It is well known that workers’ compensation benefits are in lieu of the accident-related damages that can be civilly claimed by a worker or their estate. What happens, however, to the rights of action held by family members who are not part of a deceased worker’s estate or dependents? Do these family members retain the right to commence civil litigation in respect of a work-related fatality?
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) recently grappled with this issue in Sigurdson v. Norbord Inc. (Decision No. 966/21), 2022 ONWSIAT 27 (“Sigurdson”), and found that individuals maintain their right to sue in relation to a work-related fatality if they cannot be considered dependents or survivors of a deceased worker.