When you suffer an injury caused by someone else's negligence or deliberate actions, you may have a legal claim against that person. If you cannot negotiate a satisfactory settlement, you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit. A Wisconsin attorney can help you with all stages of your claim.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Wisconsin?
You have a limited amount of time to decide whether you want to file a personal injury claim. In most cases, the state requires you to file within three years of the injury. However, if your claim is against certain government or school employees, you may have as few as 120 days. It is a good idea to consult with a lawyer right after your injury to ensure you do not miss your chance to take legal action.
How Are Damages Awarded?
The value of your claim depends largely on the extent of your injuries, how they have affected your life and whether they will continue to affect your life. In general, you are entitled to receive monetary compensation for incurred medical bills and lost wages. If you require continued medical care, you may also receive money for estimated future bills and/or lost wages.
You may also be entitled to damages for non-monetary losses, such as loss of enjoyment of life.
How Does Comparative Negligence Affect My Award?
Comparative negligence (or contributory negligence) is a term used to describe how much you may have contributed to the incident in which you were injured. In Wisconsin, as long as you were less than 51% to blame, you may receive damages, but they will be reduced proportional to your degree of blame.
How Does Discovery Work?
During discovery, both sides attempt to verify the facts about the incident as well as the extent of your injuries and your monetary losses. The process can include depositions (oral interviews) and interrogatories (generally written questions and answers) conducted under oath. Either side may also request other documentation, such as medical records or witness statements that may corroborate or refute your version of events.
Do I Have to Go to Trial?
No, in fact most personal injury cases never get to trial. If you are dealing with an insurance company, you may be able to negotiate a fair settlement without ever filing a lawsuit, either on your own or through mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which a mediator (a neutral third party) helps both sides resolve their differences to come to an agreement.
Even after filing, you can continue negotiations. The judge in your case may also order mediation to avoid trial.
Only if you cannot agree on a fair settlement does your case go to trial.
How Much Will a Claim Cost?
Many personal injury attorneys will do an initial consultation for free. If they take your case, they will do so on what is called a contingency fee basis. This means they get paid only if you get an award. The typical fee is about one-third of your award. You may also have to pay other costs, such as fees for expert witnesses or copies of records.
Why Hire a Lawyer?
Whether you negotiate a fair deal with an insurance company or take your case to trial, having legal representation can make a big difference. A personal injury attorney knows state law and how it applies to your case. He or she can protect your rights and advise you on whether a settlement offer is fair.