Coalition Against No-Fault

June 19, 2009 14:11 ET

Today, 3rd Anniversary of Beloved Family Member's Wrongful Death

Groups and Surviving Family Members Renew Their Call for a Wrongful Death Act

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Health/Medical Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER / BRITISH COLUMBIA / NEWS RELEASE --(Marketwire - June 19, 2009) - Family members of people killed due to the negligence of others continue to call for a Wrongful Death Act in British Columbia, a widespread concerted effort that is especially meaningful today for Beatrice Pereira, whose mother Theresa died exactly three years ago after falling victim to a devastating medical error.

As the Pereira family continues to suffer through personal loss and anguish, Beatrice has been volunteering time and energy as a representative of the Wrongful Death Law Reform Group (WDLRG), one of four organizations leading a call for legislative change. The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, Trial Lawyers Association of BC and the Coalition Against No-Fault are the other key group partners, but more than 100 organizations have signed on in support of their collective call to have the province of British Columbia put a Wrongful Death Act in place.

"Without question, the law needs to be changed," said Beatrice. "Things get so much worse for family members of wrongful death victims after they find out the current laws in BC completely fail to help them. Many people are left hopeless."

Beatrice is one of several family representatives working together for positive changes in legislation. The WDLRG members were organized with the help of Burnaby-based law firm Campbell, Renaud. Firm partner Don Renaud devotes time voluntarily to the cause, an effort that has been ongoing since the summer of 2005. "I've met far too many grieving family members and had to explain the sad realities far too many times," said Don of the added toll a wrongful death takes on surviving loved ones. "In BC, the state of the law has always been tragic; it has existed far too long. For wrongdoers - that is, the people who cause fatal incidents to occur - it is far cheaper for them to kill than to injure. We need a Wrongful Death Act as a remedy to this terrible situation. Too many families have been forced to suffer further harm due to BC's lack of effective legislation. Until it is changed, our legislation tells people that some of their family members - particularly children, the elderly, the poor and the disabled - are worthless in the eyes of the law."

Unless new legislation is brought in, BC's laws governing wrongful death will remain modelled after Lord Campbell's Act of 1846, British legislation that totally fails to appreciate losses beyond direct financial impact. As a consequence, a countless number of families have been prohibited from seeking justice for the extent of their losses brought on by the wrongful deaths of their loved ones. Nothing has changed throughout BC's history as a province.

The groups involved in this campaign for change continue to call on the BC Government to right this wrong by doing away with BC's Family Compensation Act and replacing it with a proper Wrongful Death Act, the result of which would enable innocent families to seek justice. The groups initiated a dialogue with the BC Ministry of Attorney General more than two years ago and their efforts are ongoing. Representatives from all four groups last met with ministry officials in May 2008. Prior to that, in September 2007, the ministry completed a consultation on the topic of Reforming British Columbia's Family Compensation Act. That process indicated the government was seriously considering changes in legislation, but details of potential developments - or a projected timeline for change - have not surfaced or been shared with the groups advocating for new legislation.

Together, the groups are now seeking a meeting with newly appointed Attorney General Mike de Jong. They will, at every turn, repeat the call for a fair and effective Wrongful Death Act.

The groups propose that new legislation should include the following provisions:

A. The court, notwithstanding any other damages that may be awarded, may award damages generally to the decedent's estate and /or survivors for:

1. solace and bereavement
2. personal anguish
3. emotional stress
4. loss of companionship, comfort, love and affection
5. loss of advice, counsel, guidance, protection and care
6. the decedent's mental anguish, pain and suffering from the date of injury to death

B. The court may also award punitive damages to the decedent's estate for wilful, wanton or reckless conduct shown by a preponderance of evidence.

- END -

CONTACT: Adelaide Goldberg, 604 435-6948, at the office of Campbell, Renaud.
/For further information: NOTE: Beatrice Pereira works in Vancouver and resides in Surrey. The Pereira family’s tragedy is one of four personal stories chronicled in an anthology entitled: in their name – the call for a wrongful death act in BC, a special publication produced by the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. The document can be accessed from www.bccpd.bc.ca and is also available at www.canf.bc.ca. / IN: HEALTH, JUSTICE, POLITICS, SOCIAL, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Adelaide Goldberg, Coalition Against No-Fault
    Primary Phone: 604-435-6948