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Why it’s Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Wisconsin Car Accident

The right legal advice will maximize your chances of fair compensation

You’ve been injured in a car crash. You’re hurting, dazed, and not sure what to do next. The insurance company may have contacted you already offering a quick settlement. Understandably, it’s tempting, because all you want to do is get on with your life.

Here’s the problem: if you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, that’s it. Legally, your case is closed, and you cannot go back for more if your costs end up being higher than you thought. You only get one chance to get the full compensation you need to rebuild your life.

That’s why it’s almost always in your interest to at least talk to a Wisconsin car accident lawyer.

Wisconsin is a “fault” state – what does that mean?

Wisconsin uses a traditional fault-based or “tort” system for car accidents. Essentially, that means the person who caused the accident (and their insurance company) is responsible for paying for the cost of the accident. Usually, that’s one of the drivers involved, although other parties (like vehicle manufacturers) can be liable in some circumstances.

In general, this means you pursue compensation for a Wisconsin car accident either by filing a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or by filing a lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver. If you have first-party benefits (like medical payments coverage) on your own insurance policy, then you can file a first-party claim as well, but the main way injured people get compensation is from the at-fault party.

This means the process of getting compensation is inherently adversarial. The at-fault driver’s insurance company has a financial incentive to pay you as little as possible – or nothing at all, if they can find a reason to deny the claim entirely. Their representatives, adjusters, and attorneys are trained and experienced to protect their employer’s financial interests. They know the system well, and they do this every day.

The advantage of hiring a car accident attorney is a level playing field. You have someone on your side who knows the system and has your best interests at heart.

A car accident lawyer will protect your legal rights

When you retain a lawyer to represent you in a car accident case, one of the first things that lawyer will do is contact the insurance company and inform them that you are now represented by counsel. From that point forward, the insurance company must send its communications to your lawyer, not directly to you. In addition to saving you time and stress, this protects your rights: an experienced attorney knows how to respond to their inquiries in a way that doesn’t compromise your case.

For instance, if an insurance company asks for an official statement regarding the accident, your attorney can sit down with you to craft a written statement that accurately tells your side of the story. If the insurance company requests a release to review medical documents, your attorney can review that request to ensure that they are only getting access to documents they need to process your claim, not access to all your medical records to comb through for pre-existing conditions. And of course, if you get a settlement offer, you can review it with your attorney to ensure that it’s fair value for your injuries.

The full cost of a car accident is often surprisingly high. One of your lawyer’s most important jobs is calculating the value of your claim.

How an attorney can advocate for full value for your car accident

Car accidents happen in a single moment in time, but the full cost of the accident may not be known for some time. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may need long-term medical care or medication. You may be at an elevated risk of needing future surgery. Your injuries could also affect your ability to work and earn income, potentially for the rest of your career. These are examples of “economic damages” – compensation for objectively measurable financial losses you’ve sustained because of the accident.

Under Wisconsin law, you may also be able to pursue “non-economic damages,” such as pain and suffering, loss of quality and enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium – a legal term for loss of intimacy and damage to relationships due to an injury. These are more subjectively determined than economic damages, but they are no less real. If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, then you deserve to be made whole again.

An experienced car accident attorney who knows the law and the system can calculate the full amount of damages you can pursue. That may involve poring over documents, gathering physical evidence, and even hiring expert witnesses such as medical professionals or economists. With this information, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf for a larger settlement from the insurance company, or advocate for you in litigation and at trial.

In addition, an attorney may be able to negotiate with your medical providers to help you keep more of your recovery. The goal is to put you in the best possible financial position to rebuild your future.

You can always afford to hire a Wisconsin car accident attorney

It’s natural to be concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer, especially if you’re injured, out of work, and have bills piling up. Fortunately, Wisconsin law allows car accident attorneys to work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay your lawyer up front and you aren’t billed by the hour. If you win your case, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of your recovery. If you don’t recover, you don’t owe your lawyer anything.

In other words, you can always afford to hire a car accident lawyer. The real question is whether you can afford not to hire one. According to the insurance industry’s own data, even when attorney’s fees are taken into account, people who hire lawyers recover significantly more on average than those who do not.

The facts are clear: if you’re hurt in a car accident in Wisconsin, it’s in your interest to talk to an attorney who has a strong track record in car accident cases in Wisconsin. Schedule a free consultation with an attorney in your area today.

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