Why Does Third Party Liability Matter In Wisconsin Car Crash Cases?

Even though Wisconsin has a mandatory auto insurance law, about ten percent of drivers in the Badger State are uninsured. Additionally, Wisconsin has one of the lowest insurance minimum requirements in the country. As a result, many other drivers are dangerously uninsured.

In a serious injury case, the medical bills, property loss, and other economic damages could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Noneconomic damages, such as money for pain and suffering, add a considerable sum to the total. Many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) do not have sufficient coverage to make good on all these losses.

Fortunately, Wisconsin also has very broad vicarious liability laws. In many cases, these laws give attorneys additional options in terms of obtaining fair compensation.

Employer Liability in Amery

Most car crashes are unintentional. In these situations, if the tortfeasor was a truck driver, Uber driver, taxi driver, or other commercial operator, the respondeat superior doctrine usually applies. Employers are vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees if the tortfeasor was:

● Employee: In a Wisconsin negligence case, employees are not just people who get regular paychecks and W-2s. The label may also apply to independent contractors, owner-operators, and even volunteer bus drivers. Employers control all these individuals, at least to a certain extent. That control is all that’s required.
● Scope of Employment: This element is very broadly defined as well. If the tortfeasor is doing anything that benefits the employer in any way, that act is within the scope of employment. These acts could be something as simple as driving a vehicle which bears the company logo. In these situations, the employer benefits from the free advertising.

Other employer liability theories include negligent supervision and negligent hiring. These theories usually apply in intentional tort cases, such as battery.

Alcohol Provider Liability in Wisconsin

A few states have broad dram shop laws which hold most grocery stores, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers liable for damages if their intoxicated patrons negligently inflicted injury. But Wisconsin has a rather narrow dram shop law which emphasizes personal responsibility. It usually only applies if the provider sold alcohol to a minor.

However, there are some other theories that may apply. Negligent undertaking is one example. If a commercial provider allows an intoxicated patron to drive away, that provider could be responsible for damages. Negligent undertaking may also apply to social hosts.

Owner Liability in Amery

If owners allow incompetent drivers to use their vehicles and these drivers cause injury, the owner is legally responsible for damages. People without valid drivers’ licenses are usually incompetent as a matter of law. Victim/plaintiffs could also use the tortfeasor’s bad driving record to establish incompetency. In these circumstantial evidence cases, the owner must know about the bad driving record or whatever.

Because of the Graves Amendment, commercial negligent entrustment cases are a little different. Victim/plaintiffs in these cases may need to prove additional facts.

Reach Out to Aggressive Attorneys

The tortfeasor may not be the only party that’s responsible for damages in a car crash case. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Amery, contact Novitzke, Gust, Sempf, Whitley & Bergmanis. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

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Amery, WI 54001
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