The Covid-19 pandemic is hopefully behind us, and the country is getting back to normal life. This means more car travel on our nation's roadways. Even with the safety technology of cars improving yearly, car crashes are sadly occurring with greater frequency.
Recent government data estimates that 9,560 people were fatally injured in traffic accidents in the first three months of 2022. If accurate, that would be the highest number of first-quarter fatal injuries since 2002. An estimated 42,915 people died in traffic crashes in 2021. That was a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020.
The number of fatal crashes across the country is moving in the wrong direction, and Wisconsin is no exception. In Wisconsin, someone is killed or injured in a traffic crash every 12.4 minutes.
Traffic fatalities in Wisconsin have been on the rise for two years in a row. In 2021, there were a total of 601 traffic fatalities. The number of fatalities hasn’t been that high since 2008. State data shows that there have already been 356 fatal crashes in 2022 so far. In contrast, there were 344 fatal crashes in 2021.
Being involved in a car accident can be very scary. If you're fortunate not to be injured, you will very likely have to deal with damage to your vehicle. If your car is totaled, you will have to go through the process of getting a new car. This will most likely entail having to deal with an insurance provider. A Wisconsin car accident attorney can help you navigate the insurance claims process.
If you were injured in a car accident, you will have even more issues to contend with as you will need medical attention. You might not be able to work due to your injuries.
If the accident wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to pursue compensation from the person or party who caused the accident. A Wisconsin car accident lawyer can help you navigate and assist you on how to proceed with your case.
Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin is seeing a rise in dangerous driving behaviors, with speeding and risky driving at the top of the list. In a June 2022 press release, Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Craig Thompson addressed the problems of drunk driving, not wearing seat belts, and distracted driving.
According to the press release, most of the fatalities on Wisconsin roads this year were due to drivers not wearing seat belts. A 2021 survey found that about 88% of Wisconsin drivers and passengers were wearing seat belts. That number is down 2% since 2019. The national average of seat belt compliance is 90%. Half of those killed in crashes in Wisconsin in 2021 were not wearing seat belts.
The increases in traffic fatalities in the last two years have been seen all over the state. According to state data, 11 counties in Wisconsin had traffic fatalities increase in 2020 and 2021 by at least two deaths per year over the three-year averages before the pandemic.
Deaths from distracted driving crashes have gone up in recent years. In 2021, 40 people were fatally injured, up from 31 in 2020 and 26 in 2019. New data from the state DOT shows that distracted driving has increased in recent years. There were more than 10,000 accidents that involved distracted driving last year. That number is up more than 13% from 2020.
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is another big problem in Wisconsin. Drivers who are drunk or high on marijuana, opioids, meth, and other drugs can be extremely dangerous when they get behind the wheel.
The state has the 8th highest drunk driving rate in the country. Of the 210 fatal crashes reported in the state in 2021, 14.7% of them were DUI-related.
If you were involved in a car accident and the other driver was speeding, driving distracted, or driving under the influence, a Wisconsin car accident attorney can help you sort out your legal options. But no matter the cause of the accident, if the other party was at fault for any reason, you will want a Wisconsin car accident attorney on your side.
How will your Wisconsin car accident attorney go about helping you after the accident? In Wisconsin, like virtually every other state, a common way to pursue getting paid for your damages is through the legal doctrine of negligence. Your Wisconsin car accident attorney will argue that the party who caused the accident was negligent and that they need to pay for all of your expenses that are associated with the accident.
In Wisconsin, a person is considered negligent if they don't act with the same care that a reasonable person would act in the same situation. There are four elements one needs to prove in order to find a party negligent:
- Duty of Care: You must show that the allegedly negligent party had a duty to act in a certain way toward you. For example, drivers have a duty to others on the road to drive safely, and store owners have a duty to keep their premises safe for their customers.
- Breach of duty: You must show that they failed to act according to that duty.
- Cause: You must show a connection between their conduct and your injury.
- Damages: You must show that you suffered a real loss or damage as a result of the injury. Examples of real loss or damage would be the injury you sustained and the medical expenses incurred, lost wages from missing work or pain and suffering endured.
A Wisconsin car accident lawyer will be able to advise you on whether you have a good case for negligence. If they assess the nature of the accident and determine that you do, they can help you pursue a claim with the at-fault party's insurance company or file a lawsuit if necessary.
Another potential way to show negligence is under a dram shop law. Generally, a dram shop law holds an establishment or individual that sells or serves alcohol liable when someone they sold or served alcohol to harm someone due to their intoxication.
Your Wisconsin car accident lawyer can claim the dram shop law, which says that the person or vendor cannot be held liable if someone they served or sold alcohol to negligently harms another person while under the influence. There is an important exception to this rule: when the vendor or person serving the alcohol knew or should have known that the person they were serving was a minor. However, if the minor uses a fake ID to get the alcohol, immunity could still apply. Your Wisconsin car accident lawyer will let you know if this law is relevant to your case.
Negligence Per Se
Another way your Wisconsin car accident lawyer may try to get compensation for your damages is through the doctrine of negligence per se.
There are laws in place that are designed to protect the public's safety. Under negligence per se, when a person or party breaks one of these laws without a good reason, they are considered negligent as a matter of law. In these instances, all you have to prove is that the violation directly caused your injury.
In Wisconsin, a defendant in a personal injury case may be considered negligent per se when:
- They violated the state regulation.
- Your injury was caused by this violation.
- The law or rule was crafted to prevent the defendant's actions that caused the injury.
- You were part of the group the law or rule was meant to protect.
Proving negligence per se is typically easier to prove than standard negligence cases. This is because you don't have to show whether or not the defendant's actions or lack of action were not reasonable.
