Death of a loved one is always painful, but when that loss is fueled by the negligent or wrongful acts of another, it can feel like a complete injustice. Indeed, many are, in fact, injustices that qualify as wrongful deaths. What is a wrongful death, and what kind of recourse do the families of lost loved ones have? The following explains.
What is Wrongful Death?
As defined under Section 895 of the Wisconsin Statutes, “wrongful death” is a death that was caused by a “wrongful act, neglect, or default.” In cases where the victim could have filed a personal injury lawsuit, certain other people may file a wrongful death claim in place of the deceased victim. This includes the victim’s surviving spouse, child(ren), domestic partner, parent, guardian, or personal representative of the deceased party’s estate.
Regardless of who files the claim, children under the age of 18, domestic partners, and spouses are entitled to a portion of the settlement. Age and abilities of the dependents are considered, but the award amount is limited to no more than half of the total settlement if the case was pursued by someone other than the spouse, domestic partner, or guardian of minor children.
Compensatory Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Like most personal injury claims, wrongful death claims enable the chance to recover damages for medical expenses, burial and/or funeral expenses, and financial losses, such as a loss of income or wages. Yet, unlike other personal injury claims, wrongful death claims allow compensation for a loss of society and/or companionship. The state caps this at $350, 000 for deceased adults and $500, 000 for deceased children. Certainly, this amount is far from a replacement of the loved one, but such an award could give the family or loved one a little time to grieve before they have to return to their everyday life.
In some cases, personal representatives can file a survivorship claim on behalf of the estate (which generally goes to spouses or minor children). This is meant to compensate for any pain or suffering that was experienced by the victim between the time of injury and death. Wisconsin does not have a cap amount on survivorship claims.
Obtaining Legal Assistance for Your Claim
While victims can and sometimes do pursue wrongful death claims on their own, many learn that the process is highly complex. They may also be at a much higher risk for devaluation of denial of their claim. Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. can help protect you from these issues by ensuring that your rights are safeguarded. Compassionate and dedicated to your family’s best interest, our Appleton wrongful death attorneys will fight to get you the settlement you deserve. Call 920-739-7366 to schedule your personalized consultation today.