Wisconsin is a Fault State
Wisconsin is a “fault” or tort state. This means that drivers who cause motor vehicle accidents are responsible for covering the expenses and losses suffered by victims who get hurt. Wisconsin also follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means drivers can recover damages even if they were partially to blame for the crash. However, motorists are barred from seeking compensation if they were 51% or more at fault for the accident.
Liability for Weather-Related Accidents
While winter weather may contribute to car accidents, drivers are still responsible for collisions in inclement weather. Drivers must adjust driving according to weather and road conditions to address potential hazards and avoid collisions. In particular, adapting driving habits for winter weather means:
- Adjust the speed — When roads are slippery or covered with snow or ice, drivers must adjust their speed to account for lower traction.
- Avoid reckless and careless driving — Driving in inclement weather requires extra vigilance and extreme caution. Thus, avoiding reckless and careless driving and obeying the law becomes important.
- Increase the following distance — It takes longer for a vehicle to stop when driving on slippery or wet roads.
Wisconsin state law requires all motorists to completely clear windshields, lights, roofs, and hoods to remove snow, ice, and frost. Failure to comply with the law results in a fine of $175.30 and two demerit points, according to authorities.
In Wisconsin, drivers are also allowed to use tire chains to help achieve maximum traction on slippery roads unless those chains are not of “reasonable proportions.” Drivers must look for road signs warning that tire chains are needed. Tire chains are typically required on roads with higher elevations.
Drivers must also ensure that tires have enough tread for winter weather conditions. In order to comply with state law, the tread depth of the front and rear tires must be at least 2/32 inches.
Tips for Driving in Winter Weather
When driving in winter weather, motorists must take certain precautions to avoid accidents:
- Maintain your vehicle in proper condition and research that it complies with state law.
- Drive at a speed that is reasonable for the particular weather conditions.
- Increase the following distance between vehicles because vehicles need extra space when braking on slippery, wet, snowy, or icy roads.
- Drive with your headlights turned on in snowy conditions.
- Be aware of emergency vehicles, including snowplows, on the road.
If possible, avoid driving at all in extreme weather conditions.
Advocacy You Can Trust
If you were involved in a winter driving accident, speak with a knowledgeable attorney to thoroughly investigate your crash and help you determine liability. An attorney will determine whether or not winter weather contributed to the collision and evaluate each driver’s degree of fault.
Your attorney will also deal with insurance companies on your behalf. While insurers consider weather and road conditions when reviewing car accident claims, some argue that a driver is negligent due to their failure to exercise extra caution. As a winter driving accidents attorney at The Paul Benson Law Firm, I help clients deal with insurance companies and fight for the compensation they deserve.