Understanding Personal Injury Cases in Wisconsin: A Guide to Common Terminology

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Dealing with a personal injury situation, whether for yourself or a loved one, can be a difficult and stressful experience. The physical pain, financial burdens, and worries about the future can leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused, making even simple decisions and tasks feel challenging. Trying to understand and work through the legal system with all its different processes, terminologies, and choices can contribute to the already existing confusion.

To help you successfully navigate through this unfamiliar territory, we have created a thorough guide with definitions to the common terminologies used in personal injury cases in Wisconsin. No matter if you’re seeking clarification on a particular term or seeking a broader understanding of the entire legal process, this guide is here to assist you. With expert definitions provided, you can be confident in your understanding of the subject matter. Regardless of whether you’re currently considering your options or already engaged in a lawsuit, A Wisconsin personal injury attorney can also offer you legal guidance to help you understand the complex terminology involved in personal injury lawsuits or cases, or this guide is specifically designed to address your needs and provide you with the necessary answers.

Defendant’s Answer: In Wisconsin legal context, a Defendant’s Answer is a written response filed by a defendant in a civil lawsuit after being served with a summons and complaint. This common word also has a specific legal definition. In a personal injury case, an answer is a legal document that is filed by a defendant (someone who is sued) in a lawsuit. It corresponds, paragraph by paragraph, to the allegations of a complaint.

The defendant’s answer must be filed within a specific time frame. In a personal injury case, an answer typically must be filed within 45 days of when the summons was served to either an insurance company or a defendant (the time frame can vary so speak with an attorney), depending on the circumstances of the case. If the defendant fails to file an answer within the specified time frame, the plaintiff may be able to obtain a default judgment against the defendant.

In addition to responding to the allegations of a complaint, an answer often raises legal defenses, such as comparative fault, statute of limitations, failing to join necessary parties, and more. The answer typically includes admissions or denials of each of the allegations made by the plaintiff in the complaint, as well as any affirmative defenses that the defendant may have. The defendant’s answer is an important document in a civil lawsuit because it sets forth the defendant’s position and defenses to the claims made by the plaintiff. The answer may also include counterclaims or cross-claims against other parties involved in the lawsuit.

Appeal: An appeal is a legal process in which a higher court reviews a decision made by a lower court or administrative agency. The appellant, who lost the case, requests the higher court to review the decision, alleging that an error of law was made that affected the outcome of the case. The purpose of an appeal is to correct errors made by lower courts or agencies, ensuring justice is served and legal proceedings are conducted fairly. The Court of Appeals will either affirm what the circuit court has done, reverse what the circuit court has done, or send it back to the lower court for further proceedings.

Arbitration: Arbitration in a personal injury case is a legal process where a neutral third party (arbitrator) resolves a dispute between the injured party and the defendant. It offers an alternative to trial, where a judge or a jury makes the final decision. Arbitration is typically faster and less expensive than litigation, and it gives the parties more control over the outcome of the case. In a personal injury case, arbitration can be used to determine issues like liability, damages, and the amount of compensation to be awarded to the injured party.

Assumption of Risk: A legal concept that can impact personal injury cases. In Wisconsin, assumption of risk refers to a situation where a person voluntarily engages in an activity knowing and accepting the potential risks involved.

For example, if a motorcyclist chooses to ride without a helmet, they may be considered to have assumed the risk of injury in the event of an accident. This assumption of risk may limit their ability to seek compensation for injuries sustained in the accident.

Burden of Proof: The legal principle of “burden of proof” is applicable in civil cases and refers to the greater preponderance of evidence that the person making a claim must present to convince a judge or jury. This standard differs from that of criminal cases, where the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In a civil case, the plaintiff primarily bears the burden of proof, but if the defendant wishes to raise any defense such as contributory negligence, the burden of proof falls on the defendant to establish that defense.

Cause/Causation: In civil courts, for an injury claim to be successful, the claimant needs to demonstrate three key elements: negligence, causation, and damages. In Wisconsin, proving causation involves showing that a negligent action was a significant contributing factor to the harm suffered by the victim. The negligence may be the sole cause or may combine with other factors to cause harm. The crucial point is that the negligent action must be a substantial factor in causing the injury.

