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Who can file a wrongful death suit?

A wide range of people can file a wrongful death suit, but the law does provide guidelines for the process and priorities for certain relationships and people. Wisconsin law states that people can bring wrongful death suits if they are owed money or if they are the personal representative of the person who has passed away.

In cases where multiple wrongful death suits are brought related to a single death, the personal representative's case is the one that can move forward. Any party who has filed a wrongful death suit can file a motion requesting that the suits be consolidated, however. According to Wisconsin law, the suits would then be merged.

Any person who is lawfully able to bring a wrongful death suit can receive compensation for pecuniary injury under the law, but minor children, minor siblings and spouses might receive additional compensation should a judgement for said compensation be entered. The amount of this additional compensation depends on whether the person who died was an adult or a minor.

According to law, the personal representative -- whether it is a relative or not -- can also seek compensation for expenses such as funeral and medical costs. While juries often make award amounts in personal injury and wrongful death cases, state law does allow for the court to reduce extraordinary awards in keeping with maximums set out in the statutes. Understanding of statute maximums is important, especially when plaintiffs are considering settlement offers.

Because the law is both specific and complex in defining who can bring a wrongful death suit, it's a good idea to consult an attorney if you believe you have a case. Even if you aren't sure whether you can file a suit, speaking with a professional helps you understand options and what steps to take next.

Source: Wisconsin State Legislature, "895.04  Plaintiff in wrongful death action.," accessed Sep. 10, 2015

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