Losing a loved one is a devastating experience, and knowing that they didn’t have to die when or how they did makes that loss even more tragic. This is what makes a wrongful death so painful. It’s not only the sudden loss, but also the knowledge that the deceased should have had more years ahead of them.
While a wrongful death claim won’t bring them back and may seem like the last thing you want to think about when you’re grieving, these legal actions have a distinct purpose. A wrongful death suit can help hold negligent parties responsible for what happened to your loved one, and the compensation from such a claim can help you focus on healing instead of worrying about how you’re going to cover financial losses due to the untimely death.
If you’ve lost a family member due to someone else’s neglect or reckless actions, now’s the time to speak with a Detroit wrongful death lawyer. Call Christensen Law today for a free consultation, or visit our contact page.
What Is a Wrongful Death Accident?
According to Michigan statutes, wrongful death is when someone dies due to the wrongful actions, neglect, or fault of another person. The statute makes a comparison to other personal injury claims, in that families can sue for wrongful death under many of the same rules that would apply if the deceased had survived their injury or illness to file their own lawsuit.
Wrongful deaths cover a wide range of injuries and illnesses. Some of the types of wrongful death cases we handle at Christensen Law include:
- Defective products – Lax regulations, a lack of proper testing, and sloppy manufacturing processes can all result in tainted or defective products ending up on store shelves. However, companies are still responsible for the effects of their products, and they can be held liable if they’re found to have been negligent during the development or manufacturing process
- Worksite accidents – Employers have a responsibility to keep their workers safe, and that includes their workspace. But poor maintenance, a lack of safety inspections, and damaged equipment can all lead to potentially fatal injuries in the workplace. Employers can be held liable for workplace deaths if they’re found to be willfully negligent in their safety efforts. Death benefits may also be available through workers’ compensation even if the employer didn’t do anything wrong.
- Vehicle accidents – Driving while drunk or impaired by other drugs, distracted driving, driving on too little sleep, etc., can all lead to deadly vehicle accidents. Another common cause of vehicle-related wrongful deaths is drivers being hit by commercial truckers. In all of these instances, the driver and their employer may be held liable for negligence.
- Pedestrian or bike accidents – More people are opting to bike or walk to work, if they’re able, but this comes with a trade-off: An increase in pedestrian and bike fatalities. Drivers have a duty to watch out for and avoid pedestrians, as well as people on bikes. If the driver was negligent at the time of the crash, they can be held liable for damages.
- Slip-and-falls – Falling on a slippery surface is a potential way to sustain a traumatic brain injury, which can prove fatal. These kinds of accidents can happen in public spaces, inside stores, on the job, in parking lots, on sidewalks, really anywhere where there’s a potential for a slick surface to form. It’s up to property owners to keep visitors, guests, workers, and others safe from slip-and-falls, and failing to do so may mean they’re liable for damages. Tripping over uneven surfaces can lead to similar injuries, and it’s also the job of property owners to prevent these kinds of incidents.
- Criminal Behavior – A wrongful death claim is a civil action, but it can be filed in relation to a criminal action. If someone’s criminal activities result in another person’s death, the person responsible for the criminal act can be held liable in a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim in Michigan?
Michigan law requires the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file any wrongful death claim. If a wrongful death claim is filed, whoever filed the claim must notify the existing members of the deceased’s family within 30 days.
Once the family members have been notified that a wrongful death claim has been filed, they, in turn, have 60 days to let the victim’s estate know about any damages they might be entitled to due to the victim’s death. If they do not send notice in time, they may be deemed ineligible to recover any damages should the wrongful death claim prove successful.
It’s important to know that, in most cases, only certain family members are eligible to recover compensation from a wrongful death claim. The potential beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- Their parents and grandparents
- Any brothers or sisters they have
- Any children of the deceased
The only other people who can recover compensation in a wrongful death claim are family members who are left property in the deceased’s will.