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Wrongful death car accident – Your questions answered

Michigan wrongful death lawyer discusses wrongful death lawsuits and your rights when a loved one is lost in an auto accident

The wrongful death of a loved one is the most tragic experience that many Michigan auto accident victims’ family members will ever have to endure.

For help from a lawyer now, call Michigan Auto Law at . There is no fee or obligation, and we are here to answer all of your questions.

Recovering compensation and damages for a wrongful death that was caused by another driver’s negligence is a legally challenging and complex process, and that’s why it’s important to have a very experienced wrongful death lawyer on your side.

  1. How can Michigan Auto Law help me with my wrongful death lawsuit?
  2. Can a lawsuit be filed if a family member or loved one was killed in a Michigan auto accident?
  3. What must be shown to prove the wrongful death of a family member or loved one?
  4. What types of compensation or damages are recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit?
  5. Aside from pain and suffering compensation, what are the most common monetary damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit?
  6. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member or loved one that was killed?
  7. Can a family member or loved one also serve as the estate’s personal representative?
  8. How does my family member’s or loved one’s estate get a personal representative?
  9. How long does a surviving family member or loved one, or personal representative, have to file a wrongful death accident lawsuit?
  10. In the event that a wrongful death accident lawsuit were filed, who might be entitled to all or some of the compensation and damages eventually recovered?
  11. Is a wrongful death claim on behalf of someone killed in a Michigan car accident different from a wrongful death claim that can be brought in other states?
  12. How is a wrongful death claim different from a non-fatal personal injury claim?
  13. Are there additional legal rights and legal remedies available to children whose mother or father has been killed in a car accident in Michigan?
  14. Does a child’s right to wrongful death compensation and/or damages end when the child turns 18 years of age?
  15. Does a parent’s right to wrongful death compensation and/or damages for “loss of financial support” end when the parent’s deceased child would have reached the age of majority?
  16. How do I pay for a wrongful death lawsuit?

How can Michigan Auto Law help me with my wrongful death lawsuit?

There are specific wrongful death laws and statutes that apply and must be followed. There are also specific legal recoveries available for wrongful death that are not applicable in other personal injury cases. And, depending on how the death was caused, there are also important notice provisions that must be complied with or any potential wrongful death accident claim could be barred.

Our wrongful death lawyers are familiar with these special laws and timelines, because we have been protecting car accident victims and truck accident victims for more than 50 years. Take a look at our record-breaking verdicts and settlements, client testimonials and our 100 percent client satisfaction guarantee.

Can a lawsuit be filed if a family member or loved one was killed in a Michigan auto accident?

Yes. Under Michigan law, the family members of a person who was killed in a Michigan car accident, as result of another driver’s negligence have a right to sue for their loved one’s wrongful death. (MCL 600.2922)

What must be shown to prove the wrongful death of a family member or loved one?

At a minimum, the following four things must be proved in a wrongful death accident lawsuit (MCL 600.2922):

  • The other driver — or drivers — caused and, thus, were “at fault” (i.e., liable) for the accident that resulted in the death of your family member or loved one.
  • The other driver acted negligently in causing the accident.
  • Your deceased family member or loved one is survived by a spouse or children, or other beneficiaries or dependents.
  • The death of your family member or loved one has produced monetary damages.

What types of compensation or damages are recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Pain and suffering compensation, which is also referred to as noneconomic loss, is recoverable. (MCL 600.2922(6); see also MCL 500.3135)

Additionally, there are other monetary recoveries available, such as monetary damages to replace the earnings that the deceased would have contributed to the family.

Aside from pain and suffering compensation, what are the most common monetary damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Below is a list of the most common monetary damage awards in wrongful death cases (MCL 600.2922(6)):

  • Medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses.
  • Loss of projected future earnings.
  • Loss of benefits (pension, medical coverage, etc.).
  • Loss of inheritance.
  • Loss of care, protection, society and companionship of the deceased.

Here’s more information about survivors’ loss following a wrongful death car accident.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member or loved one that was killed?

The personal representative of your family member’s or loved one’s estate would sue on behalf of the estate. (MCL 600.2922(2)) Here’s more information about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Can a family member or loved one also serve as the estate’s personal representative?

Yes. The estate’s personal representative could be the deceased’s spouse, children, grandparents or other relatives. Any of the wrongful death attorneys at Michigan Auto Law would be happy to discuss with you the pros and cons of such a decision. Call us at for help now.

How does my family member’s or loved one’s estate get a personal representative?

This is a complicated, but necessary process, involves going to probate court for appointment of the personal representative. If this isn’t done correctly, then the case for pain and suffering compensation and other monetary damages may get thrown out of court.

