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Wisconsin’s New Insurance Laws September 24, 2009

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury.
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It’s a common question lately. When do the new laws go into effect?

Some go into effect next year.

The Journal Sentinel wrote a story about this a while ago.

Motorists will need to have a policy providing at least $50,000 in bodily injury coverage for one person, $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $15,000 to cover property damage. The current limits are $25,000, $50,000 and $10,000, respectively. The higher limits go into effect Jan. 1.

Your new policy or renewed policy must include underinsured motorist coverage starting November 1, 2009.

Underinsured motorist coverage, which now is optional, will be required for state drivers on new or renewed policies starting Nov. 1.

Auto insurance will be required starting June 1, 2010.

I hope this answers some of those questions.

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Who Is Looking? June 4, 2009

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in Personal Injury Law, Wisconsin Auto Accidents.
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What happens if a medical facility releases your medical records to the general public?  What happens if an insurance company releases medical records to the general public?

Well, according to Section 146.84 Wisconsin Statutes that facility or person may be liable for tens of thousands of dollars in addition to actual damages and ACTUAL attorneys fees.  Believe me, that can be a lot of money.

I found an article from a few years ago written by a couple Michael, Best and Friedrich attorneys concerning this issue.  I hope it will continue to be available.    Finerty and Barlament state:

This statute may apply to entities other than health care entities. The statute’s penalty provisions for example, Wis. Stat. § 146.84, apply to “[a]ny person, including the state or any political subdivision of the state” who violates Wis. Stat. § 146.82 or 146.83. Wis. Stat. § 146.84(1)(b), (bm). Similarly, penalties (including a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 9 months in prison) can be applied to “[w]hoever” obtains certain confidential information under false pretenses or with knowledge that the disclosure is unlawful and not reasonably necessary to protect another from harm. Wis. Stat. § 146.84(2)(a).

I was thinking about this after a client asked me what protection she/he has when medical records are released to an at-fault insurance provider.  In all honesty the liability of the company who discloses to the public certain records depends on the authorization that was signed and the particular facts of the release of those records.  But, if a company or hospital releases records improperly at least this statute exists as a pretty significant penalty.

How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse November 13, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury, Personal Injury Law, Wisconsin Auto Accidents.
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A new report discusses how insurance companies make their money.  This shouldn’t be a surprise.  They take in as much as they can in premiums and pay out as little as possible in claims.

The problem is with some of the tactics that insurance companies use.  Here is an example:

Farmers, was in the business of

denying claims as a way to boost its bottom

line. Farmers even ran an employee incentive program,

“Quest for Gold,” that offered incentives, including $25

gift certificates and pizza parties, to adjusters who met

low payment goals. One Farmers’ executive told claims

representatives to stop paying claims, saying, “Teach

them to say, ‘Sorry, no more,’ with a toothy grin and mean it.”

Insurance companies are supposed to act in good faith with their insured and on behalf of their insured when dealing with someone their insured injures.  Arbitrary denials and low offers for no reason are not good faith.

Read the report.  You’ll get a feel for what personal injury attorneys deal with day in and day out.  You’ll understand why Allstate, Farmers, Progressive et al get on our nerves.

www.jonpgroth.com

 Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in Milwaukee, Milton, Kenosha and Wauwatosa.

Click here to submit a Case or Question.

You’re Not Always in Good Hands October 13, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury.
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Either take less money or wait years until Allstate is forced to settle.  That is what has been reported about Allstate’s claims practices.   (Remember the ad: when you have Allstate Insurance you are “Always in Good Hands”).

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend whose client was hesitant to hire a personal injury attorney.  Simply asking the powerful question, “Why?”

I think the answer to “Why hire an attorney” is answered in that story.  It discovered a few things about Allstate’s injury claims:

First, the company evaluates claims with a computer program designed to reduce payouts by as much as 20 percent of what the company once paid for the same injuries.

Second, Allstate pushes policyholders to accept quick settlements without the help of lawyers. Policyholders who try to fight for more money face Allstate attorneys coached to refuse to negotiate and to drag out litigation.

