What Kind of Evidence Is Used in Car Accident Cases?

Injuries and property damage resulting from car accidents can be devastating for an individual and his or her family. Obtaining evidence of liability is essential to getting compensation for your losses from any parties who believe are responsible for the accident that led to your injuries. All too often, this is a step in the personal injury claims process that injury victims may overlook or fail to take. Without the necessary evidence, you may be unable to get the damages that you need and deserve following your accident. Even if it seems obvious that another party is at fault for the accident, you still must have evidence to support your case.

One of the elements necessary to establishing liability in a Wisconsin personal injury case is the breach of a duty of care, or negligence. All drivers owe other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians a duty of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the same situation. When a driver violates that duty of care and causes an accident, he or she often also breaks a traffic law or otherwise operates a motor vehicle in an unsafe fashion. Some common traffic violations that might result in an accident include speeding, operating while intoxicated, failing to signal a turn, or disregarding a stop sign or traffic signal. Evidence of a violation of the duty of care might include a traffic citation or criminal charge against the driver. There also is likely to be a police report from the incident, witness statements, and diagrams or pictures of the accident scene.

You also must prove a direct link between the driver’s negligent act and the accident that led to your injuries. Evidence that can establish that link may include medical records, medical expert opinions, and police reports from the accident. Finally, you must establish the fact that damages resulted from the driver’s negligent act. Proof of damages is typically more straightforward than that required to prove other elements of a personal injury claim. For instance, you can use medical bills to establish your medical expenses. You can use statements from your employer and paycheck stubs to establish the loss of your wages or salary due to your medical condition.

Evidence is an essential part of any personal injury case, but what constitutes crucial evidence in a car accident case may differ substantially from one case to another. For more information about how to properly handle your personal injury claim, contact the Wisconsin personal injury lawyers of Boller & Vaughan today.

How Serious is a Concussion?

A Penn State team told attendees at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting held recently in San Francisco, CA, that a test measuring fragments of genetic material in saliva was about 90% accurate in measuring concussion symptoms. Particularly, the test predicts whether a child or adolescent’s concussion symptoms will last for a few days or persist for weeks or even months. Up until now, doctors use a concussion survey that is only accurate about 70% of the time. If this experimental test proves accurate, a pediatrician could swab a child and notify parents of the test results the following day.

Whenever an individual suffers a concussion, injured brain cells try to repair themselves. As part of the healing process, brain cells release tiny fragments of genetic material, or microRNAs. These fragments eventually show up in the individual’s blood and saliva. The researchers’ study looked at microRNAs from 50 concussion patients between the ages of 7 and 18 in saliva samples taken about one week after their injuries. The levels of certain microRNAs predicted how long the concussion symptoms would last. One type of microRNA even indicated which children would have difficulties with memory and problem-solving.

Concussions affect more than one million children and teenagers each year in the United States; most of these incidents result from sports activities. In the vast majority of cases of children and teenagers with concussion, symptoms last only few days, but in about 25% of cases, patients have symptoms of nausea, fatigue, and prolonged headaches for a period of one to four months. The new spit test could tell parents when they can expect their child to return to normal and whether their child is likely to have long-term problems. Even more importantly, the test results could facilitate the treatment of children who don’t have obvious signs of concussions, by ensuring that they don’t return to the soccer field or the classroom before the concussion is healed.

When you or a family member suffers serious injuries from a slip and fall or any other type of accident, and another’s negligence caused the accident, you may have a personal injury claim under Wisconsin law. Meeting with a personal injury lawyer is the first step toward getting the compensation that you deserve for the injuries that you have suffered. Call Boller & Vaughan today at (608) 268-0268, or contact us online at www.bollervaughan.com in order to set up an appointment with one of our Wisconsin personal injury attorneys, and see what we can do for you.

Aging Farmers Worry About the Costs of Nursing Home Care

A recent U.S. News & World Report article taken from National Public Radio indicates that aging farmers are increasingly worrying about what will happen to their family farms after their deaths. While these farmers want to pass their real estate on to future generations, they fear that all assets that they have will be sold and lost to pay for the eventual expenses of nursing home care. Due to this fear, some farmers are going ahead and engaging in strategic estate planning in an attempt to avoid liquidation and sale to fund long-term care expenses.

