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Who can bring a wrongful death suit in Wisconsin?

A wrongful death suit occurs when someone is killed in an accident or incident that might be the fault of another party. Surviving family members or certain personal representatives for the deceased or loved ones may bring the claim, and there are some restrictions on how monies won in such a lawsuit should be divided among surviving children and others.

Wisconsin law says that a wrongful death action can be filed by any person to which potential recovered amounts may belong or by the personal representative of the individual killed. In some cases, separate actions may be filed related to the same incident; in such cases, Wisconsin law requires the actions to be consolidated upon the filing of a motion to do so by any party involved. If a consolidation doesn't occur, then the courts will only allow action filed by the personal representative to proceed.

When minor children have been left behind and a wrongful death lawsuit is won, the court may decide to require some of the funds to be set aside for the care of minor children. In general, that amount is not more than 50 percent of the proceeds after legal and other expenses are deducted from any settlement or award. Wisconsin law also governs how a settlement or award is partitioned among heirs to the deceased; in some cases, the heirs don't even have to be involved in the initial filing to receive funds.

Because the laws that govern who can file a wrongful death suit and how money is handled if a suit is won are complicated, it helps to have some legal assistance. Seeking experiences assistance even before a case is filed can help ensure a more positive outcome.

Source: Wisconsin State Legislature, "Plaintiff in wrongful death action." Dec. 18, 2014

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