible to receive compensation. The SAAQ will review the evidence and the police report. They may also request a medical evaluation to have full knowledge of medical care and rehabilitation costs.
3. Negotiate with the SAAQ
After reviewing the claim, the SAAQ will decide the amount of compensation the family will receive. If the family is not satisfied with the proposed amount, they can negotiate. To increase your chances of success, we recommend that you consult an SAAQ lawyer.
4. Make an appeal
If the family is not satisfied with the decision made by the SAAQ, they can appeal the decision at the Tribunal Administratif du Québec (TAQ). The TAQ will review the application and may award additional compensation if the family is deemed eligible.
5. Obtain compensation for pain and suffering
In addition to compensation for costs incurred, the family may also be eligible for compensation for the pain and suffering they have experienced due to the loss of a loved one.
It is important to note that compensation procedures may vary depending on the circumstances of the accident and it is recommended that you consult a lawyer for legal advice that is specific to your situation.
How to make a claim after a car accident
- Complete the online application form.
- Call the SAAQ or hire an SAAQ lawyer to help you make your claim.
You will be given a number that you can use to fill out the documents and make the proper application.
You must choose one of the following three options to get your form.
- Download a PDF version of the form directly from the SAAQ website
- Ask your lawyer or the person who opens your file to help you receive it by mail
- Go directly to an SAAQ point of service to obtain the form
What documents should be included with the SAAQ claim?
- Proof of accident
- Certificate or proof of death, usually from the funeral director or registrar
- Evidence of psychological treatment, receipts and bills from medical professionals
Are there any additional documents required?
You must attach proof of income if the deceased was an employee, such as a statement of income from the employer or income tax returns, billing notices or proof of business or professional income and expenses in Quebec or proof of income.
Be sure to include the application number on all attachments.
Once all documents and forms are complete, you can submit your application online through the Document Filing Service. You may also submit it by fax or mail. If you submit the documents online or by fax, you do not need to mail the original documents.
How long does it take to process a claim?
It is difficult to give a specific timeframe for processing a claim.
Your processing center will contact you by phone or writing to notify you of their decision. If your application is approved, the compensation officer will inform you by mail of the amount you will receive.
If your benefits claim is denied, you can contact your compensation officer for more information. You also have the right to contest an SAAQ decision. Our law firm would be happy to help you if you need professional assistance.
What is the amount of death benefits paid by the SAAQ?
If the SAAQ approves a claim, the following benefits could be paid to the family of the deceased:
Death benefit paid to the spouse
The amount of the death benefit is calculated by multiplying the deceased’s gross annual income by 1 to 5, based on their age. The maximum amount of eligible gross income is $90,500. The benefit is never less than $158,264 or more than $452,500.
Death benefit paid to dependents
The children of the deceased are entitled to receive a death benefit for dependents. The benefit is calculated based on their age at the time of their parent’s death.
If the deceased had no spouse, the children are entitled to receive—in addition to the death benefit for dependents—the amount of the death benefit that would otherwise have been payable to the spouse.
Dependents other than the spouse, if disabled at the time of the deceased’s death, will receive an additional benefit of $31,283.
Death benefit paid if the deceased had no spouse or dependents
A lump-sum benefit of 64 738 $ is paid to the parents or guardians if the deceased was a minor.
If the deceased was of full age, this amount is paid to the estate upon proof of acceptance of the estate.
Compensation for diminished quality of life between accident and death
If the victim died more than 24 hours after the accident, the SAAQ may also pay compensation for mental suffering, pain and diminished quality of life.
The amount of compensation for diminished quality of life is calculated based on the severity of the injuries.
Compensation for psychological support
To help you cope with your loss, the SAAQ can reimburse you for up to 15 hours of psychological counselling, to a maximum of $94.50 per hour and a maximum of $101 per private clinic treatment.
Please note that the professional must be a member of the Ordre des psychologues du Québec for expenses to be covered.
To qualify for psychological support, you must be granted a death benefit.
Reimbursement of certain expenses
If your loved one was hospitalized before their death and you remained by their side at the doctor’s request, you can be reimbursed for travel and living expenses.
The SAAQ can also pay you a daily allowance for accompanying your loved one before his or her death.
The maximum amount of this allowance is:
- $35 for 4 hours or less
- $70 for more than 4 hours
The SAAQ may pay $7,988 to the estate to help cover funeral expenses upon proof of acceptance by the estate.
Legal consequences of death in a road accident
When a death occurs as the result of a car accident, there can be significant legal consequences. The person responsible for the accident could be prosecuted for manslaughter.
In Quebec, manslaughter is defined as “any criminal offence that results in the death of a person without intent to kill, but through the fault, negligence or recklessness of the perpetrator”.
If the person responsible for the accident is convicted of manslaughter, they face penalties that could include life in prison. The type of punishment depends on the severity of the offense and the level of negligence of the perpetrator.
The person responsible for the accident can also be held civilly liable. This means that they may be forced to pay compensation to the victim’s family.
It is essential to ask an SAAQ lawyer to help you manage the legal aspects of a fatal car accident. They will be able to advise you on what to do and guide you to resources that will help you obtain just compensation.
A professional lawyer can help you with SAAQ claims
After losing a loved one in a car accident, it is normal to be confused and not know what to do. This is why you may prefer to seek professional help, especially when faced with complex tasks like filing a claim with the SAAQ.
Me Bégin, a victim lawyer in Quebec since 1992, can help you file a claim or respond to a decision.
Our CNESST lawyers can also assist you if you are the victim of a work accident or criminal offence. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.