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Why You Should Call a Lawyer immediately After a Collision

When you have been injured by a negligent motor vehicle operator – whether while riding a motorcycle or bicycle, walking as a pedestrian, or driving another car – you may be overwhelmed by the emotional impact of what you’ve endured, or by physical injuries, or by concerns over how you will recover financially, physically and emotionally. Obtaining financial compensation for your losses may initially be far down on your list of needs following the collision.

But, what you do to protect yourself from further harm in the first days after a collision is key to assuring that you are fairly treated by the negligent driver’s insurance company and by our justice system. Clifford & Raihala’s personal injury attorneys in Madison, Wisconsin have decades of experience protecting personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin and Illinois; we want you to know how you can act to vindicate your rights and protect your claims for fair and just compensation, in the hours and days following a collision.

First, be aware that insurance companies require car drivers they insure to promptly report any collision they have caused. That means that the insurer of the driver who negligently injured you – and who may owe you compensation for the injuries its insured caused you — will know about the collision almost immediately after it happened. That insurance company will immediately begin to mount its defenses against you, to claim its insured was not responsible, to claim you were completely or partially responsible, to convince witnesses that you were the negligent party, and so on. That insurance company may even come into your hospital room to interview you. Be aware, they have no right to do so, and the interview is designed to make you admit that you might be responsible, and that your injuries really aren’t that bad.

During these important days immediately following the collision, you have no one on your side, but the negligent driver’s insurer is mounting a campaign against you while you are completely unaware of their activities and tactics. You need someone on your side. At Clifford & Raihala, our personal injury attorneys know that steps taken immediately after a collision can assure you will receive fair and full compensation for your injuries and financial losses.

When our personal injury lawyers are retained shortly after a collision, we will immediately begin obtaining information needed to prosecute your claim, information including the motor vehicle accident report from the police, medical records and bills, police and client photos of the accident scene, interview statements from witnesses named in the accident report, ambulance reports, applicable insurance policies, and other case specific information.

But the first days of representation create a unique opportunity for Clifford & Raihala’s personal injury lawyers in Madison to obtain evidence that may control the outcome of your case. Nothing is routine for our personal injury attorney team. We are creative in seeking information from new sources and unexpected places. Several examples are worth considering.

Highway Videos: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) operates over 250 traffic cameras throughout Wisconsin. These cameras monitor and record traffic mainly on heavily traveled highways. The DOT has a website which shows camera views and maps showing the location of traffic cameras. So, we can quickly determine if a DOT camera video has captured the actual collision in which our client was injured. However, these videos are routinely kept for only 72 hours, so fast action is imperative. As well, many municipal street videos are available at key intersections, as are videos for commercial establishments. Clifford & Raihala personal injury attorneys may seek these videos to demonstrate exactly what happened to cause our client’s harm. In one recent car-pedestrian case, we obtained a video showing our client hit in a crosswalk by a turning car and being thrown over the car causing significant injuries. The video eliminated any defense claim that our client was not in the crosswalk, did not have the right of way, and that the driver was not negligent.

911 Transcripts: Most 911 centers have detailed reports available for every incident or collision. These provide valuable information regarding time and duration, names and telephone numbers of witnesses and damages. In one recent case, Clifford & Raihala personal injury attorneys in Madison, Wisconsin obtained the 911 transcripts of multiple callers who observed different views of a tragically fatal rear-end collision with our deceased client who had stopped in traffic “due to an object in the roadway,” as the accident report described it. We found a 911 caller’s report that the object had fallen off a truck, which meant that “another vehicle” was involved and triggered our client’s own insurance policy’s “uninsured motorist” coverage of $100,000.00 which we recovered. When added to the insurance coverage of the driver who hit her, our personal injury attorneys obtained a total recovery for her family to $310,000.00 for their tragic loss.

Witness Interviews: Clifford & Raihala personal injury attorneys understand the importance of interviewing witnesses promptly in the appropriate case to secure evidence establishing our client’s lack of fault and the negligence of the other driver. In one recent case, our pedestrian client was struck by a negligent driver. The driver’s insurance company claimed our pedestrian client was at fault and was responsible for the collision. Clifford & Raihala’s partner John Raihala, who heads our personal injury lawyer team, had promptly obtained an affidavit from a witness who swore that our client was “entirely within the crosswalk,” and that the driver was “not slowing down” and was “100% responsible for causing the collision.” When he presented the affidavit to the insurer, it settled the claim for $640,000.00. The settlement was secured by promptly obtaining the witness’ statement.

