Fatal Car Accidents
In 2014, over 32,000 people throughout the United States died in car crashes. Tragically, many of these accidents were probably preventable, the result of driver inattention, speeding, road rage, drunk driving, or the lack of a seat belt, among other factors. After losing a loved one, financial matters may be the last thing you want to consider. However, it may be important to hold the at-fault party accountable for the financial expenses that you have incurred. At Neumann Law Group, our Detroit, Traverse City, and Grand Rapids fatal car accident lawyers can guide you through the complex process of seeking damages from a party that caused or contributed to your loved one’s death.Assert Your Rights after a Fatal Car Accident
If a fatal car accident was caused by someone else's wrongful act, neglect, or fault, you can sue for wrongful death under Michigan Compiled Laws section 600.2922. Generally, this means that if your loved one could have brought a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived, eligible family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.
In some cases, the at-fault driver may also be facing criminal charges. The burden of proof in criminal cases is much higher than it is in civil cases. Therefore, you can bring a civil claim and potentially recover damages, even if the defendant was acquitted or charges were dismissed in the criminal case. However, sometimes certain findings in the criminal investigation and case can affect the civil case, so it is important to consult an attorney right away. In a wrongful death lawsuit, liability is expressed in monetary compensation rather than imprisonment and fines.
Who is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit? In Michigan, the personal representative of the decedent's estate must bring the claim. He or she should provide written notice to all family members within 30 days of filing. Certain family members may be able to recover damages: spouses, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and beneficiaries of the decedent's will. They have 60 days after receiving notice of the case to notify the estate of their damages. If a decedent dies intestate, and none of the other specified family members is left, whoever could have inherited the estate can potentially receive damages, such as cousins.
The estate must establish the defendant's liability. In most cases, fatal car accident lawsuits arise out of negligence. The estate plaintiff usually will try to show four elements by a preponderance of the evidence: the duty of the defendant to the decedent, a breach of duty, actual and proximate (legal) causation, and actual damages. If liability is established, damages may include lost wages, future earnings, reasonable medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, the decedent's pain and suffering, the family members' pain and suffering, property damage, and loss of care or companionship.Contact a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer in Traverse City, Grand Rapids, or Detroit
You have only three years from the date of a death to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This makes it critical to avoid any delay in starting the legal process. As an award-winning Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City fatal car accident attorney, Kelly Neumann has regularly secured more than $3 million in personal injury cases each year over the past several years. At Neumann Law Group, we can represent bereaved families in Petoskey, Warren, Holland, Midland, Muskegon, Saginaw, Wyoming, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor, and communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form for a free consultation with a wrongful death attorney. We also can represent families in Massachusetts and California.