By Tammy Van der Kamp
When an issue stinks too much to ignore, maybe it’s time to stop ignoring it
BC needs Wrongful Death reform.
A Wrongful Death Act would recognize that the anguish of losing a loved one through Wrongful Death – medical malpractice or drunk driving, for instance – devastates families, and that a truly compassionate society provides practical help. Money isn’t comfort, but it can alleviate the financial burden imposed when a family is so blindsided by grief that all normalcy ceases. When work is impossible, it’s good to know that there is recompense, and that the party or parties responsible for the wrongful death are going to pay. That’s one of the noblest aspects of a just society.
But the only recourse currently available to families is to file a civil suit; however, the province’s Family Compensation Act, which covers cases like these, severely restricts damages that can be claimed. And there is an inherent injustice in that the Family Compensation Act has nothing to do with compassion or justice. It is all about money. It’s about economics: breadwinner gone, earnings lost, the family facing ruin.
So if the wrongful death happens to a child, a senior, or a person with a disability, the surviving family cannot seek compensation.
There is nothing for the parent who has lost his child to a drunk driver – no iota of relief, no practical justice. There is nothing to lay upon the outrage. If your elderly parent dies because of the negligence of care staff, that’s just too bad. Because his productive days are over, his survivors don’t warrant compensation for their suffering. And if your disabled child dies – say in a car accident caused by reckless driving, your sorrow will not be assuaged by justice, because there won’t be any just compensation.
There are many tireless champions working to change this, organizations like the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. BC needs a Wrongful Death Act in order to reflect true justice, which is supposed to embody the spirit of the law rather than merely the letter of the law.
Want to follow the progress of this issue? Would you like to make a difference? Check out these websites: www.wrongfjuldeathreform.wordpress.com , www.tlabc.org and www.protectingjusticeforbc.org It’s time to stop ignoring this issue.