According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, more than 40,000 people per year are injured in traffic accidents on Wisconsin roads. In 2016, more than 31,000 crashes resulted in injuries, with 524 fatal crashes. In Milwaukee, the number of accidents is creeping upward, from 19,049 to 24,938 in a recent five-year period.
Auto accidents can cause tremendous losses for Wisconsin victims and their families. These include the loss of personal and work time, property damage and loss, loss of health, and sometimes loss of life. Auto accidents occur because of driver error, negligence, auto manufacturing defects, and dangerous Wisconsin weather. No matter what the specific cause or result, a crash can turn a normal day into a devastating ordeal.
After a Milwaukee auto accident, it is likely that you know who was at fault. Yet, identifying fault might sometimes be complicated because of actions involved and laws that govern the situation.
Milwaukee Car Accident Injuries Reported Data
When to Call an Attorney After a Car Accident
Not all car accidents require legal action or hiring a personal injury attorney, but if you are in doubt, it may be wise to err on the side of caution and discuss your options with a Milwaukee car accident lawyer during a free consultation. Here are some instances when you may need the aid of a skilled car accident attorney, like those at the Groth Law Firm, in your corner:
- You suffered a severe injury. If you sustained one or more severe injuries during a car accident that required an ambulance ride and/or a trip to the doctor, you most likely have some medical bills and may have missed a few days or weeks of work. In severe cases, recovery might take months or even years. A car accident lawyer will help you recover medical expenses and lost wages that are related to the accident and your injuries. They may be able to help you receive compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses too.
- A family member died in the car accident. During this difficult time, while you and your family are coping with tremendous loss, you need to contact a Milwaukee car accident attorney to file a wrongful death suit against the at-fault driver. When someone dies in a car accident, surviving family members might be entitled to compensation for their loss. Additionally, you may also recover funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death suit.
- The insurance company denied your claim. Insurance companies stay in business because they don’t pay out on every claim that comes their way. Even when the other driver was clearly at-fault, an insurance carrier might deny your claim on a technicality or for some other dubious reason that suggests they are acting in bad faith. Wisconsin is a tort liability state, so you will likely need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s carrier. The insurance company will favor their customer without your best interest in mind. A seasoned car accident lawyer will advise you on if or when it is necessary to escalate your claim to a personal injury lawsuit.
- The accident involved more than one other party. When car accidents involve multiple vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists, multiple insurance companies come into play. It’s not uncommon for each insurance company to keep passing the buck to another party which decreases the likelihood that you will receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. When you hire a Milwaukee car accident attorney, he or she can advocate for your rights, investigate your case, and enlist resources that can help determine liability.
- There are discrepancies in the police report. When you finally get a copy of the police report and the story that law enforcement recorded differs from what actually happened, you may need a lawyer who can get at the truth and make sure the court and other relevant parties know the real story. This might even require the help of an accident reconstruction specialist and other experts that can speak to the facts of the case.
Insurance Claim Do’s and Don’ts
As previously mentioned, insurance companies are in business to make money. When you file an auto insurance claim, you must proceed with care. In the event that you bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you need to take certain steps to protect the value of your claim. The insurance company will go the extra mile to find ways to devalue your claim so they don’t have to pay. Here are some important do’s and don’ts for filing an insurance claim:
- DO contact your insurance carrier immediately after the accident. Failure to do so might result in the denial of your claim.
- DO gather contact information from other people involved in the accident. Law enforcement will most likely do this, but they sometimes make mistakes or miss victims or potential witnesses if they come late to the scene.
- DO use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene of the accident, any vehicle damage, and visible injuries. This helps provide documentation for your case.
- DO obtain a copy of the police report and read it through for accuracy. Discrepancies between the report and actual events require the expertise of a personal injury attorney.
- DO keep receipts and bills related to your accident. This includes medical bills, pay stubs for lost wages, travel expenses to and from the hospital and anything else related to the accident that you might be able to recover.
- DO follow doctor’s orders so you don’t miss out on potential compensation.
- DON’T admit fault and let investigators determine liability. After a car accident, you might think you know what happened, but it’s best not to speak to others about your accident. Let the experts prove fault.
- DON’T negotiate directly with the at-fault driver. It’s best to deal with the driver’s insurance carrier, but you should let an experienced car accident lawyer handle all communication. Car accident attorneys are familiar with insurance company tactics and will pursue the best outcome for your situation.
- DON’T accept the insurance company’s valuation of your claim. In an effort to avoid paying, the insurance company will value your claim low, downplay your injuries, and maybe even try to shift blame your way.
- DON’T miss doctor appointments; your doctors will likely give medical opinions about your condition that support your case.
- DON’T participate in physical activities that might hinder your rehabilitation. If you injure yourself or prevent recovery by participating in demanding physical activities, the insurance company might suggest that the car accident did not cause your injury.
- DON’T accept a settlement offer without an attorney’s advice. Insurance companies are famous for offering low-ball settlement offers to avoid paying large amounts on claims or hefty damages later on.
- DON’T let the statute of limitations run out; file a claim as soon as possible.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists
When a driver refuses or is unable to carry the proper insurance, that driver puts more than just herself or himself at risk. If the driver injures another person, the insurance will be inadequate to cover the damages. Injured parties, however, may be covered by their own insurance policies; uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects accident victims in these cases.
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance carrier. Even though you are their customer, your insurance company will still do what they can to avoid paying a claim. Make sure to hire a skilled, dedicated, and proven Wisconsin personal injury attorney to fight for your rights.
Contact an Experienced Milwaukee Car Accident Lawyer Today
Choosing whether to hire a Milwaukee car accident attorney might be a difficult decision for some because they worry about the cost of a lawyer. Hiring a qualified personal injury attorney will give you the best chance to receive to recover the maximum amount of damages for your car accident case and you generally don’t have to pay a personal injury lawyer upfront.
Although there are exceptions, the vast majority of personal injury lawyers, including Milwaukee lawyers, handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the law firm will deduct its fees only from any settlement or verdict that they secure for you.If you were injured in a car accident because of another motorist’s careless driving, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden that comes with a recovering from a severe injury.
Let an experienced Milwaukee car accident attorney investigate your accident, negotiate with insurance companies, handle the details of your case, and prepare for litigation while you focus on healing.