The Ultimate Guide to Your Wisconsin Truck Accident Case
You have been severely injured in a Wisconsin Semi-Truck Accident or Wisconsin Large Truck Accident
If you have been injured in a Wisconsin truck accident and don’t know what to do, you have come to the right place. Here you will find the ultimate authoritative guide on how to handle your Wisconsin truck accident case from start to finish.
If you have any questions after being injured in a truck accident in Wisconsin, please give us a call or use our Contact Form. We are easy to talk to and would consider it an honor to represent you.
Introduction to Your Wisconsin Semi-Truck or Large Truck Accident Case
Semi-trucks and other large trucks are a vital part of our supply chain. There are more than 38 million commercial trucks registered in the United States. While the increasing number of trucks on the road is good for our economy, it increases the risk of serious injury for all Wisconsin drivers and their passengers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in Wisconsin there were 73 fatal large truck crashes in Wisconsin in 2016. In 2020 that figure dropped slightly to 69 large truck fatalities in Wisconsin.
Semi-trucks are dangerous because they are large and heavy. The average semi-truck attached to its trailer weighs approximately 35,000 pounds. In the US it is legal for a semi-truck with a loaded trailer to weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Compare that to the average mid-size car that weighs only approximately 3,300 pounds and it is easy to see why accidents involving semi-trucks and other large trucks in Wisconsin often result in serious injuries and sometimes death.
While it may come as a surprise, Milwaukee County does not rank as one of the counties in Wisconsin with the highest percentage of fatal truck accidents. Instead, counties in the northern and western part of the State have more fatal truck accidents per capita than Milwaukee. For example, Florence County, Iron County, Juneau County and Racine County all have higher incidents of fatal truck accidents per 100,000 people than Milwaukee County. If you live in Florence County, Iron County, Juneau County or any county in Wisconsin, and were injured in a semi-truck accident, we can help. We represent accident victim throughout the entire State of Wisconsin and we would be honored to hear from you.
First Steps After Your Accident
Get Medical Attention
First and foremost, following a serious Wisconsin truck accident make sure you get the medical attention you need. Delaying treatment can sometimes make your injuries worse.
Follow your doctor’s advice and make sure you receive all recommended follow-up treatment.
Hire An Experienced Wisconsin Truck Accident Lawyer You Feel Comfortable Working With
Once your immediate medical treatment has been attended to, you should retain an experienced Wisconsin truck accident lawyer you feel comfortable with. Do not rely solely on attorney advertising when choosing your lawyer. Attorney advertising is no indication of whether the lawyer is good or bad for your case. Some lawyer advertising is often nothing more than a marketing company talking. In fact, some of the most well-known advertising taglines in Wisconsin are not unique to Wisconsin at all. The same tagline is used by many lawyers in many different states.
When you speak with a lawyer, make sure he or she is someone you are comfortable with before you hire that lawyer. Even if you hire an experienced lawyer, if you are not comfortable with that lawyer you are probably not going to be happy with the outcome of your Wisconsin truck accident injury case. Google it and see!
Do Not Give A Statement To The Truck Driver’s Insurance Company
Often the truck driver’s insurance company will try to contact you before you hire an attorney. You should not agree to give a statement to the truck driver’s insurance company. The statement you give is not going to help you and will often end up hurting your case.
Instead, give the truck driver’s insurance company the name and phone number of your attorney. Once the insurance company knows you are represented by an attorney, they will stop contacting you directly.
Common Large Trucks We See Involved in Serious Wisconsin Truck Accidents
There is an endless list of the types of trucks that cause accidents in Wisconsin resulting in serious injuries when the truck is not properly operated and maintained. If you were involved in a serious accident with a large truck, your accident probably involved one of the following types of trucks:
- Dump trucks
- Straight trucks
- Tank trucks carrying petroleum and other dangerous material
- Delivery trucks
- Heavy Construction trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Tow trucks
- FedEx and UPS trucks
Your Wisconsin Truck Accident Was Probably Caused By One of These Common Mistakes Made by Truck Drivers and Their Employers
Based on our experience with Wisconsin semi-truck and large truck accident cases, your truck accident was probably caused by one or more of the following factors:
The most common cause of semi-truck and large truck accidents in Wisconsin is driver error. We are currently representing an individual who was rear-ended by a semi-truck as he was driving back to Wisconsin. The semi-truck driver failed to see that traffic conditions ahead of him were changing and he crashed into the rear of our client’s pick-up truck. This is a classic example of truck driver error resulting in serious injuries.
