In a Wisconsin MVA settlement case, what damages are caused by the car accident is composed of two concepts: (1) cause in fact and (2) public-policy considerations. See Morgan v. Pennsylvania Gen. Ins. Co., 87 Wis. 2d 723 (1979).

A defendant’s negligence or bad driving is a cause in fact of your medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, if it was a substantial factor in bringing about those damages. Merco Distrib. Corp. v. Commercial Police Alarm Co., 84 Wis. 2d 455, 458-59 (1978). Substantial factor means the defendant’s conduct has such an effect in producing the harm as to lead the jury member, as a reasonable person, to regard it as a cause, using that word in the popular sense. Merco, 84 Wis. 2d at 458-59.

The legal concept of foreseeability is not a part of cause in fact in Wisconsin car accident cases. Wisconsin negligence law requires a duty, breach of duty, and cause of damages for negligence recoveries under Wisconsin law. Rockweit v. Senecal, 197 Wis. 2d 409 (1995). In Wisconsin, everyone has an “obligation of due care to refrain from any 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, 483-84 (1974). This broad concept of duty represents the minority view in Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad, 162 N.E. 99 (N.Y. 1928) (Andrews, J., dissenting).

Cause of damage is made up of two determinations: cause in fact and proximate cause. Morgan v. Pennsylvania Gen. Ins. Co.87 Wis. 2d 723, 735-36 (1979). Cause in fact involves a factual determination of whether the negligence was a substantial factor in producing the injury. Miller, 219 Wis. 2d at 261-62; Morgan, 87 Wis. 2d at 735-36. Foreseeability, specifically the foreseeability of whether a particular injury would occur to a particular person, is not considered as part of the cause-in-fact determination. Stewart v. Wulf, 85 Wis. 2d 461, 469 (1978). Proximate cause is an assessment of public-policy considerations that are made as a matter of law. Miller, 219 Wis. 2d at 261, 264-68, which will be discussed in a subsequent blog on car accident settlement damages causation.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin McCormick Law Office represents drivers and passengers injured through the negligence of drivers who cause medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering from car crashes. We utilize experts such as doctors and vocational specialists to prove causation or cause in fact of losses and damages our clients suffering in proving your case.