Time And Damages Limitations In Wrongful Death Actions

What is the deadline for filing a wrongful death action?

Generally speaking a wrongful death action must be brought within three years from time of the death. Wisconsin Statutes § 893.55(2). Different or additional time limits may apply depending on the particular facts. In some cases, the "discovery rule," which states that the time period for the lawsuit does not start running until after the wrongdoing is discovered, may extend the statute of limitations. This discovery rule does not apply, however, in medical malpractice actions. If you have questions about the deadline for filing a wrongful death action, you should seek legal advice.

What damages may be recovered for wrongful death?

The damages that may be recovered for wrongful death include quantifiable damages like funeral expenses, lost earnings, and lost services, which are called "pecuniary damages", as well as "non-pecuniary damages" like loss of companionship. There is no particular dollar limit on pecuniary damages for wrongful death. Non-pecuniary damages, however, are subject to statutory limits of $300,000 for an adult's death and $500,000 for a minor's death. Keep in mind that other statutes, including the statutes governing actions against medical providers, may impose other damages limitations, depending on the facts. Punitive damages are not recoverable in a wrongful death case, but may sometimes apply in a "survival action" brought for the damages that a deceased person suffered before dying. If you have questions about the extent of damages recoverable in a wrongful death action, you should seek legal advice.