The Wisconsin Farm Center has an economic development advisor who has helped about 200 farmers over the last few years develop retirement transition plans for their farms. In some cases, farmers are setting up Medicaid trusts, which are designed to protect assets for future generations. These trusts are intended to protect their farms and spend down their assets so that they will qualify for Medicaid, which, in turn, will pay for the costs of needed long-term care. However, a Medicaid trust is not a “cure-all” solution to the larger problem, since Medicaid eligibility requires recipients who have assets valued at no more than $2,000. Other farmers are choosing different options, like purchasing life insurance or long-term care insurance in order to protect farm assets.

The costs of nursing home care aside, the lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know the devastation that can occur when nursing homes and other long-term care facilities breach regulations concerning health, safety, and admissions. Fortunately, we have the knowledge and the experience to help you through any type of elder abuse or neglect claim, particularly when injury results from a wholly preventable issue. No matter what type of nursing home facility abuse or neglect is at issue in your case, we can help. All too often, residents and their families are reluctant to demand justice for situations that occurred in the resident’s care. In this situation, you can count on your Madison elderly abuse attorneys to guide you through every step of the personal injury claims process.

Attorneys General Request Medicaid Policy Change to Fight Elderly Abuse and Neglect

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is looking to change existing Medicaid policy in order to combat the problem of elder abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, one in 10 of individuals who are aged 65 and older and living at home are the victims of abuse. By changing Medicaid policy to allow for additional funds to be diverted to investigating more abuse and neglect cases, the NAAG hopes to decreases these incidents of abuse.

Most state’s attorney general offices contain a unit that is specifically designed to investigate and prosecute state Medicaid provider fraud. These units are generally referred to as Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs). Aside from fraud investigations, unit staff members also investigate abuse and neglect complaints from residents at Medicaid-funded health care facilities, and also may investigate complaints at other care facilities.

The problem with current Medicaid policy is that there are extremely strict limitations on the use of MFCU funds to investigate and prosecute abuse. As a result, 37 state attorneys general and the attorney general of the District of Columbia are asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make two changes in federal Medicaid policy:

  • Allow MCFU funds to investigate and prosecute abuse of Medicaid beneficiaries who are residing in non-institutionalized settings.
  • Allow MCFU funds to freely screen or review all complaints or reports of abuse or neglect of any type.

These changes in policy would permit staff members of MFCUs to investigate abuse allegations no matter where the alleged victim in residing, even if it is in a private home, and no matter what type of abuse is involved.

There are many different types of abuse or neglect that can occur to residents in nursing home or residential care facilities. The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan have handled countless claims on behalf of nursing home residents who have suffered serious injuries and even death due to the negligent behavior of nursing home staff and facilities, regardless of the type of abuse or neglect involved. When a serious injury or death of a loved one occurs, we know just how devastating it can be, and how powerless you are likely to feel as a result. Allow your family to begin the healing process from this traumatic event by holding the wrongdoers responsible for your loved one’s injuries. Contact our office today and set up a free consultation with one of our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys.

Teen Car Accidents More Likely in Summer

According to AAA data, summertime is the most common time for teenage drivers to become involved in car accidents. During the “100 deadliest days of summer,” which stretch from Memorial Day to Labor Day, more 1,000 individuals are killed in accidents involving teenage drivers each year. This equates to about 10 people per day. This number of deaths involving teenage drivers is 16% higher than during other times of the year. This is because teenagers are out of school and driving more during the summer months.

Furthermore, teens are more likely to stay linked into social media and use their phones when they drive than adults. Therefore, almost 60% of accidents involving teen drivers are the result of driver distraction, whether the drivers are texting, talking on the phone, using GPS, or searching the internet. Another 15% of crashes were caused by the driver talking to one or more passengers in the vehicle, and 11% involved drivers who were looking at or attending to something in the vehicle.

According to the Pew Research Center, 55% of teenagers send daily text messages, at an average of 80 texts per day. In 2009, 92% of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 had cell phones, and 24% of this age group reported being constantly online. These figures show that cell phone usage does not lead to safe driving behaviors. Another study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting while driving results in a 23% greater chance of being involved in a crash. In fact, texting results in more dangerous driving behavior than just using a cell phone to call another person, simply because it requires a driver to divert both hands and eyes in order to send a text message.

Personal injury claims are very complex, and you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you through the claims process as appropriate. Each type of claim has strict requirements and deadlines that a claimant must meet in order to maintain a successful claim. Boller & Vaughan are Wisconsin motor vehicle accident lawyers who dedicate their practice to protecting the interests of the injured and their families. Contact our office today to set up your free consultation and learn what options are available to you.

