Our Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Claims
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What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance?
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance is an optional automobile insurance coverage that protects you, the injured insured, when your personal (bodily) injury damages exceed the amount of the negligent driver’s Bodily Injury (BI) liability insurance limits.
Unfortunately, in Wisconsin, your available UIM limits can be reduced (and almost every Wisconsin insurance contract will contain this “reducing clause”) by the BI limits of the negligent driver’s automobile insurance. See Wis. Stat. 632.32(5)(i)1
A Wisconsin example: If an injured person had $100,000 of UIM coverage and the negligent driver had $50,000 of BI insurance coverage, but the injured person sustained $125,000 in personal injury damages, the most the injured person could recover from both insurance coverages would be $100,000 and the injured person would have $25,000 of uncompensated damages. In other words, due to the reducing clause for UIM benefits, the injured person’s $100,000 UIM limit would be reduced by the $50,000 of BI coverage. Therefore, $50,000 of net UIM coverage would exist. $50,000 of BI coverage plus $50,000 of net UIM coverage totals $100,000.
In Wisconsin, an injured person must recover every penny of the underlying BI coverage and provide notice to their own UIM insurance company (a Vogt notice) before the injured person can accept the BI settlement and proceed with a claim for UIM benefits.
As with Wisconsin Medical Payment coverage and Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, UIM coverage is a “back pocket” coverage available in any personal injury claim involving a motor vehicle collision. This means the coverage is carried with the person even if they are injured while a pedestrian or bicyclist and have been struck by a negligent driver of a motor vehicle.
If you have questions about UIM insurance, contact Wagner Law, LLC.
What is a Contingent Fee?
A contingent fee is a type of legal fee dependent upon the amount of recovery obtained for the client. The amount of the fee is typically a percentage of the recovery, so the fee is not based upon the amount of time (hourly fee) spent on the case, but rather the value of the result.
The primary benefit of a contingent fee is that the client only pays a legal fee upon successful recovery for the client. The client is not responsible for paying a legal fee at the start of representation (a retainer), during the case (hourly fee) and the legal fee would never exceed the amount of recovery. With a contingent fee, the attorney has substantial incentive to maximize total recovery for the client pursue recovery in a timely fashion. Furthermore, the client’s risk and the attorney’s risk of recovery are aligned. In other words, if the client does not receive a recovery, the attorney does not receive a fee.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of others, contact Wagner Law, LLC to discuss how a contingent fee would allow you to maximize your recovery with legal representation.
What’s the difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party claim?
In Wisconsin, employees who are injured on the job typically must obtain care and compensation through the Wisconsin's workers compensation insurance system. Employers are required to provide these Workers Compensation benefits and injured employees are able to receive them, regardless of whether or not the employer or employee is negligent. However, if the employee is injured by the negligence of a third party, the injured employee not only has a workers compensation claim, but also a potential claim for damages against the negligent third party. For example, if an employee is involved in a motor vehicle (car, truck, etc.) collision while on the job the employee would be entitled to receive workers compensation benefits from his/her employer's workers compensation insurance, but would also have a claim for personal injury damages against the negligent driver's insurance company who caused the motor vehicle collision.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Vehicle Accident
Wisconsin workers’ compensation does cover injuries sustained in a vehicle accident while on company business. This can mean while delivering or unloading goods, traveling to a job site or meeting, running a work-related errand, providing transportation for a co-worker or client, and more.
After the accident, the worker should report the injury to the employer and file a workers’ compensation claim just as he would for any other type of work injury. Medical care and wage replacement benefits are available to the employee through the workers’ compensation system.
Filing a Third-Party Vehicle Accident Claim in Wisconsin
For those involved in a vehicle accident, it may also be possible to file a third-party claim. This is a legal claim against the person responsible for the accident in civil court, outside the workers’ compensation system. In this type of case, the injured worker would be able to pursue compensation from the negligent party for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment
Compensation From a Third-Party Claim and Your Rights
The compensation that can be awarded from a third-party personal injury case is typically more significant than that offered by workers’ compensation—especially if significant injuries are sustained. It is important to note that if an injured worker is successful with a third-party claim, Wisconsin workers’ compensation does have a right to be reimbursed for the medical payments and wage replacement they paid to the injured worker.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a vehicle accident while on the job in Wisconsin, you may be eligible to file a third-party claim. Even if you are not sure of your rights, contact the legal team at Wagner Law, LLC in our office in Menomonie or Eau Claire. We can answer your questions and help you pursue all the compensation you deserve.
Who pays my medical bills after a car accident?
It is extremely important to seek medical care when you have suffered injuries in an accident. Many victims, however, hesitate to obtain the treatment they need because they are worried about the cost of care. Ideally, the responsible party will be held accountable through the courts and provide the necessary compensation. This can take time, however, so what are injury victims to do? How can you address your current medical needs and financial obligations?
Auto Insurance May Cover Your Medical Bills After an Accident
Wisconsin has specific rules about what auto insurance must cover. Every driver must secure insurance in certain amounts to cover property damage and bodily injury sustained in an accident. This insurance may pay medical bills for these injuries, depending on your state and coverage, as follows:
- Wisconsin. Mandatory bodily injury insurance provides payment related to the injuries the insured causes to others on the road. Drivers can elect to purchase medical payment coverage for injuries they themselves may suffer in an accident. Insurance companies must offer this policy, though Wisconsin drivers may choose to reject the coverage.
These insurance policies are meant to ensure that drivers are able to obtain the care they need after an accident. If you or someone you love has elected not to purchase this insurance in Wisconsin, there may be other options.
Private Health Insurance and Medical Assistance Programs Can Help
When an auto policy cannot provide the coverage that is necessary, it may be necessary to turn to your own private health insurance. It will pay the medical bills as you receive them, although victims should note that the insurance company may have the right to be reimbursed from the award a victim may receive in a personal injury case.
Additionally, for those with limited auto insurance and no health insurance, it is possible to take advantage of assistance programs or work directly with a doctor or institution until a settlement or verdict is reached in your case.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, help is available! Call the Menomonie office of Wagner Law, LLC to speak to our attorney Mike Wagner and learn more about your options today.