Losing a family member or loved one is painful. It’s even harder if their death occurs because of someone else’s negligent actions. If someone dies because of another party’s careless actions, Michigan law allows certain surviving relatives to file a wrongful death action and seek compensation for their loss.
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you must first understand how the legal process for these cases works. You don’t have to handle your case alone. Our personal injury lawyer with extensive experience can lead your case for you while you take care of your loved one’s final arrangements. You can call us today for a free consultation: 248-900-9000.
10 Things to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Michigan
Here are 10 key facts to know about Michigan’s wrongful death laws and completing a wrongful death lawsuit in the state:
Wrongful Death Cases Are Civil Actions
A wrongful death action is a personal injury case involving negligent behavior. In legal terms, negligence means you failed to take reasonable steps to avoid harming someone.
You can file a civil wrongful death action and recover monetary compensation for a family member’s death. The responsible party may also face criminal charges in separate proceedings, but the penalties in a criminal case include fines or prison sentences, not money paid to you.
The Goal of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Is Financial Recovery
Wrongful death generally causes several immediate damages, many bringing financial hardship upon survivors. Such economic damages can include:
- Loss of the decedent’s immediate income and work-related benefits (such as health coverage)
- Loss of the decedent’s future income
- Loss of the decedent’s household contributions, such as assistance with chores, handiwork, and home security
- Loss of care, companionship, or guidance
- Loss of the decedent’s accounting and investing contributions
Financial recovery is necessary to ease the monetary pressures wrongful death causes. Therefore, it makes sense that the primary goal of this lawsuit is to recover financial compensation.
A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Recovers Justice for Survivors and the Decedent
While financial recovery helps those affected by a wrongful death cover their financial and non-economic damages, compensation also helps enact justice for a tragic loss. Liable parties have a legal duty to be accountable for claiming your loved one’s life. Paying compensation to victims is the form of accountability that our civil justice system allows.
Not All Untimely Deaths Are ‘Wrongful’
What constitutes “wrongful death?” Under Michigan Compiled Laws § 600.2922, it is any death resulting from a person, business, or other institution’s wrongful actions or neglect.
If a negligent party injures someone who dies from their injuries, that would be a wrongful death act in Michigan. But not all deaths, even those accidental ones, meet the legal requirements for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the state. Our team will explain whether your loved one’s death meets the criteria.
Only a Personal Representative Can File a Wrongful Death Action
In Michigan, the only party who can file a wrongful death action is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The decedent’s will usually names the personal representative. However, sometimes the courts will appoint a representative if the deceased did not designate one.
Our attorneys help clients sort out these kinds of legal questions related to their wrongful death lawsuits.
The Family Can Only Recover Compensation for Specific Losses
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury case, except the victim cannot bring the claim themselves. The deceased’s surviving family members can only recover compensation for certain losses.
This includes compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Loss of emotional and financial support
- Loss of society and companionship.
The estate can collect for the deceased’s conscious pain and suffering before their death. These are somewhat complicated legal considerations that we can help you better understand.
Many Wrongful Death Plaintiffs Hire a Lawyer to Lead Their Case
When faced with a wrongful (and in many cases, sudden) death, surviving loved ones often face:
- Immense financial uncertainty
- Intense grief
- Planning funeral and burial arrangements
- Fundamental changes in life that require their full attention
It is no wonder why you would consider hiring an attorney from our firm to handle a complex wrongful death case on your behalf.
A Wrongful Death Case May Require a Trial
Wrongful death cases often involve large settlements and judgments, as the cost of losing a loved one is high. Therefore, convincing liable parties to provide a fair settlement is not always possible.
A trial is a possibility in wrongful death cases. Civil court cases can be long, challenging processes that you may prefer a lawyer to lead for you.
You Have a Limited Time to Act When Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
According to Michigan’s statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, Mich. Compiled Laws § 600.5805, you generally have three years from the date of the deceased’s death to file your claim. If you miss that deadline, your case will most likely be dismissed. Contact a wrongful death attorney from our team as soon as possible to avoid any conflicts with the statute of limitations.
A Wrongful Death May Be More Costly Than You First Realize
The full scope of losing a loved one does not always set in immediately. Only with time may you realize the massive psychological, emotional, and financial weight of losing a family member.
It is wise to take legal action against liable parties to ensure you receive justice before the deadline for your case expires.
Call Us Today for a Free Consultation About Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Deciding whether to file a personal injury lawsuit involving wrongful death can be difficult when grieving your loved one. At Christensen Law, we understand you need time to mourn. You can rely on us to lift that burden from your shoulders. Let us handle your wrongful death case while you focus on moving forward.
Call Christensen Law today at 248-900-9000 or contact our office for a free consultation with a wrongful death attorney from our firm. We can review your financial losses, how you can obtain legal representation at no upfront cost, and the time limits for filing your case.