Wrongful Death Cases *

In General

All cases involving a dead person must be brought under Michigan’s wrongful death act.  That legislative act defines the persons who may file a personal injury lawsuit, how a suit is to be settled, and who may share (and who may not share) in the proceeds.  The citation for the act is MCL 600.2922 et seq.  Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit is 3 years, although there are some exceptions.

Temporary worker crushed: $925,000 settlement

A young musician working part-time in a factory was crushed by a stack of materials that tipped over.  The employer stated he was uninsured, so the client’s widow asked us to investigate.  We did intensive investigation, which revealed that the delivery company had stacked the material in an unsafe condition, and  the owner’s insurance was still in effect, even though the insurance had been bought under another corporate name.  We settled with he delivery company for a guarantee of $200,000.  We next took an assignment of the employer’s old insurance policy, from the owner.  We then filed a second suit against the insurance company to collect.  The insurer settled for $725,000, adding to the guarantee of $200,000, for a total of $925,000 – all of which was paid.

Railroad Crossing Death: $7,500,000 verdict $9,000,000 settlement

There were multiple victims who died when their vehicle was struck by a train at a railroad crossing. This verdict stands as one of the best verdicts in Ohio railroad litigation.  The key was an intensive investigation that produced compelling eyewitness testimony that the crossing warnings were dangerously defective.  After the $7,500,000 verdict, the defendant’s appeal was denied and settlement for $9,000,000 was achieved.

Death of a Retired Farmer: $800,000 settlement before filing suit

Usually, large verdicts are the result of large economic loss – wage loss, medical care costs, etc.  In this case, there was no economic loss, but the client’s widow provided a wonderful set of photographs and family video – and we produced a “day-in-the-life” video with the help of a television production company.  The video not only conveyed the wonderful nature of the client’s husband, but also was a beautiful memento for the family.  Settlement discussions were facilitated by a downstate firm.

Intern Drowns in Factory Vat Due to Negligent Design: $975,000 settlement

A summer intern working in a factory was found drowned in a vat, which was located below the main floor.  The case was surrounded with mystery until we hired mechanical engineering experts – who reviewed engineering drawings of the plant when it was remodeled.  We discovered a “vent” had been omitted from the remodeling plan, during construction, and subtle water-pressure had caused a floor-hatch-cover to dislodge and cause the intern to fall into the vat.  We produced an extremely well detailed “computer animation” of the incident.  We also re-created the over-pressurization incident using a life-scale model, and demonstrated how less than 1 PSI dislodged the hatch cover.

* These wrongful death cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.

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