Wrongful Death 101 - We're here to help.
Here is a summary of the law and procedure of wrongful death lawsuits in Michigan.
At common law (i.e., judge-made law that was prevalent before statutes), when a person died, and cause of action (lawsuit) they had died with them. By statute in Michigan, we now have wrongful death and survival "lawsuits". See MCL 600.2922. Arguably, wrongful death is not an independent lawsuit, but rather a procedural mechanism allowing an underlying claim to proceed. (Similarly, the survival provision of the wrongful death act allows a lawsuit to continue regardless of whether the injury caused death.) There are multiple types of underlying claims that can form the basis of a wrongful death claim, including car accident cases, product liability cases, bike accidents, and really anything where a negligently caused injury results in death. Here, we focus primarily on wrongful death cases that arise from medical malpractice in Michigan because that is what we do here at Hoffer and Sheremet.
Michigan Medical Malpractice Laws Apply to Wrongful Death Cases
In every wrongful death lawsuit, the underlying claim of negligence must be proved. So when the wrongful death case is based on medical malpractice (or in other words, when medical malpractice results in the death of the patient), we must prove the medical malpractice. Further, Michigan medical malpractice procedural rules apply to wrongful death cases. See Jenkins v Patel, 471 Mich 158; 684 NW2d 453 (2003). We have detailed Michigan medical malpractice law and procedure in our article Medical Malpractice 101. We will not repeat that, but here is a very brief summary of medical malpractice case procedure in Michigan (every state is different!).