Back in 2008, Ronald and Kathleen Dakter were driving down a state highway in Juneau County when their vehicle was struck by a truck driven by Dale Cavallino. Following the accident, the Dakter’s brought a lawsuit against Mr. Cavallino, alleging that he was negligent in the operation of his truck. At trial, the court instructed the jury that Mr. Cavallino was negligent if he “did not use the degree of care, skill and judgment which a reasonable semi-truck driver would exercise in the same or similar circumstances having due regard for the state of learning, education, experience and knowledge possessed by semi-truck drivers holding commercial driver’s licenses.” The jury found that Mr. Cavallino was negligent and awarded damages of over $1 million.
Mr. Cavallino appealed the result of the trial, arguing that the jury instruction imposed a higher standard of care on truck drivers. The Court of Appeals of Wisconsin affirmed the trial court decision, holding that the jury instruction may have been erroneous, but that it did not affect the result of the trial. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed the Court of Appeals, deciding that the jury instruction was “neither incorrect nor misleading.” According to the Supreme Court, both the “superior knowledge rule” and the “profession or trade principle” applied to the case because Mr. Cavallino was a professional truck driver. The Supreme Court also found that, while the “superior knowledge rule” and the “profession or trade principle” determine the standard of care for a professional truck driver, they do not create a higher standard of care. Read the entire Supreme Court opinion here.
The Wisconsin vehicle accident lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. have extensive experience representing persons injured in vehicle accidents. We have assisted clients in recovering for personal injuries, pain and suffering, property damage and lost wages. If you or someone you know has been injured in a vehicle accident, contact us for a free online case evaluation.