A wrongful death claim is a suit that arises from the death of an individual that was caused by the conduct of another. A wrongful death suit is different from other types of personal injury claims because the actual victim (the “decedent”) is not bringing suit, rather it is the family members or the decedent’s estate. As such, a wrongful death claim is brought to recover damages for the injuries that the surviving family and/or estate have suffered due to the death of the victim. At West Michigan Injury Lawyers, P.C., we understand that no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one. However, we help our clients achieve financial security so they can focus on recovering from their loss.
To file a wrongful death suit in Michigan, you must show that:
The death of a person or injuries resulting in a person’s death were caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default; and The act, neglect, or default would have entitled the injured party to maintain an action and recover damages had death not ensued.
Hawkins v. Regional Med. Labs., P.C., 415 Mich. 420, 431, 329 N.W.2d 729, 733 (1982). Under Michigan law, only certain individuals can file wrongful death claims, and those that are allowed to sue do so on behalf of others. In Michigan, only a personal representative may file a suit on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, or parents. M.C.L. § 600.2922. A personal representative is a person, appointed by the decedent to represent his estate, or if no will is left, by the state of Michigan to represent the beneficiaries. Siblings and cousins of the decedent do not have the right to bring the lawsuit unless they have been named as personal representative of the decedent, in which case they still have no right of recovery so long as there is a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent.