Wisconsin law has some limitations on who can file a wrongful death claim in a medical malpractice case. The law requires that families who lose an adult loved one to what might be medical malpractice can only bring a lawsuit if the person who passed away as a result of the alleged wrongful death leaves behind a spouse or minor children.

The Wisconsin law is keeping some families out of the courtroom, say experts, and it’s causing families to lose out on more than compensation. One family was reportedly bewildered following the death of their adult daughter. The father sent information to a separate doctor, who said the woman’s death could have been prevented.

In hopes of discovering more information about the reason behind the woman’s death — and highlighting the errors — the family attempted to file a lawsuit. Because the woman was adult, unmarried and childless, the parents could not file a lawsuit under Wisconsin law.

The family found one attorney who agreed to bring a case to court. The attorney used a loophole in the law by creating an estate in the daughter’s name and suing on behalf of the state for pain and suffering for the two weeks the woman was ill. Wisconsin law limits such cases to a maximum award of $750,000, however, which often prompts medical providers to offer a much lower settlement because the pay out is not enough for many people to go to court.

Another attorney said a family wanted to sue when their mother died. Since their mother was not married and didn’t have any minor children, the family could not file a suit. When faced with personal injury or the death of a loved one, it’s essential to understand how the law works with such cases and understand any loopholes that might provide an edge in a case.

The Capital Times, “Wisconsin's medical malpractice 'loophole'” Jack Craver, Jul. 22, 2014