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If you were in a car accident, you may have the right to compensation from the driver who was at fault and his insurance company. Full compensation should cover for your pain, suffering and disability, the cost of your medical care, and your lost income.

In Wisconsin, your right to compensation for your injuries will depend on whether the accident was caused by the fault of the other driver. If you share the fault for the accident, you must show that the other driver's fault was greater than yours. Your recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you are at fault. Determining who was at fault starts with an investigation of the facts, which will include a review of witness statements and documentation gathered by the police at the scene, but may require further investigation by a private investigator, or by an engineer with expertise in accident reconstruction. In serious cases, finding an attorney who has access to these experts, and getting them involved as soon as possible before evidence disappears and memories fade, may make the difference in whether you will recover compensation.

If you were a passenger injured in a car accident, your right to compensation may be against each of the driver's involved, if fault is shared for the accident. However, your recovery may depend on the type and amount of insurance covering each driver. Frequently, passengers injured in a car accident are relatives or close friends of the driver, leaving an uncomfortable situation in which needed compensation requires a claim to be filed against the insurance company of the family member or friend. The short answer is that this why all drivers have insurance. Some of the insurance benefits may not depend on showing that your host driver was at fault, including medical payments coverage or a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits, where the driver of the other vehicle was at fault. You owe it to yourself to get the compensation necessary to move forward with your life. An experienced and skilled personal injury attorney will know how to advise you through the claim process.
If you are in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the cost to repair your car, for your medical expenses, and for your lost wages. Those losses are measured in numbers with which most people are familiar. But the losses from a personal injury are not ones that most people have experience measuring in dollars. No insurance company adjuster and no attorney who is experienced in personal injury law can tell you what your claim is worth before you have had your injuries evaluated and treated by your health care providers. If you have been injured in a car accident, never sign a release of claims presented by an insurance company before you have completed your medical treatment and without first seeking legal advice. Once you have signed a release, you will probably be signing away all of your rights to future compensation, even if some new condition or symptom surfaces later.

The value of your personal injury claim will depend on the nature and length of pain, suffering, and any disfigurement; whether some of the pain or disability is likely to be permanent, and how the pain and disability affects your life. An experienced attorney will know how to document these losses in a manner that will be recognized by the insurance company and be admissible evidence in court if required, and to apply his years of experience when placing a value on your claim. It is important that documentation of these losses begin as soon as possible after an accident, so do not delay seeking legal representation.

Insurance adjusters and claim representatives are in the business of negotiating and settling personal injury claims, and their objective is to do so at the lowest cost possible to the insurance company. Accident victims usually lack any experience evaluating these claims. They have no point of reference with which to place a dollar value on their claim or how to go about the process of negotiating a settlement. Hoping that the insurance company "will be fair" and "offer a reasonable settlement" is not a successful settlement strategy for the inexperienced victim. You need an experienced personal injury attorney to even the playing field during negotiations, and an attorney with litigation experience can present a credible threat of an alternative course if a fair settlement is not offered: taking the claim to court. If the insurance company is not offering fair reimbursement for all of the damages you have suffered, you are entitled to a trial where your case can be presented to an impartial judge, jury or arbitrator who will decide the real value of your claim.
Most claims have a deadline by which they must be filed, called a "statute of limitations". A failure to file a claim on time may cause your rights to expire. The fact that you have filed a claim with an insurance company does not mean that you have stopped the clock from running. It is only when a claim is filed in court, in accordance with proper procedure, that you have protected the claim from expiring. For personal injury cases involving claims of negligence or intentional misconduct the statute of limitations is often 3 years. However, many claims, including those against state or local governmental agencies have shorter deadlines. Our legislature frequently passes laws that change the statutes of limitation to make them shorter or longer. Calculating when the clock begins to run on a claim's deadline is often a complex and uncertain issue, and you don't want to guess wrong and forfeit your compensation. If you have been injured you should get advice from a lawyer who has experience with your type of claim so that you know how long you have to present your claim in a manner that will avoid its expiration and your loss of rights. In short, you should not delay in seeking legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
You should consider having an attorney for any accident claim involving a personal injury caused by someone's negligence. We do not have a "no-fault" system for compensation in Wisconsin, except in worker compensation cases. Therefore, getting compensated depends on taking the right steps to document, negotiate and settle your claim. You should have an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney take responsibility for each of these steps to avoid mistakes that could cause you to lose compensation to which you are entitled. While you will pay your attorney a contingent fee out of your recovery, you will likely recover a larger settlement with the assistance of an attorney than you would obtain on your own.

An insurance claim representative employed by the insurer for the person responsible for your injury claim will contact you to discuss your claim. The representative will want to take your recorded statement, asking questions designed to find a basis to deny your claim or to pay as little as possible at the time of settlement. While they may seem friendly and sincere, the claims representatives owe their allegiance to their employer, the insurance company. You will do better to have an attorney gather and present the best documentation and arguments supporting your claim. A personal injury lawyer will frequently use a skilled investigator to identify and interview witnesses, visit the scene, take photographs and do whatever may be necessary to find out the cause of the accident. Getting this information promptly is very important, as witnesses may be hard to locate as time goes by, and their memories about important details are sharpest at the time of the accident and may be less reliable as time passes.

Serious accidents usually present problems that will require the attention of an experienced personal injury law firm, including dealing with medical documentation from hospitals and doctors, investigating and understanding all liability and health insurance coverage, and dealing with "subrogation" and reimbursement of health insurers and Medicare or Medicaid programs. When you are going through the traumatic effects of an accident, and your energy is focused on restoring your health, having an attorney to answer your questions and serve as your advocate can help you and your family get through this stressful experience.
When you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, selecting the right personal injury attorney is a very important decision. Some lawyers will probably find you before you begin looking for counsel. Accident reports are public records and some attorneys comb through them for the names of accident victims and then send letters soliciting their business. Just because an attorney has sent you a letter does not mean that he or she is the right attorney for your case. Similarly, just because an attorney advertises his services on TV does not mean that his or her services are superior. Not every attorney seeking your business is truly qualified to handle a personal injury case. Consider these factors when selecting a personal injury attorney:
  • Choose a lawyer with experience.
    The most important factor is selecting an attorney is the lawyer's experience. Look for an attorney who has years of experience in the trial and settlement of personal injury cases. An attorney who has a long record of success will likely command more respect from the insurance company than an attorney who has not been there before. Always ask about the experience of any attorney you are considering hiring for your case.

  • Choose a lawyer who will accept your case on a contingent fee basis.
    You will not have to pay a personal injury attorney by the hour to handle your case. Attorneys who specialize in personal injury cases will work on a contingent fee agreement. A contingent fee agreement means that you will not pay any fee unless your attorney achieves a recovery on your behalf. If your attorney succeeds in obtaining a settlement of your case, your lawyer will receive an agreed percentage of your settlement as the fee and get reimbursed from the settlement proceeds for the expenses incurred to develop the case. Most personal injury lawyers offer the same contingent fee arrangement, so you can get a personal injury attorney with decades of experience for the same fee arrangement that will be offered by an attorney with only a few years of experience. When you sign a contingent fee agreement, you are giving the attorney a valuable privilege and business opportunity – to represent you and to earn a percentage fee from your case. So be sure that you are getting a fair trade in return: an attorney with experience and an excellent reputation who will personally devote his time and care to your case.

  • Hire a Wisconsin attorney for a Wisconsin accident.
    TV advertising, internet marketing, and toll-free telephone numbers allow attorneys from out of state to solicit work in Wisconsin. But the rules of law and court procedures are different in every state. An experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney will be familiar with the rules of Wisconsin law that will govern your case, and be familiar with the local judges and court procedures. A local attorney will also be in a better position to meet with your health care providers in documenting your injuries and treatment. You should be comfortable with the person you are hiring. Ask for a personal meeting with the attorney at his or her office, or arrange a meeting at a location convenient to you. With a local attorney you will have the ability to meet in person whenever you have a question or concern about the case and progress toward its resolution. You should always hire a Wisconsin attorney for a Wisconsin claim.

  • Ask people you trust for advice.
    Get recommendations from people you know and trust who have previously used the services of a personal injury lawyer. Ask them what it was like to work with the attorney, whether the whether the attorney responded to their questions and concerns, and whether the attorney worked hard and achieved a successful outcome. Ask whether they would return to the same attorney if they were to need a personal attorney again.

  • Seek out an attorney who has handled a claim like yours.
    Some areas of personal injury law are highly specialized. Cases involving a dangerous product or medical malpractice, for example, require the attorney to be familiar with complex medical or engineering principles. Truck accidents and multiple vehicle collision cases may require familiarity with the science of accident reconstruction. Having an attorney who has done your kind of case before gives you the valuable advantage of lessons learned through experience. When choosing an attorney, always ask: "Have you done this kind of claim before? Have you been successful with this type of claim?"


David Lowe has been practicing law in Wisconsin for 35 years. He has tried complex cases in courts throughout Wisconsin, including product liability, medical malpractice, and motor vehicle accident cases among others. He has helped hundreds of Wisconsin families get fair compensation after trauma and tragedy, and move forward in their lives with a measure of justice. You can have the benefit of his decades of experience working on your behalf. Every case that David Lowe accepts will be handled by him personally, and he will be available to you whenever you have a question about your case. He will handle your personal injury or wrongful death case on a contingent basis, so the injured client does not pay attorney fees until the case is resolved and the monetary compensation is collected. If no money is recovered for the client, no fee will be paid.

If you or a family member has been in an accident, don't delay calling the Law Offices of David P. Lowe at (414)727-2200. Ask for an appointment to discuss your case. There is no obligation, and no fee for an initial consultation about your personal injury case.