Wisconsin is a comparative negligence state, which means that your negligence is compared to the negligence of all the other people involved in the car accident. If you are more than 50% at fault, then you recover nothing. That’s something very important to know about the percentage of your responsibility for the car accident.
For example, let’s say it is determined that you’re 10% at fault for the car accident. Then, what happens is the amount you would ordinarily be entitled to under the law, is reduced by your percentage of negligence. If you’re 10% at fault, what you recover is reduced by 10%.
Wisconsin juries are not allowed to know how their finding of negligence influences the verdict. It is called a “sunshine law,” to allow jurors to know the implications of their verdict. But, a jury that you appear in front of will not know that that’s in fact the case.
Will the jury know about comparative negligence?
The jury first will be asked to decide, given negligence of 100%, how much do you assign to each of the parties?
After the jury decides on a percentage, then secondly, they deliberate again and decide on the damages.
How do you prevent the jury from weighing the fact that the plaintiff is found partially at fault?
A typical verdict form reads as follows, which is:
- Was Defendant negligent? If yes, was that a cause of the accident or the injury?
- Was the Plaintiff negligent? Is that a cause of the injury?
- Taking 100%, how much do you assign to each?
Then the form says, “Regardless of how you answered the above questions, you must answer the following,” and they are instructed to not change or alter the damage amount based on their comparative liability determination.
The jury is told that they should not pay attention to the percentage of shared responsibility and simply to focus on the amount of damages.