Collateral Source: The collateral source rule is a legal principle that applies to personal injury cases in Wisconsin. It states that compensation received by an injured party from a collateral source, such as an insurance company, cannot be used to offset damages awarded in a lawsuit.

For example, if you are injured in a car accident and your medical bills are covered by your health insurance, the defendant cannot argue that those bills should be excluded from damages because they were already paid by your insurance. Instead, you are entitled to receive full compensation for your medical bills, regardless of whether they were paid by you or your insurance.

The collateral source rule is important for personal injury cases because it ensures that injured parties are fully compensated for their damages, rather than having their compensation reduced by payments from collateral sources. This is particularly relevant in cases involving car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents, where injuries can be severe and medical bills can be significant.

Comparative Fault: In personal injury cases, the injured party may sometimes be partly responsible for their own injuries. Both plaintiffs and defendants have a duty to exercise ordinary care, which means taking reasonable precautions to avoid harm. If the injured party fails to exercise this duty, such as by not noticing or avoiding a hazardous condition, they can be found partially at fault. This is known as comparative fault.

Comparative fault can be complex, especially in cases with multiple defendants. The rule of comparative fault means that if a plaintiff is partially responsible for their injuries, their damages award will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 30% at fault for their injuries and the damages award is $100,000, they will only receive $70,000.

In cases where the plaintiff’s negligence is greater than the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff cannot recover damages from that defendant. It’s important to note that comparative fault is determined on a case-by-case basis, and the percentage of fault assigned to each party can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Complaint: A complaint is a formal legal document that is filed in court by an individual who has suffered harm due to another party’s actions or negligence. In the context of personal injury law, a complaint is typically filed by a victim of a car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident. The complaint will detail the facts of the incident, the injuries sustained by the victim, and the damages suffered as a result of the accident.

In a personal injury case, the complaint will often allege negligence on the part of the defendant. This could include negligence in the maintenance of property, such as a failure to clear snow and ice from a parking lot, negligence in the operation of a vehicle, such as speeding or texting while driving, or negligence in the sale of a product, such as a defective car part.

The purpose of the complaint is to request relief from the court, typically in the form of financial compensation, also known as damages (defined below). The damages sought may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident.

Crash Report: A crash report, also commonly known as an accident report or police report, is a detailed document filled out by law enforcement officers who respond to a motor vehicle collision. It contains important information about the accident, including the date, time, location, and parties involved, as well as a description of the accident scene and any injuries sustained. In addition, the crash report may also include witness statements and a preliminary determination of fault.

For individuals who have been involved in car, motorcycle, or truck accidents, obtaining a copy of the crash report is crucial for insurance purposes and potential legal action. As a personal injury law firm that specializes in handling such accidents, our team can help you obtain and interpret the crash report, as well as guide you through the process of seeking compensation for your injuries and damages.

Damages: Damages are the financial compensation awarded to an individual who has suffered harm or injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. In personal injury cases, damages can be categorized into economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses include medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial expenses related to the injury. Non-economic losses include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Damages can also include compensation for loss of consortium, which refers to the impact of the injury on a victim’s relationships with their spouse or family members. Our personal injury law firm is committed to helping our clients recover the maximum damages possible for their injuries, and we will fight tirelessly on their behalf.

Defendant: A defendant is the person or entity being sued in a legal case, and they are typically referred to as the party responsible for the harm caused. In the context of personal injury cases, a defendant can be the driver of a car, motorcycle, or truck who caused an accident through their negligence or other wrongful behavior. Damages are sought against the defendant for their culpable conduct, which can include a wide range of actions or omissions that resulted in harm to the plaintiff.

Deposition: Is a formal legal proceeding in which witnesses or parties to a lawsuit are asked to provide sworn testimony outside of court. In personal injury cases, depositions are often used to gather evidence and information that may be used during trial or settlement negotiations. During a deposition, the witness is typically questioned by attorneys for all parties involved in the case. The deposition is usually recorded by a court reporter and may be used as evidence in court.

For a personal injury law firm, depositions can be a crucial part of building a strong case for their clients. By gathering testimony and evidence from witnesses and parties involved in the accident, an attorney can better understand the circumstances surrounding the accident and build a strong case for their client.

Discovery: Is a legal process that allows both the plaintiff and defendant in a personal injury lawsuit to request and obtain information from each other to help build their case. In the context of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and truck accidents, discovery may involve gathering evidence such as accident reports, witness statements, medical records, and other relevant documents to help establish liability and damages.

Discovery can be a crucial part of the personal injury litigation process, as it allows both sides to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and may lead to a settlement or trial verdict. For a personal injury law firm, understanding the discovery process is essential to effectively representing their clients and securing favorable outcomes.

Emotional Distress:  Also known as psychological or mental anguish, refers to the psychological harm or trauma that an individual may experience as a result of an accident or injury. In the context of personal injury law, emotional distress is often claimed as a result of physical injuries sustained in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, or truck accidents.

Emotional distress can manifest in various ways, including anxiety, depression, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbances, and other psychological symptoms. These symptoms can be debilitating and may impact an individual’s ability to carry out daily activities, work, and enjoy life.

To recover damages for emotional distress in Wisconsin, a plaintiff must prove that the emotional distress was a direct result of the defendant’s actions and that the distress was severe and debilitating. This can be a complex and challenging task, requiring the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Expert Witnesses: An expert witness is a person who possesses specialized knowledge, training, or experience in a particular field that is relevant to a legal case. In the context of personal injury law, an expert witness may be called upon to provide testimony or evidence to support or refute claims related to the cause and extent of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, pedestrian accident, dog bite, slip and fall, and more.

For example, an expert witness may be a medical doctor who can provide a professional opinion on the severity of a client’s injuries and the expected course of treatment and recovery. Alternatively, an expert witness may be an accident reconstructionist who can analyze physical evidence and witness statements to determine the cause of an accident and provide testimony on liability.

Expert witnesses play an important role in personal injury cases, as they can provide objective and credible testimony that can help strengthen a client’s case. However, it’s important to note that expert witness testimony can be expensive, and the attorney plays a crucial role in deciding whether it is necessary and cost-effective to involve an expert witness in a particular case.

Guardian Ad Litem: A guardian ad litem is a court-appointed legal representative assigned to protect the best interests of a minor or incapacitated individual during legal proceedings, such as motor vehicle accident and personal injury cases. This unbiased advocate ensures fair treatment and appropriate compensation for the vulnerable party in personal injury lawsuits.

Incident Report: A vital document in personal injury cases, detailing events, circumstances, and parties involved in motor vehicle accidents or other accidents occurring off public roadways, such as in businesses or private parking lots. These reports, prepared by the businesses or police departments, help establish liability, facilitate settlement negotiations, and secure fair compensation for victims. They differ from crash reports, which specifically address public roadway vehicle collisions.

Interrogatories: These are a part of formal discovery in a personal injury lawsuit, where one party can serve written questions upon the other party, demanding that they provide answers under oath. Utilizing them can be beneficial in acquiring data related to the incident, such as information about the injuries, financial losses, and the accident itself.

Insurance Medical Exam: An insurance medical exam, also known as an “IME,” is a medical examination that is conducted by a doctor selected by an insurance company to evaluate a claimant’s injuries. It is important to note that despite its name, an insurance medical exam is not truly independent, as the doctor conducting the exam is selected and paid for by the insurance company.

The purpose of an insurance medical exam is to provide the insurance company with an evaluation of the claimant’s injuries and to determine whether the injuries are truly permanent. In many cases, insurance companies will require an insurance medical exam as part of the claims process for personal injury suits, particularly those involving permanent injuries.

It is common for insurance companies to use the same pool of doctors to conduct these medical exams on all of their cases. Unfortunately, these doctors often offer opinions that are favorable to the insurance companies, rather than truly independent evaluations of the claimant’s injuries. This can lead to disputes between the claimant and the insurance company, as the claimant’s own doctor may have a different opinion regarding the severity of the injuries.

It is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney to help navigate these types of disputes and to ensure that the claimant receives fair compensation for their injuries.

