Frequently Asked Legal Questions

I’ve been injured, what should I do now?
If someone else is more at fault for your injury than you are, you may make a claim against that person or business and their insurance company, if any.  An experienced personal injury attorney can benefit you and your family.  Because every claim is different, it is wise to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after suffering an injury.  You should look for an attorney who offers a free initial consultation.  At McDonald Law Office, you will not be charged anything to meet with one of our attorneys to discuss your claim.

What should I do if I’m involved in a traffic accident?
If you are involved in an accident you should do five things:
1) You should stop, identify yourself, and render assistance if possible.  By law, you cannot leave the scene of an accident without identifying yourself and rendering assistance if possible.
2) If you are able, you should help the injured, but be careful.  If you do not know what you are doing, you could potentially do more harm than good.  You should always take caution when moving an injured person.  If necessary, you should call an ambulance immediately.
3) You should take precaution to warn passing traffic because this can help prevent a future collision.
4) Each driver should exchange information, so that you are able to contact each other or your insurance companies if necessary.
5) If anyone is injured or if the property damage appears to be more than a few hundred dollars, the police should be contacted.  If the police are called, they will investigate the scene and likely take statements from those involved.   They may also be able to track down witnesses, if there were any.  The police investigation will be recorded on a Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Accident Report.  This report is often used in personal injury claims because it is made on the day of the incident.  Claims often take months or years to resolve, so this report can be used to help individuals recall the circumstances of an accident.

After being injured, what should I say to the other person’s insurance company?
Nothing!  You should contact a lawyer prior to speaking with any representative of an insurance company.  Statements made to a representative of an insurance company can be taken out of context and used against you later.  Although an insurance adjuster may appear friendly, the goal of that person is to pay you as little as possible.  Insurance adjusters deal with injury claims on a daily basis.  On the other hand, most individuals who are injured have little to no experience or knowledge in handling a claim.  By hiring an experienced personal injury attorney, an injured person is able to even the playing field.  Your lawyer is on your side to protect your rights.  No matter how friendly an insurance adjuster may seem, and no matter what that adjuster may tell you, his or her ultimate goal is to pay you as little money as possible on your claim.

What types of claims do you handle at McDonald Law Office?
We handle a wide range of personal injuries including motorcycle accidents, auto and truck accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian injuries, animal attacks, head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and wrongful death claims.

Which insurance policies will cover my costs?
Most automobile and homeowners’ liability policies contain limited medical payments coverage for medical expenses incurred after an accident without regard to fault.  Auto policies cover the insured’s family and vehicle passengers, while homeowners’ polices typically cover only visitors to the premises.  Your health insurance and disability insurance carriers usually will pay benefits arising from accidental injuries.  If your claim against another person succeeds, your insurance provider will probably ask you to repay them the money they have already paid on your behalf.  This is known as subrogation.  Your attorney can attempt to negotiate with your insurance provider to seek a reduction in their subrogation interest.

How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis.  That means they are paid a percentage out of the recovery.  At McDonald Law Office, we offer a contingent fee arrangement which means you never have to worry about being billed for our personal injury services.  Our fee is a percentage paid directly from the recovery we obtain for you.  Some attorneys charge a client a fee up front.  You should retain an attorney who does not require any up-front payment.  At McDonald Law Office, we do not ask victims who have been injured to pay us money at the onset of a claim to cover the costs of collecting health care records, reports from law enforcement agencies, photographs, or other expenses incurred to investigate a claim.

When choosing to retain a lawyer, make certain he or she provides you with a written retainer agreement that clearly spells out the agreement regarding fees and expenses.

How soon after an accident should I consult an attorney?
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident occurs because you want to make certain that your rights are protected and that no harm is done to your claim.  Your attorney will be able to give you advice regarding the law, procedures, and fees.

Why should I consult an attorney before settling a damage claim?
Insurance companies have the goal of paying you the smallest amount possible for your injuries.  Regardless of how friendly an adjuster or other insurance company employee may appear to be, their goal is the opposite of your goal.  An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can provide you with advice to protect your rights and provide you with options regarding your claim.  A lawyer can help you determine the fairest amount of compensation for your injuries or property damages.   Fairness depends on numerous factors including the type and seriousness of your injuries, whether or not you were partly at fault, and many other factors.  An experienced trial attorney can and should tell you what you could reasonably expect to recover from a jury.  However, no attorney should make promises to you concerning the outcome of a jury trial.  A lawyer who is experienced in trying jury cases in your area can give you a reasonable estimate of the range in which most jury verdicts are likely to fall.  At McDonald Law Office, our attorneys have experience trying cases in Southern Wisconsin.  Periodically, all the attorneys at our firm meet to assess every claim which is being handled within the firm.  Our clients have the collective experience of all of us in assessing each and every claim.

