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3 Things Wisconsin drivers need to know if hit by a drunk driver

There are more drunk drivers on the road in Wisconsin than any other state in the country. Wisconsin is a national leader in alcohol-related injuries and deaths. According to MADD, more than 2,500 people were injured and 178 people were killed in alcohol-related auto accidents last year.

Getting hit by a drunk driver can be life changing. Car accidents often result in traumatic brain injuries, fractures and spinal cord injuries, including paralysis. After a serious accident it is natural to worry about how medical bills and living expenses will get paid. A loss in mobility could jeopardize the ability to return to work. Who pays for this? Here are three things all drivers need to know if they are injured by a drunk driver in Wisconsin.

Can bars and social hosts be held liable?

In some states, injured individuals are able to pursue recovery against a bar or other establishment for providing a drunk driver with alcohol. Wisconsin law does not allow claims against bars for auto accident injuries related to alcohol intoxication. The only option is to pursue a claim against the drunk driver and his or her insurance company.

How are expenses covered while a claim is pending?

Unless the victim has purchased Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, the victim will not have a source of income while his or her claim is pending. In Wisconsin, PIP insurance is an elective form of coverage and is not mandatory. However, most insurance policies have a medical payment provision. If you have purchased a policy with medical payment provisions, you can make a claim against your own insurance policy to get at least some of your own medical bills paid while your claim is pending.

How Wisconsin's tort liability system could impact recovery for pain and suffering

Wisconsin has a tort liability system for handling auto accident claims. To recover damages under the tort liability system, the victim must be able to prove the negligence of the other party in order to recover. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to assign some fault to the victim in an effort to reduce their own liability.

There are two types of damages for a personal injury claims. Economic damages refer to compensation for damage to your vehicle, lost income, medical expenses and rehabilitation. Non-economic damages refer losses that may be more difficult to quantify including, but not limited to pain and suffering, depression and psychological trauma, the loss in mobility and damage to a marital relationship. Because non-economic damages are difficult to establish, insurance companies may challenge or refute them.

Typically, a drunk driver's insurance company will attempt to work with an injured person directly to attempt to settle a claim. While settling a claim quickly may be tempting, individuals should be wary that the settlement may not be enough to cover the full extent of their injuries and losses.

Individuals concerned about obtaining a fair settlement should speak with a skilled auto accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

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