Frequently Asked Questions
Were you or a close loved one hurt in an accident? It is normal to feel stressed out and confused. You may have a lot of questions about exactly what comes next. At Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Butler, LLC, we provide reliable and experienced legal representation in the full range of personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims in Wisconsin. Our attorneys want to ensure that you have the knowledge, tools, and resources to protect your rights and interests. In this article, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about personal injury claims and workers’ comp cases in Wisconsin. If you have any specific questions or concerns about your case, please do not hesitate to contact us directly for a free, fully confidential, and no obligation consultation.
Following a serious accident in Wisconsin, you need to be proactive—both to protect your well-being and to preserve the value of your legal claim. First and foremost, be sure to seek immediate medical attention for any injuries. Your health and safety take the top priority. Further, if you fail to see a doctor, you cannot bring a personal injury claim in Wisconsin. Next, try to document your accident. Gather and preserve as much relevant evidence/information as possible. Finally, consult with a Wisconsin personal injury lawyer before speaking to an insurance adjuster.
In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is three years from the date of the accident. Only limited exceptions apply. You must bring any legal claim before the statute of limitations expires. If you fail to take action in a timely manner, you could lose out on your right to bring a claim at all. Be proactive: You do not want to fall behind the insurance company in the claims process. Speak to a top Wisconsin personal injury lawyer right away after a serious accident.
The value of a personal injury case depends on several factors, including the extent of your injuries, the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, the adverse impact of the injury on your quality of life, and any future costs related to your injury, such as ongoing therapy or rehabilitation. In Wisconsin, you can also pursue compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Our Wisconsin personal injury lawyer can help you determine the value of your case.
To prove liability in a Wisconsin personal injury claim, you will generally need to establish negligence. Among other things, this involves showing that:
- The defendant had a duty of care to you;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- That breach of duty caused your injuries.
Evidence, such as photos, witness statements, accident reports, and medical records, can be critical in proving negligence. Every serious accident in Wisconsin should be thoroughly investigated by an experienced attorney.
Note: Negligence is not required for certain types of claims in Wisconsin. For example, strict liability laws apply to many dog bite claims and product liability cases. Further, a finding of fault is not required for Wisconsin workers’ compensation cases.
Typically, your case will not actually get to trial. Indeed, most personal injury claims in Wisconsin do not go to trial. Instead, they are often resolved through negotiation or mediation. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to go to court. You should always be prepared for the possibility of a trial. Insurance companies will be far more likely to offer a fair settlement if you can demonstrate the strength of your case. An attorney can help.
Not without first consulting with an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can help assess the fairness of the offer, considering the full extent of your damages, including those that may not be immediately apparent. Further, your Wisconsin personal injury attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to ensure you receive a settlement that fully compensates you for your injuries and other losses. Do not rely on a corporate defendant or big insurance company to look out for your best interests. They try to settle cases for less.
Motor vehicle collisions are reported every day in our state. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there are approximately 135,000 crashes in our state each year. More than 30,000 of these accidents result in reportable physical injuries.
Yes—or at least you do if there were any injuries or even a relatively modest amount of property damages. Under Wisconsin law, parties are required to report any car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000. In effect, most collisions need to be reported as a matter of law. If you are hurt in a crash, a police officer will generally come to the scene and write an accident report. The police report is a key form of evidence.
Wisconsin is a ‘fault’ state, meaning the person who caused the accident is responsible for any damages. Insurance companies or the court will determine who is at fault based on the evidence provided. Broadly speaking, fault is based on negligence. The driver (or other party) who caused an accident through carelessness or recklessness can be held liable for the resulting damages.
Yes, under Wisconsin’s comparative negligence law, you can still receive compensation if you’re partially at fault, but your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Here is an example of how the system works in Wisconsin. Imagine that you were found liable for 20 percent of a multi-car crash in La Crosse. The other driver was at fault for 80 percent. In total, you sustained $20,000 in damages. Under Wisconsin law, you would bear liability for 20 percent of your own damages ($4,000). In other words, you would only be able to recover for 80 percent of your losses. Your case would be worth $16,000 instead of the full $20,000. Every percentage point of fault matters. It is crucial that your crash is thoroughly investigated by an experienced Wisconsin auto accident attorney.