Other examples of truck driver error include running a red light, failing to yield the right-of-way and failure to maintain a proper lookout for other vehicles. Because of the size and weight of a Wisconsin semi-truck or other Wisconsin large truck, driver error can result in serious and catastrophic injuries to you and your family.
TRUCK DRIVER FAILED TO SEE VEHICLE IN THEIR BLIND SPOT
Semi-trucks have a much larger blind spot than passenger vehicles. Semi-truck drivers are not able to turn their head to check for blind spots and the size of the truck itself results in a greater blind spot area.
When a Wisconsin semi-truck driver or other Wisconsin large truck driver fails to adequately clear their blind spot before changing lanes, serious injuries can result. These blind spots are called “no zones” because they are areas drivers want to avoid whenever possible. No zones include areas immediately in front of and behind the truck and starting at the truck driver’s side mirrors going to the back of the semi-truck. The blind spot area on the passenger side of the semi-truck extends for a longer distance that the blind spot area on the driver’s side of the semi-truck.
If you were injured in a Wisconsin large truck accident, we can help obtain the compensation you are entitled to from the truck driver’s insurance company, the truck driver’s employer and the truck driver himself if insurance on the truck is not adequate to cover your injuries.
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TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE
Wisconsin semi-truck drivers and other large truck drivers are under a lot of pressure to make deliveries as quickly as possible. Commercial truck drivers who participate in interstate commerce must follow the Federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations which strictly limit the amount of time a semi-driver can operate a truck without taking a period of rest. When truck drivers do not follow these regulations, they expose all of us to serious risk of injury from a Wisconsin semi-truck or other large truck accident.
If you have suffered serious injury in a truck accident, contact a Wisconsin truck accident attorney to see if you may qualify for significant compensation.
SPEEDING AND RECKLESS DRIVING
We have all seen semi-trucks speeding on the interstate. Because of a semi-truck’s size and weight, they take a great deal of distance to stop. Combined with a semi-truck’s lack of mobility, excessive speed often results in serious Wisconsin truck accidents with life-changing injuries.
NEGLIGENT HIRING BY THE TRUCKING COMPANY
A trucking company has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care in the hiring of its truck drivers. If the trucking company hires a driver with little experience or who has a poor driving history, you may be able to recover from the truck owner as well as the truck driver and their insurance company.
FAILURE OF THE TRUCKING COMPANY TO PROPERLY TRAIN ITS DRIVERS
A trucking company has a legal responsibility to make sure that its drivers are properly trained so as to minimize the risk of serious Wisconsin truck accidents. If the trucking company fails to properly train its drivers, the trucking company and its insurance company may be responsible for compensating the injured party.
There are many additional causes of semi-truck and other large truck accidents in Wisconsin.
We have listed some of the main causes of serious truck accidents in Wisconsin. There are many other causes of serious truck accidents. If you have been injured in a truck accident, please contact a Wisconsin truck accident attorney as soon as possible so that you can obtain he full compensation you and your family deserve.
YOUR ATTORNEY’S INITIAL ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION
The lawyer you select for your Wisconsin semi-truck accident should begin his/her investigation of your accident as soon as possible. This includes obtaining the accident report and all supplemental reports, obtaining any photographs the police may have taken at the accident scene and obtaining all photographs of the damaged vehicles. A statement should be taken from all witnesses to the accident.
An experienced Wisconsin truck accident attorney will know whether to retain an accident reconstruction expert. These are engineers who can reconstruct how the accident happened based upon photographs of the accident scene, skid marks and gouge marks and damage to the vehicles. An accident reconstruction expert is helpful when there is a dispute as to how the accident occurred.
Your truck accident lawyer should also interview the first responders and investigating police officers and take their own photographs of the accident scene as well.
An experienced Wisconsin truck accident lawyer will know how to obtain all relevant background information on the truck driver. Often the trucking company will refuse to voluntarily produce background information on its drivers. An experienced truck accident attorney will know how to obtain this information by issuing a Subpoena once the lawsuit is started.
SETTLEMENT WITHOUT FILING A LAWSUIT
Sometimes a Wisconsin truck accident injury case can be settled for its full value before filing a lawsuit. Obtaining full value for your truck accident case before filing suit requires you to have an experienced Wisconsin truck accident attorney who the truck driver’s insurance company respects. If the insurance company for the truck driver knows you have an inexperienced lawyer, or knows that your lawyer does not have the skill and experiences to take your case to trial, the insurance company will not offer you full value for your case.
