Family members who have lost a loved one due to a Michigan fatal car accident have legal rights. When someone dies as the result of car wreck, the surviving family members may be able to make a claim against the driver of the car that caused the death. This is called a wrongful death lawsuit, which can be brought by the personal representative of the estate. Even if the other driver or owner of the car did not have insurance, an uninsured motorist claim may be filed.

Family members of the decedent can sue for the loss of companionship, services, income, and other associated damages. Typically, a settlement is shared by members of the family and is agreed upon by the family members or decided by the judge.

If your loved one was killed due to another driver’s reckless, careless, or malicious behavior, a lawyer who is familiar with Michigan fatal car accident claims may be able to help during this difficult time. By shouldering the burdens of a claim, a compassionate and skilled attorney could allow you to focus on spending time with your family and file a claim on your behalf.

Claims for Michigan Fatal Auto Crashes

It is important to become aware of the rules and laws governing Michigan auto accidents, especially those involving a fatality. Under state law, the relatives of a person killed in a car crash have several possible claims after a fatal car accident.

These include claims under the no-fault insurance laws for “survivor benefits,” as well as one under the wrongful death statute. However, there are strict time limitations and deadlines for filing these claims. Because of this, it is important to contact a hardworking lawyer as soon as possible to start building a fatal car accident claim in Michigan during this difficult time.

The line graph below shows the trend of alcohol-involved fatal crashes from 2008-2019 in Michigan. There’s been a significant spike in alcohol-related fatal crashes since 2014.

Alcohol involved Michigan fatal car accident chart - Buckfire Law

  • 2009: 277
  • 2010: 264
  • 2011: 253
  • 2012: 260
  • 2013: 257
  • 2014: 222
  • 2015: 271
  • 2016: 254
  • 2017: 320
  • 2018: 287

No-Fault Insurance Benefits After a Michigan Fatal Car Crash

Under the Michigan no-fault insurance laws, the family members of a person killed in a fatal car accident are able to receive specific benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.  This includes drivers, passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes.  These benefits apply regardless of who caused the accident, including if the victim was determined to be at fault.

These benefits, known as Survivor’s Loss Benefits, pay a wrongful death victim’s survivors and/or dependents money comparable to what they would have received in support from the wrongful death victim if he or she had not been killed in an accident.  MCL 500.3108(1) provides these loss benefits and includes:

  • Payment of funeral expenses
  • Payment of medical expenses
  • Lost wages for three years
  • Replacement services for three years

However, it might be crucial for surviving family members to hire an experienced Michigan fatal car accident attorney as soon as possible after their loved one’s deadly accident.  There are specific forms and claims that must filed with the insurance to get paid these benefits and strict time limitations apply.

Filing a Fatal Car Accident Lawsuit For a Deadly Collision

In a fatal auto accident death lawsuit, certain individuals related to the decedent can sue the negligent driver and owner of the vehicle for substantial damages. Typically, this type of claim is brought by the family member of the deceased. However, a guardian or another relative might also be able to bring a claim forward.

These fatal car accident claims in Michigan might include loss of society and companionship, as well as the loss of income, services, support, and other monetary benefits granted by the deceased prior to the accident. Furthermore, a claim might also be made for the pain and suffering endured by the victim from the time of the accident until their passing. This amount is determined by the jury and usually depends on the unique facts of a case.

While no amount of financial payment can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, and during your grieving period consideration of a wrongful death lawsuit may not seem urgent, it is important when faced with such a tragic situation that an experienced attorney is contacted immediately. The negligent driver will often deny fault and blame the victim for the collision. As such, it is essential to start the investigation as soon as possible so that independent witnesses and evidence can be gathered to fight to win this case.

How Are Settlements Determined?

While each case is unique, there are certain factors that go into determining the amount of a settlement, such as the degree of fault of the negligent driver. On the other hand, a reduction of possible damages would be based upon the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. Furthermore, the amount of insurance coverage available for a specific claim often plays a significant role in determining how much compensation is available for a fatal car accident.

For example, some drivers and vehicle owners have large policy limits, while others only have the minimum coverage allowed under Michigan law. Furthermore, there might be multiple policies that can apply to a single accident, as well as umbrella policies—additional coverage providing higher limits—for the loss.  Additionally, there may be underinsurance coverage on the decedent’s own insurance policy that might be used to get a higher settlement.

Some people make the mistake of trying to settle their case without a legal professional on their side. Unfortunately, many potential claimants are not aware of the extent or full availability of coverage and simply accept what they are told by an insurance company adjuster. However, these offers usually undervalue a claim. An experienced Michigan fatal car accident attorney could help a claimant to investigate all potential coverage to try to receive the highest possible settlement under the circumstances.

Retain a Michigan Fatal Car Accident Attorney for Help

At Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., we represent claimants who have lost a loved in a Michigan fatal car accident  due to the negligence of another driver. We handle cases throughout the State of Michigan—however, we frequently represent MI residents who are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes in other states, as well.

Unfortunately, many family members who experience significant grief after their loss do not know or understand their legal rights during this trying time. They want to know who will pay for their loss, how they will survive the loss of a family wage earner, and what types of legal obstacles might stand in their way.

Our Michigan fatal accident attorneys provide prompt and direct answers to these questions and begin working on the case immediately.

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Client Description: Right from the start Buckfire & Buckfire took exceptional care of us. My family was in a terrible car accident, caused by a drunk driver, and put us all in the hospital for treatment of multiple injuries including myself having a broken hip. Bob Lantzy was our primary lawyer and he walked us through the process step by step, and was super patient with us when we didn’t understand all the legal processes and delays. Ultimately Bob was able get us awarded with almost 100% of the available settlement from the insurance companies involved. Bob truely goes above and beyond, and cares!! I would highly recommend this firm. Thanks!!

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