Car accident cases in Wisconsin are not always black and white. There may be multiple factors that influence liability – as well as what happens if someone gets injured.
Some accidents involve multiple at-fault parties. For these situations, there is a rule called “comparative negligence” – or “contributory negligence”. This law holds all at-fault parties accountable – and distributes liability based on the role each party played in the accident.
In a car accident that involves comparative negligence, there will need to be an investigation to determine the role each party played in the collision. As a Wisconsin car accident injury law firm, many of the cases we deal with are comparative negligence.
In this post, we’re going to explain how it works – and how it can affect a car accident claim.
Comparative negligence refers to the concept in which multiple parties can be responsible for a car accident. These types of settlements can become very complex.
Comparative negligence means that the responsibility for a collision can be split among all parties involved via a percentage based on their involvement and how much they contributed.
If you’re involved in a car accident in the state of Wisconsin, you can potentially recover compensation even if you were partially at fault for the incident. However, there are certain guidelines that come into play.
Most notably, if a person is found to be 51 percent (or more) responsible for the accident, they are not eligible to seek compensation.
The recovery amount is generally reduced by the percentage of fault to you if it is 50 percent or less. This principle makes it crucial to establish accurate fault in a car accident.
The process of determining comparative negligence in car accident cases is rarely crystal clear. It involves a critical assessment of each party’s actions leading up to the accident.
Typically, insurance adjusters, law enforcement, accident recreationists, and legal teams will conduct investigations to collect evidence to accurately distribute liability. This includes (but is not limited to):
– The police report
– Video footage from traffic cameras
– Vehicle damage
– Skid marks
– Witness statements
– Any photos taken of the scene
This evidence is used to reconstruct the accident scene to understand the sequence of events. Based on these findings, each party’s actions are evaluated – considering what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.
From here, a percentage of the fault is assigned to each party.
In a Wisconsin car accident involving comparative negligence, damages are paid out by the at-fault parties based on a percentage of their liability. Once these percentages of fault are determined, the total damages are paid out to the victim, which includes (but are not limited to):
– Medical expenses
– Property damage
– Lost wages
– Pain and suffering
Let’s put this in perspective.
For example, let’s say the accident involved Driver A making a risky maneuver while speeding, and then hit Driver B. However, Driver C made an illegal U-turn – forcing Driver A to make the risky maneuver.
Lastly, Driver B was driving with a broken headlight.
The investigation might put Driver A at 50 percent at fault, Driver C at 40 percent, and Driver B at 10 percent. If Driver B suffered $100,000 in damages, here’s how the comparative negligence calculations might break down:
– Driver A: $50,000
– Driver B: $10,000
– Driver C: $40,000
– Driver B collects $90,000 in damages from Driver A and C
The insurance providers and car accident lawyers involved will negotiate the terms of these percentages.
Hiring a car accident injury attorney is crucial after any accident – but it’s even more important in a comparative negligence case.
When accidents happen, the insurance companies involved have an obligation to maximize the bottom line – and minimize their payout by any means necessary. The car accident injury attorney negotiates with the insurance company to fight for fair compensation.
Without a skilled attorney who understands the state’s comparative negligence laws, seeking fair compensation for damages will be nearly impossible.
In the state of Wisconsin, victims of car accidents have a three-year statute of limitations to file an injury claim involving comparative negligence after the date of the accident. However, if the accident resulted in a death, the deceased person’s family or representatives have only two years to file a wrongful death claim.
We strongly recommend filing a personal injury claim as soon as possible after a car accident. Waiting to take action can potentially make the process of seeking compensation much more difficult.
Now, you may have never dealt with the legalities of a car accident before, we get it. Even if you have no idea what the next steps are, it never hurts to contact a car accident attorney. Most understand the situation you’re in and will be happy to offer a free consultation – or just some advice.
Hiring an experienced auto accident lawyer is the most important factor in how victims seek compensation for their damages. Your lawyer will clarify how comparative negligence factors into the accident – and fight to protect your best interests.
At Mahony Law, we represent victims of car accident cases in Wisconsin. Our firm operates on a contingency fee agreement. This means you pay nothing out of pocket to hire us – and we make our fees in the form of a percentage of the total settlement AFTER we win.
We provide FREE consultations to victims of car accidents. We’ll assess the situation, determine if you have a valid claim, and explain your options for seeking justice.
Call our office at 262-331-3553, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out an online form to start the process.
Abby is the founder of Mahony Law and devotes her time to representing people who have been seriously hurt due to the negligence of others. Abby has handled injury cases of all types, including birth injury, wrongful death, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents.
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