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Nicolet Law managing attorney Russell Nicolet

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Sponsorship Liability Regarding Motor Vehicle Accidents in Wisconsin

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Sponsorship Liability Regarding Motor Vehicle Accidents in Wisconsin

Wisconsin father driving with his teenage daughter, who he sponsors

If you have a child, chances are you have already or will in the future sign your child's driver's license application as a sponsor. Wis. Stat. §343.15 mandates that any person under the age of 18 (with a few exceptions such as those with no living parent) who wishes to apply for a driver's license must have a sponsor. By sponsoring a driver's license, a sponsor agrees to be held jointly and severally liable for damages caused by negligent or willful misconduct of the sponsored driver. In most cases if your child is added to your insurance policy, you may have less to worry about (from a financial standpoint). However, if your child has their own car and insurance policy, you may want to review both of the policies.

In a recent Wisconsin Court of Appeals case, Progressive Northern Insurance Company v. David Jacobson 2011 WI APP 140, a minor (Jacobson) who owned his own car and carried his own insurance was driving his vehicle when he lost control of the car and crashed, killing two passengers. Because of her sponsorship Jacobson's mother (Link) faced liability from the estates of the two deceased passengers. Link's insurance company (Progressive) commenced an action seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend and indemnify Link for her sponsorship Liability. Progressive pointed to an exclusion in Link's insurance policy which would not cover damage associated with a relative's vehicle unless liability arose from Link's maintenance or use of the vehicle.

The estates tried to argue that Link's sponsorship of Jacobson's driver's license would constitute a "use" of the vehicle sufficient to force Progressive to provide coverage. Although Wisconsin courts have ruled that for insurance purposes "use" does not always involve the direct, physical operation of the vehicle, the concept of use through sponsorship was not enough to force Progressive to provide coverage.

* Please note that this is general information only and not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or need legal advice please setup an appointment with our attorney, or an attorney of your choosing.

Russell is an attorney with Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers. Russell represents injured clients in Hudson, New Richmond, River Falls, Prescott, Ellsworth, Roberts, Osceola, St. Croix Falls, Menomonie, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and surrounding areas of Wisconsin.

Nicolet Law Firm has offices in Eau Claire, WI, Hudson, WI and Woodbury, MN and handles car accidents and other personal injury claims. For more information call 1-855-NICOLET or visit www.nicoletlaw.com.

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SEE HOW NICOLET LAW MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN OUR CLIENTS’ CASES

CAR ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$1,200,000.00

CAR ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$50,000.00

SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$700,000.00

SEMI-TRUCK ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$75,000.00

SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$180,000.00

SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$5,000.00

PEDESTRIAN HIT BY CAR

Result with Nicolet Law 
$1,050,000.00

PEDESTRIAN HIT BY CAR

Offer before Nicolet Law
$0.00 - denial

DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$815,000.00

DRUNK DRIVING VICTIM

Offer before Nicolet Law
$0.00

UTV ACCIDENT

Result with Nicolet Law 
$250,000.00

UTV ACCIDENT

Offer before Nicolet Law
$5,000.00
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12 locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota to serve you

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Wisconsin Locations:

EAU CLAIRE:

402 Graham Ave.
Suite 305
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Phone: (715) 835-5959
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HUDSON:

517 2nd Street
Unit #205
Hudson, WI 54016

Phone: 715-226-6158
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LA CROSSE:

119 N 19th St S
La Crosse, WI 54601

Phone: 608-527-0876
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NEW RICHMOND:

1500 Madison Ave.
Suite 220
New Richmond, WI 54017

Phone: 715-226-6164
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RICE LAKE:
337 North Main Street
Rice Lake, WI 54868

Phone: (715) 790-1114
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RIVER FALLS:
215 S 2nd St #20
River Falls, WI 54022

Phone: (715) 716-5869
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SUPERIOR:
1200 Tower Ave.
Superior, WI 54880

Phone: (715) 718-2969
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WAUSAU:
408 3rd Street
Suite 303
Wausau, WI 54403

Phone: (715) 716-5092
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Minnesota Locations:

DULUTH:
306 West Superior Street,
Suite 606 West
Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: (218) 729-0628
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HIBBING:
Howard Court Bldg.
302 Howard Street, Suite 123
Hibbing, MN 55746

Phone: 218-217-0659
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MINNEAPOLIS:
225 South 6th Street
Suite 3900
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: (608) 315-5639
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WOODBURY:
724 Bielenberg Drive
Suite 126
Woodbury, MN 55125

Phone: (651) 815-0017
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