Accidents with Semi-Trucks: Key Questions Answered

accident with semi-truck

Accidents with semi-trucks are a fairly common sight on roads and highways. The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that more than 6,000 accidents involved a large truck. Because of the large number of commercial trucks on the road and their sheer size, these accidents typically involve serious injuries and medical expenses.

If you have been in an accident with a semi-truck consult with an attorney immediately.

After being hit by a commercial truck, some drivers may decide to deal with the insurance companies on their own. There is significant risk to this approach, as many insurance companies may try to settle the case for as low as possible. Contact an attorney before speaking with the insurance company or trucking company representative.

What steps can help get a fair accident settlement?

After an accident with a semi-truck, drivers can take steps that increases their chance for a fair settlement:

  • Leave the car where it stops (unless it is unsafe to do so).
  • Contact the police as soon as it is safe.
  • Remain in the vehicle until the police officer arrives (unless it is unsafe to do so).
  • Do not make any statements to anyone (bystanders or the other driver) about the accident.
  • Ask the other driver for their name, address, car license plate number, contact information, and insurance company and policy information.
  • If it is safe, take pictures of the accident scene and landmarks around it.
  • Try to collect the contact information of everyone who saw the accident.
  • Always seek medical attention for injuries after the accident (immediately after and days after). Some accident injuries take a few days before symptoms occur.
  • Take pictures of any injuries related the accident.
  • Avoid talking to other insurance companies until after consulting a lawyer.
  • Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer if there is property damage and medical expenses related to the accident.

What expenses can be covered by compensation?

After an accident with a semi-truck, drivers can be compensated for accident-related expenses, such as (but not limited to):

  • property damage,
  • medical expenses,
  • pain and suffering,
  • future lost income
  • lost wages

To receive a fair accident settlement, drivers should try to keep all paperwork related to the accident and give it to their personal injury lawyer. All documentation can be helpful, such as (but not limited to):

  • Police report
  • Trucking company name and address (this may be included in the accident report)
  • Medical bills
  • Photographs
  • Citations arising from the accident
  • Insurance documents and contact information (from both drivers)

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

When to Contact a Wisconsin Auto Accident Lawyer

Auto Accident Lawyer

The time after a car accident can be very uncertain and overwhelming. There is so much information to sift through and so many unanswered questions about the accident and when to consult a car accident lawyer. We hear questions from clients involved in auto accidents every day, and have compiled a list of general information and tips. It is important to note that this information is not specific to any situation. To get that information, contact an experienced, local car accident attorney.

What to do after a car accident

There are many different types of car accidents and reasons for the accidents. Though the circumstances vary, keep in mind that all actions and words may be brought up later in legal proceedings and could impact any settlement amounts. When an accident happens, follow these steps:

  • Do not move the car unless it needs to happen for safety reasons.
  • Unless it is unsafe to do so, stay in the vehicle until a police officer arrives.
  • Call the police.
  • Take pictures of the scene safely. Try to take pictures of the position of the vehicles, skid marks, damage, and other landmarks or relevant markings (i.e. speed limit signs, stoplights, etc.)
  • Do not say anything to anyone at the car accident scene.
  • Ask eye witnesses for their contact information.
  • Get the name, address, car license plate number, contact information, and insurance company and policy information.
  • Answer questions and give contact information to the police.
  • Be open with emergency responders about aches and pains arising from the accident.
  • Seek medical assistance for all injuries in the days following the accident. (Some injuries, especially soft tissue injuries may take a few days to notice.)
  • Take photos of injuries.
  • Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company until talking to a lawyer.

When to contact a lawyer about a car accident

In general terms, anyone involved in a car accident and suffered injuries should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

In Wisconsin, the driver considered at-fault is responsible for compensating other drivers for property damage, medical bills, physical pain and suffering, loss of wages and future income, and any other expenses stemming from the accident. If the accident involved minor injuries or property damage that were resolved shortly, drivers may decide to deal with the insurance companies on their own. There is some risk to this approach, as many insurance companies may try to settle the case for as low as possible.

Working with an Auto Accident Lawyer

Before the first meeting with an auto accident attorney, clients can prepare by collecting all information about the car accident, including (but not limited to):

  • Police report
  • Medical bills
  • Photographs
  • Citations arising from the accident
  • Insurance documents and contact information (from both drivers)

As a trial attorney who is experienced in handling all types of personal injury accident cases against negligent drivers and their insurance company, I can assist in making sure you are compensated for your injuries and damages.

