January 24 , 2022 | Personal Injury
Personal injuries, the most common of which are listed below, often cause staggering economic losses. The medical bills alone usually exceed $55,000. Other economic losses, such as property damage and lost wages, can be almost as high. Non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and emotional distress, are almost impossible to calculate.
Victims need financial compensation to pay these and other expenses. Furthermore, since the accident was not their fault, they deserve compensation for their non-economic losses. Compensation is the essence of a negligence case. These claims do not “blame” anyone for the accident. Instead, these matters force responsible parties to own up to their mistakes. Wisconsin would be a better place to live if we all behaved this way.
This compensation is available. But insurance companies do not simply give it away. Instead, a Wisconsin personal injury lawyer must work hard to obtain it. This hard work includes developing a plan of action and then sticking with that plan. That’s the best way, and usually, the only way, to obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries.
These injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in the United States. Common fall injuries include broken bones and head injuries. These injuries are normally permanent, especially if the victim was an older adult.
To obtain compensation, a Wisconsin personal injury lawyer must first establish that a legal duty existed. The extent of this duty usually depends on the relationship between the victim and property owner, as follows:
- Invitee: The property owner has a duty of reasonable care if the victim had permission to be on the land, and the victim’s presence benefited the owner in some way. A duty of reasonable care is the standard legal responsibility in Wisconsin injury cases.
- Licensee: The duty is not as high if the victim had permission to be on the property, but there was no benefit, A guest of a hotel guest is usually a licensee. The legal responsibility includes a duty to warn about latent (hidden) property defects.
- Trespasser: If the victim had no permission to be on the land and there was no benefit to the owner, the owner usually owed no duty. Tales of injured burglars who successfully sue homeowners are largely urban legends.
The next element is a breach of duty. This breach could be almost any hazard that causes a fall. Examples include wet spots on floors, dim lights in stairwells, and large cracks in sidewalks.
Finally, the victim/plaintiff must prove that the owner knew about the fall-causing hazard. This evidence could be direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence includes things like repair invoices. Circumstantial evidence usually involves the time-notice rule. Owners have a duty to address long-standing hazards.
Common defenses in these claims include comparative fault and assumption of the risk. Comparative fault shifts blame for an accident from the defendant to the victim. Assumption of the risk usually involves a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign.
Swimming Pool Injuries
Roughly these same legal principles apply to swimming pool injuries. These injuries are not just limited to falls on wet surfaces, although these injuries are the most common swimming pool injuries.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under five. A few moments under the water is usually enough to cause a permanent, and often fatal, brain injury. Poorly maintained drains often play a role in swimming pool drownings. If the drain is too strong, it creates an invisible riptide which literally sucks people under the water.
Other equipment-related swimming pool injuries include various kinds of poisonings, usually due to improper chlorine levels. If there is too much chlorine in the pool, swimmers often suffer chemical burns to their ears, noses, eyes, and throats. If there is not enough chlorine, dangerous bacteria grow and multiply. These bacterial infections are especially hazardous for people with certain pre-existing conditions.
Chlorine gas poisoning happens as well. If the pump is poorly maintained, a chlorine and water mixture builds up. This combination creates a cloud of invisible, poisonous gas.
Like swimming pool injuries and falls, dog bites are technically premises liability claims. However, these claims work a bit differently. Wisconsin’s dog bite laws are rather complex. These victims basically have three legal options:
- Strict Liability: Under state law, owners are responsible for all economic and noneconomic dog bite damages “caused by the dog injuring or causing injury to a person.” If the owner knew the animal was potentially vicious, the victim is entitled to double damages.
- Negligence: Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. In the dog bite context, the lack of care usually involves a safety law, such as a leash or fence law. If owners violate such laws and those violations substantially cause injury, owners could be liable for damages as a matter of law.
- Scienter: Knowledge of potential viciousness is also an independent cause of action in Wisconsin. Even pet owner jurors are normally willing to hold owners responsible for damages in scienter Evidence of knowledge usually includes per-bite behavior, such as aggressive barking or vicious growling.
The burden of proof in scienter claims, and most other injury claims, is a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s one of the lowest burdens of proof in American law.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Car crashes are, by far, the most common kind of personal injury claim. These accidents kill or seriously injure roughly two million people a year. Many car crash injuries, especially nerve injuries like whiplash, are difficult to diagnose and treat. These difficulties drive medical and other bills even higher.
Most car wreck claims are based on negligence. As mentioned above, negligence is basically a lack of care. We discussed a lack of statutory care. This theory is called negligence per se. The ordinary negligence doctrine is available as well. This doctrine is loosely based on the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) which schoolchildren once had to memorize. If a tortfeasor (negligent driver) fails to do unto others, s/he could be legally responsible for damages.
Frequently, a third party is financially responsible for damages. Respondeat superior, which applies in most ridesharing, truck driver, and other commercial driver collisions, is a good example. Employers are financially responsible for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
Common car wreck defenses include the comparative fault defense, which was mentioned above. For example, insurance company lawyers might admit that the insured driver was speeding but blame the wreck on a victim’s unsafe lane change.
When considering this evidence, jurors must divide fault between the two parties on a percentage basis. Wisconsin is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Victims are entitled to a proportional share of damages if they were not more than 49 percent responsible for the wreck.
Count on a Dedicated Milwaukee Personal Injury County Attorney
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney, contact the Martin Law Office, S.C. by calling 414-856-4010. You have a limited amount of time to act.