What Is Wrongful Death? | Wrongful Death Claims in Michigan
Have you suffered the wrongful death of someone you love? This tragedy can leave you feeling miserable and angry. You deserve to seek justice for your family. If a business or its employee caused the death of your family member, you are not alone for wanting to hold them accountable. To learn if you have a valid wrongful death claim, we look to Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act.
What Is Wrongful Death?
According to Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.2922, “wrongful death” is a death caused by:
- A wrongful act;
- Neglect; or,
- The fault of another.
The law provides that if the act, neglect, or fault would have entitled an injured person to sue for damages, his survivors can pursue a wrongful death claim. In other words, if the deceased would have had a lawsuit had he survived, his family members will have a lawsuit after his death.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The decedent’s family initiates a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent in a civil lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of the death, the state may also bring criminal charges, which could put the defendant in prison. In Michigan, you can file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death, even if the state is prosecuting the defendant in criminal court.
Who Benefits from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Michigan, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the personal representative of the estate of the deceased. The personal representative must provide notice to other family members who are entitled to damages within 30 days of filing the lawsuit. People eligible for damages resulting from a wrongful death may include the following relatives:
- Children of the decedent’s spouse; and,
- People named in the will.
If the person who passed away did not have a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, or siblings, then the next relatives to inherit through intestate succession may also be eligible to receive damages.
People who claim damages from a wrongful death in Michigan are usually close family members. These survivors of the deceased must be able to prove that the wrongful death impacted them emotionally or financially.
Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Once family members of the deceased receive notice of the wrongful death lawsuit, they have 60 days to notify the estate’s lawyer of their claim for damages. That means that each person eligible to receive damages from the lawsuit must let the personal representative of the estate know how the loss has impacted them.
The types of damages that can be requested in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of financial support, such as lost wages;
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased, while conscious, before death;
- Loss of love of the deceased; and,
- Loss of companionship.
As a matter of law, when there is a recovery in a wrongful death lawsuit, the person who paid the medical, funeral, and burial costs will be reimbursed before the money is distributed to the other family members.
When Can a Person Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Michigan, all lawsuits are governed by a statute of limitations. Typically, a person only has three years to bring a negligence claim. But Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act is different. The law does not say how much time a personal representative has to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Instead, Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act instructs lawyers to look to the statute of limitations that applies to the type of claim that is alleged. In other words, the time to file a wrongful death lawsuit varies depending on the facts of the case. Nevertheless, if the estate does not file a wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, the surviving family members will lose their opportunity to hold the at-fault parties accountable through the civil justice system.
How to Find Out If You Have a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you think you might have a wrongful death claim, you should act right away. Contact Garrison Law to speak with an experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorney. Our firm offers a free, no-pressure case evaluation to review the facts of your case and to determine the best course of action. We’ve helped numerous people rebuild their lives after suffering the avoidable and tragic death of a family member.