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Wrongful Death

If a loved one dies because of someone else’s misconduct or negligence, you may have a legal claim for wrongful death. This type of claim seeks compensation for the survivors’ losses caused by the death of a family member. These may include lost of companionship, lost wages, and funeral expenses, and among other things. In general, a wrongful death claim has the following requirements:

  • Someone else caused your loved one’s death due to their negligence or misconduct.
  • Your relationship to the deceased is as surviving spouse, parent, child, or, under some circumstances a sibling
  • The death results in damages in the form of financial loss and/or loss of a loving relationship.

We describe these elements in more detail below.


Negligence can be affirmative conduct like failing to stop at a stop sign. It can also be the failure to be something, like when a store doesn’t maintain its parking lot and someone slips, trips, or falls and is injured a result. A person is negligent when they do something–or fail to do something — that a reasonable person would know creates an unreasonable risk of injury to a person or damage to a property.

The most familiar kind of negligence is when a driver causes an accident. Common examples of negligence by drivers includes:

  • Failing to stop for a red light or stop sign
  • Traveling at excessive speeds
  • Inattentive driving or changing lanes into another car

But negligence causing injury or death can occur in many other circumstances, including:

  • Medical negligence
  • Product liability
  • Negligent operation of an ATV, boat, farm machinery or other vehicle
  • Hunting accidents


There may also be a wrongful death claim when someone’s intentional actions cause the death of another. However, these claims usually are not covered by liability insurance.

Relationship: Who Is Eligible to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wisconsin Section 895.04 establishes who can bring a wrongful death claim. The statue establishes a priority of who can bring the claim based on a person’s relationship to the deceased. In order, the following relatives may generally bring a wrongful death claim if there is no living person in the class above them:

  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings

Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

A person making a wrongful death claim may be able to receive compensation for economic losses as well as the loss of a loving relationship.

Economic Losses 
  • Medical, funeral & burial expenses
  • Ambulance and medical expenses
  • Loss of income

When a loved one dies before their time, their spouse and children may have a significant claim for the loss of income that person would have earned over the course of their life. A wrongful death claim will seek to compensate for the loss of income based on the normal income and life expectancy of the deceased.

Personal Services of the Deceased 

A wrongful death claim can include the value of the services and chores that the deceased would likely have provided to the family, including things like:

  • Home
  • Yardland vehicle maintenance
  • The value of professional services that the deceased would have provided to family members
Loss of a Loving Relationship

A person making the claim for wrongful death of a family member usually suffers well beyond any economic loss. You can be compensated for the loss of love, affection, care, and protection your loved one would have provided. Wisconsin law limits the amount a person may receive for these kinds of losses in a wrongful death claim. The limit is generally $350,000, however, unless the deceased is a minor child, which has a $500,000 limit.

Time Limits to Bring a Claim

In Wisconsin, most wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within three years of the date of the person’s death. However, if the person died because of a car accident, wrongful death cases must be filed within  two years of the death.

Do you need an attorney?

Call Habush Habush & Rottier at 800-242-2874 if you believe you may have a wrongful death claim. Get the guidance you need from an experienced attorney.