How To Find Wrongful Death Lawyers In Michigan?
Wrongful death is undeniably the most devastating of all personal injury claims. Suppose you lost someone you love in an avoidable accident caused by another person’s negligence. In that case, tort law provides an avenue to pursue compensation so that you can grieve your loss without the burden of financial repercussions. Finding a Michigan wrongful death attorney in your area is as easy as an online search. However, finding the right one means looking for years of experience and successful cases similar to yours. You can start with a better understanding of the laws surrounding wrongful death in Michigan.
How Does Michigan Law Define Wrongful Death?
According to Michigan personal injury statutes, a wrongful death is any death resulting from a negligent or wrongful act caused by another. To classify as a wrongful death, the person’s injuries should constitute a personal injury claim if the deceased had survived. To determine whether your loved one’s death was wrongful, consider your answer to the following questions:
- Did they die as the result of an intentional act, such as an assault or any crime that resulted in bodily harm?
- Did they die because of a negligence-based incident, such as a car accident or preventable fall?
- Was a doctor or other healthcare professional responsible for the injuries that caused their death, constituting medical malpractice?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you likely have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The primary difference between a civil personal injury lawsuit and a criminal lawsuit is that the defendant in a civil case faces liability in the form of damages they must pay due to their actions. However, they could face prison or jail time and fines in a criminal case. Some cases, such as an assault, can result in civil and criminal liability.
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
A wrongful death lawyer acts as a legal representative for the plaintiff. Family members are often left in a state of devastation. While they need the compensation they could recover from an auto accident case, fighting insurance companies and navigating unknown legal processes can be overwhelming. When you hire a wrongful death lawyer to handle your case, they take over the plaintiff’s responsibilities, allowing you to pursue justice and grieve more comfortably. Examples of the attorney’s responsibilities include the following:
- Investigating the incident that led to your loved one’s death to find evidence of wrongdoing and identify recoverable damages
- Accessing experts to help prove your claim
- Handling all conversations and negotiations with the insurance company or legal defense team
- Gathering and completing all the necessary paperwork to file your claim or lawsuit
- Preparing your case to go to trial should you not reach a fair settlement
- Questioning the defendant during their deposition
- Protect your right to compensation and ensure you make no mistakes that could damage your claim
Additionally, a wrongful death attorney has experience working with grieving families. They can help you find professional support to nurture your mental health and offer compassion and understanding during a challenging time. However, one of the most financially valuable qualifications of a wrongful death attorney is their ability to value your claim adequately. Without experience, you may not know how to identify all the economic and non-economic damages available in your case. In addition, the insurance company will not inform you if you have significantly undervalued your losses.
What Damages Can You Recover From a Wrongful Death Case?
The losses you incur from losing your loved one in a tragic incident differ from other personal injury cases because there is no way to make whole what was taken from you. However, the court still refers to your losses as compensatory damages. These include financial losses, known as economic or specific damages and psychological losses, known as general or non-economic damages. In cases that involve egregious misconduct, the court may also punish the defendant by requiring them to pay punitive damages. Every case has unique circumstances, but there are some common types of compensatory losses from a wrongful death case.
The specific damages do not require you to assign a monetary value. These are the financial losses with tangible evidence supporting them. Examples include:
- The cost of medical care your loved one received if they had undergone treatment before their death
- The loss of income your loved one provided if you were a dependent or spouse
- The lost inheritance you would have received if your loved one listed you as a beneficiary in their estate plan
- The loss of benefits, such as healthcare coverage or retirement plans
- The cost of the funeral and burial or cremation
The economic damages available depend on various factors, including your specific relationship with the deceased and the evidence of that relationship you can present.
General damages represent the psychological damage of losing someone in an incident caused by another person’s negligence or malintent. Examples of those losses include:
- Pain and suffering your loved one endured from their injuries
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of the companionship, care, nurturing, love, and society the deceased provided
- Loss of consortium if the deceased was your spouse
Applying financial value to these losses can be a complex process requiring a thorough understanding of personal injury law and the ability to provide supportive evidence. Again, an attorney is best equipped to walk you through that process.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Michigan, only the deceased personal representative, also known as the executor of their estate, can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving family. The law requires the executor to provide the family with a written notice of the lawsuit within 30 days of filing. If the court awards them damages, Michigan law states that only the deceased surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, stepchildren, or anyone named as a beneficiary in their estate plan can receive a portion of compensation.
When Should You Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Like most personal injury lawyers, a wrongful death attorney typically works on contingency and offers free case evaluations. If you have questions about your ability to recover compensation for the untimely death of a loved one caused by someone else’s misconduct, schedule your consultation immediately. The statute of limitations on a wrongful death lawsuit is three years in Michigan. This means you have three years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, there is no need to wait long to file your claim and get the compensation your family needs.
At Mike Morse Law Firm, we know no economic justice can replace the loss of a loved one, and preventable death comes with unique circumstances and frustrations. For over 25 years, our team of personal injury attorneys has supported grieving families and guided them in their pursuit of justice. If you lost a loved one as the result of a personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence or malicious intent, we could help you understand your legal rights and guide you down the path toward compensation. Contact Mike Morse Law Firm at (855) 937-1952 or complete our online request to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorney today.