Category Archives for Car Accident

When Should I Call a Personal Injury Attorney?

The answer is clear: as soon after a motor vehicle collision as possible. And the reasons for contacting a personal injury attorney promptly after you are injured in a motor vehicle crash are compelling:

Obtaining evidence which may control the outcome of your case. The first days after a collision offer unique opportunities to obtain important evidence you may need to prove who caused the collision and the extent of injuries you suffered for which you deserve compensation. Clifford & Raihala’s team of personal injury lawyers are experienced in promptly seeking available evidence regarding the accident and the scene of the collision. In fact, one of our personal injury attorneys gave a presentation subtitled “Tips on Early Action in Every Case” to a statewide audience of lawyers who represent injured parties. He taught those lawyers the importance of acting fast to gather photographic or video evidence of the scene, including from video cameras from nearby commercial establishments and highway or street video cameras; to obtain 911 transcripts which often provide detail not included in the police report; and to interview witnesses immediately.

Protecting you from insurance investigators. The insurance company for the driver who caused your injuries through negligence may be required to compensate you for those injuries; your own insurance company may be similarly responsible if the other driver’s insurance is inadequate to fully cover your losses. That means both insurers have interests adverse to yours. Insurance investigators and adjusters are well trained and skilled in protecting the insurance company’s money. Often, the other driver’s insurance will try to interview you as soon as possible. These so-called “interviews” are so fraught with peril for a just-injured victim that, in Wisconsin, statements taken by an insurer within 72 hours of a collision are not even admissible in court. It is reasonable, and fair, and very important that you protect your own interests by speaking with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Clifford & Raihala, you can speak with a personal injury attorney, at no cost and with no obligation, to find out how to protect your interests. Our personal injury attorneys often can meet you at the hospital or at your home since you may be unable to travel.

Meeting legal requirements to protect your claim. In some cases, there are strict legal deadlines to take certain actions to protect your claim. If you don’t act within those deadlines, your personal injury claim may be barred. For example, if the negligent driver was operating a government-owned vehicle, you may have to file a notice of claim within a short time meeting very strict formal requirements. If you have been injured by a “phantom” vehicle – e.g., one that cuts off your lane of travel or forces you off the road, and then drives on – you will be prevented from obtaining compensation from your own insurance policy which provides “uninsured motorist ” coverage, even though you paid for that coverage, unless you file a report within 72 hours. And, you must provide notice of your claim to your insurance company within 30 days to secure that coverage. Personal injury lawyers at Clifford & Raihala will act to protect you from letting these strict deadlines bar your right to compensation.

Planning the strategy for your case. Every case is unique. Your case needs and deserves a case management plan suited to the circumstances of your case. Some law firms assign new cases to non-lawyer staff to “sign up” the new client and to “manage” the case, often just getting the accident report and medical records, notifying the adverse insurance company, and other routine steps. But, no case is “routine.” Each deserves a strategy evaluation addressing what issues might be in dispute, what sources of evidence may be available to address if not dispose of those issues, how long will information or evidence be available, and how to best obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Every client of Clifford & Raihala has one of our skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys manage every aspect of the claim from the first interview all the way to jury verdict, if necessary (usually, cases are settled before any lawsuit is filed). If your first interview with a law firm is with an investigator, an intake person, or paralegal or some other assistant – someone who is not an actual lawyer — move on. When you hire a law firm, you deserve to be represented by a lawyer, not a non-lawyer staff member.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you have the right to compensation for all injures and losses caused by the negligence of the other driver. The personal injury lawyers at Clifford & Raihala in Madison stand ready to help you throughout Wisconsin and in Illinois to make sure you receive full and fair compensation. There is no fee unless you recover compensation. Call our personal injury attorneys at 608-257-7900 (or toll free at 888-791-8422) or click to connect right now. The consultation is free and with no obligation.

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.

Pay Attention: Distracted Driving Dangers Are Increasing

Motor vehicle operators are prohibited by law from engaging in activities that interfere with the safe operation of their vehicle. Despite that rule of law, distracted driving remains a serious danger on our roadways. In Wisconsin, e.g., one person was injured or killed in an inattentive driving-related crash every 46 minutes, according to reports of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. One every 46 minutes!

In the two years preceding 2016, the report adds, injury and fatality figures from distracted driving crashes “increased significantly.” In addition, the report concludes, inattentive driving is “almost certainly under-reported,” especially because of the increase in cell phone use and the difficulty of determining cell phone use in a crash.

Think of how often you have seen a driver talking or texting while driving on the roadway or stopped at a red light alongside your car. Or tuning their car’s radio. Or putting on make-up. Or eating. Or looking at a GPS device. Each of these activities can distract the driver from the safe operation of the vehicle. Each can cause injury and death.

It has been estimated that reading – not writing, but just reading – a text message while driving distracts a driver for a minimum of five seconds. At 45 mph, a car will travel 110 yards in five seconds­; greater than the length of a football field! The simple act of reading a text message has the same impact as closing your eyes for five seconds while driving. The danger is obvious.

If you have been injured in a collision where the other driver may have been driving while distracted, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney at Clifford & Raihala. Each personal injury attorney at Clifford & Raihala investigates crashes to see if our client has been injured due to the inattention of a distracted driver. When that happens, the other driver is negligent and should compensate our client for losses suffered, both physical and economic. Our experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorneys know that collisions due to distracted driving are preventable if drivers follow the basic rule: Just Drive!

If you’ve been injured in a collision and believe it may have been caused by another driver’s distracted driving, contact a Clifford & Raihala Wisconsin personal injury attorney for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim.