Wisconsin Truck Accident GuideWisconsin Truck Accident Guide

The Wisconsin Truck Accident Guide was created by Keberle, Patrykus & Laufenberg, LLP to help residents who have been injured in an accident obtain maximum compensation for their claim.

If you have been severely hurt in a truck wreck, you are likely looking for Washington County truck accident lawyers who may be able to help you win your injury case. The aftermath of an accident is a difficult time for injured victims, and having a lawyer by your side can make it easier. Please contact our office today to set up a free initial consultation with one of our experienced Washington County truck accident lawyers.

Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

When someone is driving in a way that violates the rules of the road and poses a threat to the safety of others, that is considered negligence. The most common reasons truck accidents happen are as follow:

Distracted driving — One of the biggest reasons accidents happen on the road. When people are not being cautious on the road, it creates a safety hazard. That might be because they are answering emails, looking at their texts, calling people, or changing a song on their phone. This all qualifies as distracted driving and as negligent behavior that could cause an accident.

Driving under the influence — DUI is something that can get you into a lot of trouble and also qualifies as negligence. If someone is operating a truck while intoxicated or under the influence of a substance, it dramatically impairs their ability to drive and can cause catastrophic or fatal damage to other drivers on the road. Trucks are already hard to handle; add impairment to it and it is deadly.

Reckless driving — This category can include going way over the speed limit, weaving in an out of traffic, or zipping around corners. It might even be considered reckless driving for a truck operator to be driving on inadequate sleep. These truck drivers clock in enormous miles and long hours. They may feel pressured to finish a drive with little to no sleep which can be just as dangerous as intoxicated driving.

Jackknife Crashes — In jackknife crashes, semi-trucks can begin to skid in an uncontrolled manner, typically horizontally across the road.   The trailer swings to form a 90 degree angle and “locks” in place.   When jackknifing occurs, both the semi and its trailer will continue absent operator control and can take out all vehicles in its path.

Operator Negligence — There are many regulations concerning licensing, logging and reporting concerning operators.   The primary purpose is to prevent operator negligence and to put safe drivers behind the wheel.  Far too often semi operators will intentionally and inaccurately log hourly entries into the company’s logbook to justify faster delivery times.  Many drivers today are also taking artificial stimulants to enhance sleep-deprived operation.  Locating and preserving these artificial records can prove operator negligence.  Proving that the company had knowledge of specific conduct and condoned the conduct can allow for punitive damages.

Inadequate Maintenance — For over-the-road rigs, maintenance involving tire pressure, tire locks and axles are as commonplace as changing one’s oil in a passenger car.  A failed tire lock can result in a tire on the roadway or a trailer spinning out of control.   At Keberle, Patrykus & Laufenberg, we once investigated a truck’s history, only to learn that the rig had been sitting unattended in a remote farm field 90 days prior to the crash. Many parts had been stripped or damaged. No effort was made by the operator or owner to ensure the rig was safe for the road before placing it back into service. Expert analysis revealed that the tire locks had been damaged and caused the accident.

The First Steps of a Successful Truck Accident Case

To have success when pursuing a truck accident case, you want to ensure that you take three important steps:

  1. Seek emergency medical care
  2. Collect evidence
  3. Hire a lawyer

When you are hurt in a truck accident, it is likely severe. You need to make sure you are seen by a doctor as soon as possible so that you can begin your recovery. You need to prioritize your wellbeing, and getting treatment is the way to do so.

A truck accident case is only as strong as the evidence you have to back it. If you have photos and videos of the crash site, you will have a better argument against the insurance company that represents the liable party.

Lastly, if you want to have success in your case, it is important to hire a lawyer as soon as you possibly can so that they can get started on your case right away. It will help you from making case-ruining mistakes, as well as make sure you are on track for success.

