In Wisconsin, a wrongful death is a death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect or default,” of another person. In these instances, the individual responsible for the negligent act, like a car accident, may also be responsible for any deaths resulting from the incident.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
Wisconsin has specific rules about who can file a wrongful death claim.
If the deceased victim was married, only the victim’s spouse can file a claim. If the victim wasn’t married, the victim’s children can file the wrongful death claim. If there is not a spouse or children, the victim’s parents or siblings my file a claim.
Medical malpractice claims resulting in death are handled a little differently. In these instances, only a spouse or minor child(ren) can bring a claim. Adult children who lost a parent because of a medical malpractice incident cannot bring a wrongful death claim.
In most instances, you have three years to file a wrongful death claim. If the victim died because of a car accident, however, you only have two years to file a claim.
This statute of limitations can get confusing, though. For example, if someone was injured in a car accident and passed away three months later, it can be difficult to determine when the statute of limitations starts. Because of this, it’s best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible so you don’t miss your chance to file a claim.
WHAT CAN YOU RECOVER?
Successful wrongful death claims can recover damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages and income: this is the money the victim would have earned if he / she had not been killed.
- Loss of society and companionship: this is the emotional loss of losing a loved one. This is capped at $350,000 for a deceased adult and $500,000 for a deceased minor.
- If the deceased victim has minor dependents, the court can set aside up to 50% of the final wrongful death settlement into a trust for the dependent(s)’ care. This trust cannot be more than 50% of the total award.