Wisconsin Fatal Car
Our lawyers don't charge unless you win
Compassionate Legal Representation to Family Members after a Fatal Accident
Fatal car wrecks are always a tragic sight on Wisconsin’s roads. Cars tend to be totaled, and ambulances rush to the scene to carry away the victims. Unfortunately, hundreds of motorists perish each year in fatal wrecks in the Badger State. Their family members are left with only memories.
At Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Butler, LLC, our legal team stands ready to help those families identify their legal rights and seek compensation for their losses. Wisconsin has adopted wrongful death as a cause of action for personal injury. Call our law firm today to check if this is a claim you can bring. We offer free consultations to members of the public to help them better understand their legal options.
Fatal Accident Statistics
The Wisconsin State Patrol collects crash data, which shows a consistent number of fatal accidents over the past few years:
- 547 fatal accidents in 2022, killing 595
- 546 fatal accidents in 2021, killing 595
- 540 fatal car accidents in 2020, killing 593
What Causes Fatal Car Accidents?
Almost any car wreck could kill one or more passengers, but some accidents are more dangerous than others. For example, a collision at high speeds will generate more force and cause more serious bodily injuries. Some people die immediately at the scene, while others will succumb in the following days or weeks.
Wisconsin State Patrol has also identified some of the leading causes of fatal accidents for 2022:
- 162 speed-related fatalities
- 184 impaired-driving fatalities
- 64 drug-related fatalities
- 155 alcohol-related fatalities
When motorists are intoxicated or high, they can engage in riskier behavior, such as running a red light or pulling into a group of pedestrians. Other impaired motorists will fall asleep and cross the center line, leading to a head-on collision, or drive straight through a red light.
Any risky or aggressive driving increases the chances of a fatal crash. But some other causes include inclement weather, like ice or snow on the road. Road defects, including unfixed potholes, can also cause a motorist to lose control and rollover or crash.
Wrongful Death Cases in Wisconsin
Losing a loved one in an accident is emotionally shattering. There is nothing the law can do to bring a loved one back. If the driver responsible for the accident broke the law, then the police might arrest them, and the state might file charges. That often happens if the driver was intoxicated or driving well over the speed limit.
Family members should also consider whether they can bring a wrongful death lawsuit:
- This is a civil case, not a criminal case. Accordingly, the burden of proof is lower, and you only need to show it is more likely than not that the defendant was liable for your loved one’s death.
- Family members can receive compensation if the defendant is liable. The defendant does not go to jail.
- The claim seeks to compensate survivors for economic and non-economic losses suffered.
Wisconsin allows either the estate’s personal representative to file the lawsuit or certain family members, such as the surviving spouse. We strongly encourage you to reach out to our firm to talk about your case.
Compensation when a Loved One Dies in Wisconsin
The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to provide financial compensation for the death of your loved one in a fatal car accident. Money is inadequate to replace a spouse or parent, but it’s what the courts can give victims. And many of our clients suffer serious financial distress after the death of a spouse or parent. A wrongful death claim can help with that.
Our clients seek compensation for certain damages:
- Funeral/burial expenses;
- Medical bills to treat the final illness or injury;
- Financial losses, such as the wages the deceased would have earned had they lived; and
- Loss of companionship and society.
A surviving spouse and children will receive at least 50% of any damages awarded, regardless of who filed the lawsuit. Loss of companionship damages are also capped: a surviving spouse can receive a maximum of $350,000, with a child receiving $500,000, at most.
Comparative Negligence & Fatal Car Accidents in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s comparative negligence law can impact any wrongful death claim. Generally, Wisc. Stat. § 895.045 does not bar you from bringing a wrongful death claim unless the deceased’s negligence was greater than the defendant’s negligence. This means your loved one could be up to 50% at fault but not more.
Negligent driver includes:
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while fatigued
- Failing to yield
- Failing to use turn signals or mirrors
- Illegal lane changes
If your loved one was 50% or less at fault, their negligence will still reduce your compensation proportionally. As an example: If your loved one was 40% at fault, then you can receive at most 60% of your damages against the defendant.
Seat Belt Defense in Wisconsin
Wisconsin requires that motorists wear a seat belt. What happens if your loved one wasn’t buckled up at the time of the accident? Isn’t this a type of negligence which could defeat a legal claim?
