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As Michigan wrongful death attorneys, we at Sawan & Sawan understand that there are few things as tragic as an injury that results in the death of a loved one. We as a team feel that the limited time we have here on earth is an incredibly valuable asset. When a loved one has been denied that because of the irresponsibility of another, the devastation cannot be overstated. While there is a statutory framework in Michigan to compensate certain surviving family members, legal recovery is often the only way to obtain some small and inadequate resolution. While it certainly does not make the circumstances any less devastating, if you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, we strongly advise you to speak with a wrongful death attorney to evaluate your case.
Michigan's Wrongful Death Statute
Whenever the death of a person or injuries resulting in death shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another, and the act, neglect, or fault is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages, the person who or the corporation that would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages.
This part of the statute establishes wrongful death liability in Michigan to anyone who acted wrongfully, negligently or was otherwise at fault for the death of another. Just because someone who was injured passes away does not mean that legal liability stops.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?
Under Michigan’s wrongful death statute, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is the only party who can actually bring the wrongful death lawsuit itself. There are several other interested parties, however, that may be entitled to compensation through the personal representative’s case. While the statute establishes that the negligent party is liable, it does limit who that negligent party is liable too. Certain people can bring a case under the wrongful death statute. This includes:
- The deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and, if none of these persons survive the deceased, then those persons to whom the estate of the deceased would pass under the laws of intestate succession determined as of the date of death of the deceased.
- The children of the deceased’s spouse.
- Those persons who are devisees under the will of the deceased, except those whose relationship with the decedent violated Michigan law, including beneficiaries of a trust under the will, those persons who are designated in the will as persons who may be entitled to damages under this section, and the beneficiaries of a living trust of the deceased if there is a devise to that trust in the will of the deceased.
The Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Michigan
A statute of limitations is a statute that sets forth a time period during which a lawsuit must be brought. The policy behind these types of statutes is that the legal system generally does not want people subject to lawsuits in perpetuity. The system wants to encourage those with legal claims to bring their claims as close to the event as possible while still leaving a reasonable period of time to understand your legal options and rights. There is a statute of limitations in Michigan during which a wrongful death claim must be brought but it is not set by statute. Instead, the court will look at the statute of limitations for the underlying action that caused the wrongful death and apply that statute of limitations to the wrongful death action. Due to this complexity, you should seriously consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after an injury or wrongful death in order to make sure you understand the applicable statute of limitations and consider bringing any legal action within that time-frame.
Dennis P. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Georgia
Christopher A. Sawan
Licensed in Ohio and Michigan
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