Many Wisconsin car accidents occur due to the negligence of one or both drivers. If you were involved in an accident, you may be able to recover damages to cover medical expenses and other accident-related costs by filing a negligence claim against the other driver.

The Elements of Negligence

When you file a negligence lawsuit against the other driver, your attorney will focus on proving the four basic elements of negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages.

Duty

Generally, all motorists have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and to follow all traffic laws to protect other drivers on the roadway.

Breach of duty

If you are asserting a negligence claim against another driver, you will need to show they breached a duty owed to you. In most cases, this means that the other driver violated a traffic law. Some of the most common breaches of duty in a car accident case include:

  • Driving at an excessive speed
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Driving while distracted
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way at an intersection
  • Following too closely
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Unsafely changing lanes or merging

Causation

Once you have established that another driver was negligent behind the wheel, you will need to prove that their negligent behavior directly and proximately caused your accident and injuries. This basically requires you to prove that the accident would not have occurred but for the defendant’s negligence and that the harm you suffered was foreseeable at the time of the defendant’s negligence.

Damages

Finally, you will need to prove that you suffered harm or injury as a result of the accident. Medical records and bills, statements from your doctors, and expert testimony can all be used to establish your injuries.

Can I recover damages if I was partially responsible for the accident?

Wisconsin follows the comparative negligence standard, meaning that even motorists partially responsible for their own injuries can recover damages based on the percentage of fault. For example, if a jury finds you were 30 percent liable for your accident and awards you $100,000 in damages, you would only be able to recover $70,000 in damages.

Filing a negligence suit against another driver can be challenging, but a personal injury attorney with years of experience can handle the ins and outs of your case and give you the best chance to recover compensation.