Most people don’t become familiar with the auto accident claims process until after they get into a collision. There are many steps that need to be taken into account in these scenarios – and it’s critical that you make the proper moves to ensure the end result is favorable.
At Mahony Law, we work closely with victims of car accidents to help them earn fair compensation for the injuries and damages they suffered due to someone else’s negligence. However, our role as a Wisconsin car accident injury firm comes in at a later point in the claims process.
Victims of accidents need to understand how the proceedings work – and make sure they avoid any crucial mistakes. In this post, we want to explain the entire auto accident claims process, from the immediate aftermath of the collision to taking legal action.
In the minutes after a car accident in Wisconsin, the first move is to check for any injuries – and call 911 if anyone is seriously hurt.
Do not – under any circumstance – leave the scene before the authorities arrive. Even if the accident is not your fault, leaving the scene can have legal consequences. If no one is severely injured, call the non-emergency line.
From here, the next move is to collect information from the other driver, including:
– Full name
– Contact info
– DL number
– Insurance information
IMPORTANT: Do not let your emotions get the best of you here. It’s natural to feel frustrated or angry toward the at-fault party. But keep in mind, car accidents are just that, accidents. Becoming aggressive and erratic can potentially create legal problems down the road.
Lastly, try to gather as much evidence as you can at the scene. This includes everything from pictures/videos of the damage, your injuries, road conditions, signage, location, etc. You should also try to collect witness information if anyone saw the collision – as this will play a role in the auto accident claims process.
Under Wisconsin cart accident law, you’re required to report the accident to law enforcement within 10 days if it involved an injury, death, or property damage over $1,000. This can be filed with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
When you call the authorities in the immediate aftermath of the accident, the police officer will create a report and file it to the DOT. The police report will be a crucial piece of evidence in the car accident injury claim – and the financial resolution.
Seeking medical attention immediately after a car accident is crucial, even if you think your injuries are minor (or non-existent).
Not all injuries are apparent immediately following an accident.
Some injuries – like brain injuries or internal injuries – can take hours, days, or even weeks to reveal themselves. Medical teams are trained to spot the early symptoms of these injuries – and make sure they are treated adequately.
Additionally, the medical examination creates a record linking your injuries directly to the accident, which is vital in any car accident injury claim. Importance of getting a medical evaluation after an accident.
Next, you’ll need to report the accident to your insurance company. You are not technically required by law to report your accident to insurance, but we strongly recommend you do this as quickly as possible.
Wisconsin operates under a fault-based or “tort” system for the auto accident claims process, meaning the driver at fault in the accident is responsible for paying for the damages, typically through their insurance provider.
When you speak to your insurance company, provide as much information as you can:
– The time, date, and location of the accident
– Details of the other driver
– An overview of the accident circumstances
You’ll also need to submit any evidence gathered at the scene, like photographs or witness contact information. The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your case, who’ll conduct an investigation.
IMPORTANT: When reporting the accident to your insurance company, there are two crucial rules to follow:
1. Only state the facts as you know them – leave your emotions and opinions out of it.
2. Do not admit fault in any way. Insurance companies (even your own) are obligated to minimize their payout – and they have many tactics to trick people into admitting fault.
It never hurts to ask a car accident injury attorney for advice on speaking to insurance companies and the common tactics to be wary of.
In the auto accident claims process in Wisconsin, insurance companies will assign an adjuster to investigate the situation.
This adjuster will review the details of the accident – which you provide – and will reach out to all involved parties for statements. They may visit the accident scene, assess the vehicle damage, and review police reports and medical assessments.
Their job is to establish the sequence of events that led to the accident, determine liability within the state’s fault-based insurance system, and analyze the extent of the injuries and property damage. Once the adjuster has compiled all necessary information, they will decide on the claim: who was at fault and how much the insurance company should pay.
When you communicate with the adjuster, be as objective as possible – and more importantly, be prompt in providing requested documentation.
If you suffered injuries, the negotiation phase of the auto accident claims process is why you hire a car accident injury attorney.
To reiterate, insurance companies have no intention of paying you a fair settlement for your injuries (even your own insurance company). They will leverage every possible loophole and gray area to minimize their liability. More often than not, the initial offer is significantly lower than what the victim deserves.
IMPORTANT: Taking a lowball offer is detrimental after a car accident injury. The worst thing that can happen is you end up having to pay for your own medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses for an accident caused by someone else.
Plain and simple, you need to hire a skilled Wisconsin car accident injury attorney to handle the negotiation process. They will sift through all the fine print and legal documentation to build a case – and fight for a settlement that covered ALL your expenses.
Now, the vast majority of auto accident injury claims are settled out of court. This is because it’s very expensive and time-consuming to bring a case through the court system – and it’s typically the last resort.
There are several scenarios in which going to trial is necessary for a car accident injury.
The most common is when the insurance company of the at-fault party offers a settlement that doesn’t adequately cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other losses – and will not budge during negotiations.
Another scenario would be if the at-fault party disputes liability – or if there were multiple parties involved and liability isn’t clear.
Additionally, you may have suffered life-long injuries that impact your quality of life or earning capacity. If this is the case, filing a lawsuit could help ensure you receive adequate compensation.
Lastly, if the accident resulted in a fatality – and you are a close relative of the deceased – you may need to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Be sure to consult with a personal injury attorney to evaluate your case and guide your decision. If the case goes to court, your attorney will manage the process from start to finish.
The car accident lawsuit process in Wisconsin starts by filing a formal complaint in the appropriate court.
This complaint will outline your allegations against the at-fault party and the damages you are seeking. The defendant (at-fault party) will receive a summons notifying them of the lawsuit – and they will need to respond with an answer.
From here, there will be a discovery process, where both parties can exchange information, gather evidence, and take depositions.
If a settlement isn’t reached during or after discovery, the case proceeds to trial. Both parties will present their arguments and evidence to a judge or jury, who then decides the outcome.
If you win the case, the court will issue a judgment ordering the defendant to pay the damages awarded.
Hiring a personal injury attorney to help you in the auto accident claims process is extremely important.
You shouldn’t have to worry about the legal proceedings of your case – your focus should be on getting better. Your attorney will guide you through every step and make sure you don’t make mistakes that impact your compensation.
When you hire an attorney, it’s important to understand that not all personal injury lawyers are created equal. Try to find one that offers car accident injury services. As a rule of thumb, if they don’t advertise it on their website, don’t hire them to take your case.
You should also be wary of their fee structure.
Trustworthy personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they won’t demand any out-of-pocket costs to take your case. They make their fees in the form of a percentage of the settlement AFTER they win.
If the car accident injury attorney demands any retainer fees or upfront expenses, it’s a big red flag.
There are many different layers to the auto accident claims process in Wisconsin – and many people aren’t prepared for all the legal aspects.
At Mahony Law, we represent victims of Wisconsin car accidents and help them in their fight for fair compensation. We offer FREE consultations to understand the depth of your situation, the evidence from the incident, and if you have a valid claim.
Get in touch with our office today to start the process.
Call 262-331-3553, send an email to email@example.com, or fill out an online form to start the process.
Abby is the founder of Mahony Law and devotes her time to representing people who have been seriously hurt due to the negligence of others. Abby has handled injury cases of all types, including birth injury, wrongful death, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents.
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