A common use of negligence per se is in the case of traffic violations. For example, when a driver speeds up or makes an illegal turn, he or she is automatically considered negligent for breaking the law. It is also negligence per se to drive a motor vehicle under the influence.
A Wisconsin car accident lawyer will be able to assess if negligence per se is a good option for you to pursue. How they suggest you proceed will depend on the special circumstances of your case.
A Wisconsin car accident attorney can look for three types of compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident. This compensation is also known as damages. The types of damages are economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages cover your financial losses, such as medical bills and lost wages from missing work.
Non-economic damages are for the mental anguish, pain, and suffering you endured because of the accident.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party if their behavior has been especially egregious or malicious. The punitive damages awarded will send a message to the at-fault party and the greater community. They are typically not awarded as frequently as economic and non-economic damages.
Another Wisconsin law that can affect the damages you receive is the collateral source rule. This rule says any benefits you get from a source that has nothing to do with the at-fault party won't affect the damages you can receive from the at-fault party.
Let's say you are in an accident that was someone else's fault. You have $50,000 in medical bills that your insurance company pays. Under the collateral source rule, you can still pursue the at-fault party for your $50,000 in medical bills.
A Wisconsin car accident attorney will help you determine what types of damages to ask for.
What if it is discovered that you were partially at fault for the accident? Your Wisconsin car accident lawyer may tell you that you still have a chance to recover damages. Whether you can depend on how much at fault you were. Wisconsin allows for modified comparative negligence, which is also known as the 51% bar rule.
Specifically, this means that you can recover compensation if you are found to be no more than 50% at fault. If you are half responsible for the crash, you won't be able to recover any damages. The total amount you receive will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault. So, if your damages from the accident are $100,000 and you were 25% at fault, you may only recover up to $75,000.
Your Wisconsin car accident lawyer will explain how modified comparative negligence works based on the facts of your case.
Car Accidents in Wisconsin’s Major Cities
The increases in traffic deaths have occurred throughout the state. Both urban and rural areas had an increase in traffic fatalities in 2021. An analysis of the accident statistics in Wisconsin’s biggest cities follows.
The biggest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee, is located in a county of the same name. Milwaukee County has over 950,000 people living in it. With the largest population center in the state, it's not surprising that Milwaukee County also has the most fatalities in 2022 so far. As of August 14, 2022, there have been 48 traffic fatalities. In 2021, there were a total of 86. Like all cities, Milwaukee can get congested with traffic. In 2021, Milwaukee Police Department reported that the most dangerous intersections in the city of Milwaukee are:
- Sherman and Burleigh
- Fond Du Lac and Capitol
- Capitol and Sherman
- Fond Du Lac and Hampton
- Fond Du Lac and Sherman
Milwaukee's Department of Public Works (DPW) aims to improve 30 busy intersections by the fall of 2022. It is the DPW's goal to slow down traffic in areas known for high amounts of crashes.
Madison is home to the main campus of the University of Wisconsin and is located in Dane County. As of August 14, 2022, there have been 22 traffic fatalities in the county. In 2021, there were a total of 47. This total jumped from 33 fatalities in 2020.
The county's Traffic Safety Commission (TSC) said the high number of fatal crashes caused by both speeding and drug use in 2021 was unprecedented. During the fourth quarter of 2021, in two of every three traffic fatalities, speeding and alcohol or drug use were involved.
In 2021, there were seven fatal accidents that involved both speeding and alcohol or drug use. These accidents resulted in 11 fatalities. That is an increase of over 40% from averages in the past five years.
The TSC plans to use four task forces to help find solutions to these deadly problems.
Some of the more dangerous intersections in Madison, according to city police, are:
- Pleasant View Road and Mineral Point
- Watts Road and South Gammon Road
- North Stoughton Road and East Washington Avenue
Green Bay is located in Brown County in the northeastern part of the state. Home to 107,395 residents, Green Bay, is also the home of the beloved National Football team, the Green Bay Packers.
As of August 14, 2022, Brown County has already had 8 traffic fatalities. In 2021, the county only had a total of 5 fatalities.
According to Brown County Highway officials, one of the most dangerous intersections in Green Bay is at Packerland Drive and West Mason Street.
The intersection of WIS 57 and County Road K has a history of right-angle crashes occurring there. The Wisconsin DOT has chosen the intersection to be part of a safety improvement project.
The city of Kenosha is located in Kenosha County, which is in the southeasternmost part of the state.
As of August 14, 2022, Kenosha County has had 14 traffic fatalities. That is the same number of fatalities the county had in all of 2021.
In February 2022, The Wisconsin State Patrol said it was targeting speeding and reckless driving along State Highway 31 in Kenosha County.
Over the last few years, there have been 673 crashes on State Highway 31. Of those crashes, 50% of the people involved in the crash weren't wearing a seat belt, 193 crashes resulted in injury, and there were 6 fatalities.
Another dangerous traffic spot in Kenosha is the intersection at Green Bay Road at 35th Street. The state DOT is planning to eliminate the southbound left turn lane and is considering placing a barricade to block traffic. Three people have lost their lives in two separate crashes at the intersection over the past two years.
Racine is located along Lake Michigan in the southeastern part of the state located along Lake Michigan. Racine County is close to both Milwaukee and Chicago and can easily access those cities via Interstate 94.
As of August 14, 2022, Racine County has had 10 traffic fatalities as compared to a total of 6 fatalities in 2021.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to install a roundabout where Highways 11 and J intersect. The intersection currently has a relatively high number of crashes that have resulted in injuries. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2024, with the work being finished later that year.
Reach out to Accident.com today to find a Wisconsin car accident attorney who can help with your case!