Category Archives: Personal Injury

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.

8 Things to Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

When you are injured as a result of somebody’s negligence, you could find yourself facing high medical bills and other expenses. Fortunately, you have the option of filing a personal injury claim to receive compensation for these expenses. Although it is certainly possible to file a personal injury claim on your own, you stand a much greater chance of recovering an adequate compensation amount if you work with an experienced personal injury attorney. How do you know if a particular attorney is right for you? Keep the following in mind:

Do you Feel Comfortable Speaking with the Attorney?

Your attorney is somebody you will be working very closely with throughout the personal injury claim process. He or she should be somebody you feel you can speak with openly and express your feelings and concerns.

Did you Meet the Attorney in Person?

If you cannot arrange an in-person meeting with a prospective attorney, work with somebody else. Your attorney should make your case a priority and if he or she cannot spare time to meet with you for a consultation, he or she will likely be unable to make time to see you while your claim is pending.

Did you Receive a Price Quote During your Consultation?

If an attorney is unwilling to discuss his or her price or billing method, do not work with him or her. Some attorneys bill by the hour and others work on contingency – ask your attorney which method he or she uses during your consultation. If he or she works on contingency, he or she will receive a portion of your settlement. Find out the percentage he or she receives from clients’ settlements. If your attorney bills by hour, ask for an approximate price quote.

Does the Attorney Follow Up your Emails and Phone Calls?

Similarly to being able to meet you in person, your attorney should make time to communicate with you. Although your attorney is busy and might not be able to respond immediately to your calls and messages, he or she should reply to them in a timely manner.

What is the Attorney’s Previous Record Like?

Your attorney should be willing to discuss his or her previous record with you. Ask about both successful and unsuccessful cases and listen to how he or she discusses them with you. Listen for insight and introspection, rather than bragging or making excuses for unsuccessful cases.

Were you Promised a Specific Outcome?

Your attorney should never promise that you will win your case or that you will win a specific amount of money. There are no guarantees in law, and if you are given a guarantee, you are not working with an honest attorney.

Does the Attorney have Experience Handling Cases Like yours?

You might meet a personal injury attorney who has a great record with car accident cases, but no experience handling dog bite claims. Consider working with this attorney if you were involved in a car accident, but if you were bitten by a dog, move on. Personal injury is a broad area of law and if you can find an attorney who has experience handling your specific type of claim, you have a much greater chance of seeing a favorable settlement.

Work with an Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer

Choosing the right personal injury attorney to handle your case can mean the difference between having your claim rejected and receiving an appropriate settlement amount for your losses. Contact our team of Green Bay car accident lawyers at Hammett, Bellin, & Oswald, LLC to schedule your initial legal consultation with our team.

Changes are Coming to How Wisconsin Courts Prosecute Bodily Injury Claims

We live in a constantly-evolving society. When new technology and cultural trends make old laws and procedures feel inadequate or even inappropriate, our legislators work to create new laws that better fit with our changed reality. This happens at all levels of government – municipal, state, and federal level laws are subject to amendments, repeals, and new legislation to clarify or update old laws.

In Wisconsin, new legislation has been proposed this year to change how claims of bodily injury are prosecuted. If passed, this legislation will change how personal injury claims are handled. One of the most critical changes with this legislation is the change to the collateral source rule, which could make it more difficult for personal injury victims to recover full damages for their losses. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, work with an attorney who is aware of how these changes can affect your claim.

The Collateral Source Rule

One of the most significant changes to come with this proposed legislation is a change to Wisconsin’s collateral source rule. Traditionally, the collateral source rule states that when an individual is injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, the compensation that the injured party received from his or her own health insurance provider cannot be used to reduce the amount of money the negligent party must pay to the victim. In other words, a negligent party may be required to pay “sticker price” for a victim’s injuries, even if the total expense experienced by the victim is below that number because of the benefits he or she receives.