There are many reasons to promptly seek competent legal representation immediately after you have been injured, or after a loved one has been fatally injured, in a motor vehicle accident. These are just a few. But, know this: when you have been injured through the fault of another, Clifford & Raihala’s personal injury attorneys in Madison stand ready to promptly come to your assistance. Call us at 608-257-7900 (or toll free at 888-791-8422) or click to connect with us now. There is no obligation and no fee unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Do’s and Don’ts After a Motorcycle Accident

The motorcycle accident attorneys at Clifford & Raihala understand the traumatic nature of being struck by a car or truck while riding your motorcycle. The initial shock of the impact, that surge of adrenalin throughout your body, the emotional turmoil and likely physical injuries all combine to make clear-headed decision-making difficult, if not impossible. It is important, then, that before you ride you have a pre-accident plan of what you should do in the unfortunate event of a crash — at the scene of the collision, at the hospital or urgent care center immediately after if you are injured, and in the days and weeks following the crash. Our motorcycle accident attorneys offer the following suggestions to help you put your plan in place before you are struck by a negligent motor vehicle operator.

At the scene of the collision:

Do . . . Call 911 immediately. This may be obvious if there are serious injuries. But even if there are no obvious injuries, some injuries do not surface right away. And injuries are not the only reason to call for police to investigate. If you believe the other driver was at fault, a police report will help you obtain the compensation for any injuries and property damage to your bike you deserve.

Do . . . Assess your condition. Our motorcycle accident attorneys in Madison, Wisconsin, who handle cases statewide and in Illinois, often hear that our clients did not know they were injured in a collision until hours or days later. The stress of a collision can obscure injuries like concussions, strains and sprains, muscle and ligament tears, etc. Before you tell the police that you are OK, make sure you have carefully considered any potential injuries that may not be obvious. The most important issue is your physical well-being – address that as a priority.

Do . . . Observe. If you are able, look at your surroundings, try to see what factors may have led to the negligent driver’s conduct. Pull out your cell phone and start taking pictures, especially before any vehicles are moved and of the car or truck that hit you and your bike. If possible, take a picture of the motor vehicle’s license plate. If you are unable, ask any co-rider or passenger of yours to do it. Pictures really are worth a thousand words.

Don’t . . . Admit fault. In the confusion and uncertainty during the immediate circumstances following the collision, you may feel you should acknowledge some responsibility for the crash. It is a common misbelief that each operator bears some responsibility for a crash involving two moving vehicles. That is false. Realize that issues regarding legal responsibility are complex and shouldn’t be decided at the roadside of a crash. Your duty after a collision is to simply state the basic details of what you know about the crash – not what you surmise.

Don’t . . . Decline medical transfer. Our motorcycle accident attorneys often see cases where the rider declines transport via ambulance to a hospital, even when recommended by EMTs at the scene, only to drive themselves to an emergency room or urgent care center hours later. When you have been injured by a negligent motor vehicle operator, you probably are not the best to judge what medical care you might need. Deciding to accept transport offered by first responders may determine what medical care you may need urgently or emergently, and may impact the compensation which you should ultimately be awarded.

At the emergency room or urgent care center:

Do . . . Tell your doctors. Our motorcycle accident lawyers understand that most of us are unwilling to complain about anything. This is not a time to “be tough.” If a patient doesn’t tell a doctor each and every pain, discomfort or symptom he or she is feeling, the medical records won’t report them, and the doctor is likely to overlook them. Protect yourself by making sure your ER doctor knows every symptom you feel when you are brought to the hospital, no matter how small.

Do . . . Express your concerns. Every medical intake wants to know the “subjective” concerns of the patient. It is important for your well-being that you tell your providers how you are feeling and what concerns you have.

Don’t . . . Minimize anything. Your initial visit to a medical provider after a motorcycle accident is not a time to discount or minimize your physical complaints. Make sure you are open with your physicians about any issue may have, or may think you have. You cannot overreact to injuries suffered in what most often are catastrophic crashes.

Don’t . . . Speak with an insurance adjuster. When a motorcycle accident victim is hospitalized after a collision, the negligent motor vehicle operator’s insurance company will actually contact the victim, even while the victim is still hospitalized. They are not trying to help, since that would involve the insurer compensating the biker. No, they are trying to undermine the biker’s claim, to trick the biker into admitting some liability, to helping them avoiding compensation they owe. Do not speak with the insurance adjuster. Do not! Clifford & Raihala’s motorcycle accident attorneys in Madison, Wisconsin urge you: Do Not Decline Transport!

In the days and weeks following the motorcycle accident:

Do . . . Recover from your injuries. It is important for your future that you follow your medical providers’ advice and instructions to recover from your injuries as best you can. As well, following your doctors’ advice and instructions and complying with treatment recommendations will assure your ability to obtain the fair and full compensation you deserve for you injuries.

