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Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Wisconsin

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, Wisconsin wrongful death lawyerThe law attempts to provide people with a full set of tools for responding to harms inflicted by others. In some particularly tragic cases, this includes responding to deaths caused by other people's carelessness. In those cases, Wisconsin law allows either a personal representative of the deceased or a close surviving family member, such as a parent, spouse, or child, to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the decedent. While this type of lawsuit can never fully compensate someone for the death of a close relative, it can provide closure and ensure that the people responsible for the death are held accountable.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a civil legal claim that Wisconsin law allows people to bring when the death results from another person's “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” This means that the law allows a representative of the deceased to seek damages when the person's death was caused by negligence. Examples of times where this may apply would be fatalities from car accidents, injuries suffered on another person's property, or as a result of a defective product.

It is also important to understand that wrongful death is separate from any criminal charges, such as manslaughter. This distinction is important for several reasons. First, the level of intent needed to bring a reckless homicide or murder charge is higher than the level needed to sue someone for wrongful death. People may be liable for wrongful death based on mere negligence, but bringing criminal charges requires them to intentionally attempt to cause harm or at least to act with “utter disregard for human life.” The distinction between a civil case and criminal charges is also important because a civil case allows people to pursue damages, whereas criminal charges are focused on punishing the offender.

Wrongful Death Damages

People pursuing a wrongful death action may receive a variety of different damages. First, the estate may pursue actual economic losses that arose from the accident, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and lost wages. Relatives may also pursue claims for “loss of society and companionship,” monetary compensation for the suffering of losing a close relative. The law caps these claims at $350,000 for a deceased adult and $500,000 for a deceased minor. The estate may also seek damages for any pain or suffering that the deceased may have endured before their death under an action known as a survivorship claim.

Wrongful death actions can never fully compensate a family for the loss of a loved one, but they are an important part of ensuring that people are held accountable for their actions. If you have recently lost a family member as a result of another person's negligence, contact an experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorney today to learn more about your rights.

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