The proposed changes of AB539 would alter this to allow fact finders involved in personal injury cases to consider evidence of these benefits, known as collateral source payments, and evidence of the insured’s subrogation requirements when determining a compensation amount. Admission of this type of evidence may be used to refute that the amount of money a claimant is seeking is reasonable for his or her losses. It does not make statements for the exact amount of money paid by the claimant or the amount of compensation he or she received as collateral source benefits admissible. In short, this gives defendants a better ability to gauge the amount of money a claimant is seeking for his or her personal injury damages.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in an accident, you need to work with an experienced Green Bay personal injury lawyer to get the monetary compensation you deserve. A competent personal injury attorney is well-versed on the changing legislation and the laws applicable to his or her clients’ cases. This is why it is critical that you work with a bodily injury attorney at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC – we stay up to date on Wisconsin’s evolving laws to serve you best. Do not wait to schedule your initial legal consultation with our firm.

10 Winter Driving Tips for Wisconsin Roads

Winter driving in Wisconsin can be treacherous. Our cold temperatures and close proximity to both Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan means plenty of snow, slush, and freezing rain, all conditions that can cause problems for even experienced drivers. Winter car accidents cause serious and potentially life-threatening injuries, and result in heavy medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

According to statistics from the Oneida County Public Health Department, Wisconsin has averaged over 50,000 car accidents over the last five winters. These accidents prove fatal for roughly 55 drivers each year, and another 6,000 suffer serious injuries. Many of these accidents are caused by driving too fast for conditions, and each year with the arrival of rain, snow, ice, and slush, Wisconsin drivers often need to relearn their winter driving skills.

Winter Driving Tips To Avoid Accidents

To protect yourself and your loved ones from being involved in a winter driving accident, follow these 10 winter driving tips from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT):

  1. Before driving, be sure and remove all snow and ice from your car windshields and windows.
  2. Be aware of road conditions before heading out. Get the latest weather conditions by dialing 511 or by visiting the DOT’s winter road conditions webpage.
  3. Pay attention while driving, and avoid distractions such as talking on cellphones and texting.
  4. Slow down or move to the side if you see emergency vehicles, snow plows, or maintenance vehicles approaching. Give snowplows at least 200 feet of room with which to navigate.
  5. Be sure to slow down and brake early when coming to a stop, and do not pump anti-lock brakes.
  6. Beware of slippery bridge decks, which freeze before the actual roads or pavement.
  7. Avoid using cruise control in icy, wet, or snowy conditions. Tapping the brake to release cruise control may cause your car to skid.
  8. Go extra slow, and look farther ahead in traffic than you usually do. Be aware of potential traffic slowdowns and stops, as well as places where you may have to yield, and prepare for these things in advance.
  9. Remember that trucks carry more weight than cars, and will require longer times to slow down or stop. Avoiding pulling out in front of trucks, as well as slamming on your brakes or switching lanes suddenly when a truck is behind you on the road.
  10. Be cautious even when driving a 4×4 vehicle. While your vehicle may help you go faster and have better traction on snow or ice covered roads, the extra weight of these vehicles makes brake times slower. Even in your 4×4, you could be just as likely to lose traction and skid as any other driver.

Contact Our Experienced Green Bay Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one is injured in a driving accident this winter, contact Hammett, Bellin, & Oswald, LLC immediately. Our experienced Appleton car accident lawyers provide aggressive legal representation to assist you in getting compensation for your injuries. Or, if you are facing DUI charges, our Wisconsin DUI attorneys can help you with your defense. With offices in Neenah and Appleton, we assist clients throughout the Fox Cities and Northeastern Wisconsin. Call or contact us online today for a free review of your case.

When Can You Bring a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Small Claims Court?

Guidelines for Suing in Small Claims Court

Suffering an injury at the hands of another individual can lead to serious physical and emotional harm. Unfortunately, these types of injuries can also cause you to incur substantial medical costs, endure pain and suffering, and miss out on work. One way to get compensation for your injuries is to request damages in small claims court. It’s essential to understand what you can and can’t do with a small claims action before you decide how to proceed with your case.

