The Intersection of Semi-Trucks and Automobiles: Contributory Negligence in Action
When an individual suffers personal injuries as a result of an automobile and semi-truck colliding, he or she can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages related to the injuries. In order to recover for injuries, the injured party (the victim) must not only prove that the other party was negligent, but that the other party did substantially contribute to the victim's injuries.
Wisconsin law defines this under the theory of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence arises when the action of one party substantially caused an accident, which either completely bars him or her from recovery or limits his or her recovery based on their respective percentage of fault.
In Wisconsin, if the plaintiff bringing the lawsuit is less than 51 percent negligent in causing the accident, then he or she can still recover. However, if the plaintiff is over 51 percent negligent, then he or she will be barred from any recovery for his or her injuries.
Contributory negligence is used to understand the conduct of the parties involved in an accident. Since both passenger automobiles and semi-truck drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care when using the roads in Wisconsin, their conduct should cause unreasonable risks. When either party fails to act in a reasonable manner while operating a vehicle, they may be found to be partially or entirely responsible for their own injuries, even though someone else may have been involved in the accident as well.
Recent Case Involving Contributory Negligence
The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the decision in Dakter v. Callino on grounds related to jury instructions—a helpful case that illustrates the principles of contributory negligence and comparative fault.
In Dakter v. Cavallino a passenger automobile collided with a semi-truck on May 29, 2008 when the passenger automobile attempted to make a left turn. The passenger automobile was appropriately stopped at the intersection with the left-turn signal on when the semi-truck approached from the opposite direction and struck the passenger vehicle as it was making the left turn. After a 10-day trial, the jury determined that the driver of the passenger automobile was 35 percent negligent while the driver of the semi-truck was 65 percent negligent. The driver of the passenger automobile was awarded approximately $1 million.
This case is a solid example of how the fault system works in Wisconsin. Although the driver of the passenger automobile was found to be 35 percent negligent, he was still able to recover for his injuries because he was not found to be over 51 percent negligent for causing his own injuries.
Consult an Experienced Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one was involved in an automobile accident involving a semi-truck, you should contact an experienced Appleton personal injury attorney or Green Bay personal injury attorney who will assist you in determining if you contributed to your injuries and will advise you of any possible recovery. Contact Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. today. We have offices in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh, and New London.