When someone loses a loved one in a tragic accident or incident that should not have occurred or could have been prevented, we refer to deaths like this as ‘wrongful deaths’. Under the U.S. legal system, family members who have experienced a wrongful death of a loved one may be able to file what is known as a wrongful death lawsuit against the guilty individual, company, or entity that caused the incident or accident. Doing so may allow a family to begin to recover—both financially and emotionally.
Wrongful death cases are separate from criminal cases. Whereas a criminal case attempts to penalize a guilty individual for performing murder or manslaughter in the case of a death, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim that lets the family members of a deceased individual obtain damages (compensation) from the individual or party that was responsible. These damages can potentially go towards funeral costs, loss of wage costs, final medical costs, pain and suffering costs, and more.
The laws that govern wrongful death claims are complicated and differ depending on the state the death occurred in. Here are some vital points you need to know about Wisconsin wrongful death laws if you’re considering filing a claim or speaking to a lawyer regarding a possible case:
Time Limits Matter in Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within a certain period after the death of the individual. This period is what is referred to as a statute of limitations. In the state of Wisconsin, claims must generally be filed within three years of the date of death or the accident or event which caused the injuries which resulted in death. If a claim is not filed within the statute of limitations, one generally cannot be filed.
Who Files the Claim Matters
In Wisconsin, the following family members or individuals may file a wrongful death claim:
- The personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate
- The surviving spouse or domestic partner
- A surviving child
- A surviving parent or guardian
- Other close relatives such as grandchildren or siblings
Regardless of who files the claim, if the deceased individual left behind a spouse, domestic partner, or one or more children under 18, the court must set aside a portion of the awarded damages for the care of those individuals.
In addition to the above points, you should know that when filing a claim, there may be other complexities that arise. Wrongful death claims can be difficult to prove in court depending on the nature of the incident and the type of evidence that is available. To find out if filing a case is in you and your family’s best interest, you should speak with a Milwaukee wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
At Urban & Taylor, S.C., we can potentially help your family move forward. Wrongful death lawsuits often deliver peace of mind in a way no other option can. If you’d like to find out the potential merits of your case, get in touch today.