What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a person is involved in any type of serious accident, they aren’t always lucky enough to recover and survive. In the worst case scenarios, things like car accidents, dog attacks, workplace accidents, and slip and fall accidents can all be fatal. Because of this fact, wrongful death lawsuits are very common type of personal injury case.
When a person dies as a result of another person’s negligence, whether it was intentional or not, that person’s survivors may want to sue the person responsible for the accident to recover damages. This is known as a wrongful death lawsuit. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, a person may be able to sue for things such as funeral expenses, medical bills the deceased incurred before their death, lost wages, emotional distress, loss of companionship, and loss of income. In cases where the person’s death was caused by an extreme or deliberate act of negligence, punitive damages could be awarded.
There are several different parties who could potentially be awarded damages through a wrongful death lawsuit, but laws vary from state to state. All states allow immediate family members such as spouses, parents, and biological and adopted children of the deceased to collect in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, some states may have laws allowing other parties to collect, such as more distant relatives or other people who are not directly related to the deceased.
In the state of Michigan, spouses, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and step children can be awarded damages in a wrongful death suit. Michigan law also allows anyone who has been left property or money in the deceased person’s will to collect damages in a wrongful death case. However, if the deceased person does not have a will, anyone who could potentially be able to inherit property from the estate of the deceased might be able to collect damages.
Usually, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the executor of the deceased person’s estate, but the executor of the estate might not necessarily be a person who can actually recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, the executor simply files the lawsuit as a representative of those who can collect. In Michigan, those who are able to collect damages through a wrongful death lawsuit have 60 days after learning of the lawsuit to contact the representative of the estate about any damages they’ve suffered so they can be included in the case.
Laws about wrongful death cases are different from state to state, but you will have a limited amount of time to be able to file a wrongful death suit so it’s important to consult an attorney right away if you are considering filing a wrongful death suit. In Michigan, the statute of limitations is three years after the date of death.