When someone is killed through the negligent or reckless conduct of another, the victim’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Wisconsin, any dependent may file the lawsuit, including a sibling if the decedent has no surviving spouse, domestic partner, children or lineal heir. The statute of limitations on wrongful death cases is two years in many states, but here, it is three years.
Several things must be proven for a wrongful death case to work. First, the other side’s negligent or intentional acts must have been the direct cause of the loved one’s death. Second, the plaintiffs must show that they have suffered financially and emotionally from the death, and these losses must be measurable to some degree.
So, for example, a wrongful death lawsuit may cover losses like funeral and burial expenses as well as the cost of any medical treatments the victim underwent before passing away. It may cover the income that the decedent would have continued to bring in if he or she had not died. The non-monetary damages can fall under loss of support or loss of consortium. In Wisconsin, punitive damages are never awarded in wrongful death cases. Families who file a wrongful death lawsuit must open a probate estate. Minors may need a guardian appointed over them.
There is a lot more to wrongful death law, so those intending to pursue a case may want a lawyer to assess it and give advice and guidance. In some cases, the decedent may have been partially to blame, but this will not bar recovery as long as the decedent’s degree of fault is less than the defendant’s. A lawyer may help in establishing this.