Common Questions And Answers About Wrongful Death
The attorneys at Vahdat Weisman Law are committed to seeking justice and compensation on behalf of those who have died due to another person’s negligence. If you’ve lost someone you love, please read through the common questions and answers we’ve provided below. Then, contact us to ask your own questions during a free initial consultation.
What does wrongful death mean?
It is helpful to think of a wrongful death claim as an extension of a personal injury claim. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you claim you were injured because someone else was acting negligently or doing something they knew to be dangerous. Their negligence led to your injuries, and you are entitled to compensation as a result.
Wrongful death claims are very similar, with two important distinctions. First, the victim suffered death as a result of their injuries. Second, the victim cannot file a claim themselves, so trusted representatives must do so on their behalf.
Nearly any accident or intentional action that would qualify for a personal injury lawsuit would also qualify for wrongful death litigation. In Michigan, a pregnant woman can also file a wrongful death claim if someone else’s negligent or wrongful act causes her to suffer a miscarriage.
What kinds of damages (compensation) can I seek in a wrongful death claim?
As in a personal injury lawsuit, you can seek compensation for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages and noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.
Because the victim died, however, there are additional damages to consider. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you can also seek compensation for funeral and burial expenses. You can seek compensation for family members who are losing the victim’s care and companionship. And if the victim was a family income earner, you can sue for loss of financial support and lifetime earnings.
Who is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In legal matters, the term “standing” refers to the right to bring a lawsuit in court. Under Michigan law, the person who has standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the executor (or personal representative) of the deceased victim’s estate.
Most states give immediate family members standing to sue, which makes sense because they would be entitled to damages in the lawsuit anyway. But in Michigan, legal standing is limited to the estate’s executor (on behalf of the victim’s family).
Does a separate criminal case affect the ability to sue for wrongful death?
A criminal case related to the same cause of death won’t impact your ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases of accidental death, criminal charges may not apply. And even when criminal charges are appropriate, a conviction alone typically would not compensate the victim’s family members, which is why a separate civil lawsuit would be warranted.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the criminal and civil justice systems have two distinct burdens of proof. In criminal cases, a defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a high standard to meet. In wrongful death cases, a defendant must be found guilty based on a “preponderance of evidence,” which is an easier standard to meet.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Legal Options For Free
Vahdat Weisman Law is based in Livonia, Michigan, and serves clients throughout the surrounding areas. To take advantage of a free initial consultation, call us at 877-903-7401 or fill out our online contact form.