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When can you sue someone for a wrongful death?

A wrongful death in Wisconsin is a death that results from neglect, default or a wrongful act. If the deceased person would be able to file a personal injury claim if they hadn’t died, then their family has a legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

Person or company

Whether it’s a person or a company that you believe is responsible for your loved one’s death, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death cases in Wisconsin go to civil court not criminal court. The most likely result of winning this type of case is monetary compensation. There will probably not be any prison time because it’s not a criminal case.

Who can file the lawsuit

The executor, surviving spouse, domestic partner, parent, guardian or child of the victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the victim has dependents, then Wisconsin law requires a certain portion of the monetary compensation to go to the dependents. Children under the age of 18, domestic partners and surviving spouses are dependents. The percentage given to dependents cannot exceed 50% of the total damages award.

To win the lawsuit, you must prove that the other party was liable for your loved one’s death whether through negligence, recklessness or another act. If your loved one’s action or inaction played a role in their death, then this may affect the outcome.

Statute of limitations

Time for the statute of limitations begins running out once you know that the death was wrongful or when the court estimates that the family should have discovered the wrongful death. Wisconsin’s statute of limitations for wrongful deaths is three years.

You might not have as much time as you think to file a lawsuit. If your loved one died after several weeks in the hospital, the statute of limitations countdown may have still started at the time of the accident.

When you suspect your loved one is a victim of wrongful death, you should file a lawsuit as quickly as possible. Consult with a lawyer to have a better understanding of the legal details surrounding wrongful deaths in Wisconsin.

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