If your family has experienced the death of a loved one that you believe was due to someone else’s negligence, you might be thinking about taking legal action. A wrongful death lawsuit can compensate you, other family members and the estate of your deceased relative in several ways. It can also help you feel a sense that justice has been served.
However, wrongful death is different than other forms of personal injury litigation in a couple of ways.
Statute of limitations
For one thing, the time limit you have to file suit could be shorter than usual. Every personal injury action in Wisconsin has a time limit attached called the “statute of limitations.” For most claims, the statute of limitations is three years from the date the injury occurred or was discovered. However, for wrongful death claims arising from a motor vehicle accident, the statute of limitations is just two years.
If your family waits too long to file a lawsuit, it could be too late. No matter how strong your claim is, the judge will have to dismiss it for missing the deadline.
Who can sue for wrongful death?
In most personal injury cases, the person filing the lawsuit is the one who suffered the injuries that the defendant allegedly caused. Tragically, this is impossible in wrongful death litigation. Instead, someone has to stand in the deceased’s place. In Wisconsin, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate has the standing to sue for wrongful death. Most of the time, this is the deceased’s spouse or one of their parents or children.
Getting compensated after a wrongful death requires careful planning. You would not want your claim to be defeated on technical grounds. To get a fair chance, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.