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No-Fault Act and Statutes

Wrongful Death Lawsuit For A Car Accident in Michigan FAQs

The family of a person who was killed in a car crash can file a wrongful death lawsuit for a car accident in Michigan against the at-fault driver. The wrongful death lawsuit can seek pain and suffering compensation as well as damages for the loss of the deceased’s financial support, society and companionship.

What is the Michigan wrongful death act?

The Michigan wrongful death act is the Michigan law that allows the family, surviving dependents and/or beneficiaries of a person who was killed in a car accident to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering damages as well as other noneconomic and economic damages. (MCL 600.2922)

What is wrongful death in a car accident?

A wrongful death in a car accident occurs when a person is killed or suffers injuries that ultimately take his or her life in a car crash that was caused another person’s negligence.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a lawsuit brought against the at-fault driver by the personal representative of the estate of a deceased car accident victim, seeking pain and suffering compensation and other noneconomic and economic damages caused by the driver’s negligence.

Who can sue for wrongful death in a car accident?

The personal representative of the estate of the deceased car accident victim is the only person who can sue for wrongful death in a car accident. (MCL 600.2922(2)) Importantly, the estate’s personal representative could be the deceased’s spouse, children, grandparents or other relatives.

How is a personal representative of the estate appointed?

This is a complicated and confusing, but necessary process, which 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.

How does wrongful death lawsuit work?

A wrongful death lawsuit allows the personal representative of a deceased car accident victim’s estate to sue the at-fault driver to recover the compensation and damages that the victim could have sued for if he or she had survived.

What must be proved in a wrongful death lawsuit?

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 can be sued for in a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can seek damages to cover: (1) “reasonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses for which the estate is liable”; (2) “reasonable compensation” for the victim’s “pain and suffering”; and (3) “damages for the loss of financial support,” “society and companionship of the deceased.” (MCL 600.2922(6))

Loss of financial support may include: (1) loss of projected future earnings; (2) loss of benefits (pension, medical coverage, etc.); and (3) loss of inheritance.

When must a wrongful death lawsuit be filed?

The answer to this question is neither simple nor straightforward, but it does demonstrate the importance of talking to one of the highly experienced car accident 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 (800) 777-0028 and we can answer all of your questions.

How are wrongful death settlements paid out?

The personal representative of the deceased car accident victim’s estate must obtain the court’s permission to distribute the proceeds of a wrongful death settlement. First, certain expenses for which the estate is liable are paid. Then, damages and compensation are paid. (MCL 600.2922(6))

How are wrongful death proceeds paid out?

Once the estate’s personal representative is permitted to distribute the wrongful death proceeds, certain specified expenses are paid first. Then, damages and compensation are paid. To be eligible for distribution of proceeds, it’s required that family members file a “claim for damages.” (MCL 600.2922(6) and (7))

Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit?

The people who are entitled to a portion of the damages from a wrongful death lawsuit include: (1) the deceased car accident victim’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters; (2) children of the deceased’s spouse; (3) “devisees” under the deceased’s will. (MCL 600.2922(3))

Specifically, any or all of 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 lawsuit different in Michigan than 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.

What legal remedies are available for children who lost a parent in a car accident?

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.

Is a wrongful death settlement taxable income?

Generally, a car accident settlement for pain and suffering is not taxable income in Michigan. But you should always talk to your injury attorney, tax adviser, and/or CPA, to make sure you are in full compliance.

Injured and need a lawyer? Call Michigan Auto Law

If you have lost a family member in a car accident and you have questions about your legal rights to bring a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident, you can call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our experienced auto accident attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.

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