Understanding Small Claims Court in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, personal injury actions can only be brought in small claims court if you’re asking for $5,000 or less in damages. Personal injury cases can be initiated if an injury was the result of either negligent or intentionally harmful actions by another party. Injuries that warrant action in small claims court can include those caused by
•    motor vehicle accidents,
•    unsafe conditions in a commercial or retail setting,
•    poor residential maintenance,
•    pet attacks,
•    intentional acts of violence and
•    other types of accidents.

You must be considered a mentally competent person and must be either 18 or an emancipated minor to bring your action in small claims court. You can represent yourself in court or you can hire an attorney to represent you. If you were injured at work, you likely cannot bring a small claims action. You’ll need to go through the worker’s compensation claim process instead.

Should You File Your Personal Injury Suit in Small Claims Court?

Imagine that you were injured in a car accident with a driver from Indianapolis. The other driver’s insurance policy may cover some of your medical costs or compensate you for damage to your car, but most insurance companies simply won’t offer you what you deserve. You also won’t receive any automatic compensation for suffering or lost wages.

Instead, you’ll need to fight for compensation in court. If you believe that you’re owed $5,000 or less, it makes sense to bring your action in small claims court. If you think that you’re owed more than $5,000 or if you are unsure of how long you’ll need to receive medical treatment for your injuries, you will need to bring a personal injury lawsuit.

An attorney can help you in both situations. While you may be able to argue your personal injury case in small claims court, it’s important to remember that personal injury law is complex. You’ll need to understand the legal definition of negligence and be able to prove that you didn’t cause or contribute to your injury. A law firm with experience in personal injury actions can handle these tasks for you.

Do you need help evaluating your personal injury case? Contact us at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald today to set up a consultation.

How Should I Handle a Dog Bite?

After dog bites, safety first—and then action

Do you know what to do after being bitten by a dog? Taking the appropriate steps to handle your injury can mean the difference between a manageable recovery and serious medical complications. Worse, your actions could impact your quest to secure compensation for the injury and inconvenience. If you’re bitten by a dog under any circumstances, keep these important tips in mind in the subsequent hours and days.

Medical Bills

This may be your most pressing concern in the aftermath of a dog bite. Dog bites can produce medical bills for surgeries, long hospitalizations, expensive medications, and other costly line items. Often, these bills come from multiple providers and may be difficult to track in real time. By working with an experienced attorney, you can ensure that you secure compensation for all of the attendant medical bills that your injury produces.

Lost Income

If your dog bite results in a significant layoff from work, you could be entitled to compensation for lost income. An attorney can help you calculate a fair value for your lost productivity, including the long-term economic cost of an injury that renders you unable to perform your pre-injury job duties.

Pain and Suffering

If your injury causes substantial pain and suffering, you could be entitled to this special type of compensation that accounts for your mental and physical discomfort. It’s important to retain an experienced attorney to advocate on your behalf.

Loss of Services

It might sound almost scandalous, but “loss of services” is a very real concept. In certain jurisdictions, it’s possible to sue the owner or caretaker of a dog in the event that the bite rendered the victim incapable of providing companionship or intimacy to his or her spouse. These awards can be substantial.

Punitive Damages

If you can prove that your dog bite was the result of willful negligence or malice, you may be entitled to punitive damages that can significantly increase your total compensation. Also, keep in mind that Wisconsin law states that a victim of a dog bite is entitled to double damages if the dog has bitten someone before. However, it’s difficult to argue for punitive damages without the assistance of an attorney.

Find a Personal Injury Lawyer with Dog Bite Experience in Neenah and Appleton, WI

We sincerely hope that you’ll never have to deal with a rampaging dog or the aftermath of an encounter with one. However, there are plenty of dogs in the world. Occasionally, out-of-control animals cause serious problems for innocent bystanders. To learn more about your legal options in the aftermath of a dog bite, give us a call at (920) 720-0000 or fill out our online contact form at your convenience.

Different Car, Same Insurance Company

Hiring a car accident attorney when there’s a potential conflict of interest with the insurance company

Handling insurance claims after a car accident is confusing enough, but what do you do if the other party has the same insurance company? This potentially knotty problem may require the services of a car accident attorney to avoid confusion and ensure that you get a reasonable settlement.

