Who Is to Blame if Evasive Driving Action Leads to a Crash?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on August 22, 2023 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

Stock image of hands on a steering wheel and a pedestrian crossing the streetIn the bustling city of Milwaukee, the roar of engines and blur of traffic are part of daily life. As a commuter, it is inevitable that you may sometimes need to take split-second evasive driving action to avoid a crash.

At PKSD, we explain why evasive driving skills are essential. We also discuss how liability comes into play if a driver’s efforts to avoid a dangerous situation causes a collision.

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What Is Evasive Driving and Why Is It an Essential Skill?

Evasive driving involves making quick judgement calls and rapid maneuvers to prevent an imminent crash. In a city like Milwaukee, where congested streets and highways pose traffic safety challenges, this skill is often put to the test.

As a driver, it is not just a goal, but also your legal duty to try to avoid danger or causing harm to other road users. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to prevent a collision, even when paying attention to the road and taking evasive action. Even well-intentioned actions can result in unexpected crashes, and those situations are where the law can become especially complex.

Understanding Negligence Under Wisconsin Law

A central factor of any discussion about evasive driving crashes is the concept of negligence as defined by Wisconsin law. Negligence arises when a person fails to exercise reasonable care and that failure causes harm to another individual.

When analyzing cases where evasive driving leads to a crash, the law scrutinizes two main aspects: the driver’s actions before the evasive maneuvers and the effectiveness of the maneuvers taken.

Driver’s Actions Before the Evasive Maneuver

In Milwaukee, legal proceedings will closely examine the driver’s actions leading up to the evasive maneuver and subsequent collision to determine whether they were:

  • Adhering to state and federal traffic laws and regulations
  • Following speed limits or recklessly speeding
  • Yielding the right of way at intersections
  • Obeying traffic laws and traffic signals
  • Maintaining a safe following distance
  • Adjusting driving to consider road conditions – such as construction or traffic jams – as well as the weather

If investigators determine that driver’s actions contributed to the need take evasive driving action, he or she could be held liable for the crash.

Effectiveness of the Evasive Maneuver Taken

Another vital aspect in this type of crash claim is the effectiveness of the evasive maneuver taken. Wisconsin courts might consider, for instance, whether the driver’s response was reasonable given the situation.

Other factors will also be considered, such as the speed and direction of other vehicles, road conditions and visibility. If the maneuver was executed poorly, made the situation worse and ultimately led to a crash, the driver might be deemed responsible due to inadequate decision-making.

How Does Wisconsin’s Comparative Fault System Come Into Play?

Wisconsin operates under a modified comparative fault system when it comes to determining liability for a crash, including those resulting from evasive driving. This system, defined in Wisconsin Statutes section 895.045, considers the extent of each party’s contribution to the accident. If the law determines you were partially at fault for the crash, the court will assign a percentage of fault to you.

The good news is that being assigned partial fault for a crash may not prevent you from recovering some compensation for your damages. However, Wisconsin’s comparative fault system has a threshold – you cannot be more than 50 percent at fault for your crash.

If you are 51 percent or more at fault, you would likely be unable to recover any damages from the other party.

You can learn more about your rights and legal options by discussing your situation with one of our knowledgeable Milwaukee-based auto accident lawyers.

Could Other Wisconsin Laws Apply to an Evasive Driving Crash?

Under Wisconsin’s legal framework, there are legal nuances, such as the sudden emergency doctrine, that may apply to an evasive driving crash. This law provides some protection to drivers who unexpectedly find themselves in life-threatening situations where they must make rapid decisions to avoid causing harm. The law recognizes that split-second judgement calls in these incidents might not be perfect but they may be the best course of action given the circumstances. Additionally, an outcome where taking evasive action leads to a crash may not be foreseeable.

Here is one example where evasive driving maneuvers may fall under the sudden emergency doctrine. Say a child suddenly darts into the road and into your path. If you hit the brakes and swerve to avoid the child but end up hitting another car instead, the sudden emergency doctrine may apply.

The way this law applies, however, varies by case and by jurisdiction, adding complexity to cases involving evasive driving.

What Evidence May Be Helpful After an Evasive Driving Crash?

In legal proceedings related to evasive driving that resulted in a crash, your attorney will fully investigate what happened and gather strong evidence on your behalf. Crash scene photos, your police report, vehicle damage and testimony from credible witnesses may all help to support your claim.

However, due to the challenging nature of these crashes, you may need stronger evidence. Depending on your situation and overall strength of your case, your attorney may determine your case could benefit from the testimony of an expert, such as accident reconstruction specialist.

Experts in accident reconstruction analyze evidence to create a comprehensive account of events leading up to the crash. Their analysis includes more in-depth factors, such as vehicle speed, braking distances, road conditions, and more. In Milwaukee, these expert opinions could greatly benefit case outcomes by shedding light on technical aspects of the situation.

Contact PKSD for Legal Help You Can Trust

If find yourself in a legal situation where evasive driving led to a crash in Milwaukee, we strongly recommend seeking legal help as soon as possible. Insurance companies always look for ways to shift blame away from their policyholders.

Navigating the confusing legal web of liability in an evasive driving crash requires in-depth knowledge of local laws and how they apply to your situation. Having an experienced lawyer on your side can make all the difference to how your case resolves.

If we represent you, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only get paid if you do.

Millions recovered for our clients. Call: 414-333-3333 to get started today.

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