Practice Area

Wrongful Death Lawyers in Michigan

We only charge a 22% contingency fee of the final settlement. Other Michigan attorneys charge 331/3%.
Wrongful death lawyers serving Michigan

Key Takeaways

  • You can sue for wrongful death if your loved one died due to someone’s negligence.
  • A wrongful death suit allows loved ones to sue for loss of financial support, funeral expenses, medical bills, and loss of companionship.
  • Only the executor of the estate may sue for wrongful death in Michigan, but the damages may be paid to immediate family and beneficiaries.
  • The Michigan statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is three years. For medical malpractice, it is six years.
  • There is no cap on wrongful death compensation in Michigan, except for medical malpractice.

Losing a loved one to the careless actions of another party is devastating. There are no words to express your pain. The sense of loss the surviving spouse and surviving family members feel is overwhelming. No amount of money can make that pain go away, but Michigan law does provide for you to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages for the loss of financial support, medical bills up to the date of death, and even the loss of companionship and comfort resulting from a Michigan wrongful death.

You have legal rights, but collecting these damages can be complex. That’s why it’s so important to have someone in your corner who knows the Michigan wrongful death statute: a dedicated Michigan wrongful death lawyer whose practice areas include deep experience in the law and compassion for the victims.

Even better, you may be eligible for a free consultation on your Michigan wrongful death lawsuit. Ready to discuss your case? Talk to our personal injury lawyers by calling 1-866-22Not33, or complete our online contact form and we’ll be in touch immediately!

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Michigan law states that wrongful death is any wrongful act, neglect, or fault that would have allowed the decedent (the deceased person) to file a personal injury claim if they had survived the incident. Many events can result in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Michigan?

In Michigan, a wrongful death lawsuit can be initiated by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. This role is ofte filled individuals closely connected to the deceased, including a spouse, various family members, or even a friend of the family. Often referred to as the executor, this individual frequently bears the responsibility of administering the decedent’s last will and testament.

This personal representative must give written notice to any family members who may be entitled to damages within 30 days of filing the Michigan wrongful death case.

How Do I Start a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Michigan?

First, always hire an experienced, and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney. It’s a good idea to have someone in your corner who can stand up to the insurance company, which will try just about anything to avoid paying. Because the insurance company knows the wrongful death statute, they can protect your rights and give you the best chance at successful verdicts and significant fair compensation for your loss.

Next, the personal representative of the estate files the claim through the attorney on behalf of the estate. This is done through the county probate courts where the deceased last resided, where they held property, or where the death occurred.

CDC Wrongful Death Statistics (2018-2021)

The CDC cites over 220,000 unintentional deaths across the country every year. That equates to roughly 67 per 100,000 people. These can include (but, as a disclaimer, may not be limited to):

  • Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, or other types of motor vehicle accidents. The CDC reports that in 2021, there were over 45,000 motor vehicle deaths.
  • Medical malpractice or medical negligence
  • Defective products that cause a fatal accident
  • Intentional acts, including crimes. The CDC cited over 26,000 of these in 2021.
  • Slip-and-fall accidents. There were over 44,000 deaths from accidental falls in 2021.
  • The CDC reported 45,404 wrongful deaths resulting from motor vehicle accidents in 2021.

It’s also important to note that the Michigan wrongful death act considers the loss of a child to miscarriage as eligible for a wrongful death claim if a wrongful or negligent act causes the mother to lose her baby.

No matter where you live in Michigan, if you have lost a loved one to the reckless acts of another, you may be entitled to compensation in a Michigan wrongful death lawsuit.

What Are the Requirements for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Michigan?

Negligence is a legal term used in every personal injury claim, including a Michigan wrongful death case. It means, at its most basic level, that someone else’s reckless behavior caused the accident or event that resulted in the death of the deceased person. To prove this in court, your wrongful death attorney must prove three facts under Michigan law.

  1. First, we have to prove that the defendant had a duty of care toward your deceased loved one.
    • In the case of an auto accident, for example, the defendant must be proven to have an obligation to operate their vehicle safely, obey highway laws, and drive carefully so as not to put others in danger. In medical negligence or medical malpractice, your law firm needs to show that the health care professional had a responsibility not to make obvious errors and to act in such a way as to avoid putting their patient at undue risk.
  2. Next, we have to demonstrate that the defendant breached that duty of care.
    • We have to show, in the case of the car accident, for example, that the motorist did not obey the rules of the road, did not operate their vehicle responsibly, and put others at risk, whether it was by speeding, running a red light, driving distracted, or even simply being careless behind the wheel. For a medical malpractice case, this could mean the medical professional violated the standard of care. This could be because they ignored or misinterpreted test results, made a severe mistake during surgery, or otherwise harmed the patient, whether accidentally or intentionally.
  3. Finally, we have to prove that the breach of the duty of care directly caused the deceased person’s death.
    • Thus, in the case of medical malpractice, a doctor’s failure to diagnose a condition that should have been obvious directly led to the death of the patient.

