What To Do If Your Loved One Is Killed In A Car Accident
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If the accident was due to another driver’s negligence, an attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you recover damages.
Each year, car accidents in Michigan are responsible for more than 70,000 injuries and 800 deaths. That means that every day of the year police officers or other officials are making phone calls to notify someone that a person close to them has been in a fatal car accident.
Many of these fatal accidents are due to the negligence of another driver, and the surviving family members of the deceased person — or a representative of the deceased estate —can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages.
Who Can File?
Michigan law specifies that the representative of the deceased person’s estate who files a wrongful death lawsuit must be one of the following:
- Spouse and/or children
- Parents and grandparents
- Brothers and/or sisters
- Children of the deceased person’s spouse
- A person left property in the deceased person’s will
If none of these people are living or if the individual killed in the car accident died without a will, anyone who could inherit from the deceased person’s estate could file a lawsuit and receive damages — including uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and nieces.
An attorney from Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. will be glad to meet with you at your convenience to learn more about your case, and make recommendations. After this free consultation, if we decide to work together, it will be on a contingency fee agreement, which means we don’t charge a fee unless we win your case.
In Michigan, contingent legal fees in personal injury cases are set by statute (MRPC Rule 1.5) and can be up to one-third of the settlement/damages award.
How Are Damages Calculated?
There is no set formula for how damages are calculated when surviving family members and loved ones bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court. Factors that are usually considered are:
- Medical/hospital costs, funeral costs, and burial expenses.
- Lost wages and income, including future income.
- Loss of care and companionship — and other intangible benefits.
Often, the calculation of damages requires expert testimony from professionals with expertise in determining the wage-earning capacity and vocational outlook of the deceased person if they hadn’t died. Interviews with family members, close friends, coworkers, and teachers can be extremely beneficial in developing a wrongful death case.
Multiple points of view help to establish patterns and milestones in an individual’s career and vocational development — and then create a realistic trajectory of that career and its related earnings potential.
When damages are awarded in a Michigan wrongful death case, the law requires that all hospital/medical, funeral, and burial costs be paid first, directly from the jury award. The remaining damages are then divided among the family members and other individuals named in the deceased person’s will.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. is a personal injury law firm that has assisted individuals and families throughout Michigan who are involved in auto accidents, helping them understand their situation, and possible settlement and/or litigation scenarios. We bring enormous sensitivity, compassion, and patience to all our client relationships, as well as bringing a wealth of experience and tenacious legal energy to the work we do on our client’s behalf.
Beware Of Insurance Companies
Some clients have told us when we first meet that they were approached by an insurance company before filing a wrongful death lawsuit even entered their mind. They tell us that they decided they better talk with a lawyer before they signed anything. We tell them that they made a good decision!
This is the insurance company’s bottom line offer and rarely takes into account your total losses. An insurance company never has your best interests in mind when they are making a settlement offer.
So don’t sign anything — or even agree to meet with someone from an insurance company — until you’ve talked with an attorney.
An experienced attorney from Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is ready to be by your side and assist you through the claims process, and be your trusted advocate in any meeting or settlement hearing with insurance company attorneys.
Be Mindful of the Statute of Limitations
While the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim against a negligent driver is three years from the date of death, there are many reasons to get a car accident attorney involved as soon after the accident and/or death as possible.
Proving liability in a wrongful death case — whether you are in a settlement hearing or in a courtroom — is much more complicated than a layperson might think. Sometimes determining fault and negligence isn’t the same thing as proving liability. Was their faulty equipment involved? Who actually owns the vehicle that caused the accident in which you lost a loved one?
Settlement success entails much more than just filing forms and developing an effective legal strategy. It also requires a thorough knowledge of the local Michigan court system, the procedures that are specific to different courts, and the judge(s) who may preside in your case.
Call our law firm today (24 hours) at (866)-755-9502 or use our convenient contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. Our law firm never charges a fee unless we win your case.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.