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Lawsuit filed for alleged wrongful denial of loss-of-life benefit

According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate of a teenager killed by a drunk driver, the insurer's denial of a $5,000 loss-of-life benefit has caused $250,000 in damages. The claim was filed against the Alberta Motor Association and states that the claim was denied because the victim had a small amount of marijuana in his system when the fatal accident occurred. Due to the denial of the loss-of-life claim, the case may require civil litigation.

An intoxicated driver caused the fatal head-on collision south of Cochrane on Hwy. 22 on Dec. 6, 2012. The man veered into the victim's lane, forced two other vehicles off the roadway and then collided with the victim's car. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of impaired driving causing death. In May, he received a 32-month jail sentence.

The lawsuit claims that the amount of THC, the active compound in marijuana, in the victim's blood was not enough to cause impairment that would affect his ability to drive. The denial has caused significant emotional distress and grief for the teen's mother and has contributed to her inability to work.

Many wrongful death cases are resolved through negotiations and are settled out of court. However, there are instances in which a lawsuit goes to trial in civil court. For example, an insurer may attempt to deny a legitimate claim by placing blame on the victim. A lawyer could negotiate for a fair settlement or request a civil court trial if the claim is denied.

Source: Calgary Sun, "Lawsuit filed after loss-of-life benefit refused for family of Cochrane teen killed by drunk driver", Kevin Martin, July 10, 2014

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