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How Are Wrongful Death Claims Different Than Other Personal Injury Claims?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Losing someone you care about is heart-wrenching, and it’s even tougher when it happens because of someone else’s careless or deliberate actions. If your loved one’s passing was due to these circumstances, you may have the option to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation.

Wrongful death claims are different from other personal injury claims in several ways. At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., our personal injury attorneys can break down those differences for you and walk you through the process of filing a claim.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim in Michigan?

A wrongful death is when someone passes away because of another party’s carelessness or intentional actions. In Michigan, only the decedent’s personal representative can file this kind of claim.

While the claim is filed by the personal representative, any damages awarded in a wrongful death case go to the deceased’s family members or others named in the will. In Michigan, the following people might be entitled to wrongful death damages:

  • The deceased person’s spouse
  • The deceased person’s children
  • The deceased person’s parents
  • The deceased person’s siblings
  • The deceased person’s grandparents
  • Anyone named in the deceased person’s will as a beneficiary
  • Children of the deceased’s spouse
  • Anyone who would inherit from the deceased if there was no will (these are individuals who would be in line according to the state’s intestate succession laws)

If your loved one passes away either immediately or later due to their injuries, you can start a wrongful death claim. Several situations can lead to these claims, such as:

  • Car accidents. If someone loses their life in a car crash because another driver was careless or took risks on the road, this could lead to a wrongful death claim. An example would be if your loved one was hit and killed by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.
  • Medical malpractice. When a medical professional’s mistake or oversight leads to a patient’s death, it can bring about a wrongful death claim. This includes prescribing the wrong medication, surgery errors, or childbirth complications.
  • Product liability. When a defective product causes a fatal injury, the manufacturer or distributor can be held accountable in a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, your loved one passes due to cancer caused by unsafe hair straightening products.
  • Workplace accidents. Workplace accidents like falls or incidents with machinery, especially when caused by unsafe conditions or an employer’s oversight, might result in a wrongful death claim.
  • Premises liability. If a property owner’s failure to maintain safe premises results in a fatal slip and fall accident, they may be responsible for damages in a wrongful death claim.

Differences Between Wrongful Death Claims vs. Other Personal Injury Claims

In Michigan, wrongful death claims have unique characteristics, setting them apart from regular personal injury claims. These differences affect the basis of your case, the compensation you can seek, and who’s involved in the process.

Having a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. by your side ensures that you and your family navigate the legal process correctly. We can help you secure a fair settlement following the loss of your loved one.

Criteria Wrongful Death Claims Other Personal Injury Claims
Basis of the Case Negligence leads to death – typically due to fatal car crashes, medical malpractice, and workplace incidents. Negligence causes physical or emotional injury – usually due to accidents like slip and falls, car crashes, dog bites, and workplace incidents.
Who Can File The estate’s representative, usually a family member, authorized by probate court. The victim or their legal representative.
Types of Compensation
  • Future earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Loss of companionship
  • Exemplary damages
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Loss of consortium
  • Legal fees
  • Inheritance losses
  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Property damage
  • Legal fees
  • Exemplary damages
Time Limits (Statute of Limitations) Generally, 3 years from the date of death in Michigan, except for medical malpractice cases, which have a 2-year limit. Typically 3 years from the date of injury in Michigan. Timeframe can extend if the victim is a minor or incapacitated due to their injury.
Parties Involved Family, estate’s representative, defendant, insurance companies, attorneys. Victim, defendant, insurance companies, attorneys.
Legal Process Filing a claim against the defendant or the defendant’s estate must prove negligence led to death, damages assessed based on loss to the family and estate. Filing a claim against the defendant, typically through their insurer, must prove negligence caused injury, damages assessed based on severity and duration of injury.
Burden of Proof Need to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of death, often requires detailed medical and financial analyses. Need to prove that the defendant’s negligence directly led to the injury generally involves presenting medical records and eyewitness accounts.
Emotional Aspects The process usually carries a substantial emotional weight due to the loss of a loved one, making the legal journey more complex. Emotional aspects are present but are generally tied to the severity of the injury and the recovery process.
Legal Representation Important to consult a specialized wrongful death attorney due to complexities like valuing future earnings and emotional damages. Advisable to consult a personal injury attorney who is skilled in personal injury law and can maximize compensation during insurance company negotiations.

Fair Compensation for the Wrongful Death

Get Fair Compensation for the Wrongful Death of a Loved One

Losing a loved one due to negligence is a difficult experience. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we’re committed to helping families receive the compensation they deserve. Our past results include a $1 million award for a family when a hospital’s oversight in treating a mother’s closed-head injury resulted in her tragic passing.

We’ll use our experience and legal skills to protect your rights and represent your family’s interests. Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation. Our compassionate attorneys prioritize a customized approach to your case, ensuring that you and your family can concentrate on recovery and restoring normalcy to your lives.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

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.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.



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