Losing a loved one is always difficult, but it can be especially devastating when their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. In Wisconsin, families of the deceased may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death claim. Here’s what you need to know about wrongful death legal recovery in Wisconsin:
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. Common examples of wrongful death include car accidents caused by drunk driving, medical malpractice, and workplace accidents.
Who can bring a wrongful death claim in Wisconsin?
Under Wisconsin law, a wrongful death claim can be brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate or by the deceased’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, or parents. Wisconsin Statutes section 895.04 states that “the action may be brought by the personal representative of the deceased.” The personal representative is typically named in the deceased’s will or appointed by the court if there is no will, as provided by Wisconsin Statutes section 851.60. The personal representative can file the claim on behalf of the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or other beneficiaries, as provided by Wisconsin Statutes section 895.04. In some cases, siblings, grandparents, or other relatives may also be able to bring a claim under Wisconsin law.
What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?
In Wisconsin, damages in a wrongful death claim are divided into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are damages that can be easily quantified and include things like medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Medical expenses include any reasonable medical expenses related to the deceased’s injury or illness that resulted in their death. Funeral and burial costs include the reasonable expenses for the deceased’s funeral and burial. Lost wages refer to the deceased’s income that they would have earned had they lived, while lost earning capacity refers to the amount of income that the deceased would have been capable of earning throughout their lifetime had they not died. Economic damages may also include any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the deceased’s death.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are damages that are more difficult to quantify and include things like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. Pain and suffering refer to any physical pain or emotional suffering experienced by the deceased before their death. Loss of companionship refers to the loss of the deceased’s companionship, society, affection, and consortium, as well as the loss of the deceased’s advice and guidance. Emotional distress includes the emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish experienced by the surviving family members as a result of the deceased’s death.
Wisconsin Statutes section 895.04(4) imposes a cap on the amount of noneconomic damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death claim. The current cap is $500,000 per occurrence in the case of a deceased minor, or $350,000 per occurrence in the case of a deceased adult. It’s important to note that the cap only applies to wrongful death claims and not to other types of personal injury claims.
How is fault determined in a wrongful death claim?
In Wisconsin, fault is determined using a modified comparative negligence standard. This means that the deceased’s fault, if any, is taken into account when determining damages in a wrongful death claim. If the deceased was partially at fault for the accident that caused their death, their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if the deceased was found to be 20% at fault for the accident, their damages will be reduced by 20%. However, if the deceased was more than 50% at fault for the accident, their family will not be able to recover any damages. This is known as the 51% bar rule. It’s important to note that fault is not always clear-cut in wrongful death cases, and determining fault can be a complex process that requires the assistance of an experienced attorney.
What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Wisconsin?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Wisconsin is generally three years from the date of the deceased’s death. However, if the death was caused by a motor vehicle accident, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. If the claim is not filed within this time frame, it will be barred and the family will not be able to recover damages.
Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with the legal aftermath of a wrongful death can be overwhelming. However, by working with an experienced attorney at Russell Law Offices, SC, and pursuing a wrongful death claim, you can hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain the justice and compensation your loved one deserves. The team at Russell Law Offices, SC has experience representing clients in wrongful death cases and can provide you with the guidance and support you need during this difficult time. Remember, time is of the essence in these cases, so don’t wait to take action. Contact Russell Law Offices, SC today to explore your legal options and take the first step towards healing and closure.