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Witnesses: Driver in fatal Wisconsin crash failed to yield

Criminal charges and traffic citations are not necessary for the family of a person killed in a motor vehicle accident to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Traffic violations can strengthen a civil claim, but they are not necessary in Wisconsin. As families grieve the loss of a loved one after such a collision, at-fault drivers' insurance companies have been known to shift the blame for the accident onto the victim.

In these cases, it is important that grieving families are aware of their rights under current wrongful death laws.

These issues may come up after a recent fatal accident in Wisconsin Rapids. According to witnesses, a 75-year-old driver began driving through a red light before it had changed to green.

As the elderly man's vehicle moved forward, a 41-year-old bicyclist was riding his bike through a crosswalk at the busy intersection. The bicyclist, according to police, apparently had the right of way. The car hit the cyclist, who reportedly wasn't wearing a helmet, and he died of his injuries.

Complicating matters is that bicyclists in Wisconsin Rapids are supposed to walk their bikes across intersections. The police claim that, in this particular accident, the "walk" signal wasn't activated, apparently because the button mounted on the utility pole had not been pushed.

Still, it should be remembered that motorists have an obligation to share the road with bicyclists, as well as exercise due caution at intersections and in the presence of pedestrians. Liability in these cases can require legal experience to prove, and victims or their family members will likely need the help of a personal injury attorney to hold negligent parties accountable.

Source:, "Police: Driver left red light early in bike crash," Cassandra Vinch and Emily Neubauer, April 6, 2013

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