Psychological Abuse of the Elderly by Caregivers

According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA), psychological abuse is the “willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other types of verbal or nonverbal conduct. Ironically, perpetrators of psychological abuse often are those individuals who are supposed to care for elderly abuse victims, whether they are professional caregivers in a nursing facility, home health care providers, or even family members.

There are multiple signs of potential psychological abuse of an elderly individual. Some symptoms are physical, such as unexplained weight loss or gain, or elevated blood pressure resulting from stress. Psychological abuse victims also may have difficulties sleeping, exhibit depression and/or confusion, show fear in the presence of the abuser, exhibit unusual behaviors, and be emotionally upset or agitated.

Psychological abuse victims tend to be over 75 years of age, and have few friends or relatives to look after them. They are often isolated from much of society, may have memory problems, and may have a long-term disease or medical condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, or paralysis due to stroke. On the other hand, abusive caregivers tend to be highly dependent on the elderly individual in terms of financial needs. Abuse perpetrators often drink alcohol, use drugs, and/or have some type of personality disorder or mental illness. They also may have high levels of stress in their lives and a history of violence in their backgrounds.

As the nursing home industry continues to grow with America’s steadily aging population, the quality of care and staff members continues to become of greater concern. All too often, nursing home staff members do not properly care for their residents, which can lead directly to their injuries resulting from abuse or neglect. At Boller & Vaughan, we focus on protecting the rights of those who have suffered neglectful or abusive actions at the hands of caregivers at nursing home facilities. We have the skills and knowledge to delve into the facts your case, consider all available options, and advocate on your behalf by bringing any legal claims that you may have against the nursing home in question, or its staff members. Contact your Wisconsin nursing home neglect and abuse attorneys at (608) 268-0268 and schedule your free consultation today.

How Long Can the Insurance Company Take to Offer Me a Settlement?

Resolving a personal injury claim is often a long and difficult process. While you may be able to settle a minor claim within a matter of weeks, it is more common for a personal injury claim to take months or even years, especially in cases involving multiple parties and serious injuries. Therefore, in many situations, the responsible party’s insurance company has a significant amount of time to make even an initial settlement offer. On average, though, most claims are settled within one year to 18 months from the time of the accident.

Right after an accident, it is not unusual for a claims adjuster, or a representative of the insurance company, to contact you about the accident or your injuries. He or she may tell you that giving a recorded or written statement and submitting your medical bills and records to the insurance company will allow them to give you a settlement offer more quickly. However, you are not obligated to speak with the claims adjustor or give any information to the insurance company. In fact, in most cases, you should politely decline to speak with the insurance adjustor about the accident and speak to a qualified personal injury attorney instead.

You have three years from the date of the accident in which to file a lawsuit against the responsible party in order to seek compensation from your losses. If you do not receive an acceptable settlement offer from the insurance company during that three-year period, you must file a personal injury lawsuit with the court in order to preserve your right to pursue damages for your injuries. This is called a statute of limitations.

The vast majority of cases do end in settlement over time, even if three years has elapsed from the time of the accident and you have to file a lawsuit in order to meet the statute of limitations. All Wisconsin courts refer personal injury lawsuits to mediation, which is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or, more simply put, a way to settle your case outside of court. Both parties and their attorneys meet individually and together with a neutral third-party mediator, who tries to get both sides to compromise in order to reach a settlement.

When an accident causes serious injuries to you or a loved one, the impact can be devastating. Although some accidents are just that – accidents – others are caused by the negligence of another, such as an inattentive or distracted driver. Obtaining a settlement from the responsible driver can be more complex and take more time than you realize. If you are in this situation, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how our Wisconsin personal injury attorneys can advocate on your behalf.

Watch Out for Motorcycles on Wisconsin Roads

Motorcycle accidents are all too common on Wisconsin roadways, particularly during the summer months when riders are more apt to use their motorcycles for commuting, running errands, and taking vacations. Unfortunately, the unique nature of a motorcycle in terms of its size, structure, and lack of safety features, makes its riders more vulnerable to injuries from accidents than occupants of a regular motor vehicle. If all drivers, both of vehicles and motorcycles, observe the rules of the road and drive cautiously, there could be great progress toward preventing motorcycle accidents.

For drivers of all motor vehicles, it is essential to remember that motorcycles are likely to be on the roads, especially in the summertime. It is often more difficult for drivers to see motorcycles as they are driving, both due to the small size of motorcycles and their ability to travel directly in your blind spot. Allow them the same road courtesy that you would a regular vehicle; for instance, cutting a motorcycle off abruptly is far more likely to seriously injure a motorcyclist than the driver of a regularly-sized motor vehicle.

