At Fitzpatrick Skemp & Butler, LLC, our legal team has successfully brought many wrongful death claims for clients who lost a loved one in an accident. An unexpected death can prove financially devastating, as well as emotionally traumatizing. A wrongful death case for money damages can secure your family’s financial future and provide a well-deserved sense of justice for surviving relations. Below, our Wisconsin wrongful death attorney takes a deeper dive into the damages we request for our clients.
Lost Financial Contributions
According to Wisconsin Statutes § 895.04, family members can seek damages for “pecuniary injury,” which essentially means financial loss suffered as a result of the wrongful death. Financial contributions made by the deceased is an obvious example.
Imagine a wife dies who is the main breadwinner in her family. Her spouse and children have now lost out on her income for decades, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. That is the type of financial loss a wrongful death claim seeks to compensate.
Many factors go into how much to request for pecuniary loss like lost income. For example, we want to know the size of the financial contribution your loved one made while alive. That likely depends on their age, profession, income, and experience.
Another type of pecuniary loss is medical expenses. Any family member who paid for medical treatment for the deceased can seek reimbursement of those bills. Otherwise, the personal representative for the estate could seek compensation for bills by filing a wrongful death case.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
Like medical expenses, you can seek reimbursement for burial/funeral expenses if you paid for them or were responsible for them. A funeral today can easily cost $10,000 or more, so this is a significant expense. If a family member doesn’t pay for the funeral, the personal representative can seek compensation to cover the cost, since the estate will be responsible for paying these expenses.
Loss of Society or Companionship
An unexpected death does more than cost our clients money. They also lose the relationship. In legal terms, we call this a loss of society or companionship. It is a type of non-pecuniary loss, because unlike medical bills, it’s hard to measure in dollars.
Nonetheless, we have sought compensation for the loss of a familial relationship. Unlike with pecuniary losses, Wisconsin sets a maximum for non-pecuniary loss:
- $500,000 maximum for a deceased minor
- $350,000 maximum for a deceased adult
We think these amounts are wholly inadequate, but they are unfortunately part of Wisconsin law.
Do You Have Questions about Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Wisconsin?
There are other practical limits on how much our Wisconsin clients can receive for a wrongful death for pecuniary losses. As an example, the defendant might only have a small insurance policy and no other assets. In that case, the policy limit represents the maximum you can request.