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Hidden traffic sign leads to fatal accident in Wisconsin

A fatal crash on Aug. 1 in Rock County, Wisconsin, left two families reeling and nearby homeowners worried about traffic safety in their area. The fatal accident occurred at about 6 p.m. that Saturday, just a few miles west of the town of Evansville. Authorities say that improperly maintained signage may be to blame for the wreck.

Official reports show that the accident was caused by a stop sign that was obscured by overgrowth and not visible to one of the drivers. That driver did not see the sign until about 40 feet before the intersection and so was unable to stop before striking the other vehicle. Authorities say that the stop sign had been hidden by corn that had grown during the summer. The township may require the farmer who owns that land to plant crops farther away from the traffic sign in coming years, though a formal course of remedial action has not yet been identified.

Town officials say that they regularly conduct inspections of their 60 miles of road, which features more than 80 individual stop signs. However, this vast amount of territory also means that the town relies on homeowners and passersby to report problems with road signage. Officials say they intend to discuss this fatal accident during the Traffic Safety Commission meeting in October; at that time, they will work to determine whether the vegetation should be permanently removed or the sign should be relocated for safety.

In this case, a fatal crash appears to have been caused by the negligence of a landowner and a municipal entity. Although the at-fault driver is also partially to blame, it is important for victims to understand that they are not limited to seeking compensation only from another vehicle operator. In fact, wrongful death and other civil claims may also be pursued against a negligent city or landowner, especially if an obscured traffic sign created an unsafe situation.

Source: WKOW, "Rock County officials address dangerous intersection where two died and three others were injured in crash," Gordon Severson, Aug. 03, 2015

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