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What Is the 50/50 Law for Wisconsin Car Accidents?

If you were hurt in a Wisconsin motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver. In most cases, the person legally responsible for the accident is held liable in an injury claim or lawsuit. But what happens when multiple drivers share responsibility for the collision? Understanding the nuances of Wisconsin accident law can help you deal with the legal aftermath of a car accident where more than one person is to blame.

Wisconsin Is an At-Fault State

Wisconsin is an “at-fault” state, which means that responsibility for a car crash rests on the driver who caused the accident. The injured victim who was not at fault can seek damages from the responsible person’s insurance company. Potential damages include: pain and suffering, medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and other costs. Navigating the aftermath of a collision becomes more complicated when both drivers share fault.


What Is Wisconsin’s 51 Percent Rule?

Wisconsin follows a modified comparative negligence law (also referred to as the 50 percent rule), which means that, as long as you were no more than 50 percent responsible for an accident, you can still recover compensation from other at-fault parties. However, the total amount of damages that may be awarded to you is reduced by your percentage of fault.

For example, suppose you entered an intersection with a green light, driving 25 mph over the speed limit, when a vehicle driving in the opposite direction suddenly turned left into your path and hit your car. In that case, you might be 20 percent responsible for the accident (based on your speed), while the other driver is 80 percent responsible based on the negligent turn. In this scenario, the total compensation you can collect is reduced by 20 percent. Thus, if your damages total $10,000, you would only be entitled to receive $8,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Significantly, in the above scenario, the at-fault driver cannot seek compensation from your insurance company because Wisconsin places a cap at 50 percent fault. Thus, if a driver is 51 percent or more responsible for an accident, that driver is considered primarily liable and cannot pursue compensation.


What Happens if Two Drivers Share Equal Fault?

The 50/50 insurance claim arises when two drivers are equally to blame for the collision. For example, two cars failed to stop at a four-way intersection, crashing into each other. Each driver could potentially be liable for 50 percent of the other’s damages in this scenario.

However, the actual amounts owed to each driver may differ based on the severity of their injuries. For example, Driver A may have sustained minor bodily injuries but incurs extensive vehicle damage, while Driver B suffered severe bodily injuries resulting in high medical bills and lost wages. Despite equal fault, the compensation they receive may drastically differ based on the levels of loss.


Let Our Car Accident Attorneys Help You


At Atterbury, Kammer & Haag, S.C., our seasoned and compassionate personal injury lawyers will aggressively work to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve. Our results speak for themselves. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.

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Eric J. Haag

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Wisconsin Personal Injury

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