In a previous article, we discussed that wrongful death claims in Michigan are cases filed by grieving families. Generally, when a case cannot reach the same level of burden of proof, it switches to a claim where there are fewer criminal elements or a lower burden of proof. This is where wrongful death may be filed by the bereaved family.
In this article, let us look at who is entitled to damages in wrongful death claims in Michigan.
Who is entitled to file a case?
The Michigan Supreme Court stated that a “wrongful-death action is a derivative claim brought by a decedent’s personal representative in the decedent’s shoes, the touchstone being whether the decedent could have maintained the action if death had not occurred”.
The case may be filed by the deceased person’s spouse, his or her children, step-children, and other descendants. The parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters may also file the case as well as the person inheriting the decedent’s estate
Who is named in the case?
The Supreme Court in Michigan made a clear pronouncement on who is named in the case, to wit:
“Every such action shall be brought by, and in the names of, the personal representatives of such deceased person, and in every action the court or jury may give such damages, as, the court or jury, shall deem fair and just, with reference to the pecuniary injury resulting from such death, to those persons who may be entitled to such damages when recovered and also damages for the reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses for which the estate is liable and reasonable compensation for the pain and suffering, while conscious, undergone by such deceased person during the period intervening between the time of the inflicting of such injuries and his death . . . [1940 CL Supp 14062; 1939 PA 297, § 2.]”
How are damages calculated?
Damages are calculated with the following guidelines:
- “The general rule is that remote, contingent, and speculative damages cannot be recovered in Michigan in a tort action.” Healthcall of Detroit v Atrium Home & Health Care Servs, Inc, 268 Mich App 83, 96; 706 NW2d 843 (2005)
- “Recovery of damages is not precluded “for lack of precise proof,” nor must a plaintiff provide “mathematical precision in situations of injury where, from the very nature of the circumstances, precision is unattainable, particularly in circumstances in which the defendant’s actions created the uncertainty.” Hannay v Dep’t of Transp, 497 Mich 45, 79; 860 NW2d 67 (2014).
In the coming articles, we will dive more into wrongful death claims in Michigan.
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