Wrongful Death Lawsuit FAQs: What You Need To Know
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?
According to Michigan law, 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 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.
In Michigan, our 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 in Michigan
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 Michigan Auto Law’s winning record of notable and top-reported Michigan car accident settlements and verdicts for car, truck, motorcycle and personal injury cases.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan
The only person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Michigan 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, once you have hired an experienced lawyer, 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
The deadline for filing a this type of lawsuit in Michigan 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 Michigan, 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 in a Michigan, 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 Michigan 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, factors that affect how a wrongful death 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.
If a settlement cannot be reached, this type of lawsuit will on average take between one to two years to resolve, depending on the specific venue where the case is being heard.
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 in Michigan 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 Michigan’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 Michigan’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.
Have questions? Call for a free consultation with a Michigan Auto Law attorney now
If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful act or negligence of another, and you have questions about suing the responsible parties and about your own legal rights to compensation for losses you have suffered, including the loss of your loved one and the loss of financial support, you can speak to an experienced Michigan wrongful death lawyer at (866) 323-4714 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced auto accident attorney by visiting our contact page or the chat feature on our website.