Personal Injury Particulars
Out of multiple facets of the law, learn about two
There are many ways you can be injured, including physically, monetarily and even emotionally. Personal injury lawyers are in the business of helping you win compensation for those injuries. Here are two areas of personal injury law as practiced by two local firms.
Paul E. Bucher, a lawyer in private practice who was Waukesha County’s district attorney for nearly 20 years, has a varied case load now, including personal injury, criminal defense and family law.
But Bucher, whose Bucher Law Group also includes Steven James Lownik and Thomas C. Simon, says one area of personal injury law he’s especially proud of is a practice he calls “victimology.” He developed the practice based on his years as a prosecutor and his expertise in civil law.
Bucher thinks his shop is the only local firm in this area of the law, in which he represents crime victims after the trials of the perpetrators who victimized them. “Once the offender is convicted, I step in and sue the offender,” Bucher says. “My goal in victimology is to make the victim whole.”
This area of law is not a large part of Bucher Law’s practice – or of its revenues. Often, Bucher says, the offenders don’t have much in the way of resources. He’s won two million-dollar verdicts, though he says both offenders “are sitting in prison making license plates,” so that money’s unlikely to materialize soon.
Still, many victims care less about the money than about a sense of closure and justice they get from facing down their offender directly, without the involvement of state prosecutors.
Bucher says he’s careful in this practice not to interfere with the prosecution’s case against the defendant. For example, if he were to sue while the criminal case is still going on, defense attorneys could depose the victim – a process that could be intimidating, and interfere with the prosecution.
But a prosecutor’s first priority is to get a conviction, a process over which victims have no control.
“In a civil victimology case, they have total control,” Bucher says.
AUTO ACCIDENT PRIMER
When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, the cliché is that you’re at fault “just for being there.” This is simply not true. In the Techmeier Law Firm, when somebody calls after an accident, lawyers always ask if the other side received a ticket. If they did, it’s likely the person who got a ticket is at fault. If you have been rear-ended, for example, the person who hit you is probably 100 percent at fault.
Some people think that if you’re involved in an accident, you have an automatic right to receive money, even if you’re not hurt. “We do not have jackpot justice in Wisconsin,” says attorney
Will Techmeier. In order to recover for personal injuries, you must have been injured. Your injuries should always be medically recorded by a visit to either the emergency room or your physician. Otherwise, you won’t have written documentation of an injury and your claim can be denied. Even if you delay treatment because you temporarily were feeling better, insurance companies can take this as an opportunity to deny claims. This is called a gap in treatment, an excuse for the insurance company to make a low offer or no offer.
Even when you are seriously injured, you may not be able to recover more than $25,000 because Wisconsin law does not require drivers to carry more insurance than that. If you have underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), your insurance company will cover you for injuries in excess of the limits of the other driver. Because mandatory insurance policy limits are only $25,000, you should always carry UIM. Make sure to ask your agent for the coverage. The cost is nominal.
The statute of limitations in Wisconsin for an injury due to a motor vehicle accident is three years. However, it is best to try to either settle your case as soon as possible or put it into suit before memories lapse, witnesses disappear or evidence is destroyed.