Jury Instructions: Jury instructions refer to the written guidelines provided to the jury by the judge at the end of a trial. These instructions outline the legal principles that the jury must consider when making a decision in the case. In a personal injury case involving motor vehicle accidents and serious injuries, the jury instructions may include information on negligence, causation, damages, and other relevant legal concepts.

The purpose of jury instructions is to provide guidance to the jury on how to interpret and apply the law to the facts of the case. It is the judge’s responsibility to ensure that the instructions are clear, concise, and accurate. The instructions may also include information on the burden of proof and the standard of evidence that the plaintiff must meet in order to prevail.

For a personal injury law firm that handles motor vehicle accidents and serious injuries, understanding jury instructions is crucial to achieving a successful outcome for clients. An experienced attorney will use their knowledge of the law and the jury instructions to present a strong case and ensure that the jury has a clear understanding of the legal principles at play. By doing so, they can increase the chances of obtaining a favorable verdict and securing the compensation that their clients deserve.

Lawsuit or Suit: A lawsuit, also known as a legal action or suit, is a formal process where a plaintiff initiates a case against a defendant in a court of law by filing a summons and complaint. In the case of a personal injury law firm that handles motor vehicle accidents and serious injuries, a lawsuit may be filed when attempts to resolve the matter outside of court have been unsuccessful.

In Wisconsin, the county courts where lawsuits are typically filed are known as circuit courts. The process of a lawsuit can be lengthy, lasting anywhere from eight months to several years. During this time, both parties will present evidence and arguments to support their positions, and a judge or jury will ultimately make a decision on the outcome of the case.

Letter of Protection: A Letter of Protection is a document requested by medical providers, usually chiropractors, in lieu of billing a patient’s health insurance for treatment related to a motor vehicle accident or serious injury. The purpose of this letter is to allow the medical provider to bill the patient for the full cost of treatment rather than accepting the lower rates negotiated with health insurance companies.

However, it is important to note that accepting a Letter of Protection may not be in the best interest of the injured party. If the injured party has health insurance or another means of paying for necessary treatment, it is usually better to use these resources rather than relying on a Letter of Protection.

It is also worth mentioning that a Letter of Protection is not a guarantee of payment. While it may protect the patient from having to pay out-of-pocket expenses upfront, there is no guarantee that the patient will ultimately receive compensation for the medical bills. Therefore, it is crucial for injured claimants to carefully consider their options and seek legal advice before accepting a Letter of Protection.

Liability: Liability is a legal term that refers to the legal responsibility of a person or entity for damages resulting from their actions or omissions. In the context of motor vehicle accidents and serious injuries, liability typically arises when someone is found to have acted negligently or engaged in other culpable conduct that caused harm to another person.

Liability is a crucial element of a negligence lawsuit, which involves three main components: liability, causation, and damages. To successfully pursue a negligence claim, the injured party must establish that the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care, that the defendant breached that duty through their conduct, that the breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and that the plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result.

In the case of motor vehicle accidents, liability may be established through various types of evidence, such as eyewitness testimony, police reports, and physical evidence at the scene. Once liability is established, the injured party may be entitled to compensation for their damages, which may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident.

Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium is a legal term used to describe the damage suffered by a spouse or family member due to an injury to their loved one. It refers to the loss of society, companionship, affection, and support resulting from the injury or death of the injured party. In personal injury law, loss of consortium allows family members to make a claim for damages caused by the impairment or damage to their relationship with the injured party.

Loss of consortium claims are commonly made in cases involving motor vehicle accidents and other serious injuries. The damages awarded in such cases can include compensation for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of financial support. It is important to note that loss of consortium claims can only be made by family members who have a legal relationship with the injured party, such as a spouse or child.

Mediation: Mediation is a formal process in the legal system where parties involved in a dispute, such as a motor vehicle accident, dog bite or slip and fall, attempt to resolve their issues outside of court before going to trial. It is often conducted after discovery is complete, and the goal is to come to a mutually agreeable settlement with the help of a professional mediator. The mediator may be an attorney or a judge, and they will facilitate the negotiation process between the parties.

