Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorneys Faqs
Do I have a legal claim?
Many individuals that are injured in an accident question whether or not their claim is valid. It is sometimes complicated and difficult to sort through the details of a case to understand just who might be at fault, and if the other party acted negligently in a way that they will be held liable, completely or partially, for the damage caused.
Not surprisingly it is extremely hard to declare with certainty whether or not one has a legal claim without understanding specifics about the situation. However, usually the civil law supports an individual who is injured or their surviving family members have a legal claim with regard to recourse any time that a different party intentionally or negligently causes injury. Deliberate wrongdoing is obvious: the other party causes harm on purpose. At fault misconduct is not so straight forward, however, in general it refers circumstances where someone acts carelessly.
Negligence is probably the most prevalent type of civil suit filed, which arises in many situations. In a car accident, one driver might be negligent when they are speeding, run a stop light, fail to appropriately yield, or in some way do not react carefully. Negligence takes place when a property owner fails to maintain floors free of hazards or perhaps ensure that people on the property are safe. Professionals, like physicians, nurses, long-term care personnel and others can act negligently in their work also, causing harm to healthcare patients, nursing home occupants and others.
In fact, in some special cases a third party does not even need to be shown to have acted negligently in order to have a legal obligation to provide redress. That includes “strict liability” cases where dangerous products are made and cause harm.
Technically, in certain circumstances it doesn’t have be actually proven that a third party behaved negligently in order to have the legal burden to provide accountability. One example of strict liability are cases where hazardous products are made and lead to harm.
The important thing is that injured parties have legal rights in many different situations, when the claim might not be even self-evident. Because each situation is quite fact-specific, the best bet is to visit a personal injury attorney and share your story. The legal professionals at Hanson & Manzo offer a zero obligation, free of charge consultation. Thus, there is nothing to forfeit by discussing how you ended up hurt and learning how the law applies in your particular situation.
Can I still file suit if I was partly at fault for my injuries?
This will likely depend on your area. In a few states, individuals cannot recover compensation if their negligence contributed to their injuries. However, most jurisdictions maintain that injured individuals can certainly still receive reimbursement even when they have been to some extent at fault for their accidental injuries. In such cases, the settlement amount awarded to the recipient may be lowered relative to the victim's level of negligence.
Who can be held responsible for catastrophic damages?
To establish liability, it's fundamental to contact a personal injury attorney to explain your case. More than one person might be responsible for your injuries. Based upon your type of accidental injuries, the liability might rest on a property owner, hospital, doctor, motor vehicle, motorist, truck driver, drug manufacturer or employer.
When should I contact a personal injury attorney?
I after consulting your doctor, you have been diagnosed with injury, it makes sense to call a personal injury lawyer to find out what rights you might have. If you believe that your injury has been caused by another company or person, you might have a right to recover compensation for the injury. Although car accidents account for numerous personal injury cases, many other types of avoidable accidents create trauma that merits payment. Some instances are: falls caused by snowfall, ice or a defect in a stair or walkway, work-place injuries due to faulty equipment or dangerous work practices, household accidents caused by defective consumer merchandise, fires and electrical incidents, medical mistakes and substandard medical products such as hip replacements and mesh implants or sexual assaults. If you have any pertinent question about your potential rights following an injury, a call to a personal injury attorney is crucial.
Can a lawyer who drafted a will, handled a divorce and helped build a business contract work on my injury case?
Statutory laws have become complex. The knowledge and skills necessary to represent an injured person or the grouped family of someone deceased take years to develop. A lawyer who handles an occasional personal injury issue just cannot offer the same competence as a lawyer who specializes in handling personal injury cases. At present, there is no law that requires accreditation of specialists. Fortunately, we have the experience and expertise to handle all claims that come our way. The volume of clients we get in each of our practice areas, make us as well rounded as a multiple practice are lawyer can be.
How should I find the best attorney for me?
The conventional way to find a lawyer is usually word of mouth. Typically, a local standard practice lawyer can offer some sort of referral to a personal injury firm. On the other hand, if you don’t know a local legal representative, there are alternative ways to find the right legal professional. The internet is a useful resource. Looking at the websites of personal injury law firms will allow you to evaluate the various firms. There are some items that to look for whenever reviewing a personal injury law firm’s website: How long has the practice been in existence? Do they have experience with the type of case you have? Specifically how do the firms score with certain ranking organizations? Is the firm associated with various specialty trial legislation establishments? Following your on-line research, a telephone call or in-person appointment with an attorney at law is an effective way to see if that particular firm is the right match for you.
