Important Evidence in Wisconsin Car Accident Cases
Legal responsibility in car accident cases typically hinges on the legal concept of negligence. Generally speaking, negligence refers to whether or not a person owes a duty of care to a person and whether or not they breached this duty to cause injury to someone else.
In Wisconsin, those injured in car accidents can recover compensation for their damages even if another person or party caused the accident due to negligence. Additionally, it is possible to recover compensation even if you are found to be partially responsible for the collision. Outlined in Wisconsin is a comparative negligence state, meaning that you are eligible for damages as long as your share of negligence is less than 51 percent of the total.
895.045(1) Comparative negligence. Contributory negligence does not bar recovery in an action by any person or the person’s legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or in injury to person or property, if that negligence was not greater than the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to the person recovering. The negligence of the plaintiff shall be measured separately against the negligence of each person found to be causally negligent. The liability of each person found to be causally negligent whose percentage of causal negligence is less than 51 percent is limited to the percentage of the total causal negligence attributed to that person. A person found to be causally negligent whose percentage of causal negligence is 51 percent or more shall be jointly and severally liable for the damages allowed.
How is Negligence established?
There are generally four elements that must be present to establish negligence:
1. Duty – The other party owed you a legal duty of care
2. Breach of Duty – They breached that duty
3. Causation – The breach caused the accident and without the breach, you would not have been injured
4. Actual injury – You suffered injuries as a result
However, proving these elements often comes with a significant evidentiary requirement, especially in cases involving severe and catastrophic injuries.
Examples of Evidence in Car Accident Cases
To build a strong case, your attorney must prove not only that another party was responsible for the accident or incident, but also the extent of your injuries and the impact that they have on your life – both presently and in the future.
Evidence from the crash scene can include:
- Police Reports
- Eyewitness Testimony
- Tire skid marks
- Surveillance video, dash came recordings, or other recorded video of the incident
- Photographs of both the damage to the vehicles and any road or traffic marking defects
- The actual vehicles – including the vehicle’s black box data
Evidence to prove damages can include:
- Medical bills – both past, present and estimates of future medical needs.
- Medical records – including lab results, x-rays, surgical interventions and any other test or procedure that you have undergone.
- Receipts and bills that show your expenses associated with lost wages, property damage, and other monetary costs.
- Estimates for the potential future loss of income and earning potential if you are permanently injured or disabled.
- Accident reconstruction
- Subject matter experts – experts may be brought in to provide testimony on the severity of injuries – especially if they are internal or invisible, such as brain injuries.
The extent of the evidence that is available or required depends on the unique circumstances of each collision. However, in all cases, it is important to speak with an attorney and begin an investigation as soon as possible to preserve evidence. Crash scene evidence can disappear, vehicles can be repaired, witnesses can become unreliable or unable to recollect the circumstances, and electronic records can be lost, altered, deleted or destroyed. Speaking with a Milwaukee car accident attorney as soon as you are able is the best way to preserve such important evidence and build a strong case for compensation.