Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Wisconsin
October 29, 2020

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Wisconsin?

The loss of a loved one can shake your family to its core. When a spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, or a child dies, your world may seem like it has crashed to a halt. In addition to mourning the loss, you may face financial challenges if the deceased was a primary earner for the family, if his or her contributions kept the household running, or if the sudden death impacted a pension or inheritance.

If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for these and other losses through a wrongful death claim. However, before filing such a claim on your own, it is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about the process.

Please call Studinski Law, LLC at (715) 343-2850 today for a free case evaluation. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Wausau, Plover, Marshfield, and throughout Wisconsin.

How Do I File a Wrongful Death Claim?

First, it is important to distinguish between the person who files a wrongful death claim and the person or people who benefit from a wrongful death claim. They may not always be the same.

According to the Wisconsin State Legislature: “An action for wrongful death may be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person or by the person to whom the amount recovered belongs.”

A personal representative is the individual responsible for administering the estate of a deceased person (the decedent). The personal representative may be named in the decedent’s will (executor) or appointed by a probate court if the decedent died without a will (administrator).

The personal representative may be a family member – such as a spouse or domestic partner or an adult child – or someone unrelated to the decedent. By law, the personal representative or the family member(s) named as a beneficiary can bring an action for wrongful death.

Who May Benefit from a Wrongful Death Claim?

Damages in a wrongful death claim may be awarded to close family members such as:

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children (both minors and adult children, depending on the circumstances)
  • Parents, stepparents, and legal guardians
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents

In Wisconsin, courts are required to set aside a portion of the recovery in a wrongful death claim for the support of children who are under the age of 18. This amount cannot exceed 50 percent of the recovered amount.

If the decedent had no minor children, the recovery is paid to the spouse or domestic partner of the deceased. “Lineal heirs” – such as parents and adult children – are awarded damages if the decedent had no children under 18 or a spouse or a domestic partner. If the decedent had no minor children, spouse or domestic partner, or lineal heirs, then brothers and sisters of the decedent are entitled to recover damages. In the absence of any other family members discussed so far, maternal and paternal grandparents may recover damages in a wrongful death claim.

What Damages May Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Family members may be compensated for their losses stemming from the wrongful death of a loved one. These losses may include:

  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of household contributions
  • Loss of companionship and society (i.e., loss of consortium, loss of parental guidance, etc.)
  • Funeral and burial or cremation expenses
  • Medical expenses for which surviving family members are liable

When the wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative of the estate, the estate “may also recover the reasonable cost of medical expenses, funeral expenses, including the reasonable cost of a cemetery lot and care of the lot, grave marker or other burial monument, coffin, cremation urn, urn vault, outer burial container, or other article intended for the burial of the dead.”

Ultimately, who may be awarded certain economic damages will depend on who absorbs the costs: the family or the estate of the decedent.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Wisconsin is generally 3 years. However, if your loved one was killed in an automobile accident, you only have 2 years to pursue a wrongful death action.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is important to take action as soon as possible if you suspect your loved one died as a result of negligence. Timely, thorough investigation is key for your attorney to gather all of the facts and build an effective case on your behalf.

Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

At Studinski Law, LLC, we believe it is our duty to relieve the burdens our clients face so they can focus on healing. In wrongful death claims, this means being with your family and working toward a “new normal” after your relative’s passing.

While you recover, our team will collect crucial evidence, hire the best experts to offer assistance, and prepare your case for trial. Although we achieve many favorable settlements on behalf of our clients without going to trial, we always proceed as if every case will go to court. Our results speak for themselves.

For a free case evaluation, please call Studinski Law, LLC at (715) 343-2850 today. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Wausau, Plover, Marshfield, and throughout Wisconsin.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
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