How much is my claim worth?
At the onset of a claim, there is no way to accurately predict the eventual value because every claim is specific to its own facts.  There are many factors that go into evaluating every claim.  The only reasonable means of assessing the value of any claim is to determine the amount a jury would probably award, if the claim does not settle and has to go to a jury trial.  You should ask your potential attorney specifically what experience that attorney has in your county and surrounding counties in trying personal injury cases.  Many attorneys who have little or no experience in the area attempt to handle personal injury claims.  In addition, many attorneys are not willing to go to trial.  If they get a claim they are unable to settle, they often abandon the claim and leave their former clients to find a new attorney.  Or worse yet, they may recommend you settle for an amount less than your claim is actually worth.  It is important that the attorney you hire has the knowledge and experience to evaluate your claim, and that your attorney has a reputation of being willing to go to trial if the insurance company is unreasonable and will not offer you a fair settlement for your claim.  After being hired, your attorney will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the facts surrounding your individual claim.  Once the investigation is complete, your attorney will evaluate all the facts and be able to make a recommendation to you on a reasonable value of your claim.  The insurance company will also conduct an investigation and determine what it believes to be a reasonable value of your claim.  At that point, your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company with the goal of reaching a settlement agreeable to both sides.  If a settlement cannot be reached, ultimately a jury may be asked at a trial to determine the reasonable value of your claim.

How long does the process take to settle a claim?
It is impossible to know at the outset how long a claim will take to be resolved.  If the injuries are minor, the injured person heals quickly, and the insurance company and injured victim are both willing to be reasonable, some claims are resolved in a matter of a few months.  At the opposite extreme, some claims may take years to resolve.  At McDonald Law Office, we try to move claims along expeditiously; however, the length of time it takes for your injuries to heal is a major factor in how long the process will take.  For your protection, it is necessary to wait until your treating doctor is able to fully assess your injuries, including whether or not you will have future problems from your injuries, before our investigation can be complete and a reasonable value of your claim can be determined.  It is important when selecting a lawyer that you choose one who has a reputation for keeping clients involved throughout the claim.  You also should have an attorney who is available locally and is willing to meet with you at no cost.   As a result, you will have more comfort knowing where your claim is in the process, and that you will not have to travel to meet with your lawyer.

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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

I’ve been injured, what should I do now?
If someone else is more at fault for your injury than you are, you may make a claim against that person or business and their insurance company, if any.  An experienced personal injury attorney can benefit you and your family.  Because every claim is different, it is wise to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after suffering an injury.  You should look for an attorney who offers a free initial consultation.  At McDonald Law Office, you will not be charged anything to meet with one of our attorneys to discuss your claim.

What should I do if I’m involved in a traffic accident?
If you are involved in an accident you should do five things:
1) You should stop, identify yourself, and render assistance if possible.  By law, you cannot leave the scene of an accident without identifying yourself and rendering assistance if possible.
2) If you are able, you should help the injured, but be careful.  If you do not know what you are doing, you could potentially do more harm than good.  You should always take caution when moving an injured person.  If necessary, you should call an ambulance immediately.
3) You should take precaution to warn passing traffic because this can help prevent a future collision.
4) Each driver should exchange information, so that you are able to contact each other or your insurance companies if necessary.
5) If anyone is injured or if the property damage appears to be more than a few hundred dollars, the police should be contacted.  If the police are called, they will investigate the scene and likely take statements from those involved.   They may also be able to track down witnesses, if there were any.  The police investigation will be recorded on a Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Accident Report.  This report is often used in personal injury claims because it is made on the day of the incident.  Claims often take months or years to resolve, so this report can be used to help individuals recall the circumstances of an accident.

After being injured, what should I say to the other person’s insurance company?
Nothing!  You should contact a lawyer prior to speaking with any representative of an insurance company.  Statements made to a representative of an insurance company can be taken out of context and used against you later.  Although an insurance adjuster may appear friendly, the goal of that person is to pay you as little as possible.  Insurance adjusters deal with injury claims on a daily basis.  On the other hand, most individuals who are injured have little to no experience or knowledge in handling a claim.  By hiring an experienced personal injury attorney, an injured person is able to even the playing field.  Your lawyer is on your side to protect your rights.  No matter how friendly an insurance adjuster may seem, and no matter what that adjuster may tell you, his or her ultimate goal is to pay you as little money as possible on your claim.

What types of claims do you handle at McDonald Law Office?
We handle a wide range of personal injuries including motorcycle accidents, auto and truck accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian injuries, animal attacks, head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and wrongful death claims.