During mediation, each party will have the opportunity to present their case and their desired outcome. The mediator will help the parties to understand each other’s position and encourage them to find common ground. This process can be especially helpful in personal injury cases, where emotions can run high and communication may be difficult.

One of the benefits of mediation is that it can provide parties with a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their case. This can help them make a more informed decision about whether to proceed to trial or settle outside of court. Additionally, mediation can often be a faster and less expensive process than going to trial.

Medical Authorizations: Medical authorizations are legal documents that allow a defendant, usually an insurance company or defendant’s attorney, to obtain an injured party’s medical records, bills, and academic records. These records are then used to evaluate the injured party’s claims for damages resulting from the accident.

Medical authorizations can also allow access to include medical records that were incurred prior to the accident. In some cases, insurance companies may request medical authorizations to probe through all of the client’s medical records to try and claim that the injuries sustained are not related to the accident in question.

It’s important to note that providing a medical authorization is often a necessary step in the claims process, but it’s crucial to review the document carefully before signing it. The injured party should ensure that the authorization only allows access to records related to the accident and injuries at issue, and that it does not provide access to unrelated personal information.

As a personal injury law firm, providing guidance and reviewing medical authorizations can be a crucial service for our clients. We strive to protect our clients’ rights and ensure that their medical records are used fairly in the claims process.

Medical Payment Coverage: Medical Payment Coverage is an insurance policy that is often provided with car and premises insurance policies. It covers medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained in automobile accidents or on someone’s property, without the requirement of proving fault. This coverage is typically limited in the amount, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, and may also have limitations on the duration of coverage, often one or two years. It is advisable to use this coverage as secondary coverage after health insurance pays, as it can be used to pay deductibles or copays that are not covered by health insurance. It is important to note that this coverage is not meant to replace health insurance, but rather to provide additional financial assistance for medical expenses resulting from accidents.

Knowing how and when to apply Medical Payment Coverage can be critical in ensuring that you receive the maximum benefits available under your insurance policy. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand how to apply your Medical Payment Coverage and ensure that you receive the full benefits available to you under your policy. They can also assist you in navigating the claims process and negotiating with your insurance company to ensure that your medical bills are paid promptly and accurately.

Motion:  A motion is a formal request made by a party to the court after a lawsuit has been filed. It is an essential tool used by personal injury law firms to accomplish a variety of objectives. For example, a motion may be utilized to resolve discovery disputes or narrow down the legal theories at play in a case. Defendants may also use a motion to try and dismiss a case, while plaintiffs may use it to establish liability on the part of the defendant, even before trial.

In the context of motor vehicle accidents and serious injuries, motions can be particularly useful for personal injury lawyers. For instance, a motion for summary judgment may be filed to request that the court find in favor of the plaintiff without the need for a trial. This can be a highly effective way to secure a favorable outcome for clients, as it can save them time and money.

Overall, motions are a key part of the legal process in personal injury cases. They allow parties to request that the court take specific actions or make particular findings, and they can help to streamline the litigation process. By utilizing motions effectively, personal injury lawyers can help their clients to achieve the best possible outcomes in their cases.

Negligence: Negligence is a legal term that refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care under the circumstance, resulting in harm or injury to another person. In the context of personal injury law, negligence is a crucial element in establishing liability and obtaining compensation for damages caused by an accident.

For a successful personal injury claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent, that the negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.

Negligence can take many forms, such as failing to obey traffic laws, driving under the influence, or not maintaining a property in a safe condition. In the case of motor vehicle accidents, negligence can occur when a driver fails to exercise reasonable care, resulting in a collision and injuries to others.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another driver, it is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. They can help you navigate the legal process and obtain the compensation you deserve for your damages.

Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering in Wisconsin refers to the physical and emotional distress that an individual experiences as a result of a personal injury caused by an accident, such as a car accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident. This can include physical pain, discomfort, and limitations on daily activities, as well as emotional distress such as depression, anxiety, and stress.

In Wisconsin, compensation for pain and suffering is typically awarded as part of a personal injury claim or lawsuit. The amount of compensation may be determined by various factors, including the severity of the injuries, the impact on the individual’s quality of life, and the extent of medical treatment required.

