How are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in Wisconsin?

Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences we can endure, and when that loss is due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another person or entity, the pain can be even more profound. When your life has been flipped on its head, remember that legal avenues give you the opportunity to hold those responsible for your loss accountable for their actions.

Here, we’ll dig deeper into how Wisconsin defines wrongful death, who can receive compensation after a wrongful death, and what you need to do to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Wisconsin. The road to justice isn’t always easy, but it’s a vital part of the healing journey. To take the first step, keep reading.

What is Wrongful Death in Wisconsin?

Wrongful death in Wisconsin is defined by Wisconsin Statute § 895.03. According to the statute, wrongful death occurs when a victim would have been able to sue for damages if the defendant’s negligence hadn’t killed them. Then, their personal representative can bring a legal action against the defendant to recover damages.

Who Receives Damages in a Wrongful Death Case in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, a victim’s personal representative will receive any damages that result from a wrongful death case. ‘Personal representative’ essentially refers to the executor of the victim’s will.

If the victim has children under the age of 18, those children will be entitled to a certain amount of the damages—although that amount won’t exceed 50% of the damages. If the victim doesn’t have a personal representative or children younger than 18, the damages recovered will be paid to the victim’s spouse or domestic partner.

Finally, if the victim has no spouse or domestic partner, their living relatives are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the order in which those relatives are entitled to file that lawsuit follows the order established in Wisconsin Statute § 852.01. According to that statute, damages from the victim’s death would belong to:

  • First, their parents.
  • Second, their siblings.
  • Finally, their grandparents, with any damages being split equally between those survivors.

Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Settlements

The types of damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit are broadly similar to those in personal injury cases. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you could receive compensation for the following:

Financial Burdens Caused by the Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one places you under a great emotional burden. In many cases, it also puts you under a greater financial burden too. Compensation for financial burdens can help replace the financial support that you and your family had from your deceased loved one. An experienced attorney can help you calculate the full extent of the financial impact that their death has and will have.

Medical Expenses Prior to Death

If your loved one received treatment prior to their death, those expenses could be factored into your compensation. This includes a broad variety of medical expenses, such as hospital bills, rehab, medications, and more.

Pain and Suffering and Noneconomic Damages

Naturally, you can’t assign a concrete value to you and your family’s experience of pain and suffering. However, Wisconsin recognizes that noneconomic damages like pain and suffering should be compensated. It’s important to consult with an attorney who can help you calculate pain and suffering so that you’re adequately compensated.

Loss of Companionship

Losing a loved one brings a void to you and your loved ones’ lives. Compensation for loss of companionship acknowledges that when you lose someone, you also lose deep personal connections forever. In wrongful death lawsuits in Wisconsin, as much as $500,000 for children and $350,000 for adults can be awarded for the loss of companionship and society.

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Wisconsin

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you begin the healing process and worry less about how you’ll manage each month.

1. Talk to Your Family

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important for everyone to be in support. If the victim’s will establishes a personal representative, they will be able to pursue damages. However, if no personal representative has been named in the victim’s will, it’s important to determine who will take care of the legal process.

2. File Within the Wisconsin Statute of Limitations

To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you’ll need to do so within Wisconsin’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of case. Some wrongful death lawsuits in Wisconsin have a statute of limitations that is three years. However, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Wisconsin drops to just two years when the death is the result of a car crash.

3. Consult With a Dedicated Attorney

If you’re within the statute of limitations, the next step is to get in touch with a personal injury attorney. It’s vital that you work with a legal professional who can help you chart a path to victory. Filing a lawsuit on your own is exceedingly difficult and easy to get wrong. Taking any risks while filing your lawsuit could potentially ruin your chances of recovering damages altogether.

Have You Lost a Loved One? Talk to Pasternak & Zirgibel

We know the pain and grief you’re going through. Know that you don’t have to face it alone. Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel will personally handle your case and help you through this challenging time. If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, get in touch to schedule a free case consultation today. We’re ready to listen.