3 Wisconsin Laws Affecting Your Claim on Car Accidents in Parking Garages and on Private Property
Milwaukee Personal Injury Law Firm Secures the Compensation You Deserve
You might not think parking lot and driveway accidents could be anything worse than a minor fender bender. After all, cars are usually driving pretty slowly. However, serious accidents and injuries do occur—much more frequently than you might think.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that approximately 50,000 accidents involving motor vehicles occur every year in parking lots and garages, with over 60,000 injuries and 500 fatalities. Common causes of parking lot accidents include distracted driving, taking blind turns too fast, backing up into another vehicle or person, and failing to obey the right of way.
1. You have an obligation to remain at the accident scene
If you are injured in a parking lot or private property accident, the law requires all motorists involved to remain on the scene of the accident to exchange insurance information and be available to the police investigating the accident. After the accident, we recommend these steps:
- Document the accident scene. Assuming you are able, use your cell phone to take photos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, any signage on the site, and your injury.
- Get contact information from witnesses. If there were witnesses to the accident, request their names and contact information. This can be very helpful in making your case.
- Call the police. If you’ve been injured, you need a police officer on the scene to file a report. If you think you may have been partly responsible for the accident, do not volunteer this information. Make a note of the officer’s name and badge number
NOTE: In minor “fender bender” cases, the police will rarely respond to a private parking garage. Claims for damages to a vehicle are typically handled through insurance companies (including the garage’s insurer if conditions in the garage/lot were partly responsible for causing the accident.
- Call a lawyer before you call your insurance company. In cases involving injury, it’s highly advisable to speak with a good personal injury attorney before you contact your insurance company. Insurers look for any reason to deny your claim, and a good lawyer can advise you on how to avoid any missteps that could cost you.
- Contact your insurance company to initiate a claim. Many insurance companies have a claims process that lets you file a claim online. You can also file a claim with a customer service rep at the insurance company. You may also be able to print out or request a claim form you fill out and mail in.
- Don’t sign anything. If your insurance company sends a document requiring your signature, do not sign until you’ve had a chance to let an attorney review it. Insurance companies often use very sneaky wording in the documents they ask you to sign, and you could unwittingly compromise your right to compensation by signing something you don’t fully understand.
2. Liability is more complicated with accidents on private property
Since most parking lots and driveways are private property, the laws governing vehicles on public roads aren’t always relevant. Per Chapter 346 of the Wisconsin Statutes, drivers on public roads have a duty to keep their vehicle under control and be vigilant of other drivers and road hazards. Those same duties are not specified for drivers on private roads or parking lots, unless the driver is aware there is another car or person in the area.
The question of whether a driver was aware of another driver/pedestrian/cyclist in the area leads to all manner of disputes and finger pointing in personal injury lawsuits—which is why you need an experienced personal injury attorney if you’ve been seriously injured in a parking lot, parking garage, driveway or on other private property. As a rule of thumb, drivers are expected to follow the right-of-way rules outlined in the Wisconsin motorist’s handbook when driving in parking garages or other private property. There is also an implicit moral obligation to exercise due care when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Accidents that occur on private property also differ from those occurring on public roads in that the owner of the property can be held partly (or even entirely) responsible for the accident. It is also possible for the construction company that built the parking structure to be held accountable, as would be the case if a parking garage collapses and causes injury.
Warshafsky Law can often uncover hidden sources of liability in cases involving accidents on private property. This is why we have an investigative team visit the scene of every accident to look for evidence that can bolster your case. Every case is unique, so it’s important to have a good attorney look into every nook and cranny of liability.
3. Wisconsin has a 3-year statute of limitations - don't let it slip by
Insurance companies are notorious for delaying and denying payment on claims. If you try to handle a claim on your own (not advisable in serious injury cases), you’ll face endless delays and runarounds—all because the insurance company wants to run out the clock on the statute of limitations.
In Wisconsin, there is a 3-year statute of limitations on filing suit. If you do not file suit within this time frame, you lose the option of doing so. A personal injury lawsuit is usually the one chance you have to get the compensation you deserve, so don’t wait until the last minute to finally realize you need an attorney to file a personal injury suit.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney to Represent You
Insurance companies spend ungodly sums on advertising intended to portray themselves as caring people who will be there for you when you need them. Unfortunately, the reality is all too often far from this. Instead of quick and fair compensation, what many policy holders get is an endless runaround or, worse yet, a flat-out denial of their claim.
Retaining a good personal injury attorney instantly puts insurance companies on notice that your claim isn’t one they can just blow off with a lowball settlement offer. You have a right to be fully compensated for all of your losses, including:
- Medical expenses incurred to date, as well as any ongoing treatment you may need
- Lost wages from being unable to work due to the accident
- Pain and suffering the accident has caused you
- Disability caused by your accident
- Disfigurement caused by your accident
- Loss of society and companionship (in cases where a loved one has been killed)
- Damage to your property
The Worth of Your Case Depends on Your Lawyer
There are plenty of personal injury attorneys in Wisconsin, but who you choose to represent you has a greater impact on the compensation you receive than the facts in your case. Most are quick to make a deal with insurance companies so they can collect their cut from the settlement and move on to the next case. Not Warshafsky Law.
From the moment we take a case, we prepare as though it will go to trial in front of a judge and jury. Insurance companies know our reputation for being willing to take cases to trial—and for winning. They hate trial cases because they risk even greater losses if the verdict goes against them. Often, they’ll suddenly become more generous in their settlement offer upon hearing Warshafsky Law will be representing the injured party.
Free Initial Consultation and a No Win, No Fee Policy
Warshafsky Law offers a free initial legal consultation for prospective clients. If you are not able to meet at our Milwaukee or Madison office, we can arrange a phone conference. Either way, you’ll speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who will assess your case and give you an idea of what sort of compensation you should receive.
Should you hire us, you’ll pay no upfront retainer or monthly bills. Only when your case is resolved and you’ve been compensated do we ask for payment. Further, our No Win, No Fee policy ensures you won’t owe us a thing if we don’t win your case.