A former Allstate attorney described their tactics:

They put pressure on people by establishing that they are a bully in the market.

I recommend you read the article or other blogs about the article.  Many other insurance companies are now using Allstate’s computer program or programs just like it.  If you have any questions about their tactics feel free to post a comment or contact me.

Don’t forget to read my previous post entitled “Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney.”

http://www.jonpgroth.com

Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in West AllisCrivitzPlymouthand Germantown.

Should I give a statement to the insurance company? September 24, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury.
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If you were in a collision and the at fault driver had insurance I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question.  That’s because one of the first questions out of the at fault insurance adjuster’s mouth is, “Can I record a statement?”

My standard answer to this questions is no.  Don’t give a statement.  If the at fault insurance company insists on a statement then wait until you hire a lawyer before giving a statement.  You hire a lawyer to stand by your side and serve as your advocate through the entire process.  Why give a statement before having that advocate by your side.  (Remember my April 21, 2008 post talking about Allstate’s Claim Manual saying that Allstate knows that victims with insurance settle for 2-3 times more than unrepresented victims). 

Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making money.  That is certainly not wrong or illigeal by any means.  But, what that means is they want to take in premiums and pay out as little as possible.  That’s just the basic economics of insurance.  So, insurance companies teach their insurance adjusters how to make sure they pay out as little as possible.  That starts right away after the collision with the recorded statement.  

This is especially important if liability it at issue.  The at fault insurance wants to pin as much fault on you as possible.  The facts are the facts but many times confusion, pain meds, frustration or other things get in the way of an injured person’s ability to clearly describe what happened.  

So, if you are involved in a collision I recommend talking with an attorney before you give that statement to the at fault insurance company.  I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.

http://www.jonpgroth.com

Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in West AllisCrivitzPlymouthand Germantown.

And the winner is…Allstate! July 21, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury.
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“There is no greater poster child for insurance industry greed than Allstate.”  The American Association for Justice recently published a report of the ten worst insurance companies.  Allstate won the prize!

Other “honorable mentions” of auto/home insurance companies that write policies in Wisconsin are: AIG (3), State Farm (4), Farmers (7), Liberty Mutual (10). 

Is there any wonder why victims of auto accidents, dog bites, motorcycle accidents and the like hire personal injury attorneys when Allstate’s insured is at fault?

www.jonpgroth.com

Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in Lomira, Twin Lakes,  Wauwatosa and Milton.

Finally Some “Good” News June 14, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in Personal Groth.
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Allstate recently conducted a survey about fatal teen crashes.

The metro area including Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis is one of the 10 LEAST deadly teen driving hotspots according to Allstate Insurance and its research foundation.   Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL also falls in the least deadly category. 

There is bad news for Wisconsin vacationers.  The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area is the greatest “hotspot for fatal teen crashes.” 

www.jonpgroth.com

 Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in Crivitz, Kenosha, Janesville and Wauwatosa.

Why Hire A Personal Injury Attorney? April 21, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury.
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I think personal injury attorneys are asked this question more than any other.  It’s a legitimate question.  Injury attorneys in Wisconsin usually charge a contingent fee of 1/3 of the settlement or verdict in addition to costs.  Why hire a plummer if you can fix your leaky faucet yourself?

Surprisingly, Allstate Insurance has helped answer the question.  Allstate’s own website states “represented claims settle for 2-3 times more than unrepresented claims.”  (See page C000011298).   Allstate goes on to urge their adjuster to convince injured victims to NOT hire an attorney.

Why do represented victims of car accidents, motorcycle accidents or other personal injury matters recover more than unrepresented victims?  I’d like to this because personal injury attorneys know the law and won’t leave any stone unturned.  The right Personal Injury Attorney will make sure that the injured person receives the compensation they are due.  Take a look at my earlier comments about what a case is worth.

Kudos to Illinois Attorney Howard Zimmerle for finding this information.  

Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in West AllisCrivitzPlymouthand Germantown.

Jon Groth  www.jonpgroth.com