In Wisconsin, injury victims have the right to file a personal injury claim seeking compensation from the negligent parties who were responsible for their damages. Unfortunately, not all injury victims survive long enough to initiate the process, let alone benefit from the compensation. However, this does not mean that there is no way of holding the negligent party accountable. The victim’s surviving family members can also pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have recently lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you should be sure to understand your rights to pursue financial compensation.
Protections for Minor Children of the Deceased
According to Wisconsin law, a wrongful death action must be initiated by either the personal representative of the victim’s estate, or the victim’s next of kin who is entitled to compensation. Often, this is the victim’s spouse or domestic partner. However, when the victim has children under the age of 18 at the time of their death, the court responsible for hearing the wrongful death case will seek to ensure that those children have access to the resources they need now that their parent is no longer able to provide them. When determining an appropriate amount to set aside, the court will consider factors including the children’s ages and needs, as well as the capacity of a surviving parent to provide for them.
Other Relatives May Have a Claim
Any damages recovered that are not set aside for minor children will first be awarded to the victim’s surviving spouse or domestic partner. However, if the victim has no surviving partner, then damages can be recovered by other surviving family members in accordance with section 852.01, Stats. Children have the next priority, then parents and then siblings may be awarded compensation.
Wrongful Death Damages in Wisconsin
A wrongful death settlement or verdict typically includes compensation for economic damages, including the victim’s medical expenses and the loss of financial support from the victim’s wages and other income. The award can also account for the costs of a funeral and burial for the deceased. Additionally, surviving family members may be entitled to non-economic damages for loss of companionship, up to a certain amount. In the case of the wrongful death of an adult, family members can recover up to $350,000 for loss of companionship, while the amount increases to $500,000 for the wrongful death of a minor child.
Contact a Milwaukee County Wrongful Death Attorney
After losing a family member in an accident, an attorney can help you determine whether compensation may be available for you or your surviving loved ones. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, we are committed to achieving fair results for injury victims and their families. Contact our Milwaukee personal injury lawyers today at 414-271-1440 for a consultation.