The immediate aftermath of an accident is a very stressful and emotional time. Even a minor “fender bender” can cause significant and long lasting physical and emotional injuries. After the accident, you will suddenly be asked questions about how the accident happened, your driver’s license, registration, auto insurance, injuries, towing and storage of your vehicle, and all of these will be asked while you have that splitting headache, backache, and/or neck pain. This is why it is important to know what to do if you are ever involved in an accident.

If there is any doubt in your mind that you may be injured, you should request medical assistance. Whether this involves calling for an ambulance or simply transporting yourself to the nearest hospital or urgent care center, you should do so. Follow the advice of medical personnel who arrive on the scene. They will begin the process of documenting your injuries. Do not minimize the physical and emotional trauma you or your loved one has just gone through. All statements, such as “I am alright” which you make immediately after the accident, will and can work against you.

Do not ignore or downplay your potential injuries. Generally, the third or fourth day after an accident you will feel your worst. Most soft tissue injuries (whiplash) are muscle strain and sprain related. They may not become completely symptomatic for the first 48 to 72 hours. You should see a medical practitioner who is familiar with your medical history before making any definitive statement about whether or not you were injured or how you feel. Remember, you were not injured before the accident. You should tell your doctor of any change in your physical or emotional health.

Do not accept offers of “early” settlements. Before making any decision to settle or make a statement to the other party’s insurance company, you should always consult a trial attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury accident cases against negligent drivers and their insurance company.

There is no fee unless we win.

15 Reasons to Consult a Family Law Attorney

A family law attorney can be invaluable when navigating through any family law situation. There are so many questions that can arise in these situations, “How do I file for divorce?” “When can I modify my child support?” “How can I see my child more?”

These are just a few of the many questions that a family lawyer can answer. A family lawyer can also initiate processes that can resolve any issues. When contacting  local family law attorneys, ask them:

  • Do you have experience with my kind of case (i.e. child custody, divorce, etc.)? How long have you practiced law?
  • How long have you practiced in my area?
  • What is the cost of the first meeting or initial consultation?
  • What information should I bring to the first meeting?
  • What costs should I expect? Is there a retainer that I need to pay? If so, when is the retainer due?
  • Are there other members of your firm that could be handling my case?
  • Do you offer alternatives other than going to court? (If filing for divorce, ask the family law firm if they offer these  divorce alternatives.)
  • Should I email or call you? When will I hear from you next?

Your First Family Law Attorney Appointment

At the first meeting with the family lawyer, come as organized as possible. Family law attorneys need all the information about the situation; clients should bring as much documentation as possible including (but not limited to):

  • List of documented interactions and actions by each party (if applicable)
  • Related documentation to the divorce, custody, or other situation
  • Financial documents related to the matter (i.e. canceled checks, paystubs, taxes, etc.)

In addition, clients should have a list of questions they have about the situation. It may be helpful to write down these questions before the appointment to ensure that all questions are answered.

Situations a Family Law Attorney Can Help With

There are many situations that a family law attorney can assist with, including (but not limited to):

  • Filing for divorce
  • Seeking an  annulment/annulled marriage
  • Initiating  mediation (in lieu of a traditional divorce)
  • Filing for legal separation
  • Child custody modification
  • Drafting a child custody agreement
  • Child support modification
  • Paternity questions
  • Spousal support issues
  • Dividing property among spouses
  • Same-sex/domestic partnership issues
  • Requesting visitation with children by a third party (i.e. grandparent, relative, etc.)
  • Terminating parental rights
  • Divorce agreement modification
  • Initiating a  collaborative divorce 

Introducing Emily Bublitz, our new paralegal!

We would like to introduce Emily Bublitz, our new paralegal in our Watertown office! She will be assisting Attorney Andrew Griggs with his practice. She has been a legal assistant/paralegal for over 25 years.

Where is your hometown?
I live in Juneau.

Do you have any family?
I have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Any hobbies?
I enjoy babysitting for the grandkids—we have a Grandma Day every week! I also enjoy knitting, reading, working in the yard and playing Words with Friends.

And now the tough questions:

If you had to live 30 days without your phone or a lifetime without dessert, which would you choose?
I would have to choose no dessert, because my phone is my connection to my daughters and my grandkids.

