Losing a family member or loved one is painful. It’s even harder if their death is due to someone else’s negligent conduct. If someone dies because of another party’s careless actions, Michigan law allows certain surviving relatives to file a wrongful death claim and seek compensation for their loss. If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s essential to understand how the law works.
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Five Things to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Michigan
Here are five key things to know about Michigan’s wrongful death statute:
Wrongful Death Claims Are Civil Actions
A wrongful death action is a type of personal injury claim based on negligence. In legal terms, negligence means you have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to avoid harming someone, but you don’t fulfill that obligation. You can file a civil wrongful death action and recover monetary compensation for the death of a family member. The at-fault 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.
Not All Untimely Deaths Are “Wrongful”
What constitutes a “wrongful death?” According to Michigan law, wrongful death is defined as any death resulting from a person, business, or other institution’s wrongful actions or neglect. If someone is injured by a negligent party and dies from their injuries, that would be considered a wrongful death. But not all deaths, even those that happen accidentally, meet the legal requirements to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan.
Only the Personal Representative Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Each state’s wrongful death laws are slightly different. In Michigan, the only party who can file a wrongful death claim is the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. The personal representative is usually named in the deceased’s will. However, sometimes the courts will appoint a representative if the deceased did not designate one.
The Family Can Only Recover Compensation for Specific Losses
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury case, apart from the fact that 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, the loss of emotional and financial support, and loss of society and companionship. The estate can collect for the deceased’s conscious pain and suffering before their death.
You Have a Limited Time to Act
According to Michigan’s statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, you 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 as soon as possible to avoid any conflicts with the statute of limitations.
Talk to a Michigan Wrongful Death Attorney
Deciding about whether to file a legal claim is difficult when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. At Christensen Law, we understand your need to mourn. You can rely on us to lift that burden from your shoulders. Let us handle your claim while you focus on moving forward in life. Call or contact our office for a free consultation with a Michigan wrongful death lawyer.