At what time do I pay the attorney?
Personal Injury law offices, like ours, usually do not charge for the first appointment whether it’s by phone or in-person, or both. Following the initial consultation, the next step is investigation of the claim and similarly, the majority of firms do not charge to review a possible claim either. After a personal injury law firm has chosen to represent your claim, the firm will often work on a contingency basis. This premise means that there are only service fees due to the law firm if it is successful in obtaining payout or damages to the litigant. If there is no compensation involved, there is no fee due. The fee is typically a percentage of the amount of the settlement received. The percentage can differ by the claim type. Aside from fees, successful prosecution of personal injury claims requires a law firm to spend money for investigation, court fees, transcripts and acquiring records. Most often the law office advances these finances which are repaid by the victim when the claim is paid out.
What information should I have for the first meeting?
At the consultation, you should bring copies of any reports or accounts you have regarding your accident regardless of whether or not it is filled out by you, the police or other people. Also, it is best to bring your health insurance information and any papers you actually received at the hospital or perhaps from other corresponding health care professionals. It’s beneficial to bring any photos you might have exhibiting your injuries, the location where you were injured or your car or maybe other vehicles included in accident. If you have a claim involving a defective product, it would be useful to bring the product assuming it is small and convenient to bring. If not, you should take the appropriate measures to preserve and store the item until your attorney is able to review the claim. Finally, if you have a car accident case, you should bring the coverage page from your car insurance policy because there may be some coverage that can be utilized.
What should I expect when I meet with a personal injury lawyer for the initial consultation?
You can expect the lawyer to explain the laws relating to your case fully, the steps required to bring the case to resolution, an agreement pertaining to expenses and fees, the degree to which you will find yourself involved in the case and the period of time the case will take. Then again, before an injury lawyer can provide this information, the lawyer needs to have detailed facts about your injuries and accident. Therefore, you should also be prepared to be asked to fully explain how you were injured along with the circumstances surrounding the incident, the extent of your injury, your treatment, health history, employment and loss of wages or earnings from your injuries.
How long will my case take?
Each case is different so each one takes a varying amount of time. Wisconsin courts have guidelines for various cases that range in time. Even though every effort is made by the courts to meet these guidelines, it’s not uncommon for certain cases to take longer to resolve. Keep in mind that not all cases go to trail and quite a few get settled out of court. With these cases, settlement can happen anywhere from the early stages of a claim to just before trial. When personal injury cases are settled, they are satisfied for a set lump sum. It's not possible to come back later to get additional damages, nor can the insurer return for a refund. This policy explains why most of the timing depends on the medical status of your injuries. Until there is finality regarding the degree of your injuries, plus if they are long term, it's often too risky to get either you or the insurance company to settle. An unknown extent of injuries makes a correct determination amount impossible.
I hired a personal injury attorney but my case is not moving forward, should I contact a different lawyer such as your firm?
Moral principles specifically allow a complainant to switch lawyers. In other words, a lawyer cannot require a customer to remain a client. Therefore, when your case doesn’t seem to advancing, you can contact our practice. Nevertheless, before doing this, it may be advantageous to meet with your present attorney to get a reason for the insufficient development. If you decide after the explanation to call our firm, you should know that changing lawyers when there’s a contingent cost commitment presents some complications. At that point, we can discuss options with you.
Should I sign a release?
Occasionally an insurance company attempts to contact injured individuals directly and advise them not to hire a lawyer. The providers allege that they’ll pay the injured person directly, thus sparing him or her legal costs. Even if you've heard from someone that it's been profitable to do this, for the most part the insurance company benefits. The competency that a personal injury attorney contributes can be shown by his her skill in determining how long you have to make a claim as well as file a lawsuit. He or she is also knowledgeable in the amount the insurance company should pay you, what factors are widely-used to determine this amount, and if the insurance company has the right interview and take statements from you and your family. They will advise if you have to repay Medicaid or your health insurance provider from the settlement and the actual amount of reimbursement. Unless you know these answers, the insurance corporation will always have the advantage and definitely can try to take get the upper hand on you in the event you choose to deal with them directly. At Hanson & Manzo we'll ensure fairness in the playing field.
How much time will I be putting into my claim?
