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Driver goes up against U.S. district court judge in accident case

In a majority of the stories that we present to readers of our blog, victims of car accidents must rely on the better judgment of a judge if they want to receive compensation from a negligent driver. Unfortunately, in a case out of Illinois this month, residents here in Wisconsin will see just how difficult it is to plead your case when the negligent driver is a judge himself.

The case before a St. Clair County Circuit judge accuses U.S. District Court Judge William D. Stiehl of reckless and negligent driving when he failed to yield the right of way in a 2011 accident. As the victim explains in his complaint, the judge ran a stop sign near the plaintiff, causing the two vehicles to collide. Like here in Wisconsin, the judge could be held liable for any damages caused in the accident as well as injuries that the injuries suffered by the victim.

Unfortunately, the district court judge has denied the allegations brought against him and has requested that the case be dismissed. According to the judge, he feels that he should only be 50 percent responsible for the accident arguing that the victim failed to sound his horn, warning the judge that he was committing a traffic violation. He also accuses the man of failing to mitigate damages by failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

As readers of our blog can imagine, a case like this would be difficult to argue without the help of a skilled lawyer at your side. Even with the help of an attorney, the plaintiff must challenge the judge’s attempt to curtail responsibility in the accident -- a testing task for even the most experienced at law.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, "Stiehl denies allegations in auto accident lawsuit," Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Oct. 8, 2013

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