When a family loses a loved due to wrongful death, the responsible parties should pay. We understand that a settlement won’t restore your loved one, but it can be a resource that helps you minimize future financial disruptions. The proceeds from a wrongful death settlement can help you care of your children, meet day-to-day living expenses, and pay your bills. These simple life requirements become more complicated without a partner.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
Attorney Jon Groth and the Groth Law Firm have helped victims’ family members seek justice after a wrongful death has occurred. Wrongful death is a legal term referring to a case brought by the family members of a deceased individual who lost his or her life as a result of the negligent action of another. A wrongful death lawsuit may be the result of a medical mistake, car accident, criminal act, work-related injury or other catastrophic events.
Each day Wisconsin citizens lose their lives because of negligent acts. Several local and national agencies track and publish the statistics.
- The most recent annual Bureau of Labor statistics documented 106 work-related fatalities in Wisconsin.
- Statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation cite an annual average of 501 fatal crashes with 549 fatalities.
- The most recent statistics from the Wisconsin Death and Mortality Report list 48 accidental drownings in a single year.
The goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate family members for their financial and emotional losses. In Wisconsin, a wrongful death lawsuit can seek damages for mental anguish, lost income, and loss of companionship or support.
Our Milwaukee Wrongful Death Attorneys Care
At Groth Law, we approach each case with compassion and insight. Our attorneys appreciate that any injury case can be stressful but wrongful death cases are extremely difficult for a decedent’s entire family. Our wrongful death lawyers keep that in mind as we learn the basic case details. We ask questions, answer our clients’ inquiries, and explain how we approach wrongful death cases. We begin working immediately, managing the legal issues and protecting our clients’ rights.
We understand that when a family is grieving, it’s a long-term process. We minimize our clients’ discomfort by giving them privacy and time to begin healing. As we work to resolve their case, we remain available when they have questions or concerns. A Milwaukee personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the process.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Wisconsin Statutes, § 895.04, Plaintiff in wrongful death action, describes who can file a wrongful death suit on a decedent’s behalf. The decedent’s personal representative can file a suit for funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, and other pecuniary or economic losses.
The wrongful death statute also names additional relatives/beneficiaries. Each may file a suit as well and is entitled to a share of recovery based on statutory guidelines. If survivors file separate lawsuits, the court consolidates them for more efficient resolution. The statute lists these and other survivors in the order of their priority:
- A surviving spouse or domestic partner as defined under Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 770 Domestic Partnership.
- Minor children under age 18 to whom the decedent legally owed support. A court must approve settlements or monetary distributions for minor children when they exceed $10,000.
- The decedent’s lineal heirs if there is no spouse or domestic partner.
- The decedent’s siblings if there are no lineal heirs.
- If any of the above parties dies before a wrongful death case is resolved, their proceeds go to the next person in line as designated above or to additional entities listed in the statute.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases often have the same issues as traditional negligence cases. As our firm has handled personal injury cases only, we recognize and understand the legal issues, liability concerns, and relevant statutes. Our attorneys rely on their skills and experience when determining the responsible parties and establishing effective recovery strategies.
We’ve proven wrongful death cases using the information our clients provided as a basic starting point. Then we’ve looked for evidence that supported or disproved our clients’ description of the incident and our liability theories. We’ve discussed our clients’ cases with witnesses, policemen, and emergency physicians and obtained formal reports from local authorities. As each case is different, we’ve also focused on issues specific to the circumstances.
- Auto liability – We’ve investigated auto liability cases and presented our claims to the at-fault drivers and their insurance companies. When we’ve discovered that a vehicle or maintenance defect caused an accident, we’ve placed the additional negligent parties on notice of our pending wrongful death actions.
- Trucker liability – Truck liability accidents have similar issues as auto liability cases. They are somewhat more complex as they often involve contractual relationships and multiple potential defendants. These include a driver, a common carrier/employer, a tractor and trailer owner, a loader, shipper, maintenance contractors, and others.
- Premises liability – We’ve verified and documented the premises condition that caused the decedent’s fatal injuries and notified the responsible property owners. If a case involved a maintenance or security issue, we’ve named the appropriate subcontractors in any wrongful death lawsuit we’ve filed.
- Product liability – When possible, we’ve retrieved the defective product for nondestructive testing and confirmation of a defect. We’ve included product manufacturers as defendants in our clients’ wrongful death lawsuits.
- Workplace liability – We’ve conducted investigations, reviewed emergency and EMT records, viewed local TV news stories. We’ve also requested Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigative and citation reports under the Freedom of Information Act.
- Medical negligence – We’ve documented evidence of health care provider’s omissions and/or medical negligence in causing a decedent’s fatal injuries.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Suit?
When a person dies due to an accidental event, a personal relative, a spouse or another surviving relative may file a lawsuit if they believe someone’s negligent actions caused the fatal injuries. The incidents which cause wrongful deaths are usually the same as those that cause personal injuries, only with more catastrophic results.
Wrongful death lawsuits seek damages for fatal injuries sustained in auto accidents, truck accidents, premises mishaps, product liability events, and other occurrences. A decedent’s survivor may also file a wrongful death suit for fatal workplace injuries. The potentially responsible parties include subcontractors and defective equipment or machine manufacturers. In some cases, a deceased employee’s estate may sue an employer due to intentional or egregious acts.
Wrongful Death Compensation
When Groth Law Firm files a wrongful death suit for our clients, we seek recovery for all damages allowed by Wisconsin’s wrongful death statute. These include expenses incurred as a result of the decedent’s injury and death as well as certain non-economic damages:
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Cemetery lot and care expenses
- Burial vault or urn
- Mental anguish
- Loss of society and companionship
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Claims
If your loved one was fatally injured in a car accident, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverages sometimes apply. UM and UIM coverages pay if the decedent was fatally injured by a driver who had no liability insurance or low liability limits.
- Wisconsin requires uninsured motorists coverage. It pays damages if the driver who caused the decedent’s injuries had no insurance. It also pays damages when a covered person had an accident with a driver who left the scene unidentified.
- Wisconsin does not require underinsured motorist coverage. If the decedent had the coverage, it pays the difference between the other driver’s liability limit and the decedent’s UIM limit.
When you file a UM or UIM claim, the insurance company assumes the role of the negligent driver’s liability carrier. The decedent’s representative must prove liability and damages. He or she must also comply with insurance policy duties and conditions as well as any applicable requirements outlined by Wisconsin Statutes, § 632.32 Provisions of motor vehicle insurance policies. Our lawyers have worked with our clients and assisted them in complying with insurance policy duties and statutory requirements.
Contact Groth Law Milwaukee Wrongful Death Lawyers
If your loved one was killed due to someone’s negligent actions, you consider hiring an attorney who will work to protect your legal rights. At Groth Law Firm, our lawyers handle personal injury cases only. We dedicate our time, effort, and resources to injured people who need strong compassionate legal representation. We’ve resolved cases for clients in Milwaukee, Brookfield, and across Wisconsin. Let us determine if we can help you. Call us at (414) 455-6981 or complete our online case submission form and we’ll schedule a consultation.