Plaintiff: In the legal system, a plaintiff is the party that initiates a lawsuit. This is the opposite of the defendant, who is the party being sued. In personal injury cases, the plaintiff is typically the individual who has suffered harm or injury due to the actions of another party, such as in a motor vehicle accident. However, in some cases, a spouse or family member who has been impacted by the injury may also be included as a plaintiff.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) : a disorder in which various symptoms—such as headaches, nausea, irritability, and dizziness—last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion; a form of mild traumatic brain injury.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) : A mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying or stressful event—either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. PTSD does not only occur in those who have been involved in a war, in fact, it is quite common in people who have been involved in a serious accident or suffered severe injury

Premises Liability: Premises Liability refers to a legal claim made by an individual who has been injured on someone else’s property due to a hazardous condition. These claims can be highly complex, as determining who is responsible for the hazardous condition can involve multiple parties, including landlords, property managers, contractors, and businesses.

In many cases, businesses are responsible for maintaining the interior of the premises, while landlords are responsible for the exterior elements, such as sidewalks and parking lots. Landlords may also hire property managers who then hire contractors, such as snowplow operators. This complex web of relationships can make it challenging to determine who is ultimately responsible for a hazardous condition.

If you have been injured due to a hazardous condition on someone else’s property, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified personal injury lawyer. A skilled attorney can help you navigate the complexities of premises liability claims and hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence. Remember, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries, and an experienced lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.

Product Liability: Product liability is a critical area of personal injury law that addresses the legal responsibility of manufacturers, suppliers, or retailers when a defective or unreasonably dangerous product causes harm or injury to consumers. This complex domain necessitates thorough investigation, expert testimony, and a deep understanding of the design and manufacturing processes behind a given product.

In product liability cases, injured parties can seek compensation for their injuries, which may have been caused by various factors, such as a design flaw, manufacturing defect, or insufficient safety warnings or instructions. The success of these cases often relies on the collaboration between legal professionals and industry experts, such as engineers and safety specialists, who can provide insights into the product’s design and manufacturing history.

Punitive Damages: This is a specific type of compensation awarded in personal injury cases, intended to punish the defendant for their willful and reckless behavior. This type of damages is awarded when a jury determines that the defendant has demonstrated an intentional disregard for the rights of others. In simpler terms, punitive damages are granted when there is evidence that the defendant was fully aware that their actions were wrong and had a high probability of causing harm or violating someone’s rights.

In the context of personal injury law, punitive damages serve a dual purpose: to reprimand the wrongdoer and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct. By imposing financial penalties on the defendant, the legal system aims to discourage future reckless behavior, thus promoting a safer environment for everyone.

In Wisconsin, as in many other states, there are caps or limits placed on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded. These caps are determined by the severity of the underlying injury, ensuring that the punishment is proportionate to the harm caused. While the actual amount of punitive damages is typically decided by a jury, the legislature has established these maximum limits to maintain fairness and consistency in the legal system.

For a personal injury law firm, understanding the concept of punitive damages is crucial in providing the best possible representation for clients. By effectively explaining and advocating for punitive damages when warranted, law firms can help clients receive the compensation they deserve and contribute to a safer society by holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

Quality of Life: The type of existence a person was living prior to the accident/injury or after the accident/injury. A quality-of-life assessment could include factors such as: Activities of daily living, mobility and organization, social relationships and the ability to interact, general life satisfaction, recreational or work-related activities, and future prospects.

Settlement: Conclusion of a legal matter; you have come to an agreement in a civil suit before or after litigation has begun but before the court hears the case. You no longer need to go to court and have the judge resolve the controversy.

Slip-and-Fall: A personal injury case in which a person slips or trips and is injured on someone else’s property; usually falls under the broader category of premises liability claims. Slip-and-fall accidents usually occur on property owned or maintained by someone else who is then held legally responsible.

Statute of Limitations:  A law that determines the period of time that someone has to file legal action, usually beginning when the injury or damage occurs. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three (3) years, but there are some exceptions so be sure to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If it has been over 3 years since you have been injured, you typically cannot pursue your case.

