Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
Wisconsin Personal Injury Law
Injuries can quickly take their toll on you if you don’t have the support or resources you need. Even with quality insurance, you could face high medical care costs, or you may lose wages by taking time off of work to heal. If an injury is especially severe, it could impact your overall quality of life, requiring you to spend money on additional services or negatively impacting your mental well-being because of pain and suffering.
If your injury was the result of someone else’s actions, you may need to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. Winning this suit could require the person who hurt you to pay for the costs of your care and the residual charges that accrue from your injury. While you can go it alone, consulting with an attorney knowledgeable about Wisconsin personal injury law is a good place to start.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil case that’s typically tried in a state court, though some circumstances may take it federal court. These suits typically only apply to physical or mental injuries your body sustains, excluding property damages.
There are many possible causes for a personal injury. Intentional injuries may seem like obvious foundations for such a case; if a person hurts you on purpose, they should have to pay you for those damages. Intent often isn’t limited to intent to hurt, however. In some cases, intent to touch you, even without the goal of causing an injury, could be the basis for an intentional injury.
Accidental injuries can be a bit more complicated. There are two main, broad categories for accidental injury claims:
- Negligent and reckless injuries are caused unintentionally, but they should have been prevented if the injurer had behaved in a reasonably safe way. Wisconsin laws around snowmobiling, for example, require a headlamp when riding at night. It’s a reasonable safety standard. If someone is driving in the dark in Racine without the appropriate lighting, doesn’t see you, then hits and injures you, they could be liable for negligently causing your injury.
- Strict liability injuries are caused unintentionally, but apply to specific circumstances where even the exercise of reasonable care can make the injurer liable. In Wisconsin, this includes most dog bites. Even if the dog was properly trained and the owner had no reason to suspect their dog may bite, they could still be required to pay the damages their dog’s bite caused. There are some exceptions here, such as if you were provoking the dog when you were attacked.
What are the Limitations to Lawsuits in Wisconsin?
One of the biggest limitations to any lawsuit is a restriction on filing time known as the statute of limitations. In Wisconsin, you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you wait too long, expect to have your case thrown out.
There may be some applicable financial limitations as well. Medical malpractice cases, often treated as a type of negligent personal injury, cap damages for non-economic causes like mental anguish or pain and suffering. Injuries caused by some government employees may be limited as well.
A more common financial limitation comes from your comparative negligence. If you contributed to the events of your injury, the court will need to determine how much of the fault is yours. They will likely reduce your compensation accordingly. If you were found 10 percent responsible, expect to only get 90 percent of the amount you’re seeking. If you’re 51 percent at fault or more, however, you can be barred from collecting any amount at all.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
You’re allowed to represent yourself in a personal injury case in Wisconsin, though it may be wise to consult with a personal injury attorney. An attorney who has experience in this area of law may be able to evaluate your evidence to find hidden costs you should fight for in court. They could also help you file your paperwork correctly and argue your case in court. With all of these added insights, you could have better outcomes than if you tried to go it alone.