Getting injured in a car accident can be a stressful experience, especially if you sustained an injury. You may be unsure of what to expect during an auto accident claim. The claims process can be complex as consists of several steps, which is why it is in your best interest to have an attorney on your side.
Below, we discuss the steps involved in Wisconsin auto accident claims in greater detail. Our attorneys have helped many accident victims over the years obtain the maximum compensation possible for their injuries. To date, we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of our clients.
The initial consultation we offer is free of charge, so there is no risk to you. This meeting also comes with no obligation to hire our firm. If you do hire our firm there are zero upfront fees to retain our services.
Free Case Review. Ph: (920) 260-4528.
Filing a Claim
Wisconsin is an at-fault state, which means you are able to file a claim with the responsible party’s insurance company. He or she could be held responsible for losses stemming from the accident, up to and sometimes in excess of his or her policy limits. The at-fault party’s insurance company may decide to pay out compensation or deny your claim.
If your claim is accepted by the insurance company and the amount is sufficient for you to settle, that would effectively end your claim. However, if the amount being offered is not enough to cover all your damages, your lawyer may need to negotiate or file a lawsuit to attempt to recover more compensation.
Once a claim has been filed, a claims adjuster is assigned to conduct an investigation. He or she will determine what happened and who was at fault. How liability is assessed and how much compensation a party is eligible to receive will depend on that party’s percentage of fault.
If you are found partially to blame for the accident, you may still be able to recover compensation. However, you will not be able to recover compensation if you are more at fault than the other party.
It is important to note that claims adjusters work for insurance companies. They are not on your side, and they are not looking out for your best interests. An insurance company will use any tactics they can to mislead you. This includes taking what you say, twisting it around and using it against you.
An attorney from Sigman Janssen will help you by evaluating the facts of the accident and investigating on your behalf. He or she will document and gather evidence of the accident scene. This may include taking photos of all the vehicles involved and interviewing any witnesses to the accident. He or she will gather your medical records and may hire a medical expert to corroborate the extent and severity of your injuries.
Your attorney will also request and review the at-fault party’s insurance policy to determine all possible coverages and will also review your own policy in order to evaluate your coverages for uninsured motorists, underinsured motorists and medical payments coverage.
Sending a Demand Letter
Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your attorney can help prepare a demand letter for the insurance company. This letter could contain the following:
- The accident report
- Accident scene photos
- Emergency room records
- Doctor/Specialist reports
- Diagnostic/imaging tests
- Medical bills (past and current)
- Final medical evaluation
- Expert witness findings
- Witness statements
A demand letter may also include an evaluation of future medical expenses if you suffered severe injuries that require extensive and ongoing treatment. The demand package may also cite loss of future earning capacity if you can no longer work or cannot work in the same capacity as before.
The demand letter will state the compensation you feel that you need and are willing to accept to avoid taking legal action against the at-fault party.
Negotiating a Settlement
Once the insurance company has reviewed the demand letter, an initial offer will be made to settle the claim. Initial settlement offers are often low.
This is when your attorney begins negotiating. There may be multiple counteroffers until one is accepted by you or legal action is taken.
There are several advantages to settling an auto accident claim. Some of these advantages include lower legal costs, less stress and more control over your compensation. Settlements are also kept private.
Taking Legal Action
If a claim is not settled, the next step in the process is filing a lawsuit in the Wisconsin court system. Your attorney can file the complaint on your behalf and have it served to the at-fault party.
The discovery phase comes next. This process can involve written interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, and motions with the court. The at-fault party’s insurance company may file a motion asking the appointed judge to dismiss the case. That is why it is important to have a strong case that is hard to dismiss.
Mediation is generally requested by the judge overseeing the case. Mediation is where a neutral, third-party known as the mediator, attempts to help both parties resolve the case without going to trial.
Each party has the opportunity to share their understanding of the case and present their evidence to the mediator. The mediator will then meet with both parties separately to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their case. You and your attorney would also meet up to discuss settlement options.
The mediator can suggest a resolution of the case that both sides can accept or reject. If mediation is unsuccessful, the case proceeds to trial.
Going to Trial
Most auto accident claims are settled outside of court. However, your case may go to trial if mediation is unsuccessful. A jury will be given the task of determining who is at fault for the accident and how much to award. This means they may rule in your favor or deny you compensation altogether.
Trials take longer and are more expensive. The burden of proof will also fall on you. You must establish that the at-fault party was negligent and that this negligence directly caused your injuries and damages.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
A licensed Oshkosh auto accident attorney at Sigman Janssen is ready to help you with the claims process. This includes answering any questions you may have and helping you weigh the pros and cons.
There is no risk in calling us to learn more about your options and no cost for an initial consultation. You are under no obligation to hire us. We are also not paid up front. You only pay us if we help you win.
Here 24/7 to Take Your Call: (920) 260-4528.