The loss of a loved one in a wrongful death accident can overwhelm you, leaving you unsure of what to do next.
The reality is that nothing can bring back your loved one, but you can seek justice against the parties responsible for their death. A Rice Lake wrongful death lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.
If You Lose a Loved One Due to Negligence, Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers
Losing a close family member leaves many families looking for answers and justice. You are likely angry and heartbroken over the sudden death of your loved one due to another person’s negligence.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we understand this is a challenging time for your family and the difficulties that lie ahead. We work hard to help families that lose their loved ones in a wrongful death accident. We can protect your rights and guide you through your case with compassion and understanding to fight for justice for your loved one.
Rice Lake Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
A sudden and tragic death due to a negligent accident can happen anywhere. Many people come across risks that can lead to fatal injuries each day and many may not even realize they are in danger.
Wrongful deaths are preventable. Were it not for some action or failure to act by one or more parties, the death would not have occurred. At Nicolet Law Accident and Injury Lawyers, we help families like you seek the justice and compensation they deserve from the parties responsible for the death of their loved ones.
We handle all types of wrongful death cases, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Boating accidents
- Recreational accidents
- Premises liability
- Dog bites
- Workplace accident
- Product liability
- Intentional tort
Wrongful Deaths in Wisconsin
A wrongful death can occur because of negligence or due to an intentional act. In cases where the defendant intentionally caused the victim's death, criminal charges may also follow. Regardless of the status or nature of a criminal case, any family member of a victim that loses their life at the hands of another person can be eligible to seek compensation in civil court for the loss of their loved one.
In a wrongful death action, the case is not just filed on behalf of the estate of the loved one who died but also on behalf of the survivors who suffered damages due to the loved one’s passing. Under the law, certain family members may seek damages against the parties at fault for the loved one’s wrongful death.
The Parties That Can Be at Fault For Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death
To prove that a wrongful death action is appropriate or that the family suing qualifies for compensation, the plaintiffs must prove that the defendant meets the elements of negligence under the law.
In many situations, one party caused a loved one’s death, but in others, more than one party may prove responsible. When multiple parties’ negligence led to your loved one’s death, they may share liability for your family's damages and losses.
The elements of negligence in a wrongful death action are:
- The defendant has a relationship that establishes a duty of care to your loved one. This may seem complex but in some circumstances it can be relatively straightforward to establish. In most instances of interactions with others, whether on the road, with an employer, doctor, or at a business establishment, each person has safety responsibilities to uphold.
- There is a breach by the defendant of their duty of care. Whether through their intentional or malicious actions, lack of action, or negligence, the defendant breached their duty of care to your loved one.
- Your loved one died and you and or/your family have suffered harm and loss because of the death of your loved one.
- The cause of your loved one’s death is due to the breach of duty by the defendant.
The Statute of Limitations and Wrongful Death in Rice Lake
You may be unsure of what you want to do or how you want to proceed after the death of your loved one. Although you do not need to take immediate action, statutory limitations restrict how long you have to file a lawsuit against the parties you believe caused the death of your loved one.
The Wisconsin statute of limitations states that the surviving family of a wrongful death victim in most personal injury cases has only three years to file a legal wrongful death claim for damages in court. The time begins to run from the date of your loved one’s death.
In Wisconsin, a different statute of limitations applies when your loved one dies in a motor vehicle accident. If your loved one suffers a fatal motor vehicle accident, you have only two years to file an action for wrongful death under the statute of limitations.
It is always best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to make certain your case follows the applicable statute of limitations and prevent any mistake or delay that could affect your right to recovery under the law.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is not just when a loved one dies in an accident. Wrongful death specifically refers to situations in which another party holds responsibility for your loved one’s death. A person can be at fault for another’s death in various circumstances.
In a wrongful death action, a family member files a claim or lawsuit against the parties responsible for the death of their loved one. The family seeks damages for their losses that arise after the wrongful death of their family member.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Rice Lake?
