Compensation for a Wisconsin Car Crash with an Unlicensed Driver

female driving a vehicle without a licenseBeing involved in a crash under any circumstance is a stressful experience. Medical expenses, lost wages and other related damages can quickly start to mount. If the other party involved was driving without a valid license, it can make the situation even more overwhelming. You may be wondering how your damages will be covered and whether he or she has adequate auto insurance.

Even if the other driver has no license, it is important to be informed of your rights and the legal options that may be available to you in these cases.

An Oshkosh-based auto accident lawyer from our firm is ready to determine if you have a valid claim for compensation. We offer initial consultations at no cost to you and no upfront fees to use our services.

Operating a Motor Vehicle in Wisconsin

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle without a valid license. In Wisconsin, driving on a suspended license will result in a forfeiture of $50 to $200 while driving on a revoked license could result in a fine up to $2,500 and/or up to one year in jail. Other possible penalties could include vehicle impoundment and suspension of one’s driving privileges.

Wisconsin law also states that a driver who has a license but was not in possession of the license at the time of an accident could face a $200 forfeiture. Any subsequent offenses may result in additional fines or jail time especially if this offense causes serious injury or death.

Liability in Accidents with Unlicensed Drivers

If the other party is at fault, his or her insurance company is generally responsible for paying a claim. Wisconsin follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to liability for damages in a crash.

However, an unlicensed driver may not be covered by auto insurance. If the other driver had his or license suspended or revoked, his or her insurance company could deny coverage and refuse to settle a claim. You may need to go through your uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which is available on all policies as it is a mandatory coverage in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin drivers are required to carry at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident of uninsured motorist coverage to help take care of bodily injury type damages. However, there are still instances where an unlicensed driver has insurance coverage available through the vehicle they were operating or through another vehicle that is insured in their same household.

What if the car being driven by the unlicensed driver was borrowed? Insurance typically follows the car and not the driver. This means that if the unlicensed driver caused the crash while driving someone else’s insured car with permission, then that policy could help cover your damages. If the unlicensed driver was operating the vehicle without permission of the owner, your best and perhaps only option may be pursuing your own UM coverage.

Pursuing Legal Action Against an Unlicensed Driver

If you sustained serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the other party. However, the burden of proof will be on you to establish negligence caused or contributed to the crash.

Operating a motor vehicle without a valid license is not inherently negligent. The other party must have been driving while distracted, speeding or under the influence or engaged in some other form of negligence. There are many factors to consider when determining fault, liability and potential insurance coverage.

We recommend working with an experienced lawyer who can advocate on your behalf. Our lawyers can help gather evidence showing that the other party owed you a duty of care to keep you from harm and this duty was breached in some way, which led to you being injured and suffering damages.

Get Qualified Legal Help at Sigman Janssen

If you have been involved in a crash with an unlicensed driver, our lawyers at Sigman Janssen are prepared to work hard to pursue the maximum compensation possible for your injuries and damages. To date, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, including car accident victims.

Discuss your situation and learn more about your rights in a free legal consultation. There is no obligation to retain our services and no upfront fees unless we obtain compensation on your behalf.

Decades Helping Wisconsin Residents. Make Sigman Janssen your first call. (877) 888-5201.

Can Parents be Held Liable If Their Teen Causes a Car Accident?

teenager driving while distracted causes a crashTeenage drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident due to their inexperience, lack of acquired skills and tendency to get distracted.

If your teen causes a crash, can you be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages suffered by the other party? The short answer is yes.

Our Oshkosh auto accident lawyers discuss parental liability when your son or daughter gets behind the wheel. We also address how the other party may be eligible to take legal action against a teenager’s parents under Wisconsin’s parental responsibility laws.

Learn more about your available options for pursuing compensation during an initial consultation at no cost or obligation to you. We also charge no upfront fees and only get paid if you obtain a recovery.

Paying for Damages After a Crash Caused by a Teenage Driver

Although a parent may not have been in the car when the accident happened, his or her auto insurance is often used to pay for damages from a crash caused by a teenage driver. This is usually the case since the teen is on his or her parent’s auto insurance policy. The liability insurance on that policy will likely cover the other party’s damages, up to the policy limits.

In Wisconsin, teens under 18 years of age must be sponsored by an adult in order to get a learner’s permit and then a driver’s license, unless they live on their own. The sponsorship, typically by one or both parents or guardians, also makes the sponsor accountable if the teen causes a car accident.

Under state law, parents who sign their teen’s driver’s license application assume joint and civil liability. This means you and your teen share liability for any accidents where he or she was deemed at fault. The injured party may be eligible to pursue compensation for the cost of medical treatment and other-related losses.

Sponsoring a teen driver also requires having at least the minimum amount of liability coverage ($10,000 for property damage/$25,000 for injuries to one person/$50,000 for injuries to two or more people). This includes uninsured motorist coverage ($25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident).

Some parents may decide to add their teens to an existing auto insurance policy. In the event of a crash, the liability portion of your policy (unlike other auto insurance) will follow the driver, not the car.

After a teen turns 18, he or she no longer needs adult sponsorship. Teens can get a car and purchase liability insurance on their own. If your older teen is involved in an accident, he or she may then be held liable for any injuries and damages caused.