Do . . . Consult with competent motorcycle accident attorneys. At Clifford & Raihala, we are proud that our motorcycle accident attorneys in Madison, Wisconsin have helped many bikers get the compensation they deserve for injuries caused by motor vehicle operators. We understand that motorcycle accidents often result from the vulnerability of a biker to a car or truck operator who fails to observe, maintain look out or to be attentive to the presence of a motorcycle. Our motorcycle accident attorneys know that motor vehicle operators too often negligently fail to recognize that motorcycles have the same rights of the road as they do. Our motorcycle accident attorneys stand ready to help bikers, and their family members and loved ones, to vindicate the rights of motorcycle riders injured by the negligence of another.

Don’t . . . Speak with an insurance adjuster. Yes, they will continue to pursue you, trying to get you to concede that you were somehow responsible (so their insured was not) and to find information against you. They will not tell you how they will use information against you. You do have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurer, but understand that your own insurer may be adverse to you. Speak to an attorney before you speak with any insurance company, yours or the negligent driver’s insurer.

If you or a family member or loved one has suffered loss, unfairly, through the neglect of a car or truck driver, contact our motorcycle accident attorneys in Madison, Wisconsin at Clifford & Raihala at 608-257-7900 (or toll free at 888-791-8422) or click to contact us now. Our consultation is free, and there is no obligation.

Safely Passing Bicyclists Avoids Bicycle Accidents

One bicycle safety policy that has gained significant interest and activity in state legislatures across the nation is “3-feet” or “safe passing” laws. These laws try to achieve a goal that, when passing bicycles, motor vehicles allow adequate space to avoid dangerously sideswiping bicyclists or causing a bicyclist to “overcorrect” to avoid the vehicle. In fact, Wisconsin became the first state in the nation in 1973 when it enacted Section 346.075 of the Wisconsin Statutes which requires a motorist to exercise due care, leaving a safe distance of no less than three (3) feet clearance when passing a bicycle. The statute requires the motorist to maintain that clearance until it is safely past the overtaken bicycle.

As of September 2021, 35 states have followed Wisconsin’s lead with three (3) foot clearance requirements. Several other states have adopted stricter requirements (e.g., 4-foot passing laws or requiring a motorist to completely change lanes when passing if another lane is available.) Others have adopted more general standards requiring motorists to pass bicyclists at a safe distance or speed, without defining a minimum clearance.

These relatively recent law changes follow a developing awareness of motor vehicle risks to bicyclists. Studies have shown the relationship between bicycle accident occurrences and motor vehicle operator patterns of conduct. Analyses of causes of bicycle accidents have produced data demonstrating that a large number of bike accidents happen when a motor vehicle is overtaking and passing a bicycle.

The bicycle accident attorneys at Clifford & Raihala understand the legal responsibilities and duties motor vehicle operators owe bicyclists on our roadways. Wisconsin’s “3-foot” law is an important tool in assessing fault of the car driver who sideswipes a bicyclist. But, the evaluation of the negligence of the driver doesn’t stop there. Our bicycle accident lawyers also investigate whether the circumstances of a given bike accident might show the driver still didn’t exercise due care, even where the driver gives three feet of clearance. While mandatory, the “3-foot” rule is just the minimum requirement. If the driver failed to exercise due care and was otherwise negligent (e.g., was distracted, using a cell phone, inattentive, intoxicated, etc.), that driver may still be responsible and owe the bicyclist compensation for injuries and harms he caused.

Some are skeptical about the “3-feet” or “safe passing” laws, doubting whether they can actually be enforced or whether they provide sufficient space for bicyclists. Many bicyclists feel that laws dictating that they must ride to the far right of a lane are of more concern because they often encourage too-close passing, leaving bicyclists vulnerable to being “doored” by a parked car. Those concerns may very well be right and deserved to be taken seriously. The safe passing laws, however, at least provide a less arbitrary legal framework to protect bicyclists who are injured in a bicycle accident caused by a passing car. They are helpful tools for our bicycle accident attorneys in vindicating the rights of our clients who have been injured in a bicycle accident.

The bike accident lawyers at Clifford & Raihala are skilled and experienced in using these and other available tools to make sure that our clients who have been injured by a motor vehicle driver receive fair and full compensation for their injuries. That’s why our bicycle accident attorneys have recovered $2,000,000.00 in one recent, tragic fatal truck-bicycle crash; $1,925,000.00 for a severely injured survivor of a car-bike collision; $575,000.00 for a client who had been “doored” while riding his bicycle; and hundreds of thousands of dollars for other clients injured on bicycles by negligent motor vehicle operators. Every case is different and these examples are unique to the circumstances of those cases, but may give you some idea of the broad experience of our bicycle accident attorneys.

If you or a family member have been injured in a bike accident, contact Clifford & Raihala to see if our bicycle accident attorney team can help. There is no obligation and no fee for the consultation. Call 608-257-7900 (or toll free at 888-791-8422).