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Wrongful Death

Associated Economic Consultants Ltd. provides expert opinion reports for loss of dependency by an individual or by a family. Our estimates are derived using a cross-dependency approach to the valuation of economic support.

Previously in Alberta, AEC prepared estimates of the loss to an estate arising from a wrongful death, following the framework of the 1997 Alberta decision in Duncan Estate v. Baddeley. That decision supports claims on behalf of the estate (rather than on behalf of a surviving family member) for situations involving the wrongful death of a young child or of an individual with no dependents. In these cases, incomes are projected in the manner commonly used for wage loss compensation cases. However, resulting estimates then are reduced for the personal living expenses that the deceased individual would have incurred, has he or she survived. This approach could be seen as an extension of the “lost years” approach that is used in personal injury cases where life expectancy has been reduced by injuries sustained. Case law shows considerable variation in the assessment of appropriate deductions for personal living expenses. We note, however, that loss to an estate claims now can apply only to actions which stem from deaths occurring prior to November 1, 2002.

In some cases we have prepared reports that consider cultural factors that may have impacted upon the deceased individual’s support of other family members. For example, the Xiao theory supports the view that a child raised in the Chinese culture has a responsibility to support his or her parents once they retire. The wrongful death of such a child then results in a loss of dependency by the parents.

Once gross estimates of income for the deceased and dependent(s) have been determined, we prepare tax simulations to derive estimates of the individual’s and the family’s disposable incomes. A review of the expenses of the particular household, and information on average family expenditure patterns contained in Statistics Canada’s Survey of Family Expenditures in Canada are used to estimate family consumption patterns, and to estimate consumption that was solely to the benefit of the deceased individual. Consumption shares for the family members are applied to expenditures of disposable incomes for both the “without accident” and the “with accident” models to derive estimates of loss of financial support arising from the wrongful death. Further analysis is prepared to estimate the deceased individual’s contribution to household services.

If AEC is retained by defence counsel in a fatal accident claim, the same approach is used. However, we also may review the plaintiff’s expert opinion report (if such a report has been completed) and provide a critique or comments on that opinion report.