What Is The Average Wrongful Death Settlement In Michigan?
Losing a loved one in death is incredibly painful. Grieving the loss and coming to terms with the reality of the situation can take a long time. The pain is even more excruciating when the death was preventable.
Beyond the emotional pain, the experience can also bring financial struggles. When negligence causes someone’s demise, the family may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death suit. Families are typically curious about how much a settlement can be and how to get the most favorable deal.
What Are the Average Michigan Wrongful Death Settlements?
When people hear about injury awards for millions of dollars for wrongful death suits, some may believe that every case ends that way. The reality is that claims vary depending on the circumstances.
Differences Between Settlements and Awards
Awards differ from settlements. An award is when a court decides that one party should receive compensation for damages, such as medical bills or lost wages. The other party in the case pays this compensation.
On the other hand, a settlement is an agreement between both parties to pay a set amount without further court proceedings. Parties may be able to negotiate settlements in a shorter timeframe than a trial.
Nondisclosure Agreements and Settlements
Defendants often push for nondisclosure agreements in settlements. Doing so can protect their reputation and avoid potential backlash or further litigation. Confidentiality can prevent the details of the settlement from tarnishing their image or becoming ammunition against them in future cases.
Additionally, defendants may include confidentiality clauses to ensure they do not inadvertently encourage others to sue them for similar issues. At other times, some parties may wish to keep confidential matters private out of respect for all involved.
An entity may offer more money for a person to stay quiet about details of the embarrassing incident. Many families can benefit from the increased payout.
Since the settlements are private agreements, no one can honestly provide an exact number for the average settlement in a wrongful death settlement. However, other facts offer an idea of what is possible.
Potential for Settlements
Experienced and respectful lawyers honor the privacy of clients and never share details of cases without permission. However, many clients are glad to disclose what an attentive lawyer helped them receive in settlements.
At the Mike Morse Law Firm, Michigan’s largest personal injury firm, numerous clients offer testimonials for what the team was able to do for them. A page on the site attests to multiple cases where clients have won over half-a-million dollars and others over three-quarters of a million dollars for personal injury cases. One family with a recent death case won over $1 million.
The firm has a 25-year track record, winning over $1.5 billion over that span. That equates to over $40 million in payouts yearly for clients.
A wrongful death case is the most extreme personal injury case. As such, the awards and settlements can tend to be larger than other personal injury cases. For families who believe they have lost a family member due to someone’s negligence, understanding the details of wrongful death cases can help them make wise decisions about how to recover damages.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is a loss of life resulting from another person or entity’s negligence, carelessness or intentional action. A family may pursue wrongful death claims through civil court proceedings.
Wrongful death suits are civil cases in which plaintiffs may hire personal injury lawyers to fight on their behalf. This case is distinct from a criminal trial in which the state prosecutes a defendant. Even if a criminal court acquits the defendant of murder or manslaughter, the individual could still have to pay damages to the family after a separate civil case.
Common Circumstances That Lead to Wrongful Death
The National Safety Council reports that preventable deaths continue to peak. 2020 saw a new record with 200,955 avoidable deaths. The numbers are not just a result of a higher population. The death rate was its highest in nearly 70 years. This data shows that many circumstances can result in wrongful death and can open the door to a claim.
With a long history in manufacturing and agriculture, Michigan’s economy has its foundation in some of the most high-risk jobs, such as manufacturing and agriculture. Manufacturing puts people in contact with dangerous machinery. Surprisingly, more people die in farming accidents yearly than police officers.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the greatest contributors to preventable deaths is motor vehicle fatalities. Usually, law firms handle more wrongful death cases for car accidents than any other reason.
Health care practitioners have a duty of care to their patients. If death results because a provider does not share sufficient information about the risks of treatment, is careless in treatment or does not properly diagnose, families may file a wrongful death claim.
A manufacturing defect, design flaw, insufficient warning label or medical device failure may kill an unsuspecting consumer. The at-fault party may be anyone in the supply chain, and determining the correct claim can be complex.
Nursing Home Abuse
Regrettably, some nursing home attendants neglect or abuse residents in elder care. Such treatment can result in physical harm, mental illness or death.
Boating, ATV, skiing, snowmobiling and other leisure activities could result in fatalities. The irresponsible actions of another person may permit a claim for damages.
What Affects the Size of Settlements?
Economic and noneconomic costs determine what a family receives from an award or settlement. Economic costs are expenses for medical care and the funeral. Additionally, the claim should consider if the death means the lost wages of an earner in the family.
Noneconomic damages account for the emotional aftereffects of losing a beloved family member. Such concerns are:
- Pain and suffering of the deceased after the incident
- Pain and suffering of the family
- Loss of companionship, care and guidance
- Mental anguish
Such costs are difficult to quantify and require a keen understanding of how courts and insurers calculate the matter.
Another factor to keep in mind is that Michigan places limits on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases in an attempt to control health care costs. The current limitation on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice wrongful death cases recently elevated to $887,500.
How Long Do Negotiations Take?
To file a claim, the family should appoint a personal representative of the deceased’s estate to handle legal matters. If the family cannot agree, a court may select one. This individual only has three years from the date of the incident to file a wrongful death claim.
While defendants often settle, the timeline varies considerably for negotiations. If the case goes to trial, the process may take a year or two. Working with an experienced attorney can expedite the process.
Where Can Survivors Find a Caring and Competent Lawyer?
The anguish of the death of a loved one leaves behind an emptiness that is difficult to fill. Financial struggles only aggravate the pain. For this reason, families often turn to an attorney with a strong track record of achieving favorable settlements.
The Mike Morse Law Firm cares about its clients and community, not just the law. The firm supports fellow residents with backpacks for schools, animal rescues and scholarships for students. That same care and attention are evident when handling wrongful death claims. Reach out to the Mike Morse Law Firm for your free case evaluation.