What Happens When Reckless Driving Causes Death In Michigan?
Reckless driving is a broad term in Michigan, but there are harsh penalties because it can lead to serious injury and even death. Although the state does not have a statute for vehicular homicide, reckless driving is wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other persons or property. Someone who drives with wanton disregard for others basically knows that their conduct and driving was dangerous, but they did it anyway.
Wrongful Death After the Accident
If reckless driving causes death in Michigan, the family has the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit. They can seek compensation for a long list of things, including medical bills, property damage, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Although there is no way to quantify the grief and suffering families go through when losing a loved one to reckless driving, a personal injury attorney knows how to calculate what a family deserves and the best way to get it.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
After you lose a loved one to an accident, you may just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. This makes it hard to think about the future and your financial and emotional needs. While you focus on burying your loved one, a personal injury attorney advocates for you so you can focus on healing and letting go of someone you care about.
Works to Prove Wrongful Death
If someone’s reckless driving killed your loved one, their insurance company may offer you a settlement. While these can be tempting to accept, insurance companies often estimate low in what they believe you deserve.
An attorney knows the law and knows how much you deserve. They know how to calculate the amounts and how to negotiate with the insurance company for them. If you are unable to get a settlement that covers your costs, they also represent you in court.
Offers Court Representation
If the insurance company will not budge and your attorney believes you deserve more, the case may go to court before a judge or jury. This process is extremely daunting to someone who has no experience with the courtroom who has also just lost a loved one. If your case goes to court, your personal injury attorney advocates for your best interests to make sure you get maximum compensation for the death of your loved one.
Before you receive your award or settlement, it may be necessary to gather evidence and documentation to prove that your loved one died because of the reckless driving of another person. This could include a coroner’s report, the police report and any witness statements. As you are planning a funeral and preparing to bury your loved one, you may not have the energy or the brain power to focus on these things, despite their importance.
Hiring an attorney means that you can focus on your healing and your family, while still giving you the peace of mind that you will not be left with excessive bills to pay. You can completely hand off the worry about the financial situation to someone who has experience dealing with insurance companies and wrongful death lawsuits.
There are different ways to estimate what someone deserves in a wrongful death lawsuit. Medical bills are easy to estimate, but what about pain and suffering? Most states have a formula to estimate a number, and a personal injury attorney understands how this works. You may have no idea what to ask for or what you are entitled to, but an attorney with experience and knowledge of the law does.
Hires Experts To Prove a Wrongful Death Case
A personal injury attorney has the professional contacts and the resources to hire experts who can prove that your loved one died because of the reckless driving of another if necessary. This can be extremely important if you have to go to court to prove the driving was the cause of death. Attorneys often start by reconstructing a scene and they may use experts you do not know to prove their case.
Negotiates With Insurance Companies
Many wrongful death cases settle before they go to court. This means that the insurance company or responsible party agrees to pay a certain amount that your attorney feels is fair for your situation. If the insurance company tries to short you, your lawyer will negotiate with them to prove that you deserve more so it is not something you have to handle.
Discusses Medical Costs
If your loved one received medical care before passing away, you will have medical bills to cover even though your loved one is gone. An attorney can work with the health care provider and the billing company to determine what those services will cost to make sure you do not end up holding the bill for anything after the accident.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Law enforcement officials may give a reckless driving citation for this conduct on roads, a frozen public lake, a highway or a parking place. There may be fines, penalties or even jail time if someone dies because of someone else’s purposefully negligent driving. Depending on the severity of the accident, the at-fault driver could face a misdemeanor or a felony.
If law enforcement pulls a driver over for reckless driving and gives them a ticket, they may face the following:
- Up to 93 days jail time
- Extra points on driving record
- Hard suspension of license
- Fines up to $500 plus the cost of repairs in the event of an accident
- Vehicle forfeiture
If someone dies because of another’s reckless driving, the penalties become stiffer and the situation more dire. Reckless driving causing death is a felony and has serious consequences. While a prosecutor must prove that there was causation between the driver and the death, drivers may have the following consequences:
- License revoked
- Jail time up to 15 years in prison
- Fines up to $10,000
While these facts highlight the charges the at-fault driver may face if they choose to drive recklessly with no regard to those around them, what happens when someone loses a family member because of the accident? They face a lifetime of grief and agony because of the poor actions of one person.
People Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Michigan, there are certain people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit when someone dies in a reckless driving accident. It must be an immediate family member such as a parent, child or spouse of the deceased. There may also be a personal representative of the deceased’s estate who can file a lawsuit on behalf of the family members. If you are unsure if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of a loved one, consult a personal injury attorney.
Your loved one may not have been in another car, but a passenger in the car of the driver who was driving recklessly. If this is the case, you may also have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Let Us Help
We have worked for years with those who lose loved ones to reckless driving accidents, and we have the experience and knowledge necessary to get you the results you deserve. Contact us today if you have any questions about a potential lawsuit or your situation. We are happy to provide any information you need to get the compensation you are entitled to after burying a loved one.