If a driver is faced with a car accident emergency, is he or she still responsible for causing an accident? In Wisconsin, the answer depends on who caused the emergency.
Wisconsin rules of the road state that a driver must use ordinary care to keep his or her vehicle under proper management and control so that when danger appears, the driver may stop the vehicle, reduce speed, change course, or take other proper means to avoid injury or damage. If a driver does not see or become aware of danger in time to take proper means to avoid the accident, the driver is not negligent as to management and control.
As for what constitutes ordinary care under the circumstances, Wisconsin law states a person is negligent when he or she fails to exercise ordinary care. Ordinary care is the care, which a reasonable person would use in similar circumstances. A person is not using ordinary care and is negligent, if the person, without intending to do harm, does something (or fails to do something) that a reasonable person would recognize as creating an unreasonable risk of injury or damage to a person or property.
Now, concerning an emergency, when the insurance company or jury considers negligence as to management and control, it must bear in mind that a driver may suddenly be confronted by an emergency, not brought about or contributed to by his or her own negligence. If that happens and the driver is compelled to act instantly to avoid collision, the driver is not negligent if he or she makes a choice of action or inaction that an ordinarily prudent person might make if placed in the same position. This is so even if it later appears that his or her choice was not the best or safest course.
However, this emergency rule does not apply to a person whose negligence wholly or in part created the emergency. A person is not entitled to the benefit of this emergency rule unless he or she is without fault in creating the emergency.
Also, the law allows the jury to consider this emergency rule only when determining whether a driver was negligent as to management and control. For example, the emergency rule does not apply to whether a driver is speeding in causing an accident, because if he or she was speeding, then they are partially responsible for creating the emergency.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin McCormick Law Office attorneys represent drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents in which they are confronted by an emergency driving situation. Attorneys get the best results in car accident emergency cases when the mva report includes honest and trustworthy documentation.