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How Long Do You Have to File a Wisconsin Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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Your time is very limited to file a wrong death claim in Wisconsin

Each state has a statute of limitations limiting the time available for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, and Wisconsin is no exception.

The Wisconsin Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations is found in Section 893.54 of the state statutes. In Wisconsin, wrongful death lawsuits may only be filed within two or three years of the incident that resulted in death. The exact amount of time depends on the cause of the person’s death.

Once this time has passed, you can expect the defense to file a motion with the court to dismiss any lawsuit that you bring…and you can expect the court to grant that motion without providing you with any recovery. Accordingly, you have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim if your loved one was killed because of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. That’s why it is important for you to take action as soon as possible.

So, Is It Two Years or Three Years?

You have:

  • Two years to file a wrongful death case if the death was caused by a motor vehicle accident. The statute of limitations for car accident wrongful death cases was reduced to two years in February 2016.
  • Three years to file a wrongful death case if the death was caused by negligence or other wrongful acts not involving a motor vehicle.

Your time to file a claim typically starts on the date of the accident or incident that caused your loved one’s death.

Don’t Wait Until the Statute of Limitations Is About to Expire

While you may have two or three years to file a case, it is important to take action as soon as possible so that:

  • You don’t drag out legal proceedings. Wrongful death lawsuits in Wisconsin can take some time to be completed. When you delay filing a lawsuit, you push back the date this will all be over. Many people find it is best to complete the lawsuit as soon as possible, and move on with the grieving process.
  • You present as strong a case as possible. Over time, people tend to lose and misplace things. In a wrongful death lawsuit, losing a piece of key evidence can be damaging to the case. Also, testimonies from individual witnesses will be fresher and more reliable.

Thus, it is not necessary to contact a wrongful death lawyer the day that your loved one dies. However, we do encourage you to contact a lawyer when you are able to do so and not to wait until you are up against the statute of limitations deadline. Instead, talk to an experienced lawyer about how a wrongful death case works and give your lawyer the chance to research your case, so that you can make an informed decision about whether to pursue a claim as soon as possible.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham

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