Breunig v. Am. Family Ins. Co.

45 Wis. 2d 536, 173 N.W.2d 619 (1970)

 

RULE:

Not all types of insanity vitiate responsibility for a negligent tort. The question of liability in every case depends upon the kind and nature of the insanity

FACTS:

A tortfeasor was involved in an automobile accident and hit another car (plaintiff). The owner of the other car filed a case against the insurance company (defendant). At trial, defendant argued that tortfeasor was not negligent as a matter of law because there was no evidence upon which the jury could find that she had knowledge, or warning, or should have reasonably foreseen that she might be subject to a mental delusion which would suddenly cause her to lose control of her car. Plaintiff argued there was such evidence of forewarning and also suggested tortfeasor was liable because insanity should not be a defense in negligence cases. The jury found for plaintiff and awarded damages; however, the lower court reduced the damages.

ISSUE:

Does psychological incapacity and any injuries caused by such make the tortfeasor negligent for driving a vehicle?

 

ANSWER:

Yes

CONCLUSION:

The trial court's decision was affirmed. The liability may be avoided if there was absence of forewarning to the defendant that driving a vehicle with a mental illness could cause injury. The sudden heart attack and seizures should not be considered the same with those who are insane.

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