The sudden death of a loved one is heartbreaking for any family. If another person’s actions caused their passing, it is especially devastating. Matters become even more complicated if the decedent was financially responsible for supporting your family. If the personal representative of your loved one’s estate files a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party, you may receive payments to compensate you for your loss.
The laws that govern the distribution of funds from wrongful death claims are complex and hard to comprehend without the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney. If you are wondering whether you may be entitled to damages in a Saline wrongful death case, a legal representative at Charles Boyk Law can help.
Family Members are Entitled to Share the Damages
The law outlines those who may benefit from the damages in a successful wrongful death action. Generally, beneficiaries are the people most likely to depend on the deceased for financial or emotional support, such as the surviving spouse, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
If there are no close surviving relatives, the children of the decedent’s spouse may receive a share of the proceeds. Anyone the deceased has named in their will could also claim a portion of the damages from a wrongful death lawsuit.
Once a wrongful death case has been settled, or there is a verdict in a jury trial, everyone with a valid claim to the proceeds can present evidence of the losses they experienced due to their loved one’s passing. If you experience damages after your loved one’s wrongful death, a seasoned attorney in Saline could help you provide proof of your losses.
Specifics of Wrongful Death Damages
Although a wrongful death lawsuit is like a personal injury lawsuit, damages are handled differently. For example, a personal representative must settle any outstanding medical bills or funeral expenses before distributing funds to surviving family members. Additionally, a portion of the settlement may also go to the deceased person’s estate.
Family Members’ Share
When a wrongful death lawsuit results in a favorable verdict, the responsible party must cover the expenses the deceased person and their family members incurred due to the accident, including:
- Funeral expenses and burial/cremation costs if the family paid for them,
- Medical expenses for treatment the deceased person received in the period between their injury and their death if the family paid them,
- Wages the individual would have earned if they had lived and/or
- An amount that represents compensation for the family member’s loss of the deceased person’s companionship and personal services.
Some states declare that a surviving spouse is entitled to a certain percentage of the proceeds. While there is no such law in Michigan, Model Civil Jury Instructions §52.01 requires the jury to consider specific factors, including the spouse’s degree of dependence on the deceased person for financial support, household services, and other indicators of reliance. When determining how much a surviving spouse is entitled to receive, the jury must consider how long the deceased spouse would have lived if they had not passed, and the surviving spouse’s life expectancy.
Wrongful death damages can also include sums that compensate for the deceased individual’s suffering before their death. When a person dies instantly, they do not suffer conscious pain.
However, if they survived for a period between the injury and the time of death, and the individual was conscious for a portion of that time, a court can award a sum for their pain and suffering. However, these damages are paid to the estate, not to the family.
If the deceased person had outstanding debts, the estate administrator must apply the damages for conscious pain and suffering toward those debts before distributing any remainder to the individual’s heirs.
A diligent lawyer in Saline can help personal representatives determine the appropriate division of damages amongst all eligible parties.
Discuss Damages in a Wrongful Death Case with a Saline Attorney
Following a successful wrongful death lawsuit, claiming a portion of the damages can be a complex process. You must prove that you suffered because of your loved one’s passing to secure a share of the proceeds. However, this can be hard when dealing with a devastating loss.
A knowledgeable attorney is familiar with this process and can advise you of damages in Saline wrongful death cases. Call us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.