Case name: Kristin M. Hinkel, et al. vs. American Family, et al.
Court: Dane County Circuit Court
Case number: 07-CV-1061
Judge: C. William Foust
Verdict & settlement: Jury returned defense verdict
Injuries claimed: Right broken clavicle
Original amount sought: $45,000
Original offer: $20,000
Award: Zero dollars; plaintiff: 63 percent causally negligent; defendant: 37 percent negligent
Date of incident: April 1, 2004
Disposition date: Oct. 14, 2008
Original filing date: March 29, 2007
Plaintiffs attorney (firm): Thomas E. Goss, Jr., Mueller, Goss & Possi, Milwaukee
Defendants attorney (firm): Roger S. Flores, American Family Insurance Company, Madison
Insurance carrier: American Family Insurance Company
Defense counsel’s summary of the facts: A pedestrian received no money for injuries sustained in a 2004 collision with a bicyclist after a jury determined the pedestrian was more at fault than the bicyclist.
Kristin Hinkel was crossing Langdon Street at North Frances Street on foot, and Michael Fidler was traveling westbound on Langdon Street on his bicycle when the two collided April 1, 2004.
Both Fidler and Hinkel were in their final year of school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when the accident occurred. Hinkel sustained a fractured clavicle, a fractured scapula and a laceration to the left side of her head. Neither party was cited responsible at the incident.
After a three hour deliberation Oct. 14, the jury found both Hinkel and Fidler causally negligent for Hinkel’s injuries. The jury found Hinkel 63 percent at fault and Fidler 37 percent at fault. Because Hinkel was found more responsible for the accident, she lost and received no award for her injuries. Hinkel also owes American Family attorney fees of $300 plus costs, totaling nearly $2,000.
Although the parties agreed to an amount of $40,000 for the damages, they could not reach an agreement as to who was responsible for the accident. The case was tried strictly on liability.
Roger Flores, associate staff attorney with American Family Insurance, maintained his client, Fidler, looked down quickly, looked up and saw Hinkel looking at her feet, speed walking across Langdon Street. Fidler hit his brakes and attempted to veer left to avoid Hinkel, but Hinkel moved the same way and the two collided.
The plaintiffs attorney, Tom Goss, alleged his client, Hinkel, was well into the crosswalk and crossing the street in a normal manner when the accident occurred. Goss said the accident occurred because Fidler did not see Hinkel.
Flores argued that Hinkel was liable for the accident because she darted into the crosswalk without looking.
A Wisconsin statute says that no person should suddenly leave a curb or place of safety and enter the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is difficult for the operator of the vehicle to yield.
The defendant offered to settle the case on a 50/50 basis and offered Hinkel $20,000, but because Hinkel claimed she did not bear any fault for the accident, she believed she was entitled to the full $40,000.