What is Contributory Negligence and How Does It Work Under Wisconsin Law?

Many individuals believe that if they were in any way responsible for an accident, then they are barred from getting compensation from another person who was at least partially at fault for the accident. The principle of contributory negligence does affect personal injury damages awards in the state of Wisconsin, but it does not completely stop you from getting compensation from the other party or parties involved in the accident.

Contributory negligence is any kind of action that contributes to an accident in some way. If an injury victim is contributorily negligent in causing an accident, then the defense may be that the victim is a certain percentage of fault for the accident, and therefore is only entitled to a certain percentage of damages. For instance, if the claim is that the victim was 20% at fault for the accident, then the victim would only be entitled to receive 80% of the compensation to which he or she is entitled, due to the contributory negligence.

However, there are limits on the amount of contributory negligence that can exist in a case and still entitle the injury victim to recover any amount of damages. Wisconsin, along with about half of the other states, uses what is commonly referred to as the “Fifty-One Percent Rule.” This rule states that if the injury victim is 51% or more responsible for the accident, then the injury victim cannot seek damages from another party that contributed to causing the accident. However, if the injury victim is 50% or less at fault for the accident, then he or she still can seek damages from the other party or parties involved.

The Madison personal injury lawyers of Boller & Vaughan devote their time to advocating on behalf of clients who have fallen victim to all types of car accidents, whether they are pedestrians, drivers, passengers, or bicyclists. Our job is to seek compensation for you and your family through the applicable legal framework, while you can focus on healing from your injuries and rebuilding your life with your family. Never hesitate to call our office for legal advice and counsel about your situation, so that we make our experience and knowledge work for you.