In some cases, it is possible that the defendant can be shown to have acted deliberately in an effort to cause harm to the decedent. This also qualifies as negligence under the law.

Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Due To Somone's Negligence?
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What is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Michigan?

A statute of limitations functions as a time limit you have to file any lawsuit. A Michigan wrongful death lawsuit usually must be brought within three years of the date of death. For a medical malpractice lawsuit, the statute of limitations in Michigan is six years. If the wrongful death claim is not filed in a timely fashion, it may be barred from court. That’s another reason why it’s important to contact a Michigan wrongful death lawyer quickly, so you don’t miss your window for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Still, many extenuating circumstances may expand the time limit, and just because you are a bit beyond the window doesn’t mean you cannot file. For example, if the defendant in a medical malpractice case fraudulently hid their mistake, the six-year statute of limitations does not apply.

You should always contact a Michigan wrongful death attorney for a free consultation about your legal rights.

What Are the Possible Defenses in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

There are many defenses the insurance company and defendant might use in your case. They could claim comparative negligence, which means that the deceased held partial responsibility for the incident that caused their death. They can claim imputed comparative negligence, meaning that one of the beneficiaries of the suit bears some responsibility. They can claim causation, meaning that the defendant didn’t actually cause the death. They can also claim the statute of limitations as a factor for why you aren’t eligible to bring a suit.

How Much Money Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

There is no set value you can recover, as every case is unique and different. Damages in a wrongful death suit can cover a range of losses. The estate of the deceased is generally eligible to collect for funeral expenses, burial expenses, medical expenses leading up to the date of death, loss of financial support that the deceased would have provided, compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased person endured before they died, and intangibles like the loss of care and companionship any loved one of the deceased suffered.

There is also no universal cap on damages in a wrongful death suit, unless the suit hinges upon medical malpractice. In this case, the state does have a cap, which can be adjusted from year to year. Your Michigan wrongful death lawyer can advise you on any current cap that exists.

The problem arises when the time comes to collect. Insurance companies will fight hard to avoid paying out big wrongful death settlements because they are for-profit companies, and they don’t make money by paying money. They also know how to use the law against you.

You need legal professionals in your corner who understand the Michigan wrongful death act and can protect your legal rights.

Who Gets the Damages in a Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

a lawyer speaking with a client filing a wrongful death lawsuite

This is another tricky aspect that your Michigan wrongful death lawyer can explain. While the lawsuit must be brought by the designated representative of the estate, certain family members may receive benefits from the claim. These are limited to:

  • The deceased’s spouse and children
  • Surviving siblings, parents, and grandparents of the deceased
  • Any surviving children of the spouse of the deceased
  • Anyone who was a beneficiary of property in the deceased’s will

What is the Wrongful Death Payout Process Like?

After the parties agree on a wrongful death settlement, the process of paying out the damages to the family begins. In order to avoid undue disagreements between family members, the personal representative will usually manage this process. They can sit down with the family members or send them a written wrongful death settlement proposal. If the family members believe it is unfair, they can dispute it. Any such disputes can be brought up at a hearing, where a judge will make the final decision. In the best scenario, however, everyone agrees, and the money is distributed from the estate.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxed in Michigan?

The IRS classifies most wrongful death damages as untaxable because it is considered compensation for injuries or sickness. However, there are some elements of a wrongful death settlement that are taxable, including:

  • Any awards for punitive damages
  • Any interest earned from a settlement
  • Any portion of your settlement that covers medical expenses that you have already previously deducted from your income
  • Any portion of your settlement that covers emotional distress that was not the result of illness or injury

Your wrongful death lawyer can help you understand the nuance of what is and is not taxable from your wrongful death settlement.

Why Our Clients Trust Matz Injury Law

At Matz Injury Law, we have been practicing personal injury for decades and have logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling all across the great state of Michigan meeting with clients and taking any legal action necessary to earn significant wrongful death settlements for our clients. We have had great success with Michigan wrongful death lawsuits and have secured over $300 million in successful verdicts and wrongful death settlements.


