Michigan Wrongful Death Laws
The Michigan Wrongful Death Statute can be found in MCLS § 700.3924. Pursuant to the Act, for the purpose of settling a claim as to an action that is not pending in another court for damages for wrongful death or for a claim existing under this state’s laws relating to the survival of actions, if a personal representative petitions the court in writing asking leave to settle the claim and after notice to all persons who may be entitled to damages, the court may conduct a hearing and approve or reject the settlement.
The proceeds of a court settlement of a cause of action for wrongful death shall be distributed in accordance with all of the following:
(a) The personal representative shall file with the court a petition for authority to distribute the proceeds. Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall order a hearing.
(b) Unless waived, a notice of hearing must be given to all persons who may be entitled to damages. A notice under this subdivision must contain both of the following:
(i) The name and address of the personal representative and of the personal representative’s attorney.
(ii) A statement – to recover damages under this section, the person who may be entitled to damages must present a claim for damages to the personal representative on or before the date set for hearing on the petition for distribution of the proceeds and failure to present a claim for damages within the time provided bars the person from making a claim to any of the proceeds.
(c) If an interested person is a minor, missing, or an incapacitated individual for whom a fiduciary is not appointed, the court shall first appoint a fiduciary or guardian ad litem, and the notice shall be given to the fiduciary or guardian ad litem.
(d) After a hearing on the personal representative’s petition, the court shall order payment from the proceeds of the decedent’s reasonable medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses for which the estate is liable. The proceeds shall not be applied to the payment of any other charges against the decedent’s estate. The court shall then enter an order distributing the proceeds to those persons who suffered damages and to the decedent’s estate for compensation for conscious pain and suffering, if any, in the amount the court considers fair and equitable considering the relative damages sustained by each of the persons and the decedent’s estate.
(e) If none of the persons entitled to the proceeds is a minor, missing, or a legally incapacitated individual and all of the persons entitled to the proceeds execute a sworn stipulation or agreement in writing in which each person’s portion of the proceeds is specified, the court order shall be entered in accordance with the stipulation or agreement.
(f) A person who may be entitled to damages under this section must present a claim for damages to the personal representative on or before the date set for hearing on the petition for distribution of the proceeds. Failure to present a claim for damages within the time provided by this section bars the person from making a claim to any of the proceeds.
(g) If a claim for wrongful death is pending in another court, the procedures prescribed in section 2922 of the revised judicature act of 1961 are applicable to the distribution of proceeds of a settlement or judgment[i].
In any claim or action for personal injury or wrongful death based upon the alleged conduct of another, in which an attorney enters into an agreement, expressed or implied, whereby the attorney’s compensation is dependent or contingent in whole or in part upon successful prosecution or settlement or upon the amount of recovery, the receipt, retention, or sharing by such attorney, pursuant to agreement or otherwise, of compensation which is equal to or less than the fee stated in subrule (B) is deemed to be fair and reasonable[ii].
[i] MCLS § 700.3924