Under the law, failure to wear a seat belt is not always negligence. However, compensation can be reduced if your loved one’s failure to wear a seat belt was related to their injuries. For example, someone who wasn’t belted could be tossed from the vehicle or suffer devastating chest injuries when they slam into the steering wheel. Do not be surprised if there is heavy focus on whether your loved one was buckled in before the crash.
There’s good news: Wisc. Stat. § 347.48(2m)(g) states that any award cannot be reduced by more than 15%. So even if your loved one wasn’t wearing a belt, the amount of compensation you receive will not be reduced too much.
Evidence for a Wisconsin Fatal Car Accident
These are challenging cases. Your loved one who perished is an important witness as to what happened, but now he or she is gone, so we can’t question them. Fault is a major consideration in any car accident, including fatal accidents. You can’t bring a wrongful death claim unless the defendant is in some way at fault for the crash.
At Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Butler, LLC, our wrongful death lawyers rely on evidence to piece together what happened. Some of the most important pieces include:
- Witnesses. An eyewitness could be another driver on the road or a passenger in a vehicle nearby. They can explain to insurance adjusters and lawyers what happened. They are probably the most important part of any wrongful death case.
- Video evidence. Some fatal accidents are recorded. For example, an accident outside a gas station could be recorded on security cameras. Some vehicles also have dashcams, which might pick up an accident happening in front of them.
- Skid marks and physical damage. Physical evidence can help our experts reconstruct an accident. A skid mark shows which driver braked or took other defensive action. The way two vehicles collide also tells us their angle of impact.
- Admissions by the defendant. A defendant might admit to looking at a cell phone while driving or nodding off briefly behind the wheel. We can use the defendant’s admissions when building a case to prove liability.
- Toxicology reports. If the driver was high or drunk, we might use any toxicology report from a breath, urine, or blood test. That is powerful evidence the defendant was negligent.
- Cell phone records. If we suspect a driver was texting while driving, we might request copies of their cell phone records.
Why Choose our Fatal Car Accident Lawyers
Many lawyers are not prepared for the work that a wrongful death case requires. To win a case, we need to fully understand what happened and why.
We are proud to bring to every case we accept:
- Broad experience in car accident law. We know the physics of car accidents and can identify the likely cause of any wreck.
- Detailed investigations. We don’t sit and wait for the police to perform an investigation. We can visit the scene, talk to witnesses, and ask the defendant questions under oath.
- Fluency with the law. Personal injury law is a big field, which is always changing. We keep up with all new case developments so we make the most powerful legal arguments on your behalf.
- Compassion. We understand that losing a loved one in a crash is a turning point in our clients’ lives. We never lose sight of the emotional toll these cases take on you.
- Seasoned negotiators. Our firm can usually negotiate a settlement, which makes a wrongful death trial unnecessary. We drive a tough bargain by fully documenting our position with opposing counsel.
- Effective litigation strategies. Filing a lawsuit is sometimes necessary to gain leverage over a defendant. We know how to make the state’s rules of evidence and civil procedure work for you.
Speak with a Fatal Car Accidents Lawyer Today
Our firm wants everyone who has lost a loved one to know that we are here for them. If you have questions, give us a call. Our firm offers confidential consultations to grieving family members.
Attorney William SkempMelissa, Source: Avvo
"Mr. Skemp was so thorough in handling my case.
He was literally the junk yard dog I was hoping to hire and fought for me the whole way. Even when I felt like giving in. His staff is so helpful and kind as well. "
Attorney David FitzpatrickGeorge, Source: Google
"If you been denied SSI, call them they will fight for you and pay nothing unless they win."
view all testimonials
Attorney SCOTT BUTLERAbby, Source: Google
"We hired Attorney Scott Butler after a motor vehicle accident. Immediately a weight was lifted off our shoulders, as he handled everything with the insurance companies, medical paperwork, etc so that we could focus on healing and getting on with life. He is highly attentive, kind and genuine. His communication is fabulous-frequently reaching out just to check on us, prompt in returning calls/emails. Couldn't have had a better experience with our case. My family would highly recommend Scott Butler to anyone."