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Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit Guide

Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit FAQs

In Michigan, when you lose a loved one due to another person’s wrongful act or negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against that person. This allows family members to recover pain and suffering compensation and damages for loss of their loved one’s companionship and financial support.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan?

In Michigan, a wrongful death lawsuit allows family members to recover compensation for pain and suffering and other noneconomic and economic losses damages when a person dies as a result of a wrongful act, or due to the negligence or fault of another person, . (MCL 600.2922(1), (3) and (6))

Who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan?

In Michigan, the people who get the money in a wrongful death lawsuit include the following surviving members of the deceased person’s family: (1) spouse; (2) children; (3) descendants; (4) parents; (5) grandparents; and (6) siblings. (MCL 600.2922(3))

Specifically, the deceased’s family members who get the money from this type of lawsuit are:

  • The deceased’s spouse.
  • The deceased’s children.
  • The deceased’s descendants.
  • The deceased’s parents.
  • The deceased’s grandparents.
  • The deceased’s siblings.
  • The deceased’s heirs if there is no will.
  • Children of the deceased’s spouse.
  • Devisees under the deceased’s will.
  • Persons designated in the will.

How much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth in Michigan?

In Michigan, the factors that influence how much a wrongful death lawsuit is worth include: (1) whether the deceased’s death involved conscious pain and suffering, and if so, for how long; (2) loss of the deceased’s financial support, society and companionship; (3) your lawyer’s reputation and experience; and (4) the at-fault driver’s insurance company and liability policy limits and any collectible assets of the at-fault defendant responsible for the death.

Who the lawyer is may seem less important, but the insurance industry’s own data shows that an experienced wrongful death lawyer can settle cases for significantly more money.

In fact, an experienced wrongful death lawyer with a track record of winning trial verdicts and settlements and a reputation for going to trial can secure settlements that are on average 4 x higher than an attorney who does not have the same track record. This is based on claims software that the insurance industry uses to track attorneys and evaluate claims.

Our state’s No-Fault insurance law requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $250,000/$500,000 in liability insurance coverage on their vehicles, but drivers also now have the option “to purchase lower limits” of $50,000 and $100,000. (MCL 500.3101(1); 500.3131(2); 500.3009(1)(a) and (b), (5))

The liability coverage limits will be higher if the at-fault driver was driving for Uber or Lyft or was the driver of a large interstate truck or commercial vehicle.

Wrongful death settlement amounts 

Below are examples of the wrongful death settlement amounts that our experienced lawyers have won for the people and families we have helped:

  • $7 million plus $4 million over policy limits
  • $6.2 million on $400,000 settlement offer
  • $5.1 million in fatal rear-end collision case
  • $5 million in fatal pedestrian crash case

Visit our “Settlements” page to learn more about our attorney’s winning record of notable and top-reported car accident settlements and verdicts for car, truck, motorcycle and personal injury cases.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan

In Michigan, the only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit is the person who has been formally appointed by a Probate Court judge to serve as the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This could be the deceased’s spouse, children, grandparents or other relatives.

How to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan

In Michigan, the process to file a wrongful death lawsuit starts by having the Probate Court appoint a personal representative for your deceased loved one’s estate. Next, the lawsuit is filed. Notice must then be given to family members who may be entitled to damages.

Deadline for filing this type of lawsuit

In our state, the deadline for filing a this type of lawsuit is 3 years after the time of the death. Also, within 30 days of filing, family members must be provided a copy of the lawsuit. Additionally, within 60 days of receiving the lawsuit, family members must provide details about their claim for damages.

State law provides that the “period of limitations” for filing this type lawsuit “to recover damages for the death of a person” “is 3 years after the time of the death.” (MCL 600.5805(2))

After this type of lawsuit has been filed in our state, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must provide a copy of the lawsuit to all of the deceased’s family members who “may be entitled to damages.” (MCL 600.2922(2))

Family members “who may be entitled damages” with this type of lawsuit “shall advise the attorney for the personal representative within 60 days after service of the complaint and notice . . . 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 required. (MCL 600.2922(8))

How long do I have to file this type of lawsuit?

In Michigan, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate has 3 years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Within 30 days of filing, the deceased’s family members must be provided a copy of the lawsuit.

What must be proved?

To prove your case, you must show: (1) your loved one’s death was the result of the at-fault party’s negligence; (2) your loved one is survived by persons who may be entitled to damages; and (3) your loved one’s death produced noneconomic and economic damages.

What damages and compensation can be recovered?

According to state law, you can recover these dampages and compensation from this type of lawsuit: (1) damages to cover “medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses for which the estate is liable”; (2) compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering; and (3) damages for loss of the deceased’s financial support, society and companionship. (MCL 600.2922(6))

How are damages paid out?

The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must obtain the court’s permission before any settlement can be made. Once expenses for which the estate is liable for are paid, proceeds from the settlement or from a judgment awarding damages are distributed. (MCL 600.2922(5) and (6))

To be eligible for distribution of proceeds, a family member must have first presented a “claim for damages” to the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. (MCL 600.2922(6) and (7))

How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take in Michigan?

In Michigan, if a wrongful death lawsuit is necessary, a settlement could take one to two years, depending on where you file and the court’s backlog of cases. But a pre-suit settlement may take only weeks or months when liability is uncontested and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are sufficient. 

The factors that affect how long this type of lawsuit takes include: (1) the track record and reputation of your lawyer; (2) whether the at-fault driver is contesting liability; (3) discovery; (4) case evaluation; (5) motion hearings; (6) settlement conferences; (7) the court; and (8) the judge assigned to the case.

Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident in Michigan?

In Michigan, a car accident is the most common reason for why a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. After a death caused by a crash, a personal representative of the estate of the person who lost their life in the crash can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and against any other parties responsible for the fatal crash.

The most common instances in which other parties can be added to this type of  lawsuit include if the motor vehicle that was involved in causing the crash and subsequent death was owned by a different individual than the driver of that vehicle and if that driver was in the course and scope of his or her employment at the time he or she caused the crash.

This type of lawsuit can also be brought based on many different types of wrongful and negligent acts. In fact, this lawsuit can be brought for nearly any type of negligent act that causes a death of another to occur, unless there is a law, such as the state’s governmental immunity laws, that bars this type of lawsuit from being brought.

Perhaps recognizing that car accidents are the most common cause for these types of lawsuits, the Michigan legislature has carved out a specific exception to our state’s governmental immunity laws to allow a this type lawsuit to be brought when an individual is killed by a government owned or operated motor vehicle.

Lost a loved one in a car accident? Call now!

If you lost a loved one in a car accident in Michigan and have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, call now (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with one of our experienced wrongful lawyers. There is no cost or obligation. You can also visit our contact page or use the chat feature on our website.

Michigan Auto Law is the state’s largest and most successful law firm that exclusively in helping people who have been injured in auto accidents.

Our secret? Our car accident attorneys deliberately handle fewer cases than other personal injury law firms.  This allows us to focus more time and attention on our cases.

Unlike other law firms, our auto accident attorneys are never too busy to promptly return phone calls and answer questions. 

We have more than 2,000 5-Star Reviews that reflect this care and attention to detail.

More importantly, this client-focused approach leads to better and faster settlements for our clients. Our law firm has recovered more million-dollar settlements and trial verdicts for motor vehicle accidents than any other lawyer or law firm in the state. We’ve also recovered the highest ever reported truck accident and car accident settlement in the state.

Call now so we can start making a real difference for you.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit