A wrongful death claim is a special type of claim that involves specific duties and deadlines. That is why it is important to contact a Michigan wrongful death attorney if a loved one has been killed by the negligence of another person.
What is wrongful death?
According to Michigan law, a wrongful death claim is valid if the death is “caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another.” Considered in a different light, a wrongful death claim is legitimate if a personal injury case is valid, but death prevents the victim from filing. Instead the family files on his behalf.
Wrongful death suits are civil cases (as opposed to criminal cases), which means two things. First, the family rather than the state files the lawsuit. Second, only monetary recompense can be sought; no jail time, probation, etc. can be handed out in a civil suit. It should be noted that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed even if the death is already being handled in a criminal case.
Common types of wrongful death lawsuits
- Auto accidents
- Product liability
- Medical malpractice
- Pedestrian accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Nursing home negligence
- Premises liability
- Birth injuries
- Fires and explosions
Who can file a wrongful death suit?
The Michigan Wrongful Death Act allows the personal representative of the estate of a deceased person to bring an action in court if the death of the person was caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another. The personal representative is often a family member or close friend of the deceased person and this representative must be approved by the probate court where the deceased lived or held property before a wrongful death action can be filed in court. The family members who can be named personal representative and file a wrongful death lawsuit are limited to the following:
- Children of the deceased’s spouse
- Anyone in the will who was left property (non-family members included)
If the deceased had none of these relatives living or if he did not have a will, it then opens up to those who could inherit the estate, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins.
The personal representative must then notify family members about the claim in writing within 30 days of filing. Family members then have 60 days after learning about the claim to notify the personal representative of damages they’ve suffered from the accidental death. After this cutoff, they can no longer seek personal recompense.
Who gets a part of the award?
The family members usually decide the distribution and the judge will approve the split. Sometimes the family cannot come to an agreement. In those instances, the judge can hold a hearing and then rule on a distribution.
What compensation should be expected?
A family should receive compensation both for direct economic losses as well as non-economic (pain and suffering) losses. Economic losses include:
- Loss of earnings and financial support, including likely future earnings
- Loss of work benefits, such as retirement benefits and health insurance
- Hospital, medical, and funeral expenses
- Costs related to property damage
- Loss of household services (chores, yardwork, etc.)
Loss of earning is a calculation that is done by a professional. It takes into account likely future income taxes and is adjusted for inflation. It looks at how many more years the deceased was likely to work. The family of the deceased should consult with a lawyer to ensure they get a fair loss of earnings evaluation.
Non-economic losses relate to grief and emotional loss. There are no set rules for determining pain and suffering settlements. The jury decides the award for each claim if it goes to trial. Otherwise, this will be determined in the settlement. Non-economic losses include:
- Loss of society and companionship
- Loss of emotional and moral support
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of relationship
- Pain and suffering of deceased before death
Family members who witness the accident can submit a claim for emotional distress in some instances. This is due to the shock and trauma they experience in witnessing something so terrible. These are psychological damages that go beyond what is typically experienced from family members in the unexpected death of a loved one.
Other factors that will be considered include the relationship between the deceased and his estate (his family), the deceased’s net income, and his life expectancy. If damages are awarded, the expenses are paid first. These include hospital, medical, and funeral/burial expenses. After this has been taken care of, the rest of the award is split among the family members.
When should a wrongful death lawsuit be filed?
Michigan law allows three years from the date of death for a wrongful death case to be filed. After this, the statute of limitations expires and the family will no longer be able to file the suit.
Talk to an experienced Michigan wrongful death attorney
Michigan wrongful deaths are a special type of case that demands the attention of specialized legal professionals, such as Michigan wrongful death lawyers, who understand the various ways insurance companies seek to deny benefits to Michigan wrongful death victims and their families.
If a loved one has been killed as a result of the negligence of someone else, it is essential you contact a Michigan wrongful death lawyer to make sure you receive the benefits and compensation you are entitled to.
For over 40 years, The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. has helped Michigan families win their wrongful death case and collect the compensation they deserve.
Please call Lee Free and Michigan wrongful death lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about Michigan wrongful death cases.
You pay nothing until we settle your Michigan personal injury case. Let us help you today.