Who Can File Wrongful Death Lawsuits In Wisconsin
If a person dies in an accident that should never have happened in the first place or that could have been prevented, the death is referred to as a “wrongful death”. In the United States, family members of the deceased are allowed to file a special type of personal injury lawsuit, called a wrongful death lawsuit, against the guilty party. The guilty party may be an individual or individuals, a business, or another entity/organization. The key criteria is that the person or entity must have caused the accident or incident either through their actions or even inactions.
While these lawsuits may seem distasteful to some, they allow families to recover after an unexpected death, by providing financial assistance and the peace of mind in knowing that the guilty party was held accountable for their negligent actions.
Wrongful Death vs. Criminal Cases
Wrongful death lawsuits are considered civil cases. This makes them separate and distinct from criminal lawsuits, which means that the negligent party may find themselves facing both a civil and a criminal case, depending on the circumstances.
Criminal cases penalize guilty parties for their criminal actions. Wrongful death lawsuits help families of victims secure damages in the form of financial compensation from the guilty party. The damages awarded can be used to pay for funeral or medical costs, replace lost wages, or account for the family’s pain and suffering.
Filing Suit In Wisconsin
The laws governing wrongful death lawsuits differ from state to state, but in Wisconsin there are two important points to be aware of:
- There is a time limit for bringing suit. These type of lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations. This means there is a time limit within which a suit must be filed or the family will lose their right to sue. In Wisconsin, suits must be filed within 2 years of the date of death if the death involves a motor vehicle accident and 3 years if the death resulted from an incident not involving a motor vehicle. If a claim is not filed within this time, the family cannot file one later.
- Only certain people can file claims. Suits can only be filed by:
- Surviving spouses or domestic partners
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents or guardians
- The personal representative of the deceased’s estate
- Other close relatives such as grandchildren or siblings
Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated and full of challenges and pitfalls that can make it very difficult to secure a settlement on your own. If you suspect your loved one has died as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact Eisenberg Law Offices in Madison, WI for advice. A confidential, free consultation with one of our attorneys can help you come to terms with the incident and take steps to move forward.