Compensation for Fatal Car Accidents in Michigan
Automobile accidents are unfortunate occurrences in Michigan and across the United States made worse when the accident results in death. The family of a person killed in an accident can file a wrongful death action against the at-fault party and receive compensation.
Statistics for fatal car accidents in Michigan
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 37,133 fatal accidents in our nation in 2017. Figures from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and the U.S. Department of Transportation indicate that in that same year, there were 937 fatal accidents and 1,028 deaths in Michigan. In Wayne County, which includes Detroit, there were 145 fatal vehicle accidents during the same period.
Of the fatal crashes in Michigan in 2017:
- 34.2 percent involved at least one drinking driver, bicyclist or pedestrian
- 21.3 percent involved drinking but not drugs
- 10.8 percent involved drugs but not alcohol
- 12.8 percent involved both drugs and alcohol
Of the 1,530 drivers involved in those fatal crashes, 19.3 percent were under age 25, and 7.9 percent were under 21. Moreover, 178 of the deadly accidents involved pedestrians, 133 involved motorcycles, and 23 involved bicycles.
The most dangerous accidents
Some accidents are more dangerous than others, increasing the odds of death:
- Head-on collisions between vehicles or between a car and an object
- T-bone or side-impact accidents
- High-speed crashes
- Under-ride crashes where the front of a car goes under the rear of a large truck
Causes of fatal accidents
Although driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs poses is a significant contributor to deadly motor vehicle crashes, other factors increase the risk, such as:
- Distracted driving (talking or texting)
- Driving while fatigued or falling asleep
- Speeding or driving too fast for the weather conditions
- Failing to obey traffic lights or stop signs
Recovering compensation for a fatal accident
A spouse, child, or estate of a person killed in an auto accident can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages for the decedent’s death.
The plaintiff must establish negligence, which requires proof that that the at-fault party owed a duty and that violation of that duty caused the death. Evidence supporting a negligence claim can include:
- Blood or breath alcohol test results showing the at-fault party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Mobile device records showing the at-fault party was talking on the phone or texting at the time of the accident
- Video footage of the accident from a traffic camera, dash camera, or surveillance film from nearby businesses
- Statements from witnesses who saw the accident or who observed the conduct of the at-fault driver before, during, or after the accident
- Accident reconstruction based on skid marks, damage to the vehicles, and other facts
Types of damages, comparative fault, and statute of limitations
Michigan imposes certain restrictions on wrongful death lawsuits involving car accidents.
The compensation the estate may recover includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, funeral costs, and loss of income and financial support. Non-economic damages include the decedent’s pain and suffering before dying as well as family members’ emotional distress and loss of consortium and companionship.
Under Michigan’s modified comparative fault rule, any responsibility the decedent had for the accident reduces the estate’s recovery by the percentage of that fault. If the decedent’s fault is found to be greater than 50 percent, the estate cannot recover non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
There is only a limited amount of time to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The estate has three years after the accident to file the claim.
Contact an experienced car accident lawyer
After a fatal car accident, injured persons and the estate of those killed in the crash should seek legal counsel. The at-fault party’s insurance company is not on your side and does not have your best interests in mind.
If someone you love died in an automobile accident caused by another party’s negligence, contact the experienced and compassionate lawyers at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. Call us today at (866) 430-5556 for a free consultation and to learn how we will fight for you, your family, and the memory of your loved one.