Avoid Talking to the Insurance Company for the Liable PartyAvoid Talking to the Insurance Company for the Liable Party

Truck insurance companies are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to trying to reduce the compensation that they owe you. They will reach out to you shortly after the accident asking for a recorded statement. It would be the wisest option not to give them one as they can use it against you to get you to say something that would absolve them of responsibility in your case. You should have your lawyer take over this communication to protect you from this.

Washington County Truck Accident Statute of Limitations

The most helpful thing to do after your accident is to get in touch with a lawyer who is experienced in truck accidents. We strongly advise that you do this as soon as you can so that you are on track for a successful case.

In Wisconsin, as per state law, you are allowed three years from the date of your truck accident to bring your claim in civil court in pursuit of compensation. If you do not get your case brought within this amount of time, you will be barred from receiving compensation.

The sooner you get in contact with someone, the better off you will be. Your lawyer should be allotted as much time as you can give them. If you hire a lawyer as soon as you are able to, you will likely have a stronger case with fresh witness testimony and locked-in evidence.

Determining the Value of a Truck Accident Claim

I got a call on a trucking case last week, and the gentleman asked me what his case is worth. This is the most difficult question to answer, and we get it all the time. Here’s the short answer: The only way to properly value an injury case – it doesn’t matter how the injury occurred, there’s only one way to value it – is to thoroughly investigate all the facts: the law, the nature of your injuries, how verdicts are going in our community when these types of cases get tried, and so on. It takes time to collect all of that evidence. It takes time to do our due diligence and make sure that we get every penny for you that we can; that’s our job. We can’t turn the clock back. The answer is we don’t know.

When we get close to getting all the pieces of the puzzle, then we can give you a range. Until we have all of the pieces of the puzzle, we’re not going to be able to give you a precise number; it’s just the nature of the beast. If you have a case, give us a call. We can help.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Truck Accident Claim?

I was talking to one of our clients who was recently in a trucking wreck, and he called me and asked me if I had any idea how long this was going to take. I told him not really, because there are too many variables at play. What we do is try to make that period as short as possible. Here’s how we do it. If the insurance company knows that we’ve done a thorough investigation, that we try these trucking cases and that we will spend whatever money it takes to get ready for trial, then they’re much more likely to want to settle. That’s how we can move the process along. Sometimes, as is frequently the case in trucking cases, these cases need to be tried, and they need to be tried by experienced, professional and successful trial lawyers. That’s what we do here. If you have a trucking wreck case and you want to know how long it’s going to take, give me a call.

Partial Fault Truck Accident

After a truck wreck, if you think that it might be partially your fault, do you still have a case? The answer is yes. The reason is because Wisconsin is a contributory negligence state, so a portion’s negligence on a scale of a hundred percent who’s percentage-wise the culprit. If the truck driver is 51% negligent, and you’re 49% negligent, you still recover the 51% of your damages. The answer is, yes. If you have a case like this, give us a call. We can help.

Seeking Medical Treatment After a Truck Accident

After a truck wreck, when you go to see your doctor, what are the do’s and don’ts? Number one, tell them everything that’s going wrong with you. Don’t be a tough guy. Everything is written down, and if we fast forward a couple of years, maybe a year and a half, and we go to trial and you didn’t tell them something, the jury is going to think, well, that didn’t happen. You’ve got to give them the full medical picture.

Number two, when he or she tells you to do something, do it. That’s the easiest gift to the insurance company you can have— not listening to your doctor. They’ll say, well, this person didn’t listen to their doctor and that means they weren’t hurt. That’s a very persuasive argument in front of a jury. You have to do what the doctor says, and that means whatever they say. If you can’t get to an appointment, if you have to skip an appointment, call and explain why. Make them write it down, so it doesn’t look like you’re not trying or that you’re not hurt. Those are two of the primary things that you need to do when you’re at your doctor. Don’t embellish.

