According to the National Safety Council (NSC), three people die every 10 minutes in the United States. Far too many of these losses are due to someone else’s negligent or intentional conduct. If someone you love died in a preventable accident in Michigan, a wrongful death claim could provide you with compensation and a measure of justice your loved one was denied.
The idea of taking legal action in the midst of your grief may feel impossible. However, the compensation you recover from a successful wrongful death claim could offset the financial losses that often come from a family member’s unexpected passing. Understanding how a wrongful death lawsuit works in Michigan can help you make the best decision for you and the ones you love. An experienced attorney from Christensen Law can explain the process to you in a free, private consultation.
Call or contact us today to speak with a compassionate wrongful death lawyer.
How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action brought by a deceased person’s estate against the party(s) responsible for that person’s death. It is meant to compensate certain surviving family members for the financial and emotional consequences of their loved one’s death.
When Is a Wrongful Death Claim Applicable?
A wrongful death claim is applicable whenever a person’s death (or injuries resulting in death) are due to another party’s wrongful act, neglect, or fault. To bring a Michigan wrongful death claim, you must show the deceased would have been entitled to file a claim on their own if they survived. A skilled attorney can collect the evidence needed to support your case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under state law, a Michigan wrongful death claim must be brought by the personal representative, or executor, of the estate of the person who died. The personal representative must give notice of the wrongful death lawsuit to the people who may be entitled to compensation within 30 days of the claim’s filing.
Although the estate’s representative brings a wrongful death lawsuit, it is done to benefit the deceased’s survivors. These may include:
- Children of the deceased’s spouse
- Individuals who were listed as beneficiaries in the deceased person’s will
- If there are no survivors, to the individuals the estate would pass to under Michigan’s intestate succession laws
After the personal representative gives notice to potential beneficiaries, the beneficiaries must respond with their own claim on or before the day of a hearing that determines how the money will be distributed.
Additionally, anyone who believes they are entitled to compensation must notify the personal representative’s attorney of any evidence supporting their claim within 60 days of the wrongful death lawsuit’s filing. Failure to do so might prevent a person who would otherwise be entitled to compensation from receiving money at all. Because wrongful death claims can hinge on small technicalities, it’s wise to get help from an attorney to learn your legal options.
A jury may rule on wrongful death lawsuits in Michigan. However, wrongful death settlements occur without a trial and must be approved by the court. After a settlement is approved or a jury verdict awards compensation, the estate’s personal representative will file a motion asking the court for permission to distribute the money.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
In a Michigan wrongful death case, the burden is on you to provide proof of the other party’s negligence.
For example, if a loved one died from a fall in a nursing home, you would need to show how the facility’s staff or administrators somehow failed to prevent the fatal incident, such as through inadequate supervision or failure to maintain a safe walking environment.
If your family member died in a traffic crash, you would need to show that the other driver was negligent and caused the crash. There can be numerous other parties that are legally liable such as an employer, the owner of the vehicle, and sometimes even a bar if the driver was served liquor while visibly intoxicated.
Proving your case will mean fulfilling four elements of negligence:
- Duty: You must show the at-fault party had a duty to keep you reasonably safe. For example, a nursing home is responsible for caring for its residents.
- Breach: Next, you must prove the responsible party breached its duty. If a nursing home staff member left your relative unattended and your relative had a known risk of falling, you could argue that the facility failed in its obligation to take reasonable measures to prevent a fall.
- Causation: Evidence must demonstrate that the breach directly caused the family member’s death. Continuing the nursing home example, if your family member died from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling, you would need to show that the TBI was the cause of their death.
- Damages: Finally, you must show that the decedent suffered losses that can be compensated. Examples include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages.
Going to trial is not necessary in all Michigan wrongful death claims. You can potentially avoid a trial if the responsible party makes a strong settlement offer. Wrongful death settlements in Michigan can vary significantly in size. An experienced attorney can place a fair value on your case and should fight aggressively for the dollar amount you deserve.
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death claim may include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Conscious pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental services and guidance
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of services
Talk to a Wrongful Death Claim Lawyer
The attorneys at Christensen Law are recognized leaders who have achieved record-setting settlements and verdicts across Michigan. We understand the tremendous pain that families feel after losing a loved one due to someone else’s reckless choices. If you choose to file a wrongful death suit, you can count on our attorneys to do all the legal legwork needed to prove your claim. We work carefully to minimize interruptions in your life while still providing regular updates on the progress of your case.
Our lawyers know what a good settlement offer looks like but prepare every case as if it is going to trial. That way, we can pivot immediately if settlement talks break down.
If you’ve lost a loved one and someone else is to blame, let Christensen Law help you demand the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer.