Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys in Michigan
At Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys, we understand how devastating a wrongful death case can be. If you have lost a family member due to negligence or wrongdoing, turn to Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys. Since our founding, our attorneys have helped clients recover millions of dollars in damages.
We understand that no financial payment can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, the impact of this loss reaches far beyond the facts of the case. Our goal is to hold the responsible parties accountable for the damage they have done and assist in providing closure to the impacted families.
If you think you have a wrongful death claim, please reach out to us today to schedule a free case review.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Under Michigan law, wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by wrongful act, neglect, or fault of another.” The act, neglect, or fault is such that, if the person had not died, the injured person would have been entitled to pursue their own personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.
Accident & Unintentional Injury Statistics
According to the National Safety Council, in 2020, 200,955 people in the United States died due to unintentional injuries, a 16.1% increase from 2019, and approximately 55.4 million people sought medical care to treat unintentional injuries.
The top five unintentional deaths in 2020 were in these categories:
- Poisoning, 43%
- Motor Vehicle, 21%
- Fall, 21%
- Suffocation, 3%
- Drowning, 2%
Other causes are burns, problems in the natural environment, and other undefined events.
The top four causes of unintentional injury deaths in Michigan include poisoning, falls, motor vehicle crashes, and choking.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims in Michigan
Most wrongful death claims in Michigan are due to negligence. Some of the most common causes are:
- Motor vehicle accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians
- Medical malpractice
- Slip-and-fall accidents or trip-and-fall accidents caused by defective premises, debris, or liquid spills left unattended.
- Defective products (leading to potential product liability claims against manufacturers and distributors)
- Poisonings and drug overdoses
- Recreational accidents involving boat accidents, jet-skiing, hunting, and swimming accidents
- Fires, explosions, and electrical malfunctions
- Dog bites or dog mauling
- Police brutality
Who Is Liable In Wrongful Death Cases?
Many individuals and entities can potentially be held liable in wrongful death cases. Defendants in a wrongful death case may include:
- Any healthcare professional whose medical malpractice caused the death. This can include doctors, nurses, therapists, and anyone else with a patient/healthcare practitioner relationship with the decedent (deceased individual). This also includes the negligent hospital or healthcare facility where the decedent was being cared for at the time of the death.
- The owner of a negligently operated motor vehicle.
- A vehicle driver’s employer may also be liable if, at the time of the accident, the driver who caused the accident was driving on behalf of the employer.
- Truck driving companies that failed to properly maintain their fleet when that failure was the cause of the fatal accident. This is true even if the truck driver, truck passengers, or occupants of any other vehicles involved in the accident were killed.
- A municipality that failed to properly maintain roads when that failure was the cause of a fatal accident.
- Manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and installers of defective products. Defects can be in the product itself, packaging, instructions for use, or failure to provide warnings for the use of the product.
- Law enforcement whose misconduct or gross negligence caused the death of the loved one.
- An individual whose criminal conduct caused the death of a loved one. Criminal and civil cases are separate; defendants found not guilty in a criminal case could still be held liable for wrongful death in a civil case.
There may be others responsible for the death of your loved one based on the individual circumstances of your case. Our team can investigate your case and determine who is a potential defendant to be held accountable for your loved one’s death.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We understand that these situations can be very overwhelming to navigate. That’s why our team is here to help you. Below, we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions related to wrongful death cases. If you still have questions or would like a free case review, don’t hesitate to contact our law firm.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases?
The wrongful death statute is complicated. In order to determine when a lawsuit must be filed, other statutes relating to lawsuits based on negligence and/or intentional conduct must be consulted. For cases arising from negligence, you must file the lawsuit no later than three years after the incident. In a medical malpractice case, you must file the action within two years after the act, which resulted in the death, or within six months of the date it is discovered. If you miss the deadline for filing your lawsuit, you won’t be able to collect compensation for your loved one’s death. Don’t risk missing this deadline.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Michigan?
