What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Michigan?

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Losing a loved one is never easy but coping in the aftermath can be especially challenging if the death was preventable. Sadly, fatal accidents are incredibly common. In fact, unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death in the United States.

If someone in your family died because of another party’s actions—or lack thereof—you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Under Michigan tort law, these claims can be brought over deaths “caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another.”

If you’re unsure whether the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death constitute legal action, consider this: If they had survived the incident, would they have had grounds for a personal injury claim? If so, your family is probably entitled to seek compensation.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common scenarios that lend to wrongful death actions:

  • Motor-vehicle collisions;
  • Construction site accidents;
  • Slip and falls; and
  • Medical malpractice.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Suit in Michigan?

In Michigan, a wrongful death action can only be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. If the victim left a last will and testament, they should’ve named someone to serve in this role. If not—or if the selected party is unwilling or unable to step in—the court will appoint a representative.

After filing the claim, the personal representative has 30 days to notify all the individuals who might stand to recover at least some portion of potential payout. Such parties include the deceased’s surviving:

  • Spouse;
  • Children;
  • Parents;
  • Grandparents; and
  • Siblings.

Any additional beneficiaries whom the deceased included in their estate plans are also eligible to secure some or all of the compensation that results. If the deceased did not leave a will, those who are entitled to their property under the laws of intestate succession may inherit the payout, should one result.

Once eligible recipients learn of the estate’s wrongful death action, they have 60 days to notify the personal representative of any damages they incurred as a result of the loss. If they fail to reach out before this deadline has passed, their particular claim may not be included in the suit. That means if the action does yield a payout, they won’t be entitled to any portion.

How Long Does a Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?

In most cases, the personal representative must commence the proceedings no more than two years after issuing the letters of authority, and no more than three years after the date of death. As there are a number of exceptions to this deadline, though, it’s wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Speak with a Detroit Wrongful Death Attorney

At Seva Law Firm, we understand the devastating repercussions that a wrongful death can have on the whole family. If your loved one’s passing could have been prevented, we’ll help you gather the evidence needed to prove as much so you can hold the liable party accountable. To schedule a free consultation with a compassionate wrongful death lawyer in Detroit, fill out our Online Contact Form or call (248) 385-5704.