‘Pain and suffering’ refers to the physical and emotional distress caused by an accident. It is considered a non-economic damage, and compensation amounts can vary based on the severity and impact of the accident on your life. Following a crash, it is imperative that you are able to secure the full and fair compensation that you deserve for pain and suffering damages.
Yes, if a vehicle defect contributed to the accident, you might have a product liability claim against the car manufacturer or parts manufacturer. In Wisconsin, a manufacturer can be held strictly liable for a defective product, including a defective automobile. These are complex cases. You need a reliable Wisconsin attorney on your side.
As a pedestrian, if you were hit by a vehicle, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries from the at-fault party. Among other things, a settlement or trial verdict may include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related damages.
If a cyclist hits you, the cyclist can be held responsible if they were negligent or disobeyed traffic laws. However, liability might be shared if both parties were negligent. Determining fault requires careful analysis of the accident circumstances. Your case should be thoroughly investigated.
In hit-and-run cases, you might be able to seek compensation through your own insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. In most cases, law enforcement will typically investigate to try to identify the fleeing driver. A lawyer can help you take action to track down the at-fault party and explore every other path to recover compensation for your injuries.
In Wisconsin, the dog’s owner is generally liable for any damages caused by their dog biting someone. To be clear, this holds true even if the owner wasn’t aware that the dog might act aggressively. Dog owners are responsible for protecting the public from risks caused by their animal. Other negligent non-owner parties could also be legally liable for a dog bite.
Strict liability in a Wisconsin dog bite case means that the owner of the dog is liable for damages caused by their dog biting someone, regardless of whether the owner knew or should have known that the dog might act aggressively. In effect, this means that the injured party does not have to prove the owner was negligent or at fault; it is enough to show that the defendant owned the dog and the dog caused the injury. Under Wisconsin law, if the dog had previously injured someone without provocation, the owner could be liable for double damages.
Premises liability law in Wisconsin holds that property owners or occupiers have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors. The law applies to both public and private property. The level of duty varies depending on the status of the visitor, which can be an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
- Invitees are individuals who enter the property for the benefit of the owner, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, meaning they must actively inspect and maintain the property to ensure it’s safe.
- Licensees are people who enter the property for their own purposes but with the owner’s permission, like social guests. Owners must warn licensees of any known hazards but are not typically required to regularly inspect for unknown dangers.
- Trespassers enter without any right or invitation. Property owners generally do not owe a duty of care to adult trespassers, except not to intentionally harm them or set traps.
In a premises liability claim, the injured person must prove that the owner failed in their duty of care and this failure directly caused the injury. If the visitor is found to have been partially responsible, Wisconsin’s comparative negligence laws can reduce the compensation in proportion to their degree of fault.
In Wisconsin, the vast majority of employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance from their first day of employment. This includes part-time, full-time, and seasonal workers, and in most cases, immigrant workers.
First, seek medical attention immediately. Next, notify your employer about the injury as soon as possible, ideally in writing. Document the details about the accident and any related injuries. Finally, file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. A Wisconsin workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate a claim.
Workers’ compensation benefits in Wisconsin can include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, disability benefits (temporary or permanent, partial or total), and death benefits for dependents of workers who die as a result of work-related injuries.
No, it is illegal for an employer in Wisconsin to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. You have the right to file for benefits without fear of retaliation.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. To appeal, you must file an application for a hearing with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Appeals are complicated. Consult with a Wisconsin workers’ comp lawyer right away after receiving a denial letter.
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At Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Butler, LLC, we are committed to providing high-level, results-focused legal representation to injured victims and their families. If you or your loved one was seriously hurt in an accident, our law firm is ready to help you fight for justice and the maximum available financial compensation. Contact us today for your free, no obligation case review. With offices in Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Onalaska, we serve communities throughout the surrounding area in Wisconsin.