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What family members should know about wrongful death claims

When the loss of a loved one occurs due to the negligence of another party, the family naturally wants to seek justice. A wrongful death claim may help family members to receive compensation in addition to holding the negligent person accountable.

Here are some facts about wrongful death claims that may help a family understand this type of lawsuit.

What it is

According to Michigan law, a wrongful death is one that occurs because of the negligent acts of a party or several parties. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show that the person who caused the fatal injury breached a legal duty that directly led to the injury, and that the plaintiff suffered as a result. Circumstances that involve negligence include the following:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Drunk or distracted driving
  • Premises liability
  • Distribution of defective products

Who may file

Even though the death of an individual may touch many, many lives, the law limits who can file a wrongful death claim to immediate family members, including parents, spouse, siblings and children. It also includes anyone who is a beneficiary of the deceased party’s estate.

Statute of limitations

The parties have up to two years to file a claim. While this is timeframe is usually solid, there are certain special circumstances where the court may allow a family member to proceed with a claim beyond the statute of limitations, such as when someone does not become aware of the contributing negligent act until much later.

Possible compensation

Because there are different financial ways that the death may affect family members, there are different types of damages that they may file for:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of future inheritance
  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral costs

If the loved one underwent conscious suffering before death due to the serious injury, the family may file a survival action to receive compensation for that pain and suffering.

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Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC

3049 Miller Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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