Steps to Take After a Car Accident

What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?

If you’ve been injured, call 911 to get medical assistance to the scene. If possible, you need to get to safety by moving away from traffic. If your vehicle is safe to drive, pull it to the side of the road. If not, just get yourself and any passengers out of harm’s way while you wait for the police and emergency personnel to arrive.

What Steps Should I Take to Collect Evidence at the Accident Scene?

Once you have assessed yourself for injuries and sought the appropriate medical attention, you should contact the police and take steps to document the accident, to the extent possible. This includes:
  • Taking down the name and badge number of the police officer so that you can request a copy of the crash report
  • Taking photos of the accident scene, injuries, and damage to the vehicles involved
  • Exchanging information with the other driver(s)
  • Writing down the names and contact information of any witnesses and parties to the accident
  • What Information Should I Collect from the Other Driver(s)?

    It is important that you exchange information with the other driver(s) after a car accident, but your communication should be limited to names, phone numbers, insurance company names and policy numbers, addresses, driver license numbers, license plate numbers, and make/model of the vehicles involved.

    You should not make any comments about the nature of your injuries, discuss who is at-fault, or say you are sorry because these statements can be used against you later.

    Should I See a Doctor After My Accident?

    You should always get proper medical attention after a car accident. It is advisable to see a doctor after an accident because not all injuries suffered in a car accident are immediately noticeable. Some injuries may not be felt for days or even weeks after the accident. Even if you feel fine after an accident, it is a good idea to be evaluated by a medical professional. Failing to seek appropriate medical care will not only make your injury worse, it could jeopardize your claim.

    Do I Have to Report a Car Accident to the Police?

    We think all car accidents should be reported to the police so that they can be properly investigated and documented. Under Wisconsin law, a car accident must be immediately reported to law enforcement when it results in:

    • Personal injury
    • $1,000 of property damage
    • At least $200 worth of damage to state or government-owned property other than a vehicle

    Once the police arrive to the scene, they will generally ask for statements from the parties involved to be included in their crash report. While it is important for you to cooperate with the accident investigation, you should only discuss the facts of the accident and avoid making any admissions about fault.

    When Does a Car Accident Need to Be Reported to My Insurance Company?

    We suggest that you report all car accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible. You are contractually required to report your accident to your insurance company and a failure to do so can jeopardize your coverage. You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

    Legal Issues After a Car Accident

    Why Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

    When you are recovering from serious injuries, the last thing you should be worried about is navigating the claims process on your own. A Wisconsin car accident lawyer can help you preserve evidence in support of your claim, negotiate with insurance adjusters for a fair settlement, or take your case to court to fight for the compensation you deserve.

    Our experienced car accident attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC have successfully handled a wide variety of motor vehicle accidents and we will work tirelessly to obtain the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.

    What If I Was Partially at Fault in a Car Accident?

    Wisconsin has a modified comparative negligence law, which is also known as a shared fault system. In order to recover compensation for your losses in a personal injury lawsuit, you must prove that the other driver was at least 50 percent at fault for the accident.

    This means that you can still recover damages from the other party provided that you are no more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. For example, if you are 30 percent at-fault in the accident, your damages will be reduced by that same percentage.

    How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After My Accident?

    In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is generally three years from the date of the accident. If you attempt to bring a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, your case will likely be dismissed. We recommend that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible after a car accident for specific information about timelines for filing claims and other advice to protect you and your family.

    What Must I Prove in My Wisconsin Car Accident Case?

    In order to establish liability in a car accident case, you must prove:

    • That the other driver was negligent,
    • The other driver’s negligence was a factor in causing your injuries, and
    • You sustained an injury or damage.

    With respect to car accident cases, negligence means that the other driver failed to exercise ordinary care.

    Compensation After a Car Accident

    What Kind of Compensation is Available in Car Accident Cases?

    The types of compensation available in car accident victims in personal injury cases generally fall into one of two categories–economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, and potentially other out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages are for losses like pain, suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of society and companionship.

    How Do Car Accident Settlements Work?

    A settlement is when the injured party agrees to release their legal claim in exchange for compensation. Settlements are often negotiated outside of court with insurance companies or other responsible parties. In many car accident cases, settlement negotiations begin with a low offer from the insurance company.

    If your attorney and the opposing party cannot reach an agreement on a fair settlement, you may decide to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit. A settlement can be reached before a lawsuit is ever filed or at any stage litigation.

    Should I Accept the First Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?

    Once the insurance adjuster has determined that you have a valid claim, they will make an initial settlement offer. Because insurance companies make profits by paying out as little as possible on claims, their first offer is likely to be a low figure.

    While it may be tempting to quickly resolve your claim and move on, you should not accept a settlement offer before you know whether it will fully cover your losses. This is because once you sign the settlement agreement, you likely will not be able to seek additional compensation even if your injuries are worse than you originally thought.

    Before accepting an offer from the insurance company, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. At Studinski Law, LLC, we can assist you in determining how much your case is worth and negotiate with the insurance company to help you reach a favorable settlement.

    How Much is My Case Worth?

    This depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Factors that can impact the value of your claim include, but are not limited to:

    • The severity and nature of your injuries (i.e. hard injuries versus soft tissue injuries)
    • Whether you were partially at fault in the accident
    • The quality and quantity of evidence in support of your claim
    • The length of recovery
    • Pre-existing injuries

    Insurance Issues in a Car Accident

    What Happens in a Car Accident Without Insurance?

    If you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, your own uninsured motorist coverage applies to bodily injury damages you sustain up to your policy limits. Uninsured motorist coverage also applies if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident and are not at-fault. Wisconsin law also requires uninsured motorist coverage with minimum policy limits of $25,000 for one person and $50,000 for two or more people for bodily injury.

    What If the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Denies Liability?

    It is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny liability even when liability seems clear. This is why it is essential to preserve valuable evidence of the other driver’s fault and to work with a car accident lawyer who can build a case in support of your claim.

    The talented legal team at Studinksi Law, LLC can investigate your accident to determine liability and protect your rights throughout the claims process.

    What Are the Minimum Insurance Requirements in Wisconsin?

    Wisconsin drivers are required to maintain auto liability insurance to cover the damage resulting from any accidents they cause. Drivers must be able to show proof of insurance if they are pulled over by police or involved in a motor vehicle accident. Minimum liability coverage amounts under Wisconsin law are:

    • $10,000 for property damage
    • $25,000 for the injury or death of one person
    • $50,000 for the injury or death of two or more people

    What Are Some Examples of Bad Faith Insurance Practices?

    Although the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act protects the rights of policyholders in Wisconsin, insurance bad faith still happens. Some of the most common examples of bad faith practices by insurance companies are:

    • Delaying payment without an acceptable reason
    • Denying a claim without a reasonable basis
    • Making unreasonable settlement offers
    • Failing to promptly and fairly investigate a claim
    • Unreasonable interpretations of policy language

    General Questions About Car Accidents

    What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?

    Car accidents can vary in severity, as can the injuries that result from crashes. Studinksi Law, LLC recognizes that every car crash is unique. We will listen to your story and determine how extensive your injuries are after an accident. We will help you obtain compensation if you’ve received injuries including, but not limited to:

    • Whiplash
    • Mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injuries
    • Soft tissue injuries – sprains, strains, and tears
    • Spinal cord and back injuries
    • Lacerations
    • Broken bones
    • Burns
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