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FAQ - Wrongful Death Claims in Michigan

Following is a list of questions that are answered on this page:

  • When is a death considered “wrongful”?
  • How is a wrongful death claim different from a “survival action”?
  • Who can pursue a wrongful death claim?
  • What kind of compensation is obtainable in a wrongful death lawsuit?
  • How is it decided what a person’s future earnings would have been?
  • Is there anyone who cannot be sued in a wrongful death claim?
  • What happens when someone dies while on a cruise?
  • My mother died in the nursing home and it seems she wasn’t properly cared for. Do I have any recourse?

When is a death considered “wrongful”?

When it’s caused by someone else’s action or inaction. For example, a wrongful death could be the result if a person:

  • Drinks and drives;
  • Builds a defective structure;
  • Manufactures a faulty product;
  • Fails to diagnose a terminal disease, or
  • Neglects an elderly person in a nursing home

How is a wrongful death claim different from a “survival action”?

wrongful death claim is filed for compensation for the losses of surviving family members. Michigan law also has a provision for a “survival action”, which means compensation paid for the deceased person’s injuries, that lead to their death. Typically, both types of suit are filed together. 

Who can pursue a wrongful death claim?

In the “common law” that we in the U.S. inherited from England, there was no provision for surviving family members to sue the party responsible for a wrongful death. So over the years, each state has enacted its own laws to fill this gap. In Texas, there’s a two-year statute of limitation. If the situation involves medical malpractice, then sometimes it can be extended, for instance:

  • When the relevant person is a minor or otherwise legally incompetent
  • If the victim of medical malpractice couldn’t possibly have known of the malpractice until some later date

It would be wise to consult a Michigan wrongful death attorney as soon as possible, so as to be in the best possible position to file suit within the allotted period. Bear in mind that potential witnesses move, memories fade, sometimes people become incapacitated or die. Time is of the essence. 

What kind of compensation is obtainable in a wrongful death lawsuit?

For the spouse:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental anguish
  • The financial value of probable intangible services they would have received from the deceased

For a child:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental anguish
  • The financial sum the deceased would probably have paid for the child’s maintenance,
  • The value of the services the deceased would probably have given to the child for education and training

For the parents:

  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental anguish
  • The value of probable future financial contributions an adult child would have made to them
  • The value of a minor child’s future services up until the child’s age of majority:
    • Less the cost of the child’s maintenance and education while a minor
    • Plus the value of any financial contributions the child might reasonably have made to the parents after reaching the age of majority

In some cases, a claimant might be entitled to:

  • Compensation for loss of inheritance, and
  • Punitive damages.

How is it decided what a person’s future earnings would have been?

This can seem fairly complicated. Future earnings are calculated from a life expectancy table, developed statistically. The earnings at the time of death are multiplied by the number of expected remaining years of earnings, up until the expected retirement date. Retirement benefits are calculated up until the expected time of death, according to the life expectancy table. When a total figure is arrived at, that amount is then reduced to “present value”, which is an amount considered to equal the full amount if it’s conservatively invested

Is there anyone who cannot be sued in a wrongful death claim?

Yes, other family members can’t be sued. 

What happens when someone dies while on a cruise?

If the ship was within the territorial waters of a State, then that State’s wrongful death law will apply. But if the ship was more than 3 miles from any U.S. shore, what applies is the Death on the High Seas Act. This would mean there’s no compensation for pain and suffering, but only for the amount of money the deceased person would have contributed to the survivor’s support and well-being. 

My mother died in the nursing home and it seems she wasn’t properly cared for. Do I have any recourse?

Yes, probably. If you suspect mistreatment or neglect, waste no time in documenting and reporting it. An experienced wrongful death attorney can do this for you, and have it submitted to all the necessary parties. Nursing home neglect would include such things as:

  • Deficient personal hygiene
  • Lack of appropriate food, clothing and shelter
  • Lack of appropriate medical care
  • Failure to prevent falls
  • Failure to prevent or treat dehydration

Nursing home abuse would include such things as:

  • Open wounds, bruises or cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Unexplained falls
  • Untreated or poorly treated bedsores
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Injuries because of too much restraint or lack of restraint

Jay Trucks & Associates, in Flint Michigan, are wrongful death attorneys who have successfully represented thousands of bereaved people and collected millions of dollars on their behalf. We are strong advocates for the bereaved and tough negotiators with the insurance industry. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

No Upfront Fees. Ph: (800) 762-8623.