The state of Wisconsin has its own set of rules that apply to slip and fall injury cases. We'll look at a few key points of Wisconsin slip and fall law in this article, starting with the time limits for filing a slip and fall lawsuit in civil court in Wisconsin. Then, we'll examine the special rules that apply when an injured person is determined to be partly at fault for a slip and fall accident, and the unique claim-filing procedure you'll need to follow if your slip and fall case involves the liability of a government employee or agency in Wisconsin.
Like all states, Wisconsin has a law called a statute of limitations that sets a time limit on the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit after an accident occurs. In Wisconsin, you must bring your case to court within three years of the date of your injury. If you do not file your lawsuit within this time window, chances are you won't be able to file the case at all.
Keep in mind that this three-year time limit applies only to lawsuits filed in court. It doesn't limit the time you have to file a claim with an insurance company. But you shouldn't wait to get the insurance claim process started, in any case. You'll want to file your insurance claim as soon as possible and preserve as much time as you can under the three-year time limit. That way, you'll have plenty of time left to take the matter to court if the insurance claim process isn't going well, or injury settlement negotiations stall. Another benefit of leaving yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit is that the other side will know that option is on the table for you, so that will give you more leverage.
In some slip and fall cases, an insurance adjuster or jury might decide that you are partly at fault for the accident and the injuries that resulted. Wisconsin uses a "modified comparative fault" rule in situations like these. This rule works to reduce or even eliminate compensation if you're found partly at fault for the accident.
Here's an illustration. Suppose you're in a movie theater, and the show is about to start. You're rushing to get to your seat on time, and you aren't paying much attention to what's in your path. You slip and fall on a puddle of soda someone else has spilled, suffer injuries, and decide to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the theater. When the insurance adjuster investigates or the jury examines the evidence, they decide that your medical bills and other losses add up to $10,000 in total damages. However, they also decide that you were 10 percent at fault for the accident.
What happens to your compensation award in this kind of shared fault case? Wisconsin's modified comparative fault rule allows you to collect an amount equal to the total damages minus the percentage of your fault. In this example, that means you can collect $9,000, which equals the $10,000 total minus $1,000 that represents the 10 percent of fault the adjuster or jury assigned to you.
As long as you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, Washington's modified comparative fault rule allows you to collect some amount of damages. But if you are found to be 50 percent at fault or more, your damages award is automatically cut to zero and you will be unable to collect from any other at-fault party.
Slip and fall claims that involve the government follow a special set of rules in Wisconsin. If you're hurt when you trip on a broken staircase in a government building or slip in a spill on a government parking lot, for instance, you must follow the special rules for filing an injury claim against the Wisconsin government, and you'll need to do it quickly. That's because Wisconsin law gives you only 120 days after the date of your injury to file your claim. Your claim must be filed in writing with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Use the State of Wisconsin Notice of Injury Claim form to submit your claim.