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Understanding negligence in Wisconsin personal injury cases

Whether you suffered injuries in a car crash or from a dog attack, you may be thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit to get legal compensation for the harm you sustained. In most Wisconsin cases, a crucial part of proving your case consists of showing your injuries stem from the defendant's negligence.

Understanding how the law defines negligence can give you a clearer picture of how personal injury cases work. However, every case comes with its own set of facts, and it usually takes a seasoned attorney to assess the strength of a particular lawsuit.

Defining negligence

Generally speaking, negligence means violating a duty of care owed to the plaintiff. What someone's duty of care consists of varies depending on this person's activities, role and relationship with the plaintiff.

Duty owed depends on circumstances

For example, drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists and pedestrians to drive with reasonable safety. Overall, this means complying with traffic rules: keeping to the speed limit, obeying traffic signals and so on. It can also mean reacting reasonably to changing circumstances. Some cases may involve strenuous arguments over whether a particular driver reacted appropriately to an object in the road or conduct by another driver.

The reasonable-person standard

Typically, the law does not expect people to always react in the safest way possible. Circumstances can render it difficult to make the perfect decision in a split second. Deciding whether a person reacted reasonably or crossed the line into negligence can give rise to some complicated discussions.

Partial fault

Sometimes, accidents happen due to several causes, one of which may include negligence by the plaintiff as well. Wisconsin law follows the contributory negligence model, which allows plaintiffs to recover as long as they were less negligent than the defendant. A plaintiff whose negligence contributed 20 percent to the accident can thus recover up to 80 percent of damages.

Malicious conduct resulting in additional damages

In cases where a defendant goes past the threshold of negligence and into the realm of intentional or reckless misconduct, Wisconsin law may entitle a plaintiff to punitive damages. Drunk driving is one example of behavior that can give rise to a punitive damages demand.

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We handle most cases on a contingency basis. We will not ask you to pay any fees unless we are successful in getting you compensation. If you have questions or would like to learn more about how we can help you, call us at 608-406-2282, or toll free at 866-821-1345. You can also reach us by completing our online contact form to discuss your case with an experienced La Crosse personal injury attorney.

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La Crosse, WI 54601

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