Those who may be entitled to collect damages include:
– The deceased’s spouse, children, descendants, parents, grandparents, siblings, and, if none of these persons survive the deceased, then those persons to whom the estate of the deceased would pass to under the laws of intestate succession.
– The children of the deceased’s spouse.
– Those persons who are devisees (someone who receives real property) under the will of the deceased.
What Damages Could I Recover?
Each wrongful death case is unique. When we use the term “damages,” we refer to both economic and non-economic compensation. Economic damages refer to losses that have a set monetary value. Examples of economic damages include your loved one’s medical expenses, ambulance costs, funeral expenses, and the decedent’s lost wages during the time from the accident until death. Non-economic damages are losses that do not have specific monetary value, including pain and suffering.
In addition to non-economic and economic damages, there are also punitive and exemplary damages. Punitive damages, which punish defendants for their conduct, are unavailable under Michigan law but may be available under federal law.
Exemplary damages may be awarded if the conduct was voluntary, inspired feelings of humiliation, outrage, and indignity, was malicious or reckless, and is otherwise not compensated.
Working with a wrongful death attorney can help you better understand what types of damages you may be able to recover.
How Much Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You may be entitled to collect damages/receive compensation if:
-You depended on the future support of the decedent.
-You experienced a loss of care, comfort, guidance, and companionship that the decedent provided.
-You felt sorrow, pain, and anguish after the decedent’s death.
Although some wrongful death cases can settle for many thousands, even millions of dollars, this doesn’t mean you will also recover a similar amount. The amount of the damages you could recover depends on a variety of factors, including total medical expenses, the details of the incident itself, which parties were involved in the wrongful death, the deceased’s age and overall health, any lost income, and more. In order to determine the damages owed to you, consult an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Is the Recovery From a Wrongful Death Case Taxable?
Compensatory damages (any damages awarded to the plaintiff to compensate them for the loss of a loved one) are excluded from taxation. Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages. Exemplary or punitive damages (those awarded in situations where it’s proven that the defendant acted maliciously, negligently, or recklessly) are typically non-excludable (taxable). If states only award punitive damages in wrongful death claims, then that compensation is considered excludable by the IRS.
What Evidence Is Needed to Prove a Wrongful Death Case?
You need evidence establishing that the responsible individuals or entities owed a duty to your loved one and that the breach of that duty directly resulted in your loved one’s death. In other words, you must prove that the negligence, carelessness, or reckless behavior of the responsible parties was a cause your loved one’s death
Additional evidence may be needed to provide the basis for an award of economic damages, including medical bills, insurance claims, and funeral expenses.
How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The first step is filing a complaint with the appropriate court, which complaint must then be served, along with a summons, on the responsible parties (defendants) in the time provided by the summons (91 days in Michigan cases and 90 days in federal cases). The defendants then file answers and the case then typically proceeds to “discovery,” where the parties take depositions (verbal statements sworn under oath) and otherwise have the opportunity to discover evidence in the case.
Following discovery, there are often dispositive motions filed by the defendants to limit or obtain dismissal of the case. If the case survives such motions, the case will then either settle or go to trial.
Before you submit any complaint, it’s recommended that you first consult with a wrongful death attorney. An experienced attorney can guide you through this complex process and help you gather evidence.
How Long Will My Lawsuit Take?
There is no average time, as each wrongful death case is unique. Some cases may take only a few months to settle, while others may take years. Although working with an attorney can prevent some delays, the amount of time it will take to settle will depend on the specific details of your case.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Yes. An experienced attorney can make any legal situation easier to navigate. In addition to helping you understand whether you even have a case, an experienced wrongful death attorney can also ensure you meet filing deadlines, find and retain expert witnesses, gather evidence to support your claim, and provide representation in court (which is especially important in the event your case goes to trial). An attorney can also offer emotional support during this challenging time and help you stay focused on the matter at hand—winning the compensation you and your family deserve.
Request a Free Case Review Today
Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys has helped clients in Michigan fight to win compensation for over two decades. Our compassion for you is real. We understand the grief that you are experiencing now and want to help you move forward. If you think you have a case, contact us today to schedule a free case review with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys.