How to win a car accident case – Duty first.  In Wisconsin, to successfully recover money damages from another driver who caused a car accident or collision, the injured person must prove four elements: duty, negligence or breach of the duty, causation and damages.  This post will discuss duty.

Duty is a necessary element of automobile collision settlement negligence cases. In Wisconsin, the duty of all persons is the obligation of due care, to refrain from any act (or failure to act) which will cause foreseeable harm to others even though the nature of that harm and the identity of the harmed person or harmed interest is unknown at the time of the act.  A.E. Inv. Corp. v. Link Builders, Inc., 62 Wis. 2d 479 (1974).

A person who drives a car and violates a rule of the road (failure to yield, texting) is liable for any injuries or damages he causes to another.  It does not matter if the bad driver could not have foreseen the damages he may cause, for example he hit someone who then goes off the road, down a hill and into a house injuring people asleep in their beds.  It may be farfetched or unusual, but the negligent driver is responsible for all lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering he causes regardless of how extenuated.

Instead, Wisconsin uses a public policy exception which states that in some odd situations, even if there is duty, breach, cause and damages, the court will not allow for liability.  Once it is determined that a negligent act has been committed and that the act is a substantial factor in causing the harm, the question of duty is irrelevant and a finding of nonliability can be made only in terms of public policy: (1) The injury is to remote for the negligence; or (2) the injury is too wholly out of proportion to the culpability of the negligent tort-feasor; or (3) in retrospect it appears too highly extraordinary that the negligence should have brought about the harm; or (4) because allowance of recovery would place too unreasonable a burden on the negligent tort-feasor; or (5) because allowance of recovery would be too likely to open the way for fraudulent claims; or (6) allowance of recovery would enter a field that has no sensible or just stopping point.  Rockweit v. Senecal, 187 Wis. 2d 170 (Ct. App. 1994).

McCormick Law Office attorneys get the best results in car accident cases by carefully listening, investigating and then applying the law to the facts to determine if a legal duty is present.  All drivers of motor vehicles have a duty to exercise due care or ordinary care.