The right to sue for wrongful death is available only to the personal representative of the deceased or certain family members of the deceased. Wisconsin statutes delineate what parties are eligible to bring forth a wrongful death action after the death of their loved one.
To determine who is eligible to file for the wrongful death of a loved one will depend on various factors such as the relationship of the victim to the surviving family members and the next of kin or heirs of the deceased. Wisconsin wrongful death statutes rank the order in which family members are eligible to file a wrongful death action and the individuals that meet the definition of family under the law.
It is vital to note that if multiple parties are eligible to file a claim or suit for the death of their loved one the court will combine all legal actions into one case. While the damages and losses of each family member can be part of the claim or suit, there can only be one wrongful death action for the death of an individual.
Parties with standing to file a wrongful death action are:
- A spouse or domestic partner as defined under Wisconsin law
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?
The damages in a wrongful death case reimburse plaintiffs for the expenses related to their loved one’s death and for the losses they will suffer.
Damages in a wrongful death case can be both economic and non-economic. The law allows for the surviving family of the deceased to seek recovery for monetary losses they sustain due to the death of the loved one and the losses they have and will experience.
Damages in a wrongful death case can include:
- Medical expenses - The death of a loved one due to a negligent accident is not always sudden. While in some incidents a loved one will die instantaneously or at the scene, in other situations, your family member may initially survive an accident only to later succumb to their injuries or suffer additional complications leading to their death. Through a wrongful death action, you can seek reimbursement for any medical expenses for the emergency care and treatment of your loved one’s injuries from the moment of the accident until the time of their death.
- Funeral and burial expenses - You may seek the recovery of all expenses for the after-death arrangements of your loved one including funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of contribution - If the deceased was a contributing member of the family unit such as a spouse or parent, the family can seek monetary compensation for the loss of that contribution of their income to the household. The sudden loss of a spouse or parent can cause significant financial stress, particularly in cases where the deceased was the head of the household or made significant contributions to maintain the family’s living expenses.
- Loss of companionship - Beyond the economic loss that relates to your loved one, the law also allows the surviving family to seek compensation for their loss of companionship of the loved one.
Are There Limits to Damages in a Wrongful Death Action?
There are no limits on the economic damages you can seek compensation for in a wrongful death case. However, the law does limit the compensation a family will receive for non-economic damages such as for the loss of companionship of the deceased.
In cases where a child is the victim of the wrongful death, Wisconsin law caps the damages allowable for the loss of companionship in a wrongful death case to $500,000. Where the victim of the wrongful death is an adult, the law caps damages for loss of companionship at $350,000.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Action and a Survivorship Claim?
It is worth distinguishing that after the death of an individual due to negligence there are two potential claims for compensation that can be available. A wrongful death action is on behalf of the loved ones of a deceased individual. This claim or lawsuit reimburses the family of the victim for their losses, not the victim's losses.
A survivorship claim, however, is brought on behalf of the victim by the victim’s estate. In this case, the deceased's estate can pursue damages for the losses that occurred to the victim after an accident leading to their death. In this legal action, the estate will sue as if they were the accident victim and recover the damages the plaintiff would have if they had lived.
In some survivorship claims a victim dies after a personal injury accident but the death is not related to the accident or in cases where a victim survives after an accident due to negligence only to later pass away from their injuries. One distinguishing factor in a survivorship claim is that the estate can sue for the pain and suffering damages of the victim due to an accident.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer for Assistance After the Death of a Loved One?
If your loved one loses their life, and you believe another party caused their death, immediately contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers for a Rice Lake wrongful death attorney at (715) 226-6241 for guidance.
Time is of the essence to preserve evidence and protect the rights of surviving family after the wrongful and sudden death of a family member. A Rice Lake wrongful death lawyer can work with you to determine what options are available for recovery in your case.
Rice Lake Office
337 North Main Street
Rice Lake, WI 54868