Unfortunately, the probate process has proved to be a frequent source of confusion for family members and lawyers who are sufficiently familiar with representing the families of victims who were killed in car or truck accidents. Again, any of the wrongful death attorneys at Michigan Auto Law would be happy to discuss this with you.

How long does a surviving family member or loved one, or personal representative, have to file a wrongful death accident lawsuit?

The answer to this question is neither simple nor straightforward, but it does demonstrate the importance of talking to one of the highly experienced wrongful death lawyers at Michigan Auto Law if you believe an accident caused the wrongful death of your family member or loved one.

The period of time during which a wrongful death accident lawsuit can be filed (i.e., the statute of limitations) is generally three years. (MCL 600.5805(10))

Plus, within 30 days of filing a wrongful death accident lawsuit, notice must be served on all persons who may be entitled to recover from any eventual wrongful death verdict or settlement. (MCL 600.2922(2))

To complicate things even more, these rules may be affected, altered, modified or supplemented if the wrongful death accident lawsuit is being brought on behalf of the decedent’s own auto insurance policy.

Many people have additional auto insurance coverage that includes uninsured and underinsured motorist protection in an insurance policy. The time limitations for these additional contracts can be shorter than the time to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.

For all of the reasons above, it is strongly recommended you talk to one of the highly experienced wrongful death attorneys at Michigan Auto Law to make sure that crucial legal rights to wrongful death compensation and damages are not inadvertently extinguished and lost forever. Call us at and we can answer all of your questions.

In the event that a wrongful death accident lawsuit were filed, who might be entitled to all or some of the compensation and damages eventually recovered?

The following survivors may entitled to a portion of the ultimate wrongful death recovery:

  • The deceased’s spouse. (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • The deceased’s children. (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • The deceased’s descendants. (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • The deceased’s parents. (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • The deceased’s grandparents. (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • The deceased’s siblings. (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • Those “persons to whom the estate of the deceased would pass under the laws of intestate succession determined as of the date of death of the deceased.” (MCL 600.2922(3)(a))
  • The children of the deceased’s spouse. (MCL 600.2922(3)(b))
  • Those “persons who are devisees under the will of the deceased.” (MCL 600.2922(3)(c))
  • Those “persons who are designated in the will as persons who may be entitled to” pain and suffering damages. (MCL 600.2922(3)(c))
  • The “beneficiaries of a living trust of the deceased if there is a devise to that trust in the will of the deceased.” (MCL 600.2922(3)(c))

Is a wrongful death claim on behalf of someone killed in a Michigan car accident different from a wrongful death claim that can be brought in other states?

Yes. Because Michigan is a No-Fault law state, and many states are not, the legal remedies available after a wrongful death caused by an auto accident are limited by Michigan’s No-Fault insurance law and, thus, are different from the remedies available in other, non-No-Fault states.

How is a wrongful death claim different from a non-fatal personal injury claim?

When someone has been killed in a car accident as the result of another person’s carelessness or negligence, Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act (MCL 600.2922) provides a broader range of remedies than are available to victims of non-fatal Michigan auto accidents.

Additionally, a wrongful death claim resulting from a Michigan auto accident will almost always involve probate proceedings, which is a frequent source of confusion for personal injury lawyers and family members. Failure to properly set up an estate or to give proper notice to relatives of a person killed in an underlying wrongful death claim will delay and even jeopardize the settlement of a death claim.

Are there additional legal rights and legal remedies available to children whose mother or father has been killed in a car accident in Michigan?

Yes. A child who has lost a parent can sue for more than the compensation and damages specifically identified in the Wrongful Death Act (and discussed above). The child can also sue for “loss of gifts or other valuable gratuities” and “loss of parental training and guidance,” according to the Michigan Supreme Court’s Standard Jury Instruction for wrongful death damages, SJI2d 45.02.

Does a child’s right to wrongful death compensation and/or damages end when the child turns 18 years of age?

No. A 1997 Michigan Court of Appeals decision in Setterington v. Pontiac General Hospital specifically rejected the argument.

Does a parent’s right to wrongful death compensation and/or damages for “loss of financial support” end when the parent’s deceased child would have reached the age of majority?

No. Michigan courts have ruled that the Wrongful Death Act places no time or age restrictions on recovery for “loss of financial support” due to the wrongful death of a family member or loved one resulting from a Michigan auto accident.

How do I pay for a wrongful death lawsuit?

Paying for the legal services of the highly experienced wrongful death lawyers at Michigan Auto Law is easy, because we work on a contingency basis. You will not have to write large retainer checks, or any checks at all for that matter. We receive a fee at the end of the lawsuit as a percentage of the settlement or verdict. And if we don’t win and recover for you, then you pay nothing.

Call Michigan Auto Law. We are here for you.

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