We have won millions in settlements for wrongful death cases, including:

  • $4,150,000 settlement on behalf of the family of a college student who was killed in a traffic crash while riding a motorcycle. The settlement came from three different insurance companies.
  • $1.74 million settlement against a 19 year-old driver and the fraternity where he was drinking immediately prior to a head on collision that killed a 52 year-old husband and father of 3 children.
  • $3.45 million settlement against a cement company whose truck crossed a center line causing three deaths and severely injuring a 4 year-old boy. The settlement was $450,000 in excess of available insurance.


We care about our clients, and we care about your case. Hear what past clients have to say about us.

“My family is grateful for Steve Matz’s professional handling of our case.  Steve was very thorough, candid, responsive, and strategic in his approach throughout our legal proceedings.  If ever in a situation again like my family has experienced over the past year, we would immediately retain Matz Injury Law to represent our interests. Thank you Steve.”John P.

Matz Helps You Recover Compensation For Your Loss.

From Southfield in Oakland County to Grand Rapids, Marquette, and other cities across Michigan, a personal injury attorney can help with legal advice, case evaluations, and representation. To learn more about what damages may be available in your wrongful death lawsuit, contact a Michigan wrongful death attorney at Matz Injury Law for a free case evaluation and legal advice. Talk to our Michigan wrongful death lawyers by calling 1-866-22Not33, or complete our online contact form, and we’ll be in touch immediately!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does it Cost to Sue For Wrongful Death in Michigan?

Like most law firms, we charge a contingency fee for wrongful death lawsuits. That means you get a free consultation and you only pay us if you win. Most Michigan law firms charge the maximum, 33 1/3% of your settlement. At Matz Injury Law, we only charge 22%. Keep more money with Matz!

What Evidence is Useful in a Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Useful evidence in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the circumstances of the case. Useful evidence of medical malpractice includes medical records, expert testimony, and the treating doctor’s professional records. Useful evidence for car accidents includes witness testimony, medical records, police reports, and photo and video evidence of the accident.
Your lawyer can help you assemble the evidence needed to support your claim.

How Do I File a Michigan Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The first step to file a wrongful death lawsuit is for Michigan probate court to appoint a representative of the deceased person’s estate. That person can then file a complaint with probate court (usually in the county where the deceased person lived) and provide notice of the complaint to all beneficiaries.

Recent Settlements

  • $4.15 Million Settlement in Washtenaw County

    $4,150,000 settlement on behalf of the family of a college student who was killed in a traffic crash while riding a motorcycle. The settlement came from three different insurance companies.

  • $3.45 Million Settlement In Genesee County

    $3.45 million settlement against a cement company whose truck crossed a center line causing three deaths and severely injuring a 4 year-old boy. The settlement was $450,000 in excess of available insurance.

  • $1.74 Million Settlement Awarded In Calhoun County Collision

    $1.74 million settlement against a 19 year-old driver and the fraternity where he was drinking immediately prior to a head on collision that killed a 52 year-old husband and father of 3 children.

  • $1.3 Million Settlement In Monroe County

    $1.3 million Federal District Court settlement on behalf of a mother and daughter in a car/truck collision. Mom suffered a pancreas injury but returned to full-time employment within six months; eight year old daughter suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing learning disability as well as a ruptured spleen.

  • $1 Million Settlement In Gravel

    $1 million settlement for a 52 year-old woman in a rural county who broke both ankles and suffered a retrobulbar hemorrhage of her right eye after being struck by a gravel truck.

  • $1,000,000 Settlement for Rear-end Accident

    Matz Injury Law obtained a $1,000,000 settlement for a woman in Northern Michigan who fractured both ankles as a result of being rear-ended by a gravel truck.

  • $3,450,000 Settlement From Commercial Vehicle Accident

    A settlement of $3,450,000 for a family who lost loved ones as a result of an inattentive cement truck driver.

  • $100,000 Uninsured Motorist Settlement In Detroit

    $100,000 uninsured motorist settlement (policy limit) for family of passenger killed in Detroit in suspected joyriding incident.

  • $1,000,000 Million Settlement In Oakland County Negligence Case

    $1 million settlement on behalf of a 60 year-old woman with a mild closed head injury due to County Road Commission negligence.

  • $950,000 Settlement On Behalf Of Hillsdale County mother

    $950,000 settlement on behalf of the mother of a young boy who died while a passenger in a one-vehicle crash.

  • $750,000 Settlement in Kalkaska

    $750,000 to the family of a passenger killed in a collision on an icy road.

  • $285,000 Settlement For Auto Injury Victim

    $285,000 settlement on behalf of a 52 year-old woman who suffered from fibromyalgia after hurting her shin resulting from an auto injury.

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Matz Injury Law
25800 Northwestern Hwy # 575
Southfield, MI 48075
+1 (866) 226-6833
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Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

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.

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The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. 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.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.