Separate Claims Adjusters

When both parties in an accident have the same insurance company, that company should never issue just one adjuster to handle the claim. The use of separate adjusters or some other internal system of checks and balances is essential to avoid a conflict of interest.

Since accidents involving two people insured by the same company aren’t uncommon, most insurance providers understand how to handle the situation. Each adjuster should evaluate the accident independently before making any contact with the other. If you find that this isn’t the case, it’s time to call an attorney.

Standard Procedure Still Applies

Filing a claim in the event that the other driver shares your insurance company should work exactly the same way as if you had separate coverage. If there are deductibles to be paid or a specific filing procedure to follow, that will all go as usual. Treat the claims adjuster handling the other party’s case as a separate entity just as if they were a completely different company.

After both claims have been filed and evaluated, the adjusters will share their findings and decide who is at fault. If they agree, they’ll work together on a settlement. If not, they’re continue to work separately to ensure a fair outcome.

Profit vs. Fair Payout

Unfortunately, not all insurance companies use fair practices. Sometimes adjusters will come to an unfair settlement without openly speaking to either party and with only the interest of profits in mind. On the other hand, having the same insurance can sometimes result in a quicker settlement due to the company wanting to make both parties happy and avoid a drawn-out internal conflict. Deductibles may also be waived to make the process easier. In any event, adjusters should never “play favorites” by giving one party preference over another.

If you need help navigating the maze of insurance claims after an accident, contact HBO Law Firm. Our attorneys represent only accident victims – not insurance companies – so you can rest assured that your case is never compromised. With offices located in Neenah and Appleton, WI, we’re easy to find and always ready to help ease the aftermath of any auto accident.

Don’t Wait to Get a Personal Injury Attorney

Find out how waiting to call a personal injury attorney can hurt your case down the road.

Taking the steps to file any kind of legal claim is always a little tough, and personal injury cases are no exception. Whether you’re reluctant to get involved in a potentially lengthy court process or can’t help but feel like the accident was partly your fault, procrastinating about getting your formal claim started is a normal and common response to a stressful situation. The problem is that the longer you wait, the weaker your case can become.

Why Is Waiting to Call a Personal Injury Attorney a Bad Idea?

1. Legal Limitations

Although a lot depends on the nature of you case, personal injury lawsuits generally have shorter statutes of limitations – laws that determine the amount of time you have to file a claim – than criminal felonies. In other words, if you wait too long, you might be legally blocked from filing your claim altogether. You can learn more about time limits for personal injury cases in Wisconsin here.

2. Lack of Evidence

Without the guidance of a qualified personal injury attorney, collecting the right body of evidence can be difficult. For example, medical files need to show a strong connection to your accident injuries, while physical evidence should be detailed enough to back up every aspect of your story. Another issue is that evidence can get lost or accidentally destroyed over time, putting your entire case in jeopardy.

3. Inaccurate Memories

While you may never forget your accident completely, exact details can fade with time. What you were doing right before your accident, how the defendant was acting and what happened in the seconds after the altercation are all examples of memories that attorneys rely on to build successful cases.

Even if you think you have everything down exactly as it happened, are your witnesses as reliable? When witnesses play an important role in representing your side of the story, getting their statements while their memories are still fresh can be the key to winning.

4. No Resolution

It’s tough to move forward when you feel like someone else’s reckless actions have caused you emotional, physical, and financial hardships. Handing your case over to a qualified personal injury attorney can put you back in control of your life and help you get closure. Plus, when you act fast, you’re more likely to improve your chances of getting a quick and fair settlement.

Looking for a personal injury attorney? Contact HBO Law Firm directly or visit us online to learn more about our services in Neenah and Appleton, WI.

A-to-Z Assistance: How We’ll Help With Every Aspect of Your Claim

A personal injury attorney that’s with you from start to finish

Although it can be tough to keep all the TV commercials and billboards straight, every law firm is different. At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, we’re committed to practicing law the old-fashioned way. Instead of watching the clock and focusing on the most profitable problems, we comprehensively address the legal needs of each and every one of our clients. There’s no shortage of legal professionals out there who make quick appearances to facilitate the transfer of funds only, but that’s not how we operate: It’s always our priority to help you through every stage of the claim process.

