Pain and Suffering Damages in Wisconsin

From the concerts of Summerfest to the frigid thrill of Lambeau Field, Wisconsin knows how to have a good time. But even during these good times, accidents can happen, and every cheesehead knows injuries don't just befall their beloved Packers players. If you've been injured in Wisconsin and you're pursuing a claim against someone, you may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering, a legal term for the physical and emotional distress caused by a physical injury. Read on to educate yourself about the law regarding pain and suffering damages in Wisconsin.

The table below outlines key aspects of Wisconsin's laws regarding pain and suffering damages, including damage caps and the statute of limitations.

Statute of Limitations

3 years for personal injury & medical malpractice (Sec's. 893.54 & 893.55(1m)); 120 days to give notice to state and local government agencies (Sec's. 893.82(3) & 893.80(1d))

Limits on Damages $750,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims (Sec. 893.55(4)(d)); $250,000 cap on some claims against the state (Sec. 893.82(6)); $50,000 cap for claims against local government (893.80(3))
Other Limits Comparative negligence rule may prohibit or reduce recovery of any damages (Sec. 895.045)

Types of Damages Available

Personal injury claims in Wisconsin usually result in at least two kinds of damages: economic (or "special") and non-economic (or "general"). Economic damages are the monetary expenses of an accident, like medical bills and lost wages, and are easier to calculate. Non-economic damages refer to the more subjective costs of an injury, including physical and emotional pain and suffering.

The Value of Pain and Suffering

The experiences of pain and suffering can vary greatly, even among those with similar injuries. As a result, it's inherently difficult to measure the damages for pain and suffering. Furthermore, courts often give juries very little guidance for quantifying these awards. However, attorneys and juries sometimes use relevant factors to assign value to these kinds of damages.

Factors considered in measuring damages for pain and suffering include:

  • The extent of the injury
  • Disfigurement or disability caused by the injuries
  • Impairment of ability to perform normal activities
  • Aggravation to preexisting conditions
  • The amount of economic loss suffered

In arguing for certain amounts of damages, some attorneys also use a "multiplier method" where the attorney multiplies the economic damages by a certain number, usually between one and five. For example, if the plaintiff was moderately injured and suffered $50,000 in lost wages, an attorney might argue that the plaintiff should be awarded three times that amount ($150,000) for pain and suffering.

Limits on Damages

Some states impose caps on these types of awards. While Wisconsin doesn't limit damages for pain and suffering, specifically, it does cap claims against the state at $250,000, claims against local municipalities at $50,000, and non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims at $750,000. Additionally, the state's "modified comparative negligence" rule bars any recovery if the plaintiff was more than 50% responsible for causing the injury. In all other scenarios, this rule reduces damages in proportion to the amount of fault attributed to the plaintiff.

Learn More About Pain and Suffering Damages in Wisconsin: Speak with a Lawyer

For many personal injury claims, Wisconsin has no limit on the amount of damages you could be awarded, putting a lot at stake in your claim. But, the state also has some short timelines for pursuing a claim and the state's comparative negligence rules could significantly affect an otherwise large award for damages. Talk to an experienced, local personal injury attorney who can evaluate the strength of your claim for pain and suffering damages in Wisconsin.

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