In Michigan, historically there was no right to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death because the right to bring a claim for damages was personal and died with a claimant. That strange result was corrected when the Michigan Wrongful Death act, MCL 600.2922, was enacted in 1961. As a result, when a person dies as a result of the negligent (or intentional) conduct of another a wrongful death claim can be brought.
The claim must be brought by the personal representative of the estate, who is appointed by the Probate Court. The Personal Representative has the authority to retain legal counsel and is responsible for administrating the Estate. EPIC, the Michigan Probate code (Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC), MCL 700.1101 et seq., and the probate court rules control the who, how, when and where and why of Probate Estate administration. While the Personal Representative of the Estate is the named Plaintiff, the statute confirms who may have a claim including a deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. MCL 600.2922(3). EPIC also assigns the Personal Representative with a myriad of other duties. The attorneys at SMDA maintain a special Elder Law certification for handling claims under EPIC.
A wrongful death case can be the result of any number of factual situations including:
- Motor Vehicle Collisions
- Motorcycle Accidents
- ATV/ Snowmobile Accidents
- Truck or Bus crashes
- Slip or Trip and Fall
- Medical Malpractice
- Product Liability
- Work Site Injury
- Medication Errors
- General Negligence (Think of this as where an individual fails to act in accordance with generally accepted rules of societal conduct)
Recovery for a Wrongful Death claim can include such items as conscious pain and suffering, fright, shock and mental anguish, lost wages and financial support, funeral and burial expenses, loss of society and companionship and the grief and anguish of the family. A child may bring a wrongful death action for the loss of a parent and a parent may bring a claim for the death of a child.
Before a Wrongful Death lawsuit can be resolved the Plaintiff must obtain an order from the Court approving the settlement and the distribution of the proceeds amongst those entitled to make a claim. It is important that the Probate Court rules be followed and notice be timely provided to all the interested parties. Frequently the interested parties will agree with the distribution of the settlement proceeds and execute a waiver of interest. Sometimes the settlement proceeds can be used to fund a structured settlement to guarantee that the funds will be available in the future when certain expenses are likely to be incurred (e.g. pay for college when a child turns 18, or for the down payment on a house at age 25. Etc.)
The attorneys at Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates have decades of experience handling cases involving wrongful death. Make sure the law firm you select to handle your claim is the right firm with the right experience to get the right result. If you have lost a loved one due to negligence DON’T WAIT AND GIVE US A CALL TODAY. We will accept NO FEE unless and until we make a recovery on your behalf.