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How Does Fault Affect Accident Insurance Claims and Payouts?

Fault in an accident has a greater effect on personal injury insurance payouts and court awards, depending on the state in which the accident happened. States deal with fault in two ways; one is the fault/no-fault insurance divide, and the other involves comparative negligence. Wisconsin is not a no-fault state, but a state that compares the negligence of the parties.

The Fault/No-Fault Insurance Model

States follow either a fault or a no-fault insurance model. No-fault insurance is also called personal injury protection. This type of insurance pays out no matter who is at fault for an accident. However, Wisconsin is not a no-fault state; fault in an accident determines what happens with an insurance payout and coverage when a claim is filed.

Contributory and Comparative Negligence

If someone’s been in an accident and sues for damages, contributory and comparative negligence are the models that determine what’s paid out. In comparative negligence, the fault of both parties is weighed and used to apportion damages.

In Wisconsin, contributory negligence may limit the plaintiff’s award. If the plaintiff (the injured person who is suing) is, say, 30 percent at fault for the accident and the defendant is 70 percent at fault, any award or compensation is theoretically reduced by 30 percent. But, if the plaintiff is found to be 60 percent at fault and the defendant only 40 percent at fault, then the plaintiff would receive nothing. In Wisconsin, to receive damages, the plaintiff’s negligence must be less than or equal to the defendant’s.

If you’re planning a personal injury lawsuit and wonder how your actions leading up to the accident might affect your award, contact Eisenberg Law Offices at (608) 256-8356. Speak with a lawyer about how negligence and fault could play into your case.