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Wisconsin Negligence Laws

Maybe you got rear-ended on I-94, or maybe you slipped on that icy patch of sidewalk that your neighbor never shovels. In any case, if someone else’s lack of care caused you injuries, you may have a legal claim based on negligence. But how do negligence cases work, and what laws does the Badger State have regarding who is responsible for your injuries? This is a quick introduction to negligence laws in Wisconsin.

General Negligence Law

Negligence in the legal sense refers to whether a person has a duty of care to another, and whether he or she has failed in that duty. If so, that person may be liable for any resulting injuries. As an example, if Debbie is speeding on the interstate and she collides with Patricia’s car, she might be held liable for negligence. Under certain negligence laws, the plaintiff can be partially at fault for his or her own injuries, called “contributory” negligence.

Taking the above example, if Patricia failed to signal before changing into Debbie’s lane, Patricia might be found to have contributed to the accident. Wisconsin negligence law states that contributory negligence is only a bar to a claim if the plaintiff, in this case Patricia, is more at fault for the accident than the defendant.

Negligence Laws in Wisconsin

States may have varying negligence laws depending on their civil lawsuit system and your specific circumstances. Wisconsin negligence laws are highlighted in the table below.

Code Section


Comparative Negligence


Contributory Negligence-Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery

Contributory negligence is not a bar if claimant's negligence is not greater than defendants. Damages diminished in proportion to claimant' attributable negligence.

Contribution Among Tortfeasors

Yes; common law right based on equitable principles (State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. v. Continental Cas. Co., 59 N.W. 2d 425)

Uniform Act


Negligence Cases

In order to recover damages for your injuries, you must prove several elements of a negligence case:

  • Duty: the other party owed to a duty of care;
  • Breach of Duty: the other party failed to meet that duty;
  • Cause in Fact: but for the other party’s failure, you would not have been injured;
  • Proximate Cause: the other party’s failure (and not something else) caused your injury; and
  • Damages: you have actually been injured and suffered some loss.

Wisconsin Negligence Laws: Related Resources

You can visit FindLaw's section on Negligence for additional information and resources on this topic.

Learn How Wisconsin Negligence Laws Apply to Your Case: Talk to a Lawyer

If you've been injured due to someone else's negligence, they may have a legal obligation to pay for your injuries. However, this often requires you to make a formal demand and file a lawsuit. Before you do, it's critical that you consult with a qualified personal injury attorney in Wisconsin who can advise you of your options and represent you in a lawsuit, if needed.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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