Motorcyclists also need to take certain steps to protect themselves. First, since motorcycles have no built-in safety features such as seatbelts or airbags, motorcycle riders need to always wear protective gear, including helmets, in order to adequately protect themselves. After all, one in every five motorcycle accidents results in head or neck injuries to a motorcyclist. Motorcycle riders also should wear bright or reflective clothing in order to make themselves more visible to other drivers. Similarly, motorcyclists should obey the rules of the road, just as the driver of a motor vehicle should. They should use turn signals as needed, avoid sharing lanes with other motorcycles, and be wary of parked cars, as a driver or passenger could suddenly open a door and strike a motorcyclist.

At Boller & Vaughan, we know that suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, auto accident, or any other type of traffic accident can be a stressful, emotional, physically painful, and financially draining event. Allow us to take some of the burden of this situation from you and your family by handling your personal injury claim, which will allow us to work toward getting you the compensation that you need and deserve. As skilled Madison personal injury lawyers, we are here to help you through this ordeal from a legal perspective, while you concentrate on healing from your injuries and recovering from the financial impact of the accident.

What Are the Elements for a Successful Nursing Home Abuse Claim?

Most nursing home claims stem from some sort of negligent action or inaction by one of its staff member, or, in some cases, another nursing home resident. Negligence refers to any act or failure to act that violates the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation. If a staff member injures a nursing home, assisted living, or community based residential facility resident through some sort of negligence, the situation may qualify as a personal injury case under Wisconsin law.

There are four required elements to any successful personal injury claim based in negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and injury. In a nursing home abuse claim, you must establish that the perpetrator of the injuries had a duty to the injury victim. In a nursing home or assisted living setting, a staff person clearly owes a duty of care to all residents. Next, the action or inaction of the staff member breached that duty of care. In other words, the act or failure to act must be negligent in nature, or a violation of the standard of care that a reasonable person would use in the same situation. Third, the negligent action or inaction must be the direct cause of the resident’s injury. Finally, you must prove that an injury to the resident actually occurred.  If you have evidence of all four of these elements, you are likely to have a successful personal injury claim for nursing home abuse.

The community based residential facility abuse (CBRF) lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are experienced in ensuring that nursing homes and other elderly care facilities live up to reasonable standards in caring for their residents. When a nursing home or other type of facility fails to do so, and injury to a resident occurs, the facility may be liable for those injuries. We know how to investigate your case, assess your situation and determine whether you or your loved one has any potential claims against nursing home staff or the nursing home itself. Contact Boller & Vaughan today and learn how we can help you through this difficult situation.

How Will Insurance Policy Limits Impact My Personal Injury Case?

Wisconsin law requires that vehicle owners maintain a minimum level of automobile insurance, including the following liability coverage:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person
  • $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people
  • $10,000 for property damage

Some drivers opt to pay for additional coverage that will help protect them in the event of a major accident. Wisconsin law also requires motorists to maintain a certain level of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Every insurance policy has its limits, and in some cases, the damages resulting from an accident can exceed those limits. For example, if a serious car accident causes severe injuries and permanent disabilities to more than one person, and the driver who was negligent in causing the accident maintains only the minimum amount of automobile liability insurance, medical expenses and other damages may very well exhaust policy limits. Even if the accident only results in injuries to one person, a single surgery can easily push the amount of medical bills over the limits of a minimum lability insurance policy.

Fortunately, injury victims may have some recourse to have the remainder of their medical bills and expenses paid. Some level of uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is required by Wisconsin law for all drivers. This type of coverage can help compensate you for your damages when the responsible driver has insufficient or no insurance to pay for all of your losses.

Additionally, if the driver at fault owns more than one vehicle, up to a maximum of three vehicles, the injured party can stack the available policy limits on each vehicle. Even at a level of minimum liability insurance policy limit of $25,000, a driver at fault who owns three vehicles can offer triple the coverage that would be available to a driver at fault who owns only one vehicle, or $75,000.

Boller & Vaughan are experienced Madison personal injury lawyers who know Wisconsin law and know how to effectively represent your interests in any personal injury claim stemming from a traffic accident, whether it involves a motorcycle, semi-truck, or a passenger vehicle, or another type of incident altogether. Contact our office today and learn how our attorneys can help ensure that you receive the compensation in your case to which you are entitled.

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