Per­sonal In­jury Par­tic­u­lars

Out of mul­ti­ple facets of the law, learn about two

Milwaukee Magazine - - Special Advertising Section - BY B.L. HO­GAN

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.

VICTIMOLOGY

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.

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