Which insurance policies will cover my costs?
Most automobile and homeowners’ liability policies contain limited medical payments coverage for medical expenses incurred after an accident without regard to fault.  Auto policies cover the insured’s family and vehicle passengers, while homeowners’ polices typically cover only visitors to the premises.  Your health insurance and disability insurance carriers usually will pay benefits arising from accidental injuries.  If your claim against another person succeeds, your insurance provider will probably ask you to repay them the money they have already paid on your behalf.  This is known as subrogation.  Your attorney can attempt to negotiate with your insurance provider to seek a reduction in their subrogation interest.

How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent fee basis.  That means they are paid a percentage out of the recovery.  At McDonald Law Office, we offer a contingent fee arrangement which means you never have to worry about being billed for our personal injury services.  Our fee is a percentage paid directly from the recovery we obtain for you.  Some attorneys charge a client a fee up front.  You should retain an attorney who does not require any up-front payment.  At McDonald Law Office, we do not ask victims who have been injured to pay us money at the onset of a claim to cover the costs of collecting health care records, reports from law enforcement agencies, photographs, or other expenses incurred to investigate a claim.

When choosing to retain a lawyer, make certain he or she provides you with a written retainer agreement that clearly spells out the agreement regarding fees and expenses.

How soon after an accident should I consult an attorney?
You should contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident occurs because you want to make certain that your rights are protected and that no harm is done to your claim.  Your attorney will be able to give you advice regarding the law, procedures, and fees.

Why should I consult an attorney before settling a damage claim?
Insurance companies have the goal of paying you the smallest amount possible for your injuries.  Regardless of how friendly an adjuster or other insurance company employee may appear to be, their goal is the opposite of your goal.  An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can provide you with advice to protect your rights and provide you with options regarding your claim.  A lawyer can help you determine the fairest amount of compensation for your injuries or property damages.   Fairness depends on numerous factors including the type and seriousness of your injuries, whether or not you were partly at fault, and many other factors.  An experienced trial attorney can and should tell you what you could reasonably expect to recover from a jury.  However, no attorney should make promises to you concerning the outcome of a jury trial.  A lawyer who is experienced in trying jury cases in your area can give you a reasonable estimate of the range in which most jury verdicts are likely to fall.  At McDonald Law Office, our attorneys have experience trying cases in Southern Wisconsin.  Periodically, all the attorneys at our firm meet to assess every claim which is being handled within the firm.  Our clients have the collective experience of all of us in assessing each and every claim.

How much is my claim worth?
At the onset of a claim, there is no way to accurately predict the eventual value because every claim is specific to its own facts.  There are many factors that go into evaluating every claim.  The only reasonable means of assessing the value of any claim is to determine the amount a jury would probably award, if the claim does not settle and has to go to a jury trial.  You should ask your potential attorney specifically what experience that attorney has in your county and surrounding counties in trying personal injury cases.  Many attorneys who have little or no experience in the area attempt to handle personal injury claims.  In addition, many attorneys are not willing to go to trial.  If they get a claim they are unable to settle, they often abandon the claim and leave their former clients to find a new attorney.  Or worse yet, they may recommend you settle for an amount less than your claim is actually worth.  It is important that the attorney you hire has the knowledge and experience to evaluate your claim, and that your attorney has a reputation of being willing to go to trial if the insurance company is unreasonable and will not offer you a fair settlement for your claim.  After being hired, your attorney will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the facts surrounding your individual claim.  Once the investigation is complete, your attorney will evaluate all the facts and be able to make a recommendation to you on a reasonable value of your claim.  The insurance company will also conduct an investigation and determine what it believes to be a reasonable value of your claim.  At that point, your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company with the goal of reaching a settlement agreeable to both sides.  If a settlement cannot be reached, ultimately a jury may be asked at a trial to determine the reasonable value of your claim.

How long does the process take to settle a claim?
It is impossible to know at the outset how long a claim will take to be resolved.  If the injuries are minor, the injured person heals quickly, and the insurance company and injured victim are both willing to be reasonable, some claims are resolved in a matter of a few months.  At the opposite extreme, some claims may take years to resolve.  At McDonald Law Office, we try to move claims along expeditiously; however, the length of time it takes for your injuries to heal is a major factor in how long the process will take.  For your protection, it is necessary to wait until your treating doctor is able to fully assess your injuries, including whether or not you will have future problems from your injuries, before our investigation can be complete and a reasonable value of your claim can be determined.  It is important when selecting a lawyer that you choose one who has a reputation for keeping clients involved throughout the claim.  You also should have an attorney who is available locally and is willing to meet with you at no cost.   As a result, you will have more comfort knowing where your claim is in the process, and that you will not have to travel to meet with your lawyer.

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Accident
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