Michigan Wrongful Death Act
Our attorneys explain the wrongful death law to help surviving family members and loved ones of those killed in car accidents better understand their legal rights
The best way to understand the Michigan Wrongful Death Act is to read it.
As such, the law is printed below for the benefit of the survivors and dependents of family members or loved ones whose wrongful deaths were caused by auto accidents in Michigan.
For help from a wrongful death attorney, call Michigan Auto Law at (800) 777-0028. The call and the advice is free, and we can answer all of your questions.
Michigan’s Wrongful Death Act:
600.2922 Death by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another; liability; action by personal representative; limitation; notice; approval or rejection of proposed settlement; award and distribution of damages; presentation of claim for damages; advising attorney for personal representative of material facts; applicability of MCL 700.3924 to distribution of proceeds.
(1) Whenever the death of a person, injuries resulting in death, or death as described in section 2922a shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another, and the act, neglect, or fault is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages, the person who or the corporation that would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured or death as described in section 2922a, and although the death was caused under circumstances that constitute a felony.
(2) Every action under this section shall be brought by, and in the name of, the personal representative of the estate of the deceased. Within 30 days after the commencement of an action, the personal representative shall serve a copy of the complaint and notice as prescribed in subsection (4) upon the person or persons who may be entitled to damages under subsection (3) in the manner and method provided in the rules applicable to probate court proceedings.
(3) Subject to sections 2802 to 2805 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.2802 to 700.2805, the person or persons who may be entitled to damages under this section shall be limited to any of the following who suffer damages and survive the deceased:
(a) The deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and, if none of these persons survive the deceased, then 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.
(b) The children of the deceased’s spouse.
(c) Those persons who are devisees under the will of the deceased, except those whose relationship with the decedent violated Michigan law, including beneficiaries of a trust under the will, those persons who are designated in the will as persons who may be entitled to damages under this section, and the beneficiaries of a living trust of the deceased if there is a devise to that trust in the will of the deceased.
(4) The notice required in subsection (2) shall contain the following:
(a) The name and address of the personal representative and the personal representative’s attorney.
(b) A statement that the attorney for the personal representative shall be advised within 60 days after the mailing of the notice of any material fact that may constitute evidence of any claim for damages and that failure to do so may adversely affect his or her recovery of damages and could bar his or her right to any claim at a hearing to distribute proceeds.
(c) A statement that he or she will be notified of a hearing to determine the distribution of the proceeds after the adjudication or settlement of the claim for damages.
(d) A statement that to recover damages under this section the person who may be entitled to damages must present a claim for damages to the personal representative on or before the date set for hearing on the motion for distribution of the proceeds under subsection (6) and that failure to present a claim for damages within the time provided shall bar the person from making a claim to any of the proceeds.
(5) If, for the purpose of settling a claim for damages for wrongful death where an action for those damages is pending, a motion is filed in the court where the action is pending by the personal representative asking leave of the court to settle the claim, the court shall, with or without notice, conduct a hearing and approve or reject the proposed settlement.
(6) In every action under this section, the court or jury may award damages as the court or jury shall consider fair and equitable, under all the circumstances including reasonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses for which the estate is liable; reasonable compensation for the pain and suffering, while conscious, undergone by the deceased during the period intervening between the time of the injury and death; and damages for the loss of financial support and the loss of the society and companionship of the deceased. The proceeds of a settlement or judgment in an action for damages for wrongful death shall be distributed as follows:
(a) The personal representative shall file with the court a motion for authority to distribute the proceeds. Upon the filing of the motion, the court shall order a hearing.
(b) Unless waived, notice of the hearing shall be served upon all persons who may be entitled to damages under subsection (3) in the time, manner, and method provided in the rules applicable to probate court proceedings.
(c) If any interested person is a minor, a disappeared person, or an incapacitated individual for whom a fiduciary is not appointed, a fiduciary or guardian ad litem shall be first appointed, and the notice provided in subdivision (b) shall be given to the fiduciary or guardian ad litem of the minor, disappeared person, or legally incapacitated individual.
(d) After a hearing by the court, the court shall order payment from the proceeds of the reasonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses of the decedent for which the estate is liable. The proceeds shall not be applied to the payment of any other charges against the estate of the decedent. The court shall then enter an order distributing the proceeds to those persons designated in subsection (3) who suffered damages and to the estate of the deceased for compensation for conscious pain and suffering, if any, in the amount as the court or jury considers fair and equitable considering the relative damages sustained by each of the persons and the estate of the deceased. If there is a special verdict by a jury in the wrongful death action, damages shall be distributed as provided in the special verdict.
(e) If none of the persons entitled to the proceeds is a minor, a disappeared person, or a legally incapacitated individual and all of the persons entitled to the proceeds execute a verified stipulation or agreement in writing in which the portion of the proceeds to be distributed to each of the persons is specified, the order of the court shall be entered in accordance with the stipulation or agreement.
(7) A person who may be entitled to damages under this section must present a claim for damages to the personal representative on or before the date set for hearing on the motion for distribution of the proceeds under subsection (6). The failure to present a claim for damages within the time provided shall bar the person from making a claim to any of the proceeds.
(8) A person who may be entitled to damages under this section shall advise the attorney for the personal representative within 60 days after service of the complaint and notice as provided for under subsection (2) of any material fact of which the person has knowledge and that may constitute evidence of any claim for damages. The person’s right to claim at a hearing any proceeds may be barred by the court if the person fails to advise the personal representative as prescribed in this subsection.
(9) If a claim under this section is to be settled and a civil action for wrongful death is not pending under this section, the procedures prescribed in section 3924 of the estates and protected individuals code, 1998 PA 386, MCL 700.3924, shall be applicable to the distribution of the proceeds.
History: 1961, Act 236, Eff. Jan. 1, 1963 ;– Am. 1965, Act 146, Imd. Eff. July 12, 1965 ;– Am. 1971, Act 65, Eff. Mar. 30, 1972 ;– Am. 1985, Act 93, Imd. Eff. July 10, 1985 ;– Am. 2000, Act 56, Eff. Apr. 1, 2000 ;– Am. 2005, Act 270, Imd. Eff. Dec. 19, 2005
Compiler’s Notes: Section 2 of Act 93 of 1985 provides: “This amendatory act applies to cases and matters pending on or filed after the effective date of this amendatory act.”