Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Wisconsin: A Guide to Your Legal Rights

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Wisconsin: A Guide to Your Legal Rights

August 28, 2023 Off By Glespynorson

Losing a family member is not easy. Wrongful deaths are more common than you think. According to a John Hopkins study, more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000. It is believed to be the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. And medical error is one of the causes of wrongful deaths.

But you can file a wrongful death lawsuit if you have lost a family member in a fatal car accident or due to negligence in Wisconsin. This lawsuit allows you to recover damages for the death of your loved one. And another benefit is emotional, knowing that the individual or organization responsible for your loved one’s death was held accountable.

But you will need to know a few things before going ahead.

Let’s start with the basics.

A. What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death occurs when negligence, misconduct, or intentional actions of another individual, organization, or entity causes a person’s death. A few examples of wrongful death include but aren’t limited to:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Defective vehicles or products
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Motorcycle crashes
  • Animal bites and abuse
  • Nursing home abuse and neglect

In such cases, the surviving family members or beneficiaries of the deceased person may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. With this lawsuit, you can seek compensation for the damages and losses you have suffered as a result of the death.

B. Things You Should Know Before Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Wisconsin

While filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you find closure and recover damages, it is necessary to know a few things first. Let’s take a look at them.

1) Consider the Statute of Limitations

One of the first things you need to consider is the time limit,because it varies in every state. According to the Wisconsin Statute of Limitations, you usually have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. But this often applies to motor vehicle accidents.

But if your loved one dies due to another reason, such as medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be three years. If you fail to file your claim within the time limit, the court will dismiss your claim.

However, laws keep changing. Plus, there might be exceptions or circumstances that could impact the statute of limitations. So, you should consult a competent wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.

2) Know Whether You Can File the Lawsuit

The second factor you will have to consider is whether who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Every state has its own laws regarding who can file a lawsuit and who benefits from the resulting compensation.

According to the Wrongful Death Statute of Wisconsin, you can file a lawsuit if you are:

  • A surviving spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Guardian of the deceased

Other than this, a person representing the deceased individual’s estate can also file a lawsuit. The deceased’s brothers and sisters can also file a lawsuit if the deceased as no surviving spouse, domestic partner, minor children or lineal heirs. But again, it’s best to speak with a wrongful death attorney. They can guide you at every step.

3) Understand How Much You Can Sue For

As leading wrongful death lawyers, we often face the question – Is there a damages cap on wrongful death lawsuits in Wisconsin? The short answer is NO.

Wisconsin does not have a statutory cap on damages in wrongful death lawsuits. In other words, there is no specific limit on the compensation you can seek. But this includes only financial damages such as medical bills, lost financial contributions and/or inheritance, and funeral or burial expenses.

In a Wisconsin wrongful death cases, emotional pain and suffering are capped. It is $350,000 for an adult and $500,000 for a child. Although this loss is incalculable, you can’t seek damages for emotional pain and suffering beyond these limits.

Examining Who can File a Wisconsin Wrongful Death Claim | Madison, WI

4) You May Need Expert Witnesses

Although expensive, expert witnesses are often necessary in filing a lawsuit. Most wrongful death cases are quite complex. You need an expert witness to prove different factors such as:

  • Who or what caused the death of your loved one
  • Facts surrounding the death of your loved one
  • And quantifying damages

Mostly, your wrongful death attorney will research and identify which expert witnesses you need.

5) Always Work with a Skilled Wrongful Death Attorney

The importance of hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer cannot be stressed enough. For starters, filing a lawsuit is a stressful and demanding task, especially for people without any legal background. Moreover, the added stress of dealing with the loss of your loved one can take a toll on your health.

Secondly, a competent wrongful death attorney knows when and how to file your lawsuit. They will make sure to adhere to the statute of limitations and the prescribed legal process. But more importantly, your lawyer will help you negotiate a fair settlement. They know how the negotiations work and will try to maximize your claim.


Losing a loved one is stressful, to say the least. And it gets worse when you lose your loved one because of someone else’s negligence or intentional act. Fortunately, the wrongful death statute of Wisconsin allows you to seek compensation for your loss, pain, and suffering. You should consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit as soon as possible. Hopefully, these tips will help you get started.