Fatal Accidents in Michigan
Unfortunately tragic accidents occur every day. When an accident kills a loved one, many people understand that they are entitled to something from someone, but they may not understand who may assert such a claim or against whom the claim should be made. Wrongful death is a civil action asserted against those who have caused the death of another person. The responsible party must be identified on a case by case basis as the appropriate defendant may not always be obvious, and multiple people may be held liable depending on the situation.
A. Damages Available
MCL 600.2922 lays out the damages available for a decedent’s estate and family members in wrongful death lawsuits. The statute provides that: “the court or jury may award damages as the court or jury shall consider fair and equitable, under all the circumstances including reasonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses for which the estate is liable; reasonable compensation for the pain and suffering, while conscious, undergone by the deceased during the period intervening between the time of the injury and death; and damages for the loss of financial support and the loss of the society and companionship of the deceased.”
B. Who May Assert This Claim?
The decedent’s estate is responsible for filing suit against responsible parties. Those entitled to damages under such a suit include: spouses, children, descendants, parents and siblings. If none of these people are alive, those entitled to the estate under the laws of intestacy would be entitled to damages.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Michigan Today
If a wrongful death suit is appropriate for your situation, you will need a lawyer to help you along the way. A personal injury lawyer can inform you on where a claim should be filed and against whom the claims should be made. There are important timing rules on when a lawsuit needs to be filed, and those timing requirements differ depending on what the underlying claim applies to your particular situation. Contact us today for a free initial consultation at 586-268-2400.
Fatal Car Accident in Michigan
If you have been involved in a car accident that killed another person—whether it is a passenger, an occupant of another vehicle, or some other pedestrian—it is extremely important to contact an attorney. Whenever another person has died, there is a chance that could be sued, civilly, or prosecuted, criminally, for what has occurred. In these kinds of scenarios, the worst thing that anyone can do is wait around before talking to an attorney.
If you have been involved in a car accident which results in a fatality, it is possible that you could be sued for negligence. Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws allow a plaintiff to sue a defendant for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium for family members. To collect in these kinds of cases, a plaintiff must suffer a threshold injury (in this case death), and they would also have to prove that the driver who caused the accident was negligent. All drivers have a duty to act as all other reasonable drivers would under the surrounding circumstances. So, if you failed to act in such a manner, you may have opened yourself up to liability. Drivers are often sued for driving negligently where an accident involves alcohol or drugs, cell phone usage, failure to wear glasses or contacts, for speeding and other traffic violations, etc.
One’s freedom may also be on the line for car accident fatalities—and not just where alcohol or drugs are involved. Certainly, if you have been arrested for drunk driving or driving under the influence of a controlled substance, prison time is a real possibility. However, even if no drugs or alcohol are involved in your case, depending on the circumstances, there is a chance you could be charged with murder, manslaughter, or a misdemeanor moving violation causing death.
Michigan Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
If you or someone you know has been involved in a fatal motorcycle accident in Michigan, it is important to contact an attorney. If you were involved, and the other person that died was on a motorcycle, it is possible that your insurer will have to pay PIP benefits, and you may also be sued for negligence. If a loved one was killed on a motorcycle, you may be entitled to PIP benefits from an insurance company, and you may also be able to sue other involved parties for their negligence that caused the accident.
What If No Motor Vehicle Was Involved?
Motorcycles are not typically covered under Michigan’s no-fault laws because it is not considered a “motor vehicle” as those laws define one. Therefore, victims of motorcycle accidents that do not involve other vehicles are out of luck. There is no entitlement to PIP benefits for these people. Instead, families of those killed in a motorcycle accident will have the ability to sue, just like in any other personal injury case, for economic and non-economic damages should an appropriate party present itself.
When Is a Motorcyclist Entitled to PIP Benefits?
Motorcyclists have the ability to collect PIP benefits, which cover economic damages, where a motor vehicle as defined by Michigan’s No-Fault Act is involved as long as residual liability coverage has been purchased. In these scenarios, injured occupants of a motorcycle would be entitled to PIP benefits from the insurer of involved motor vehicle. If a motorcyclist or its occupants have died, a third-party, negligence suit may be appropriate against the driver of the involved motor vehicle. These suits are brought for the purpose of collecting non-economic damages (like pain and suffering, loss of consortium) and excess economic damages which are no longer required to be paid by an insurance company.