One of the leading causes of preventable deaths in Michigan is motor vehicle accidents. Nearly 1,100 people lost their lives in car crashes in 2020, according to the Michigan Department of State Police. When a negligent or reckless driver causes a fatal collision, they can ― and should ― be held accountable for their actions.
While compensation can never replace a loved one, it can help families find relief from the financial stress that often accompanies a relative’s sudden passing. At Christensen Law, our wrongful death lawyers help families pursue the money and justice they deserve for their terrible loss.
Our trusted attorneys are dedicated to making the legal process as simple as possible for you. We’ll handle the details and guide you every step of the way with as few disruptions to your life as possible. That way, you can grieve in peace and rest assured that we are exercising every legal muscle in pursuit of the money you are owed.
What Is a Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The Michigan Wrongful Death Act defines wrongful death as the death of an individual due to a “wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another.” A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed in court when someone’s negligence or wrongdoing causes a fatal accident. The case allows a family to seek compensation for their financial and personal losses.
In the case of Michigan car accidents, if a negligent or reckless driver causes a fatal car crash, the deceased victim’s family can seek damages in court. Many Michigan wrongful death lawsuits stem from car accidents.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
In Michigan, the personal representative of the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is also sometimes known as the estate’s executor.
If the personal representative decides to file a wrongful death lawsuit, they must notify family members within 30 days of their filing. Although only the personal representative can file a suit, eligible family members may be entitled to receive a portion of the compensation recovered if the case is successful.
Family members who may be eligible for wrongful death compensation include the victim’s:
If there are no surviving eligible family members, compensation may be distributed according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful death lawsuits can provide grieving family members some measure of financial stability after the trauma of losing a loved one. In most cases, a family may recover money for economic damages, or measurable losses, and non-economic damages for the loss of the relationship with your loved one. Altogether, this compensation may cover:
- Medical costs incurred before death
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future financial support
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Conscious Pain and suffering
Michigan does not place a limit on the amount of compensation that a family may recover in a wrongful death lawsuit for a car accident.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process After a Car Accident
A wrongful death lawsuit begins when the personal representative of the victim’s estate decides that they want to pursue a civil case against the at-fault driver. The attorney working with the personal representative will investigate the cause of the accident and gather evidence to strengthen the wrongful death claim.
To prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit, a claimant must demonstrate that the other driver’s negligent actions were responsible for causing the crash and resulting death. A wrongful death lawyer must also prove that the victim’s family suffered damages due to their loss.
The complexity of the case generally determines how long a wrongful death suit will take. The more complicated the case, the longer it can take to resolve. Some wrongful death lawsuits can be settled in a matter of months, while others may take years to move through the legal system.
How Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Work?
Once a case settles, the personal representative of the victim’s estate needs the court’s permission to distribute the settlement funds to eligible family members. Expenses are generally paid out first, and then compensation is given to family members. Michigan will typically have family members file paperwork for a “claim for damages.”
FAQs for Wrongful Death Claims After Car Crashes
What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death car accident claim?
Michigan generally gives the personal representative three years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim involving an accident.
How much is a wrongful death car accident claim worth?
The value of a claim will depend on several different factors, such as the circumstances that led to the wrongful death, the amount of compensation available, and the extent of the losses suffered by the surviving family members of the deceased. It is best to talk to an experienced Michigan wrongful death attorney to get an accurate estimate of your claim’s value.
How do you know if you are eligible to receive compensation?
The victim’s personal representative must notify eligible family members that they are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit within 30 days of filing.
What if the deceased didn’t have a will?
If the victim of a fatal car accident did not leave behind a will naming a personal representative, one will have to be appointed by the probate court before a wrongful death case can proceed. The court appoints the personal representative according to a priority schedule, starting with the victim’s surviving spouse.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
At Christensen Law, we understand the heartache that accompanies the loss of a family member in a car accident. Our attorneys are sensitive to your needs and offer compassionate support while we work aggressively to resolve your case. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer.