Few events in life can be more distressful than learning that a loved one has died in a Michigan motor vehicle collision or other incident. Beyond the initial shock and grief of such moments, families must not only learn how to move on in life without their family member, but they must also deal with numerous issues associated with his or her death. When a causal factor in an incident that resulted in a fatality was another person’s negligent, reckless or malicious behavior, one may file a wrongful death claim in civil court.
On one hand, it might seem too stressful or even, perhaps, unnecessary (it can’t bring someone back to life) to file a wrongful death claim. On the contrary, however, this is often the only means a grieving family might have to obtain funds to cover expenses associated with a loved one’s death, such as funeral costs or medical bills stemming from care provided at the scene. It is also a way to hold the negligent party accountable for his or her actions.
Immediate family members and beneficiaries can file a wrongful death claim
Every state has its own set of personal injury laws on record. In Michigan, you may initiate a wrongful death claim if you are one of the parties shown in the following list:
- The adult child of the decedent
- A grandchild of the decedent
- The surviving spouse of the decedent
- A person listed as a beneficiary in the decedent’s last will and testament
If you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in the wake of your loved one’s death, you must do so within three years of the incident that caused his or her fatal injuries.
Recovering damages in a wrongful death claim
The reason an immediate family member can file a wrongful death claim following a loved one’s death is that the decedent would have been eligible to file a personal injury claim if he or she had survived. You are, in a certain respect, acting on his or her behalf. Any damages your loved one would have been able to claim in a lawsuit, you may include in the list of damages you submit in your case.
Such damages often include things like medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future potential earnings or emotional pain and suffering, as well as loss of consortium and companionship, which refers to the loss of your ability to have a relationship with your loved one.
Nothing can fill the void that a loved one’s death creates in life
When a Michigan motor vehicle collision or other incident causes the sudden death of your loved one, it leaves a void that can never be filled. However, many grieving families find comfort in knowing that they can at least seek justice in their loved one’s memory by filing a wrongful death claim and making sure to hold the person whose negligence caused the death accountable in court.