A wrongful death lawsuit can assist a Wisconsin family in securing compensation following the death of a loved one which has left the family emotionally shaken, and at times financially unstable. However, there are strict state liability statutes that surround such lawsuits, which thereby dictate who can and cannot file such a lawsuit and when they can and cannot do so in Wisconsin. This means that even if the claim is completely merited, if the state screening or filing is completed outside of the specified timeline, the claim will be barred from consideration.
One family in Wisconsin recently learned this hard lesson when a judge dismissed the wrongful death claim they filed, stating that the claim was filed four months too late of the two year deadline for issuing such a claim.
This claim was filed by the family of a teenage Wisconsin mother and wife that was killed in 1980. Reportedly, even though the crime took place in 1980, the murderer was not charged until 2009, convicted in 2010 and then sentenced to life in prison in 2011.
Wisconsin law stipulates that a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date when it is feasible where liability rests. The family of the victim sought unspecified damages and the cost of funeral expenses. Accordingly, the family filed their claim in 2011. However, a judge ruled that it could reasonably be concluded where liability lie when the eventually convicted man was originally charged in 2009. The family filed the claim four months outside of two years from the time the man was charged, so the lawsuit was subsequently dismissed.
All of this can be very confusing. It can feel unfair and unjust when a family is denied their rightful remuneration based on a technicality. Speaking with an experienced attorney as soon as a loved one dies in an untimely manner can assist a family in understanding if they have a claim and how best to proceed to avoid missing a deadline and often crucial compensation.
Source: Madison.com, "Wrongful death lawsuit in 1980 murder dismissed," Shannon Green, Feb. 6, 2013
- Our firm has experience assisting families seeking recovery that have similarly lost a loved one too soon. For more information, please refer to our Milwaukee wrongful death page.