Case Commentary – Family Claims for Mental Distress


A recent motion decision means that a claim for the mental distress suffered by family members after the loss of a loved one will proceed to trial.

Claims for mental distress arising from negligence

This summer, we wrote about the Supreme Court’s decision in Saadati v. Moorhead. This decision has been interpreted to mean that Canadian plaintiffs are not required to prove they suffer from a diagnosed psychiatric illness in order to recover damages for mental distress caused by negligence. Rather, the mental injury in question must simply be “serious and prolonged,” and the symptoms suffered must go beyond the day-to-day anxieties, annoyances or emotional distress that an ordinary person might experience in similar circumstances.

Claims by family members for negligence – Snowball v. Orgne 

For a background on claims made under the Family Law Act, please see our recent post about claims by family members.

This case arose following a fatal helicopter crash. In addition to claims under the Family Law Act, the family members in this case brought a claim against the defendant for their own mental distress arising from the death of their loved one.

The defendant brought a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ family claims relating to mental distress. They argued that there was no basis for a claim by family members for their own mental distress arising from a death where they did not witness the accident or its immediate aftermath. The court disagreed, and found that these parts of the claim should proceed to trial. In doing so, they recognized the possibility of such claims succeeding.

Compassionate legal advice for family member claims after personal injury or death

If someone in your family has been seriously injured, or killed, as the result of negligence, you need legal advice from personal injury experts. At Jasmine Daya & Co., our lawyers exclusively represent accident victims and their loved ones. If you are a family member struggling with financial losses or mental distress, we can help you determine whether a family claim is the right step. We have experience handling these claims following serious and catastrophic accidents, and understand the unique needs and challenges faced by family members in these difficult situations.

Our personal injury lawyers offer free consultations for all new clients. Contact us online, or call our office at 416-967-9100 to make an appointment today.