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It’s got to be pizza!

Welcome, Emily! We’re glad to have you on board!

Security Deposits: 5 Things Landlords Need to Know

rental agreement document

A security deposit is a common part of the property rental process that can lead to frustration and legal issues. While a landlord doesn’t necessarily need to know every line of the Wisconsin landlord tenant law, a property owner should know the basics of setting, deducting from, and collecting security deposits.

Is there a maximum amount of security deposit that can be charged in Wisconsin?

No. Presently, there is no limit on the amount of security deposits that can be charged in Wisconsin. Local municipalities may have set amounts for security deposits, and should be consulted for information before renting a property.

What does the landlord need to provide before and after receiving a security deposit?

There are legal requirements that a landlord must meet before and after receiving the security deposit. The landlord must provide a sheet for the tenant to document the condition of the rental property and let them know the deadline for return (a minimum of seven days). A copy of the rental property agreement needs to be given to the tenant. Other information needs to be provided as well, including (but not limited to):

  • any habitation issues,
  • any code issues,
  • any utilities that need to be covered by the tenant (and how the amount of utilities is billed to the tenant),
  • notice that a request can be made about any charges deducted from the previous tenant’s security deposit.

If the security deposit is a cash payment or if the tenant requests a receipt, the landlord needs to provide a receipt to the tenant. The receipt needs to include the amount of the payment, date received, and other required information.

When can a landlord keep the security deposit?

A landlord can keep the security deposit for several reasons:

  • Tenant damage to the property (beyond normal wear and tear),
  • Unpaid utilities or rent,
  • Cleaning costs,
  • Early termination of the lease for rent under the remaining lease term and reasonable costs to market/re-rent.

It should be noted that property damage can not be as minor as dirty curtains or a nail hole in the wall. Landlords may keep a security deposit for some of these reasons (this list is not all-inclusive nor a guarantee that they are appropriate for withholding in your circumstances):

  • Holes in the drywall
  • Faucets that don’t work due to tenant damage
  • Window treatments that have been removed
  • Pest problems that are so severe an exterminator needs to be called
  • Holes or large rips to the carpet
  • Mold on any surfaces

Another reason for withholding all or part of a security deposit is cleaning costs. These costs can be deducted from the security deposit if there is significant cleaning that needs to be done in the unit. Wisconsin law assumes that all rental properties are cleaned after a tenant moves out. Normal cleaning, such as a light cleaning of the kitchen, is not grounds for deducting from the security deposit.

The amount of missed rent payments or utility payments can also be deducted if spelled out in the property rental agreement. If a landlord has questions about whether to deduct funds, the landlord should contact a local lawyer for advice.

How can I protect myself from disagreements with tenants about the security deposit?

There are many ways a landlord can avoid any conflicts regarding the security deposit with tenants:

  • Screen tenants legally during the selection process. (Ask an experienced lawyer for ways landlords can legally vet potential tenants.)
  • Use a legal rental agreement that follows local regulations. (Contact a local lawyer for information.)
  • Keep a signed legal rental agreement on file.
  • Take photos of the property to document the condition of the rental before tenants move in.
  • Provide a standard condition report to all tenants, and file the document in case of future issues.
  • Keep careful documentation of all rental payments.
  • Record the date when tenants give notice.
  • Take photos of damage after tenant moves out.

When does the security deposit need to be returned?

In Wisconsin, a landlord has to return the security deposit or provide a statement with a list of deductions taken from the security deposit within 21 days after a tenant has left the property or when the rental agreement terminates, whichever is first. If the tenant threatens any legal recourse, a landlord can contact a  local attorney for information specific to the situation.

Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Wisconsin: Your Questions Answered

The decision to file for bankruptcy is a serious one—and one that can be fraught with mistakes. The mistakes come with the many steps involved in the process (such as, but not limited to): deciding whether to declare Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, compiling the necessary paperwork, navigating through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test, filing in the Eastern or Western District of Wisconsin.