Subrogation:  Subrogation is the legal right that allows one party to make a payment that is actually owed by another party, and then later collect that money from the party whom originally owed it. For example, if you are in a car wreck that is not your fault and you use your health insurance to pay your medical bills, your health insurance is going to want to be paid back any money that they paid from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Subrogation is not just health insurance, but can also be things like your Medical Payment Coverage as well. An experienced personal injury attorney can negotiate the subrogation lien down in most cases.

Third-Party Claims:  Liability claims brought by a person allegedly injured or harmed by the insured. The insured person is the first party, the insurance carrier is the second party, and the injured person/claimant is the third party; a claim brought against another party’s insurance company, rather than their own.

Tort:  A civil or private wrong—that is not a crime—that leads to legal liability. Personal injury law is the most common type of tort law.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A type of injury that occurs when an external force causes brain dysfunction; usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. This can also be called a concussion. An object penetrating the skull, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull, can also cause traumatic brain injury.

Trial: In the context of personal injury law, a trial refers to the formal legal process in which a case is presented to a judge or jury for a decision. In the case of car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and more, a trial may be necessary when the parties involved are unable to reach a settlement through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution methods. During a trial, both sides will present evidence and arguments in support of their case, and the judge and/or jury will make a decision based on the facts presented.

The trial process is complex and can involve a variety of legal procedures, including jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, cross-examination, and closing arguments. The judge or jury will then weigh the evidence presented and make a decision based on the facts of the case and the relevant law.

If you are involved in a trial, it’s important to have experienced legal representation to help guide you through the process. A trial lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, navigate the complexities of the legal system, and advocate for your interests in court.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM):  An auto insurance policy provision that extends coverage to include property and bodily damage caused by a motorist without enough insurance coverage. For example, if the at-fault party only has a $25,000 policy and your medical bills are $75,000, you can get the $25,000 from the at-fault and then make a claim against your own policy using the underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM):  An addition to a standard automobile insurance policy that provides coverage in the event the other driver is both at fault for the accident and is not insured. So, if the person who hit you has no insurance (illegal in Wisconsin), you can then make a claim against your own policy using your UM.

Verdict:  A formal decision about the outcome of a case made by a judge or jury.

Voir Dire: Commonly known as jury selection; much like a criminal trial, in a personal injury case the attorneys go through a selection process to choose who sits on the jury in order to ensure that they meet certain criteria. More specifically, it refers to the examination of the prospective jurors. Pronounced “vwahr-deer” or “vor-deer”.

Workers’ Compensation:  The system by which state-required no-fault benefits are provided by an employer to an employee—or the employee’s family—due to a job-related injury (including death) resulting from an accident or illness which happened at work.

Wrongful Death:  A claim made on behalf of the survivors or beneficiaries of a person who has died as a result of wrongful conduct—either negligent or intentional. The claim is able to be made by the person who has the legal right to claim. This is typically a family member(s) or representative. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with this process. Damages could include medical expenses prior to death, loss of earnings of the deceased during their expected natural life, and loss of consortium (deprivation of a marital/sexual partner or familial relationship).

Personal Injury:  Personal injury refers to the harm or injury caused to a person due to the negligence or intentional actions of another. In Wisconsin, personal injury law covers a broad range of accidents and incidents, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and more.

If you’ve been injured in a personal injury accident in Wisconsin, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, navigating the legal system and dealing with insurance companies can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to recover from your injuries. That’s where a personal injury lawyer can help.

William Pemberton, Personal Injury Lawyer
William Pemberton, Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer can represent your interests and fight for your rights in negotiations with insurance companies or in court. They can help you understand your legal options, gather evidence to support your claim, and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. With their experience and knowledge of Wisconsin personal injury law, they can help you maximize your compensation and get the justice you deserve.

At our law firm, we specialize in personal injury cases in Wisconsin, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and more. Our team of skilled and compassionate Madison personal injury lawyers is dedicated to helping our clients recover from their injuries and move forward with their lives. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that personal injuries can take, and we’re here to provide the support and guidance you need.

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