Who Can Seek Compensation for a Loved One’s Death in a Auto Accident?

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in , .

Losing somebody close to you is catastrophic to your mental health. Many things must be done in the aftermath of a loved one’s death, such as notifying family members and friends, making funeral arrangements, and dealing with their belongings. At some point, you must make time to mourn. Pursuing a wrongful death claim with the insurance company will probably not be high on your list of priorities.

At Matz Injury Law, we understand that you and your family are going through one of the most difficult ordeals anyone can experience. Let us help ease your burden. We can deal with your wrongful death case so you can get compensation for you and your family.

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What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Michigan?

Two deadlines apply in wrongful death cases involving car accidents. You must file an insurance claim within a year of the accident. You have three years to sue for wrongful death.

Michigan law sets time limits to file various types of lawsuits, known as the statute of limitations. A person with the legal authority to act on behalf of a deceased person, or decedent, may file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. They must do so within three years of the date of the incident that caused the decedent’s death. If the decedent died in a car accident, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident. This applies even if their injuries were not immediately fatal.

A wrongful death suit is usually the last resort after trying to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company. Under Michigan’s no-fault law, a driver’s insurance will pay certain damages, including funeral expenses, no matter who was at fault. In order to receive no-fault insurance benefits, the decedent’s surviving family member must file a claim within a year of the accident.

What Happens After a Fatal Crash in Michigan?

As soon as possible after a fatal car accident, the decedent’s family members should contact a wrongful death lawyer who can guide them through the process of making a claim for compensation. They will need to contact the decedent’s insurance company to claim no-fault benefits for medical expenses, funeral costs, and other damages. Insurance adjusters will almost certainly try to settle for less than what you are owed for the death of a loved one. Legal representation is important to avoid getting pressured into a lowball settlement.

Who is Entitled to Make a Claim on Behalf of the Deceased?

Michigan law identifies the individuals ​​who can sue for wrongful death or make insurance claims on behalf of a decedent, known as the decedent’s personal representative. The following people may act as a personal representative:

  • The decedent’s surviving spouse.
  • Adult children or other descendants of the decedent, excluding minor children.
  • Parents or grandparents of the decedent.
  • Siblings of the decedent.

If the decedent has no surviving immediate family members, Michigan probate law may help determine who can serve as a personal representative. A person designated as a beneficiary in the decedent’s will may qualify. If the decedent died without a will, the rules of intestate succession would provide a way to identify the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate. The line of succession begins with the close family members described above. It continues to more distant family members until it finds someone, such as cousins, uncles and aunts, and so on.

What Types of Claims Can be Made for Compensation?

If the decedent had a no-fault insurance policy, the surviving family members or the estate could file a claim. Damages you may recover include medical bills, funeral expenses, and survivor’s loss benefits.

Michigan law defines survivor’s loss benefits as the support that the decedent’s dependents would have received from the decedent, had the decedent not died. “Dependents” include the decedent’s surviving spouse, minor children, and adult children who are incapacitated. Benefits are available for up to three years after the accident. The statute, as amended in 1978, identifies a maximum daily benefit of $20, up to a maximum of $1,475 per month, with adjustments based on the cost of living. For the twelve-month period beginning on October 1, 2022, the maximum monthly benefit is $6,615.

You may also be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent third party. A wrongful death action is a type of personal injury lawsuit. The victim’s death is the main injury that you are claiming resulted from the defendant’s negligence. For personal injury cases involving car accidents, Michigan’s no-fault law only allows lawsuits in cases that meet a minimum threshold for damages. Wrongful death meets this requirement.

A legal action based on wrongful death allows you to recover damages that would not be available from a no-fault insurance claim. In addition to economic damages for medical bills and other losses, a civil court can award non-economic damages that compensate you for the impact of the loss of your loved one on your quality of life. For example, you may be able to recover some of the financial support that your family member would have provided had they not died.

Hiring a Michigan Attorney for Fatal Car Accidents

Hiring a personal injury attorney with knowledge of Michigan’s wrongful death statute will give you the best chance of recovering all of the compensation owed to you. Making an insurance claim can be difficult under the best circumstances. You need to take time to grieve without worrying about dealing with insurance adjusters. Personal injury lawyers have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies. They know the tricks adjusters may use to minimize the amount they have to pay.

If you plan to sue for wrongful death, you might benefit from having an attorney by your side. Litigation can be even more stressful than the insurance claims process. Legal advice from an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you avoid pitfalls in the court system. A lawyer can gather the evidence needed for your claim or lawsuit and prepare a legal case for the full amount of damages that you deserve.

Carry On Your Loved One’s Legacy Through Rightful Compensation

If you have lost a loved one in an accident or another negligent act, recovering compensation for your losses might be the furthest thing from your mind right now. You need legal representation from an experienced wrongful death attorney who understands Michigan’s wrongful death law and what it requires. With a skilled lawyer on your side, you can focus your attention on mourning the loss of a family member. Matz Injury Law understands how painful this kind of loss can be. We will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve. To speak to someone about your case, call the firm at 1-866-22Not33 or use our online contact form.

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 33 1/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

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