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Automobile Accidents

No-Fault Insurance

Wisconsin is not a no-fault state. Therefore, if you live in Wisconsin, have Wisconsin auto insurance, and are injured in a crash in Wisconsin, your own insurance will not pay your medical bills and wage loss up front, like in a no-fault state, such as Minnesota. Instead, you must wait to collect for your medical bills and wage loss from the at-fault driver when you reach a settlement or from a verdict after a jury trial. For that reason, when buying auto insurance in Wisconsin, make sure that it includes med-pay coverage to pay your medical bills if you are hurt in an accident. Ask your insurance agent how much coverage is included in your policy, and how much you can buy. Buy as much coverage as you can reasonably afford.

Minnesota is a “no-fault” state, for the medical bills and wage loss (“special damages”) portion of any motor vehicle accident claim. That is, the medical bills and wage losses are paid by the victim’s own insurance, with the host vehicle insurance being primary. The No-Fault Act provides for $40,000.00 of coverage for basic economic loss benefits, with $20,000.00 being allocated for medical expenses and $20,000.00 for other no-fault benefits, including income loss, replacement services, funeral expense loss, survivors economic loss, and survivors replacement services loss arising out of the injury to any one person.

Benefits are usually paid directly to the medical providers (wage losses to the claimants). No attorney fees are usually collected on No Fault claims. The exception would be if the insurer stopped paying benefits, claiming they are unreasonable, unnecessary or not related. In that case, the attorney demands binding arbitration and collects a contingent fee on any additional recovery. Of course, this leaves the client with outstanding bills, unless they are compromised. When an injured person is involved in a motor vehicle accident and they sustain losses other than these special damages covered under the Minnesota No-Fault Act, then they can sue the other party for damages. These include, pain and suffering, disability and loss of life style occasioned by the injuries. Since January 1, 1975, an injured person cannot bring claim against the party who caused such persons injuries for such pain and suffering, disability and change of life style, unless they meet one of four requirements. The 4 requirements are as follows:

1. Medical or chiropractic expenses in excess of $4,000.00;
2. Permanent injury;
3. Permanent disability;
4. Disability for more than 60 days.

Direct Action

In Wisconsin and Minnesota, an injured party may include as a named defendant in a lawsuit, the insurance company for the person who caused the accident. In addition, in Wisconsin the jury can be told what amount of insurance coverage the defendant carries. This rule allows the jury to better understand who really pays the damages they award at trial.

This differs from the rule in many other states, including Minnesota, where a jury is not informed of any insurance that may be available to pay the award. We believe the Wisconsin rule is the better rule of law because it does not hide the truth about insurance from the jury.

Dram Shop/Liquor Liability

In many states, including Minnesota, it is illegal to sell alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person. Wisconsin does not have a “dram shop” law. A “dram shop” law holds a bar or liquor store that sells alcohol to a person who is obviously intoxicated, and who then causes an accident, partially responsible to an innocent victim. It does not, however, relieve the drunk driver of their responsibility for causing the accident.

Wisconsin is one of the few states without a dram shop law. As a result, liquor vendors, including bars and liquor stores, cannot be held liable for damages to an innocent victim struck by a drunk driver. This puts Wisconsin residents in more danger on their roads. A “dram shop” law discourages bars from over-serving customers and therefore reduces the number of intoxicated drivers on the roads.

Another consequence of having no “dram shop” law is it leaves many seriously injured persons uncompensated for their injuries. This is because many times the drunk driver has little or no insurance, and therefore is unable to fully compensate the innocent victim for their injuries.

In contrast, in states like Minnesota with a dram shop law, innocent victims, seriously injured or killed by drunk drivers, are more likely to be fully compensated. In those cases where the drunk driver was illegally served alcohol by a bar, the innocent victim can sue both the drunk driver and the bar for making an illegal sale, if the illegal sale contributed to causing the accident. That way, hopefully, the innocent victim can be fully compensated for their injuries.

Click here to download a brochure on Traffic Accidents from the State Bar of Wisconsin

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident and if you are looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer to maximize the remedies that you have available to you and to reach the highest possible award for your injuries or if you wish to compromise, negotiate, or effectively deal with either your insurance company or the adverse insurance company we, the Michael Ablan Law Firm can help you. We have been serving injured clients since 1974. With an experienced and aggressive yet honest, trustworthy and friendly legal team consisting of a lawyer with 35 years of experience, specialized paralegals, and a tax accountant, the Michael Ablan Law Firm in La Crosse, WI can help you. We also have offices in La Crescent, Minnesota and Hayward, Wisconsin. Contact us for a free consultation. Our expert legal services are available to you anywhere in the State of Wisconsin including but not limited to the counties of La Crosse, Trempealeau, Monroe, Pierce, Crawford, Vernon, Grant, Sawyer, Jackson or any other county in Wisconsin or in the state of Minnesota, including all counties surrounding La Crescent, MN, such as Houston and Winona and any other county.