Here’s another one. When they ask you, “How badly does it hurt, from a one to a ten?” I never answer that question in front of a doctor. It has nothing to do with whether I’ve been in a crash. The reason is because everyone has a different pain tolerance, so it’s kind of a gift to the insurance company because if you say, “My pain is nine,” or God forbid you say ten, then the next question out of the defense lawyer’s mouth is, “How about if someone gauged your eye out with a rusty spoon? What about that?” You just can’t get anywhere with it. Those are the things that you shouldn’t do and the things you should do, when you’re at your doctor.

Selecting a Truck Accident AttorneySelecting a Truck Accident Attorney

The absolute most important thing to look for when you’re looking for a trucking crash lawyer is experience. These cases are very, very difficult. They’re difficult to understand and, if you don’t have the experience, you’re not going to be able to do that. There are a lot of good trial lawyers out there that do car crash cases, slip and fall cases, but if you haven’t done a trucking crash case, here’s what you need to know. They bring the best defense lawyers to defend these cases. You have to know exactly what they’re up to, to be able to protect you.

When we handle trucking crash cases, we immediately send out two investigators to the scene. Why is that? Because we need the evidence. We need the evidence that supports why the trucker or why the company was negligent. If we don’t get there fast enough, they’re going to take the truck away and our evidence disappears. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a trucking crash lawyer, you need to find that type of lawyer, who’s done these types of cases over and over; they’re that important.

Speaking to an Insurance Company After a Truck Accident

The question is, should you talk to an insurance company after a truck wreck? The answer is absolutely, unequivocally, no, no, no. Why is that? These are typically high-value cases, and that’s why they get adjusters on them so quickly. I’ve had clients that get called within three hours, when they get home after the emergency room, by representatives of insurance companies.
Why do some people talk to them? Because they pretend they’re your best friend. “Oh, we’re so sorry. What can we do for you? How can we help? Can we send someone over?” They’ll send someone over, but then they’ll try to get you to give a recorded statement. The answer is there’s nothing to gain and everything to lose. I tell my clients if they do contact you and you want to give them your name, and you want to get their name, claim number, phone number, that’s fine. If they seek legal help, their lawyer is going to need that anyway. Beyond that, the takeaway answer is no. If you’ve got a case like that, give us a call. We can help.

What to Do After a Truck Accident

The question is, what should you be doing immediately if you or one of your loved ones gets in a tractor trailer wreck? Number one, above all else, get medical treatment. Go see a doctor. These injuries can be significant, ranging from paraplegia to closed head injuries. That’s number one, above all else.
Number two, the insurance company is going to try to contact you, and they’re going to be your best friend. They’re going to say, “Oh, we’re so very sorry this happened. What can we do to help?” They will also say, “Can you please speak into the microphone?” What they’re up to is getting as much information as they can to try to impact the value of your case in a negative way. Don’t talk to them. I tell my clients, look, you say, “This is who I am,” and “Give me your name and number, give me the claim number, and I’ll get back to you.” Why? You don’t give them any information that’s useful to them.

The third thing to do is to call and locate trial lawyers who do this kind of work. Again, you need a trial lawyer that has experience and has been successful in trucking cases. These cases are different animals and incredibly difficult, sometimes. If you’ve got one of those cases, give us a call. We can help.

Will My Truck Accident Case Go to Trial?Will My Truck Accident Case Go to Trial?

In a truck wreck case, how do you know whether or not you’re going to have to go to trial? The short answer is this is your case, and you’re the master of your case. If we advise you that you should go to trial because they’re not offering you enough money, we expect that you’ll listen; at the end of the day, however, this is your decision. In our office, we spend days preparing our clients for their testimony, whether it’s a deposition or for trial, and we don’t allow our clients to be either deposed or testify at trial unless they’re absolutely, 100% bulletproof.

Please Call Our Washington County Truck Accident Lawyers Today

Have you been seriously injured in a truck accident? Please call our office today to set up a free initial consultation with one of our highly skilled Washington County truck accident lawyers.

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