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Negligence and Traffic Laws in Wisconsin

Posted on in Car Accidents

Wisonsin personal injury attorney, Wisonsin car crash lawyer, Milwaukee car crash attorneyMany people's first experience with the legal system comes by way of a traffic accident. In fact, with over a hundred thousand accidents every year, according to statistics published by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, everyone is likely to be in multiple traffic accidents over the course of their lives. Some people may wonder about what good traffic laws are if there are still so many accidents, but it turns out that, in addition to preventing accidents, traffic laws are also useful during traffic accident lawsuits. This is because an accident victim must show that the person who injured them was “negligent” in order to recover, and showing that someone violated traffic laws is a good way of showing negligence.

What Negligence Means

Negligence is a legal term with a specific meaning, but that specific meaning closely tracks how the word is usually used. Showing someone was negligent means showing that they were not being as careful as they should have been. In order to prove negligence in court, a victim must demonstrate four things, known as the elements of negligence:
  • First, a victim must show that the person who injured them had a duty to be careful. While there are some scenarios where this is in question, drivers on the road almost always have a duty to each other.
  • Second, the victim must show that the defendant “breached” that duty, meaning that they somehow acted carelessly.
  • Third, the victim must show that the careless act caused something to happen, such as a traffic accident.
  • Fourth, the victim must show that they were injured by whatever the defendant's carelessness caused.

Much of the dispute in court will center on whether the defendant was being careless. This is something of a difficult thing to show because the amount of care a person was taking is not something that can be easily measured. However, the violation of traffic laws can often help with this, thanks to a doctrine known as per se negligence.

Per Se Negligence

Per se negligence is a Latin phrase meaning negligent by itself. In the context of a traffic accident it means that the violation of a traffic law may be automatically negligent. This is because traffic laws often represent the government's official opinion on what is or is not safe to do. For instance, the government sets speed limits based on what would be a safe speed on a dry, clear day. If a person is exceeding that speed, then he or she is likely driving too fast, which means that he or she would have breached his or her duty of care to other drivers on the road, and may be liable if he or she causes an accident.

 Traffic accidents are a common problem, but they can also be devastating. If you have been involved in a traffic accident, contact an experienced Milwaukee personal injury attorney today to learn about what rights you may have.

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