The death of a family member is always a traumatic event, and unexpected losses can be unthinkable. The worst part for families can be that dealing with the loss of a breadwinner brings financial problems as well as emotional distress. Expenses attached to funerals and end-of-life needs may exhaust funds that were already precarious.

How can you respond if you believe a death was someone else’s fault?

Beyond criminal law, civil law allows parties to sue people or organizations for damages if their actions or negligence may have caused the death. Wisconsin law states that this lawsuit may be brought by the estate, primary relative or direct descendant of the deceased person.

How much are you entitled to in a wrongful death lawsuit?

It is impossible to set a monetary value for a person’s life, but guidelines for damages exist in some cases. For example, the value of the loss of companionship from a deceased relative is limited to $500,000 for adults and $350,000 for children under Wisconsin law. A judge will often counsel a jury before or during the damages phase of a wrongful death trial in civil court.

What types of financial damages may be involved in a wrongful death lawsuit?

A person or estate may claim actual expenses related to a death, such a memorial service and estimated damages based on a person’s income during their life. An attorney can help survivors of wrongful death victims analyze their legal options and set expectations for different approaches to this serious issue.