The whole process of declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be complicated, which is precisely the reason it can become necessary to hire an experienced lawyer. An experienced lawyer can guide those filing for bankruptcy (debtors) through the entire process. The goal of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to ease the debt load and discharge debts.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, otherwise known as liquidation bankruptcy, is the legal process for discharging debts. After filing, a trustee is appointed by the court to use nonexempt property to pay off debts, such as (but not limited to) medical or credit card debt. Some debts, such as a car or home loan, can be wiped out if the property is not wanted. Once the process is started, creditors cannot contact debtors about collection; there are exceptions, such as when the eviction process was started by a landlord prior to filing and because the debtor did not pay rent. When the process is finalized, the debt is cleared and the creditor is not allowed to collect on the debt (with a few exceptions). Examples of these exceptions are:

  • Child or spousal support,
  • Court fines,
  • Student loans (with a few exceptions),
  • Income taxes (with a few exceptions).

Who can file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Those wishing to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy need to pass the means test. This basically means that the income of the individual or couple filing must fall under a certain amount; this is determined by reviewing past financial documents. There are certain circumstances where an individual or couple can still file even when the income exceeds the median income. A bankruptcy lawyer can provide more information on these situations.

When can I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Debts can only be discharged under Chapter 7 bankruptcy every 8 years and 6 years after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. After a Chapter 7 bankruptcy debt discharge, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy cannot be filed for another 4 years. A bankruptcy filing stays on a credit report for 10 years.

Do I need a lawyer to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

No. However, an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can be an invaluable help when navigating through the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

How do I transfer property to my child?

Estate planning worksheet for writing a will

The question of how to transfer property to a child is far more difficult to answer than it was years ago. The transfer of any real estate property is a legal and financial matter. An individual or family should always consult an attorney and financial advisor when considering transferring a home, cabin, land, or any other property.

The exact means for the property transfer is different and should be determined based on the exact circumstances. Contact a  real estate attorney and financial advisor to decide on the best way to transfer property. Along with a consultation, use these other tips for a sound property transfer between a parent and child.

Avoid verbal agreements.

Parents and children should have many conversations when considering a property transfer. Some of the discussions should be between the parent and child who want to transfer the property. If there is agreement on the transfer, the property transfer should be documented as a legal property transfer to the child. This can be done through estate planning, such as via a will or trust, or with a deed. Verbal statements such as, “when I die, you get the house” likely will not withstand legal challenges and is not a guarantee that the child can take ownership of a property.

If there are other children or family members involved, it is recommended that other conversations occur. The transfer of a property, such as a family home or cabin, can affect other members of the family both emotionally and financially. Open communication with other family members can minimize any drama that could arise in the future.

Consider the options and timing.

There are many different ways to transfer property to a child. The transfer can occur as part of a trust, either as a revocable or irrevocable trust. A will is another estate-planning document that can clearly spell out the desire for a property transfer to a child. The transfer can also occur via a legal property deed transfer. In addition to the exact means of transfer, the timing of the property transfer also needs to be factored into the decision.

Property transfers, both immediate and via estate planning, comes with financial implications. For example, if the property transfer is made from a parent to a child with significant debts, the transfer can lead to issues because the property is now considered the child’s asset. The timing of the property transfer, either now or in the future, can affect the finances and costs of both parties.

Consult the professionals.

With so many aspects to consider, a property transfer should always occur with advice from the professionals. The property transfer should be documented legally by an experienced real estate attorney, both for the protection of the parent and the child.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

What is a warranty deed in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin property deeds, the documents used to legally transfer property between two parties, fall into a few different categories. Two of them are: Warranty Deed and Quit Claim Deeds. Both types of deeds include a legal description of the property (beyond just the address), grantor (current property owner), and grantee (new property owner). Most Wisconsin property deeds need a signature.

The Wisconsin property deed needs to be filed in the county where the property is located. The difference between the deeds are the guarantees included the Wisconsin property deeds. To determine the type of deed that suits the situation, contact a local real estate attorney that can offer advice and draft a legally-sound deed.

Warranty Deeds

A Warranty Deed offers the most guarantees of all the Wisconsin property deeds, meaning that the grantor is responsible for transferring clear title. The Warranty Deed offers guarantees or covenants to the grantee, such as:

  • The grantor guarantees that they are the lawful owner.
  • The grantor guarantees that the property is lien-free and is not subject to any claims by third parties.
  • The grantor guarantees that the title is clear.

Quit Claim Deeds

A Quit Claim Deed is a Wisconsin property deed with no guarantees. Because of the lack of protection for the grantee, Quit Claim Deeds are typically used in situations where there is some degree of trust. These situations could include the transfer of interest during a divorce, when property is transferred to a living trust, or during a transfer from an individual to a corporate entity. Under a quit claim deed, the grantor transfers their interest in the property to the grantee.