It is always best if your attorney is able to settle your case for full value without filing a lawsuit. You receive your money sooner and avoid the uncertainty of a trial. Unless you need the settlement money immediately, you should never settle your case for less than full value. Your lawyer should never try to force you to accept a low-ball settlement.
FILING YOUR WISCONSIN TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWSUIT
If your lawyer is unable to settle your truck accident case for full value, then a lawsuit needs to be started.
Your lawyer will draft a Summons and Complaint which are filed electronically in the County where the case is to be venued. Your lawyer should also draft written interrogatories (written questions) and a demand for production of documents to be served on the truck driver, the trucking company and the trucking company’s insurance company together with the Summons and Complaint once filed with the Court.
The insurance company that provides coverage for the truck driver and the trucking company will hire a lawyer to represent the defendants. That lawyer has 45 days from the date of service of the Summons and Complaint to file an Answer with the Court. Usually, the lawyer for the defendants will deny all liability and deny that you sustained any significant injury and damages in the truck accident.
The discovery phase of litigation gives both sides an opportunity to discover information about the other side’s case and to strengthen our own case. Formal discovery generally takes the form of written interrogatories, written demand for production of documents and sworn deposition testimony taken under oath.
At the discovery stage of litigation, an experienced Wisconsin truck lawyer will issue Subpoenas to obtain information about the truck driver’s record, the hiring process the truck driver went through and the truck driver’s qualifications to be operating a semi-truck on Wisconsin roads. Federal Motor Carrier Regulations require trucking companies to keep a driver qualification file on its drivers. This file is often referred to as a DQF and includes information such as the trucker’s driving and employment history, drug and alcohol test results, records of annual reviews and information regarding service hours. An experienced Wisconsin truck lawyer will issue a Subpoena for the DQF to strengthen your truck accident case. Where appropriate, we obtain the truck’s Event Data Recorder (the “black box”). The truck’s “black box” can contain information such as the truck’s speed, accelerator position, gear position, use of the cruise control and severity of the crash.
We can also obtain the truck driver’s phone records to see if the driver was talking on the phone, texting or using a phone in any way in the time leading up to the accident. If the driver or trucking company refuses to turn over the phone records, we can issue a subpoena to the phone company to require all relevant phone records to be produced.
Once all of this information is obtained and reviewed, and shared with any experts we retain, we conduct the deposition of the truck driver. A thorough and well-thought-out deposition of the truck driver often helps us obtain a very favorable settlement for our injured clients.
Most Judges throughout Wisconsin will order that mediation take place before your case can go to trial. Mediation is a process where an independent third party tries to settle your case.
The process of mediation starts with the lawyers on all sides submitting a confidential mediation statement to the mediator explaining their theory of the case. This gives the mediator a good idea of what the case is about before meeting with the parties.
Mediation is usually completed in one day although it can last longer in complicated cases or if the mediator believes there is a reasonable chance of settling the case with a second or third day of mediation efforts.
At mediation, we appear on behalf of the party injured in the truck accident and usually our client will appear with us. The insurance company lawyer for the truck driver and/or trucking company will appear at mediation as well. The parties are kept in separate offices and the mediator will initiate settlement negotiations between the parties. Mediations are sometimes conducted virtually via Zoom, but we believe in-person mediations are more effective.
Many cases settle at mediation. If the case does not settle at mediation, it may still settle between the mediation date and the date your trial is set to begin.
If your Wisconsin truck accident case does not settle, it will be decided by a Wisconsin jury. Normally a jury will consist of 12 people. The jury will decide who is at fault for the accident and how much compensation to award to the injured party.
It is important that you have a skilled trial attorney representing you in your Wisconsin truck accident case. Many lawyers do not take cases to trial and have no idea how to try a case. These lawyers should be avoided when looking for a Wisconsin truck accident attorney. We like to say that your truck accident case is only as good as the lawyer you hire.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TRIAL?
After trial, either side may file what is referred to as Motions After Verdict. Generally, in a Motion after Verdict the losing party will argue that the trial court Judge erred in one or more of his rulings and that the Court should grant a new trial. Motions After Verdict are usually denied.
The losing party may file an appeal after trial. An experienced Wisconsin truck accident attorney will be able to guide you through every aspect of the appeal process and file a strong Brief with the Appellate Court on your behalf when necessary.
PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING YOUR WISCONSIN TRUCK ACCIDENT CASE
We hope all of the information on our website has been informative and answers many of the questions you have regarding your Wisconsin truck accident case. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us by phone or by using the Contact Form on our website. You will find us easy to talk to and we can answer any questions you have. We would be honored to represent you in your Wisconsin truck accident case.