After the death of a loved one in an accident, it can be very difficult to know what to do. Many people will be grieving the loss of your loved one, but you may not have “standing” as a wrongful death plaintiff in Kenosha. As a result, it is important to discuss your legal circumstances with a knowledgeable attorney to determine if you have legal grounds for a claim.
What is Legal Standing for a Wrongful Death Suit?
Legal standing refers to an individual’s right to make a legal claim. In Wisconsin, courts evaluate standing as a matter of judicial policy. For wrongful death claims, the legislature has defined who can be a plaintiff.
For a wrongful death case in Kenosha, the plaintiff may be:
- The personal representative of the victim’s estate, or
- Someone who has the legal right to recover damages.
Examples include a surviving spouse, a child, or a parent. However, these rules can be incredibly complex. For example, just because someone has a legal right to bring a case, does not mean they can recover damages.
As a result, any potential wrongful death plaintiff could benefit from consulting with an experienced Kenosha attorney at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. to help you understand if you or someone else can bring a lawsuit.
Recovering Damages in a Kenosha Wrongful Death Suit
Wisconsin has specific rules about who can recover damages in a wrongful death suit. If the case is not brought by the personal representative of the estate, it must be brought by the person who is entitled to damages.
Based on the wrongful death statutes, this includes:
- The surviving spouse and minor dependent children under the age of 18,
- The spouse of the deceased if no minor children are involved,
- If there is no spouse, the “lineal heirs” are next in line.
In other words, the spouse would be chosen first, followed by the children, then parents, until it reached the grandparents. As you can imagine, this lineage can become very complicated. Many cases come before various district, appellate, and even the Wisconsin Supreme Court regarding this issue.
For example, a “surviving spouse” does not always simply mean any living spouse of the deceased. In a recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it stated that a trial court must attempt to protect the children, even if the surviving spouse is alive and does not recover any damages. In that case, the surviving spouse did not have a claim because they no longer received any financial support from the deceased. The Court held that the minor children had a cause of action because the surviving spouse was estranged and barred from recovery. The children become “lineal heirs.”
How to Proceed as a Plaintiff in a Kenosha Wrongful Death Suit
First, you must find a wrongful death attorney. With over 30 years of experiences, the lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. can help you alleviate the stress and confusion surround a wrongful death suit. With many legal procedures, you will need help. Our attorneys could meet with you for a free consultation to discuss if you can bring a wrongful death suit and if you can recover damages.
Next, the lawyers will ensure that your lawsuit is within the statute of limitations. In Wisconsin, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within 3 years of the victim’s death. If you wait too long, you cannot bring a suit at a later date. As a result, it is crucial to discuss your options with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Lastly, you could work with the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. to draft a complaint. This begins the court and litigation process, after which each Defendant must be served in order for the Court to obtain jurisdiction over each Defendant.
To learn more about being a plaintiff in a Kenosha wrongful death claim, contact the lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.