A warranty deed and quit claim are the two most commonly used Wisconsin property deeds. Other types of Wisconsin property deeds might be useful to the situation; contact anexperienced real estate attorney to get legal advice specific to the situation. In addition to advising on the right type of Wisconsin property deed, an experienced real estate attorney can guide the parties through the process and ensure that every document and step is legally sound.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

20 Reasons to Hire a Wisconsin Real Estate Lawyer

Real estate matters are a big deal with long-term implications, both financial and legal. The only party that can give legal advice in these significant matters are real estate lawyers. Because a real estate lawyer does not work on commission, real estate lawyers dispense unbiased advice because they have no interests in the matter.

With so many documents and steps in the real estate transaction, real estate lawyers can also be invaluable when navigating through a real estate matter. Real estate lawyers can break down documents and the process for clients, allowing them to make an informed decision. The lawyers can identify issues throughout the process and assist in resolving matters. Real estate lawyers can also advice clients of legal risks involved in the transaction, both short- and long-term. If the transaction results in legal conflict, a real estate lawyer can assist in the resolution.

With so many advantages of hiring a real estate lawyer, potential homeowners, business owners, farm managers, developers, landlords, and other parties can benefit from the services of a real estate lawyer. In Wisconsin, a real estate lawyer can assist with these matters. (This list is not all-inclusive. Contact a local real estate lawyer for a consultation pertaining to the specific matter.)

Real Estate Lawyer Services

  1. Purchasing rental properties
  2. Selling a home to a child or family member
  3. Buying a home from a parent
  4. Purchasing a home
  5. Title examinations
  6. Zoning issues
  7. Resolving Homeowner Association issues
  8. Construction contract review and issues
  9. Drafting land contracts
  10. Resolving conflicts with property titles
  11. Drafting development agreements
  12. Filing liens
  13. Resolution of boundary line disputes
  14. Purchasing land
  15. Drafting land rental agreements
  16. Reviewing offers to purchase a property
  17. Selling land
  18. Renting land to another party
  19. Drafting and negotiating brokerage agreements
  20. Dealing with restrictive covenants

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

Starting a Wisconsin Business? Avoid these Legal Mistakes

why do small businesses fail

The first days of a new business are filled with decisions that can make or break a business. Along with a registration process, starting a new business comes with marketing, logistical, and legal decisions. While the latter may not be at the top of a new small business owner’s checklist, legal decisions can have positive and negative impacts on the health of the business. To avoid the negative consequences, avoid these common legal mistakes that small business owners make when starting a business.

Choosing a business entity without considering options

One of the most important decisions for any new business owner, choosing the business entity, has long-lasting legal and financial implications. There are many options, such as sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, and corporation. The type of business entity determines required documentation and tax payments, specifics of the resolution of liability issues, and whether raising money is possible. Choosing the wrong business entity can negatively impact both business and personal finances; contact an experienced business lawyer to determine the best business entity for the specific business situation.

Not drafting a partnership agreement

Entering into a business partnership is a common practice that can come with pitfalls, especially when a formal Partnership Agreement is not drafted. The Partnership Agreement is a legal document that should be drafted by a lawyer and customized for every party involved in the business. The document should include financial details, responsibilities of each partner, and information for a smooth conflict resolution and transition (if a partner wants to leave the business). All these details should be on paper; a verbal agreement or the absence of any Partnership Agreement can lead to serious conflicts and legal situations that could have been prevented.

Neglecting to put deals in writing

Documentation with other parties can feel like another unnecessary step, but actually serves as a protective safeguard. This applies even to subcontractors, which is often a necessary part of running a small business. Before subcontracting any work with other parties, contact an experienced business to draft a Confidentiality Agreement that ensures proprietary information is kept confidential and an Independent Contractor Agreement to put details of the arrangement down on paper.

Not establishing a hiring protocol

The hiring process comes with its own set of requirements. Specifically, certain paperwork needs to be obtained and kept on file. A business should also draft an Employee Offer Letter that spells out the details of the job, steps of conflict resolution, and includes any rules or regulations your employees need to be aware of. A few minutes of preparation and research can save a new business owner many headaches now and in the future.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.