Car accident lawsuits: Sue the at-fault driver or insurance company?
Milwaukee Personal Injury Law Firm on Filing a Lawsuit to Recover for Damages
Auto accidents, especially serious ones, throw a wrench in everything. Besides dealing with injuries, you also have to deal with insurance companies to get reimbursed for damages to your car and for your medical expenses. As many an accident victim has found, insurance companies don’t always come through for their policyholders. Often, hiring a Milwaukee car accident lawyer is the only way to get a fair shake.
How is Liability Determined?
Lawsuits are premised on the theory that the other driver was at fault. Wisconsin isn’t a no-fault insurance state, so it has to be determined who caused the accident in order to know whom to hold accountable. However, Wisconsin is a state where contributory negligence comes into play. If you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, the amount you are awarded will be lowered correspondingly. For instance, if you are found to be 25% at fault for the accident, your award will be docked 25%.
Proof of liability rests on several sources, which can include:
- The police report on the accident
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert witnesses (such as an accident investigator who specializes in reconstructing accidents)
- Photos of the accident
- Video footage of the accident obtained from security cameras or witnesses
- Electronic data from the vehicles involved in the accident
Under the tort system in Wisconsin, the party found to be at fault for an accident is required to cover not only property damage and lost wages, but can also be held responsible for pain and suffering costs. How a lawsuit proceeds depends on the type of insurance you have: full tort or limited tort. A policy with a full tort option gives you unlimited rights to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Insurance with this option has higher premiums than limited tort option policies, but it puts you in a much better position to win a claim.
Does the At-Fault Driver Have Insurance?
Before you sue the at-fault driver, you need to find out if they’re covered by insurance. Drivers in Wisconsin are required to have motor vehicle liability insurance. Of course, not everyone does. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you file a claim with your insurance company for your losses—which include your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The amount paid on such a claim will depend on the uninsured motorist coverage you have on your insurance police.
Can You File Suit Against the At-Fault Driver?
In cases where injuries (and expenses) are extreme, you can file a negligence suit against the driver. However, if the driver doesn’t have insurance it’s unlikely he’ll have much in the way of assets, so you probably won’t be able to collect much in the way of damages. This would serve only to augment the amount your uninsured motorist coverage covers.
There are situations where a driver may not have insurance, but if the car is a rental car, is owned by a business, or was lent to the driver, the owner of the vehicle can be sued. The legal issues in such cases are complicated, and the only way to sort through the many issues of liability is to discuss your situation with an attorney.
Most personal injury law firms are quick to cut deals with insurance companies so they can get their cut of the settlement and move on to the next case. Insurance companies know these “sign and settle” law firms never actually take cases to court, where the potential for losses escalates dramatically, so they make lowball settlement offers—and get away with it.
Warshafsky Law is different. We prepare every case for trial from day one, and insurance companies know we are ready, willing and able to take our cases to trial. We’ve secured massive judgments and settlements for accident victims all over Wisconsin and surrounding states, with many cases having such profound implications for society at large we call them society changing judgments.
What Will It Cost to Have Wisconsin’s Best Personal Injury Attorneys Represent You?
Nothing. Warshafsky Law does not require a retainer fee and doesn’t send you a monthly bill. Only after your case has been resolved and you have been compensated do we ask for payment. In the unlikely event we don’t win your case, our No Win No Fee policy ensures you don’t owe us a thing. Request a free initial consultation today.