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Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a term used for a statutory claim or remedy that is provided by the legislature in order to allow surviving spouses, the estate, or the heirs to claim damages for loss of a loved one as a result of the negligence of another party. Minnesota and Wisconsin are very similar. Minnesota does not have a limit on loss of society and companionship damages that can be recovered as does Wisconsin (see below). Damages that are allowed by the statute are as follows:

  • Funeral and Medical Expenses.
  • Conscious Pain and Suffering: The law provides that the estate of a deceased person is entitled to be compensated fairly and reasonably for pain and suffering endured by your loved one from the time of the accident up to the time of his or her death. Generally, the autopsy doctor can render an opinion on the issue of conscious pain and suffering. There has to be some observation of distress, discomfort or pain.
  • Loss of Society and Companionship: Recovery for loss of society, advice, counsel, assistance, and protection is confined only in Wisconsin by the statutory cap of $350,000.00 and the ability to convince the jury of the loss. Society and Companionship includes love, affection, care, protection, and guidance the remaining family members would have received from their deceased loved one. For example, in the case of the loss of a spouse we look at the following factors: the length of marriage, the age of the deceased spouse and the age of the surviving spouse, the past relationship between the spouses, the love, affection and conduct each other, the society and companionship that had been given to the surviving spouse by the deceased spouse; vacation time spent together, their intimacy, the personality, disposition, and character of the deceased spouse, the spouses shared many common interests; their life together was congenial; the surviving spouses remarried shortly after decedent’s death, and affection and company. Oftentimes, older surviving spouses think that their claim is minimal because they have only a few years to live. However, in the case Potter v. Potter in which the defendant argued that an award of the full statutory amount was an error because the decedent was 76 years old and only had a life expectancy of 6 years, the court responded by stating:

    “The relation of the advanced age of the parties to the excessive quality of a verdict giving the statutory limit for loss of society and companionship is not apparent to us. If it has any relation, it would seem quite as reasonable that a man of seventy-six, deprived of the society of his wife to whom he had been married for forty-five years, would be more seriously damaged, in view of the difficulties of forming new relationships, than had the death occurred earlier in life…In the view of the long period of their married life, and the fact that they had lived in harmony with each other for that period of time, taken in connection with the need of the aged plaintiff for comfort and companionship during his declining years, we cannot say that the amount of the award for loss of society is excessive.”

  • Pre-Majority Pecuniary Loss: Parents are entitled to the value of wages and services a child is reasonably capable of earning until age eighteen.
  • Post-Majority Pecuniary Loss: Parents may claim a loss of pecuniary benefits they would have received from Kelly after he turned age 18 had he continued to live. The jury must determine whether the parents would have received pecuniary benefits from the child after age 18.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and if you are looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer to maximize the remedies that you have available to you and to reach the highest possible award for your injuries or if you wish to compromise, negotiate, or effectively deal with either your insurance company or the adverse insurance company we, the Michael Ablan Law Firm can help you. We have been serving injured clients since 1974. With an experienced and aggressive yet honest, trustworthy and friendly legal team consisting of a lawyer with 35 years of experience, specialized paralegals, and a tax accountant, the Michael Ablan Law Firm in La Crosse, WI can help you. We also have offices in La Crescent, Minnesota and Hayward, Wisconsin. Contact us for a free consultation. Our expert legal services are available to you anywhere in the State of Wisconsin including but not limited to the counties of La Crosse, Trempealeau, Monroe, Pierce, Crawford, Vernon, Grant, Sawyer, Jackson or any other county in Wisconsin or in the state of Minnesota, including all counties surrounding La Crescent, MN, such as Houston and Winona and any other county.