The following is a step-by-step guide to help you in determining how much you may able to recover after you have been involved in a car accident in Milwaukee or elsewhere in Wisconsin. This guide is for informational purposes only.
Please contact an attorney from Techmeier Law Firm to discuss the specific facts and issues in your case in order to get a better understanding of the merits of your claim. Our initial consultations are always free.
If you can show that another driver acted carelessly or recklessly, or received a citation, and that conduct served as the cause of your accident and injuries, you may be able to assert a claim for compensation. Speeding, following too closely, street racing, drunk driving, texting while driving or falling asleep at the wheel are examples of driver conduct that could give rise to a claim.
If the other driver was working at the time of the crash, compensation could be sought from the driver’s employer as well. A truck driver making a delivery is an example. This is based on the principle that an employer should be held responsible for the negligence of its employees.
Punitive damages may be sought in a car accident if it can be shown that the other driver acted maliciously or with intentional disregard for one’s rights. Drunk driving is an example of this type of conduct. Wisconsin’s statutory cap on punitive damages does not apply to drunk driving accident cases. If the drunk driver was underage, the person or company who provided the driver with alcohol could be held liable.
A product liability claim may be pursued if a defective automotive part caused you to suffer injuries. Faulty ignition switches, air bags, tires, gas tanks, seat belts and roofs are examples of defects that may cause accidents. Often, these defective parts are subject to recalls only after harm has been suffered in auto accidents.
A road may have hazards such as cracks, potholes or a deteriorating shoulder that makes it dangerous and causes a crash. Improper signage or defective traffic signals may also lead to accidents. Federal, state or local government agencies or their contractors may be held liable. However, your recovery may be capped by statute.
If your own negligence contributed to your accident, you may be barred from recovering any amount of damages. It depends on your degree of fault. If you are determined to be 51 percent or more at fault, your recovery would be barred. Otherwise, you could recover damages, but your recovery would be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
The other driver’s liability insurance coverage or your own collision coverage should pay for the repair or actual cash value of your car. An insurance company claims adjuster will make this decision to either pay for these repairs or declare your vehicle to be “totaled.” In many cases, the insurance company will secure a rental car for you while your car is being repaired or replaced.
If you suffer bodily injury in a crash, you may require extensive and costly medical care and treatment. This includes emergency treatment, surgery, plastic surgery, rehabilitation, medication, assistive devices and psychological counseling. Past medical expenses can be established through medical records. An expert can help to determine future medical costs. These damages can be sought in a claim.
If you are unable to earn income while you are recovering from your injuries, including earning bonuses, commissions and fringe benefits, or you lose vacation time, you can seek theses losses in a claim. You may also pursue damages for lost future income or reduced earning capacity if your injury leaves you permanently disabled.
These damages are intended to compensate one for the non-economic impact of an accident, including emotional distress and the loss of enjoyment of life.
A wrongful death claim may be asserted by eligible family members who have lost a loved one in a car accident. Damages can include medical expenses, funeral costs and the loss of a loved one’s services and companionship.
Typically, you would seek to recover damages through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage. In Wisconsin, drivers must have coverage in the minimum amounts of $10,000 for property damage, $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person and $50,000 for bodily injury or death of more than one person. Many drivers carry higher amounts of liability coverage. If the driver has no insurance, you can turn to your own required uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Your recovery typically will be subject to the applicable insurance policy’s limits.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance does not fully cover your losses, you may have purchased underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage that will compensate you for any bodily injury you have suffered. This coverage would pay the difference between the other driver’s liability coverage and your UIM coverage limits.
You may have other types of insurance coverage that will help you to cover the losses caused by an auto accident, such as medical payments coverage.
Typically, your health insurance company will require you to reimburse it for the medical expenses it paid. This is called subrogation and requires you to reimburse your health insurance company out of your settlement. Our office handles this and often times can get a reduction and those savings are then passed on to you.
The most important step after a car accident is to have your case reviewed by an experienced lawyer. The attorney can investigate your case to determine how your crash occurred and who should be held responsible. The attorney can also review all insurance policies and handle negotiations with the insurance companies. If the insurance company fails to make a full and fair settlement offer, your lawyer can ultimately seek just compensation for you in court.