Monthly Archives: February 2016

Wisconsin Attacks Hard Working Citizens Again

Urgent Warning to EVERYONE with an Injury Claim

Injured Wisconsin citizens have been under attack from the WI legislature and insurance lobby since 2010. Unfortunately, it is happening again. We at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC are trying to notify everyone of new laws sneaking through the legislature right now, including one that will devastate the cases and claims of people injured through no fault of their own.

Republican legislators tried to attack the collateral source rule in 2013, but it was rejected because every facet of society was against it except for liability insurance companies. Now republican legislators have tried to sneak it through again. AB-539/SB-405 could become law as soon as February 9, 2016. It will eliminate 100+ years of Wisconsin law, create much more litigation, require testimony from witnesses not needed before, and cause myriad legal nightmares.

One of the WORST parts of this law hurts everyone who has been injured and pays for HEALTH INSURANCE. Under the current law, an injured person can recover the reasonable value of medical bills, even if your health insurance gets a discount. That is because YOU get the discount because YOU pay for health insurance premiums. Some families may pay $12,000, $18,000, and even more than $20,000 per year in premiums. Under the new law, you may only be able to recover what your insurance paid after discount, so the person who injured you and/or their liability insurance gets the discount YOU paid for!

So you may say, OK, well then I can recover some of my health insurance premiums. NOPE! The new law says that this evidence does not come in! IMHO that provision is specifically meant to prevent hard working individuals from recovering anything they pay for insurance! SO much for “Personal Responsibility” in WI.

The governor has already made indications that he will sign this bill; he has signed all the others eliminating the rights of injured victims. So the only way to defeat this bill is to let the legislators know that Wisconsin is against giving this huge windfall to insurance companies at the expense of the injured. Very disturbing times in Wisconsin.

UPDATE: Wisconsin Puts the Brakes on Injury Law

We have to give credit where credit is due, and the Republican leaders in the WI legislature have deferred the push to pass a new law that would hurt injury victims. The proposed law would have affected the ability of injury and car crash victims to collect their medical bills. The proposed law would have devastated the claims of many people. Thanks to a public outcry the law received a more detailed analysis, and we believe it will be significantly changed before it is proposed again.

The lawyers here at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald will continue to monitor legislative changes that could affect our clients and all the citizens of Wisconsin. With hundreds of bills proposed every year, we will do our best to catch them before they become law, and do our best to protect injury victims before it is too late.

For more information, contact the Wisconsin personal injury attorneys at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC.

Quick Tips for a Scam-Free 2016

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) hopes consumers resolve to be scam-free in 2016. Start the year with an awareness of the many scams that target your finances and identity and learn what tools are available to help protect you.

“Government impostor, computer tech support, and sweepstakes scams were among the major threats for consumers in 2015, and there is no reason to assume they won’t continue to target us this year,” said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection. “Remember that regardless of the narrative or pitch con artists throw your way, the operations tend to have the same goal: they want your money or personal information.”

Spot the vast majority of rip-offs by following these simple tips:

  • Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers.
  • Keep your personal and banking information private, and never give out these details in an unsolicited phone call or in a reply to an unsolicited text message or email.
  • Don’t wire money to someone you don’t know or give them the account number from a prepaid debit card – these funds are practically impossible to track.
  • Never click on links or open attachments in an email or text message from an unknown sender.
  • Never pay to claim a prize.
  • Protect your computer by regularly updating your operating system and antivirus software, using a firewall, creating strong passwords, and using two-factor authentication when possible.
  • Remember that the IRS and your utility providers will never call and threaten you for an
    immediate payment.
  • Decline any offer that involves you cashing a check from someone you don’t know and
    keeping or sending along a cut of the money.
  • Research charities before you donate.
  • Immediately hang up on automated sales calls WITHOUT pressing any keys.

There are also some tips and tools you can use to combat scam artists and protect yourself:

  • Get a free copy of your credit report. Look for irregularities and unexpected lines of credit-these are signs that you may be the victim of identity theft. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228 to order a copy from each of the three major credit bureaus.
  • Place a security freeze or fraud alert on your credit report as added protection against identity theft. A credit freeze locks down your credit. A fraud alert requires businesses to take extra reasonable steps to verify your identity before issuing a line of credit or service. More details and a freeze request letter are available in this DATCP fact sheet:
    http://datcp.wi.gov/uploads/Consumer/pdf/IDTheftCreditFreezeFAQ632.pdf
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry. Unsolicited sales calls to numbers on the registry are
    illegal, so if you receive one you will know that it is either a scam or is from a business you may not want to work with. Call 888-382-1222 or visit www.nocall.wisconsin.gov to add your residential number.
  • Get a free copy of DATCP’s Senior Guide – a booklet that highlights common scams and
    provides consumer resource information. Download a copy from the DATCP website or
    request a copy by mail by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128.
  • Contact the Consumer Protection Hotline with questions about a consumer issue or to inquire about a business. Reach the Hotline by phone at 800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to
    datcphotline@wisconsin.gov.
  • Follow the Bureau of Consumer Protection on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer.

The scams from 2015 will not suddenly disappear in 2016 – if anything, new variations will pop up. Fight back by arming yourself with an awareness of the major red flags and the tools available to help protect you from being scammed.

*Link to full article: http://www.wisconsinsmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Fraud-Alert-January-2016-Vol-19-No-6.pdf