Wisconsin’s Parental Responsibility Law

Most car accidents involving teens are due to negligence. For instance, driving while texting or talking on a cellphone, speeding, or operating a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Yet, there could be some cases in which the teenage driver acted with willful or malicious intent. These actions are covered by Wisconsin’s parental responsibility law. The law says parents could be held financially liable for certain harm resulting from his or her teen’s conduct.

Although a teen may be to blame in a crash, insurance policies may not cover willful or malicious actions. A parent may not be able to use his or her auto insurance policy to pay for damages. If the other party decides to take legal action, the teen’s parents may be responsible for damages. 

It is important to note that a parent’s financial liability is capped at $5,000 for any single act intentionally committed by his or her teen. This means that the other party cannot recover more than this amount from the parent, regardless of how much harm or damage was caused by the teen’s actions. 

How Parents Can Promote Safe Driving Habits

There are several ways parents can promote safe driving habits in their teens to help avoid an accident:

  • Have an in-depth conversation with your teen about responsible driving behavior
  • Go out with your teen and help him or her practice driving in different conditions
  • Set ground rules on the use of electronic devices (i.e. cellphones, radio, GPS)
  • Restrict driving at night and the number of passengers
  • Be a good role model and practice safe driving when behind the wheel

The bottom line is parents have more influence on their teens than they may realize. The more involved you are in their driving habits from the start, the better equipped a teen will be to share the road with others.

Get the Legal Help You Need Today

With nearly 100 years of combined legal experience, our firm has obtained millions in compensation for accident victims and their families throughout Wisconsin. We know what it takes to go against the insurance company and fight for the compensation you need.

Set up a free legal consultation today. You are not obligated after this meeting to have us represent you. However, if you decide to, we charge nothing up front for our services. 

Sigman Janssen. A Firm You Can Trust. Ph: (877) 888-5201

Establishing Liability for an Accident When Merging or Changing Lanes

merging or changing lanes on wisconsin roadwaysMerging onto a highway or changing lanes on a busy road can be quite dangerous. Drivers may speed up or not use their turn signals when approaching multi-lane roads or when switching lanes. Unfortunately, these actions could potentially result in an accident, causing serious injuries and significant property damage.

Read on to learn more about how liability in these accidents is established and what damages you may be able to obtain compensation for. Do not hesitate to contact a Green Bay car accident lawyer from our firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your claim further.

Why a Merging or Lane-Change Accident Occurs

Accidents when merging or changing lanes can occur for many different reasons. Drivers could misjudge the distance between cars or the nearest car to merge or enter a lane. Drivers could also fail to safely merge into traffic, causing them crash into another car.

Other ways an accident can occur when merging or changing lanes include:

  • Merging too slowly or quickly from the on-ramp
  • Changing lanes but failing to use a turn signal
  • Going across multiple lanes of traffic at one time
  • Cutting off other cars

These accidents can cause a variety of injuries, including:

  • Whiplash
  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Brain trauma

Who Could Potentially Be Held Liable?

In most cases, the driver merging or changing lanes is deemed liable in an accident. Wisconsin law states that a driver entering a highway are required to yield the right-of-way to all approaching cars already traveling on the highway.

This means that drivers merging onto U.S. 141 or I-41 in the Green Bay area and elsewhere in the state do not have the right-of-way and are required to adjust their speed to find a safe gap in traffic.

Driver who do not drive at the appropriate speed or hit others car already in a traffic lane could potentially be held liable for any accidents that cause injuries and damages.

However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, a driver may have been aggressive and purposely hit a merging driver because he or she believed the driver was cutting him or her off.  A driver may have been changing lanes at the same time another car was also attempting to merge. 

Additional exceptions may include drivers speeding, driving in a distracted state or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. More than one driver could be liable in these situations.

Not every accident is the same, which is why it is in your best interest to have your claim evaluated by an experienced lawyer. He or she can help determine the cause and liability associated with the crash.

Avoiding a Crash When Merging or Changing Lanes

As a matter of public safety and courtesy, Wisconsin drivers on multi-lane roads are encouraged to change lanes or adjust their speed to create space for merging cars, but it is not a legal requirement.

When merging onto a highway, you should try to be at or near the speed of approaching cars, use your turn signal and avoid squeezing into a gap in traffic because it gives other cars less time to react. 

Most accidents happen when drivers try to force their way into traffic instead of yielding the right-of-way. To help avoid being involved in a merging or lane-change accident, be sure to:

  • Use your turn signal to show your intent to merge or change lanes
  • Gradually merge or change lanes to not startle other drivers
  • Switch lanes to get out of the merging lane if you have space to do so
  • Maintain a safe distance to allow other drivers to merge or change lanes 

Speak to a Licensed Attorney Today

If you have been injured in an accident, our attorneys at Sigman Janssen are available to assist you. We are ready to investigate what happened, establish who was most likely liable and handle all communications and negotiations with the insurance company to seek fair compensation for you.

An initial consultation is 100 percent free with no obligation to move forward. We charge nothing up front to utilize our services and only get paid if we help you obtain compensation.

Sigman Janssen. A Firm You Can Trust. Ph: (877) 888-5201