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What Happens When Someone Is Killed In A Car Accident?

April 5, 2023 by Steven M. Gursten

What Happens When Someone Is Killed In A Car Accident?

If someone happens to be killed in a car accident in Michigan, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought on behalf of the family members and any dependents to seek compensation from the at-fault, negligent driver responsible for the crash. Additionally, family members may also recover No-Fault survivor’s loss benefits from the deceased driver’s own auto insurance company.  

The total compensation, damages and survivor’s loss No-Fault insurance benefits available to the family of a person who has been killed in a crash includes damages for conscious  pain and suffering of the deceased while still alive, funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial and economic support, and loss of the deceased person’s love, companionship and guidance as a parent.

How many people die in car accidents a year?

In 2021, 42,939 people died in car accidents across the U.S., which was a 10% increase from 39,007 fatalities in 2020 and 18% more than 36,355 in 2019. In Michigan in 2021, there were 1,131 people who died in car crashes – up 4.4% from 1,083 in 2020 and a 14.8% jump from 985 deaths in 2019.

Can you sue the at-fault driver if someone happens to be killed in a car accident in Michigan?

In Michigan, if someone happens to be killed in a car accident, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against the at-fault, negligent driver responsible for causing the crash.  

While the decision to bring a wrongful death lawsuit may be made by the entire family, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate has the actual legal authority to file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased family member.

The personal representative of an estate can, and usually is, a family member of the deceased.  The family member who is designated as a personal representative is assigned through the probate court. Only a probate court judge can designate someone to be the estate’s lawful personal representative.

If someone happens to be killed in a car accident in Michigan what wrongful death compensation and damages can be recovered?

In Michigan, if someone happens to be killed in a car accident, the deceased person’s family (through the personal representative of his or her estate) can sue for compensation and economic damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver who caused the fatal crash.

The wrongful death damages and compensation that can be recovered from the at-fault driver include:

  • “[R]easonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses for which the estate is liable” (MCL 600.2922(6))
  • “[R]easonable compensation for the pain and suffering, while conscious, undergone by the deceased during the period intervening between the time of the injury and death” (MCL 600.2922(6))
  • “[D]amages for the loss of financial support and the loss of the society and companionship of the deceased,” including “loss of service,” “loss of gifts or other valuable gratuities,” and “loss of parental training and guidance.” (MCL 600.2922(6); M Civ JI 45.02 Wrongful Death – Damages)

Who recovers wrongful death compensation and damages when someone is killed in a car accident?

The members of the deceased person’s family who may be entitled to wrongful death compensation and damages after a fatal crash include the deceased person’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, siblings and devisees under the deceased person’s will. (MCL 600.2922(3))

What are Michigan No-Fault survivor’s loss benefits?

If someone happens to be killed in a car accident in Michigan, the family members and other dependents may be able to recover No-Fault survivor’s loss benefits to help compensate for or offset the loss of financial support that their loved one had been providing prior to his or her death.

Benefits can be claimed by the deceased person’s spouse (so long as they were living together at the time of the deceased’s death), children under the age of 18, other dependents whose dependency can be supported by “the facts as they exist at the time of death,” and those who are “physically or mentally incapacitated from earning.” (MCL 500.3110(1), (2) and (3))

If someone happens to be killed in car accident in Michigan, then what do Michigan No-Fault survivor’s loss benefits cover?

In Michigan, if someone happens to be killed in a car accident in Michigan, No-Fault survivor’s loss benefits will help pay for: (1) the “contributions of tangible things of economic value” that the deceased person previously provided; and (2) the cost of paying someone else to perform the services previously done by the deceased. (MCL 500.3108(1))

What happens with funeral and burial expenses?

Funeral and burial expenses for which your deceased loved one’s estate is liable may be paid for through a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. (MCL 600.2922(6)) Also, No-Fault benefits may pay up to $5,000 for expenses not covered by your loved one’s auto insurance policy. (MCL 500.3107(1)(a)(ii))

Have questions? Michigan Auto Law has answers. Call Now!

If you have questions about what happens after someone is killed in a car accident in Michigan, you can call us toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. We will answer your questions about your and your family’s legal rights to wrongful death compensation and economic damages, auto No-Fault insurance survivor’s loss benefits, and settlements in cases like yours. There is absolutely no cost or obligation. You can also get help from an experienced injury attorney by visiting our contact page or chat feature on our website.

(Sources: NHTSA, “Overview of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes in 2021,” published April 2023; Michigan Traffic Crash Facts,“At-a-Glance,” 2021, 2020, 2019)

What Happens When Someone Is Killed In A Car Accident?

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