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What Benefits Am I Entitled to If My Spouse Was Killed in a Trucking Accident?

April 29, 2019 |

Truck accidents can be devastating due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. Unfortunately, when tractor-trailers or other commercial vehicles are involved in crashes with much smaller and lighter passenger vehicles at highway speeds, many of these accidents result in the death of the motor vehicle driver. If you lost a spouse or a loved one in a trucking accident caused by the fault of the truck driver or trucking company, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your spouse’s or loved one’s injuries and your family’s losses through a wrongful death claim.

What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Claim in Wisconsin?

If your spouse died in a trucking accident in Wisconsin, you could bring a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for your losses. A wrongful death claim is a civil claim that you can bring when your spouse dies because of negligence or wrongful conduct of another person or entity. Many types of accidents can qualify for wrongful death claims, including trucking accidents.

The negligence portion of a wrongful death claim is the most crucial component. In order to pursue a wrongful death claim, your spouse or loved one cannot be the majority at fault in causing the truck accident that led to his or her death. Another party or entity, or even multiple parties, must be at-fault for causing the accident. Depending upon the circumstances, you can seek to hold the truck driver, trucking company, manufacturer of a defective part or truck or trucking repair or inspection company liable for your spouse’s or family member’s death in a Wisconsin wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Wisconsin?

Under Wisconsin law, not everyone is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim.  Instead, there is a hierarchy of claimants.  If the deceased is survived by a spouse or domestic partner, the spouse or domestic partner may bring a wrongful death claim.  If the deceased dies leaving both a surviving spouse/domestic partner and minor children, the court must approve of any wrongful death settlement to make sure that the interests of the minor children are adequately protected.  If the deceased is not survived by a spouse or domestic partner, but is survived by children, whether minor or adult, the children may pursue a wrongful death claim.  If there is no surviving spouse/domestic partner,or are no surviving children, then the deceased’s parents may bring the wrongful death claim.  If there are no surviving parents, then any minor siblings can bring a wrongful death claim, but adult siblings may not.  If none of the above situations apply, then no one can bring a wrongful death claim.

Damages in Wrongful Death Claims in Wisconsin

In connection with a Wisconsin wrongful death claim, both economic and noneconomic compensation may be recovered.  Where the deceased is survived by a spouse or domestic partner, the spouse or domestic partner may recover the following categories of damages:

  • The funeral and burial expenses you had to pay for your spouse or domestic partner;
  • Pecuniary damages for lost wages that your spouse or domestice partner sustained while recovering from his or her injuries as well as for the loss of ongoing financial support that your spouse or domestic partner would have  continued to provide to you and your family if he or she did not die in the truck accident;
  • Damages for loss of household services your spouse or domestic partner was providing;
  • Compensation for the loss of society and companionship that you and your family suffered due to the loss of your spouse or domestic partner, but this amount may not exceed $350,000.

With respect to the death of a minor child, his or her parents may recover up to $500,000 for the loss of the child’s society and companionship.

Where the deceased is survived by adult children, typically no claim can be brought for loss of financial support, as the obligation to support children legally terminates at age 18.

In addition to wrongful death claims, Wisconsin law also recognizes a survival claim on behalf of the deceased individual’s estate.  An estate, through a personal representative or special administrator, may pursue a claim for medical expenses for treatment the deceased required as a result of the accident, and for any funeral, burial and/or cremation expenses.  In addition, when the deceased experienced conscious pain and suffering as a result of the accident, an estate may recover compensation for that as well.

If you lost a spouse or a loved one in a Wisconsin trucking accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for you and your family’s losses through a wrongful death claim.  If a loved one has been killed in a trucking crash, contact the Wisconsin wrongful death and trucking accident attorneys at Cannon & Dunphy as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and potential claim.

 

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