After the initial meeting with your personal injury lawyer, typically you will be asked to periodically update your lawyer on your treatment and progress of your injuries. How often you’ll need to update depends on where you are in your recovery and how much treatment is needed. These updates are also a good opportunity for you to get an update from your lawyer. In addition, you may be asked to visit the accident scene with your lawyer while the case is still under investigation. After a lawsuit is filed, you will be asked to participate in discovery, answer more questions, gather documents and give a deposition after having a prep session with your lawyer. All this usually takes a day or two over the course of months after suit is filed. Along the way, either before or after suit is filed, you may be asked to submit to an examination by a doctor hired by the insurance company. Under most circumstances, when personal injury is claimed, the insurers have the right to this examination. Finally, if your case goes to trial, you should expect to meet with your lawyer to prepare for several sessions before trial and usually will be asked to be present for the trial from beginning to end. The length of trials varies widely with the type of case: anywhere from 2 days for the least complicated of cases to weeks for the most.
I have full insurance coverage but why am I not being reimbursed?
A lot of drivers think they are fully covered but are not in some instances. There are various types of insurance coverage, and not having a specific coverage could reduce recovery. Some of our clients learn that although they believed they had full coverage they actually failed to add underinsured or uninsured protection, which will cover them when an accident occurs and the other party is unable to pay. Contact your insurance company and review the coverage you have and when it can be used. If necessary, hire a lawyer if you think your insurance company is attempting to avoid payout for a legitimate claim. If indeed you do have full insurance coverage, you may not be sufficiently compensated because the provider would like to reduce the payment amount. In quite a few cases there is a disagreement about certain language in your insurance policy, how much a claim may be worth and whether or not any other parties are involved who could be liable. If other insurance companies are included, there could possibly be disagreements over who is financially responsible. These matters could potentially delay a payment.
Medical professionals will occasionally allow a letter of protection, documentation permitting the victim to receive treatment without having to pay for it until a future date. Typically, there is no payment made until the patient achieves complete recovery. It is important for the client to understand that if the case is not resolved in their favor, a letter of protection on file does not allow them immunity from paying their medical bills.
What does MMI mean?
If you've completed your medical treatment of your injury with a doctor, lawyers will request a conclusion in writing. At this point the doctor has concluded that the patient has reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This determination means that the patient has reached a stage where they are as recovered as possible; they may not perhaps be in the same health that they were before the accident, but their condition has stabilized. If need be, a physician could establish a permanent impairment rating in accordance with American Medical Association regulations. While it is not required to have that rating presented during court proceedings, car insurance companies might want access to the permanent impairment rating as part of their case assessment.
How do I deal with insurance adjusters?
When accidents happen, it is quite normal for an insurance company to ask you to record a statement with an insurance adjuster. It is never recommended that you speak to an adjuster without consulting your lawyer beforehand. If you decide to go ahead with a statement without legal counsel, you should keep certain facts in mind. Insurance adjusters are instructed to indirectly persuade you into saying something that would prevent their company’s liability, or reduce your claim. Also, any recorded statements you give to an insurance adjuster might be used against you in any related lawsuit. In the end this could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
In most circumstances, making a recorded statement with an insurance adjuster ends up being harmful to your case. The statements are usually asked for immediately following the accident, when you may not be fully aware of the extent of your injuries. After a recorded statement is made, it’s impossible for you to change your comments and difficult to provide any further explanation.
There is no benefit to making recorded statements or providing information to the insurance company before getting legal counsel. In most instances these requests are made intentionally to use your words against you for possible future legal claims. Even if you explicitly state that you were not responsible for the accident, it is very easy for these words to be taken out of context and used unfavorably. Get legal advice first at all times.
Should I Accept the Insurance Company’s Settlement?
We cannot say it enough that insurance companies are in the business of reducing settlements to increase their profits. No matter how pleasant or informative the insurance adjuster seems regarding details of your reimbursement, the adjuster’s objective is to pay you the least amount possible. In fact, the adjuster is usually rewarded for settling claims for as little and quickly as possible.
With incentives in mind, it is common for an insurance adjuster to visit you shortly after an accident. To persuade you to accept compensation for far less than you could recover, the adjuster often arrives ready to make a payment immediately. This sneaky strategy is used to end a claim swiftly, when an injured person has not had enough to time to examine their choices and is at their most vulnerable. It is crucial for fair recovery not to fall for their tactics. There is no reason to make hasty decisions about an offer from an insurance company. Be careful to fully consider all legal decisions and not to sign away legal rights without being completely informed of the consequences.
Always keep in mind that the insurance company’s priority is in making sure that you receive as little as possible. Instead of dealing with the company by yourself, retain the services of a Hanson & Manzo to make certain that the company actually pays the full value of the claim and take into account all of your losses.