Consultation and Analysis

An accident or injury can be an overwhelming and potentially life-changing experience. To ensure that our clients feel comfortable approaching us at any time of the day or night, we maintain an open door policy and are always available for an in-depth, no-obligation consultation that assesses your case and can help you determine the best course of action to take.

Filing and Managing Your Claim

If you determine that the best course of action involves filing a claim against your insurance company or another party to the accident or injury, we commit to handling every aspect of the case. Our comprehensive approach to managing each claim ensures that you can focus on recovering from your physical and emotional injuries without worrying about its legal or financial dimensions.

All Kinds of Claims: Fender Benders to Wrongful Death

No claim is too big or small for our seasoned legal team. If you’ve been involved in a relatively minor accident and simply need to negotiate a fair, efficient insurance settlement, we deal directly with your insurance company to expedite the process. If your case is more serious or complex, we handle every interaction with medical providers, insurance firms, fellow parties to the accident, and other actors who could affect its outcome.

We’re Always on Your Side

Throughout every step of the process, it’s important to remember that we’re always on your side. Unlike some law firms that handle personal injury law, we never advocate on behalf of insurance companies. Our sole priority is the welfare of the people of northeastern Wisconsin, and not the profit margins of insurers in Chicago or New York.

Your Trusted Personal Injury Attorney in Neenah and Appleton, WI

If it isn’t clear already, no claim is too big or small for our talented team of legal professionals. No matter what type of legal obstacle you face, we’re happy to provide you with professional, empathetic service at every step of the way. To learn more about what we can do for you or to schedule a no-obligation consultation, visit our website or fill out our online contact form.

What to Expect in a Duel With an Insurance Company

And how to arm yourself properly

As the old saying goes, you shouldn’t bring a knife to a gunfight. While we certainly hope that this turn of phrase won’t ever literally apply to your circumstances, you’ve probably been in plenty of situations in which such a metaphor is apt. Fighting to secure just compensation from your insurance company is certainly one of them. If you’re gearing up for a duel with an insurer, here’s what you should expect.

1. Convincing You to Hand Over Medical Records

Your medical records are protected by federal and state privacy laws. You’re not obligated to sign any documents that would provide your insurer with unfettered access to them. If there needs to be a discussion of medical care you received as a result of your injury, consult with your attorney to determine how to approach it.

2. Telling You to Deal With Another Insurance Company

If your accident involved another person with an insurance policy from another carrier, your insurer may argue that that carrier is in a better position to negotiate and settle your claim. However, the law allows you to pursue whichever insurer you choose. If the circumstances require it, you’re free to deal with both.

3. Warning You About Filing Delays

Insurers often try to convince policyholders that their claims have come after the expiration of an internal statute of limitations and thus aren’t valid. This simply isn’t accurate. Under state law, you’re free to file an insurance claim and negotiate a settlement until the expiration of the state’s statute of limitations. That’s a much longer time frame. Wisconsin has additional rules that may help you even if you miss a time limit spelled out in your insurance policy.

4. Arguing That You Didn’t Pay out of Pocket

If your insurer argues that it won’t cover medical bills, lost wages, or other expenses that don’t technically constitute out-of-pocket expenses, don’t listen. In Wisconsin, the out-of-pocket status of a covered expense is often irrelevant: Insurers may be obligated to cover it anyway.

5. Convincing You Not to Work With an Attorney

For many injured individuals, this one is the icing on the cake. Before or during settlement negotiations, many insurance companies make a point of pressuring policyholders into forgoing legal representation from a trained attorney. They might make the argument that doing so is “simpler” or “faster.” In most cases, however, it simply results in a lower settlement.

Work With a Seasoned Personal Injury Attorney in Neenah and Appleton, WI

At this point, it should be clear that it’s not wise to do battle with an insurance company on your own. The stakes are simply too high to roll the dice like that. That’s why we’re proud to stand with regular folks across the Fox Cities area—and against insurance companies that aim to deny them what’s rightfully theirs. To learn more about what we can do for you, head to our Resources page or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.