On The Road Again

On The Road Again

Car accident out of state

If you are traveling out of state and are injured in an automobile accident due to the fault of another, you may have many questions, including where a claim should be brought, whether you will need a local attorney, and what your rights to recovery are. Your first step should be to alert your automobile insurer so the insurer is on notice of coverages under your policy that are or may be implicated.

For example, the at-fault driver may have insufficient automobile liability limits given the nature and extent of your injuries. If you carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on your automobile policy, your insurer should be on notice of the potential for such a claim. In addition, you likely carry some amount of coverage for medical bills related to the collision under your automobile policy. You will want to establish a claim with your insurer and, provide your insurer’s information to health care providers for billing purposes.

When it comes to legal representation, consulting with an attorney back home may be useful in several respects. First, they may be in a better position to research and recommend local counsel in the state where the collision occurred. Second, you may find yourself in a dispute with your insurer at some point, particularly if an underinsured motorist claim arises. These claims are contractual, meaning that the venue is Wisconsin rather than the state of the collision. Third, given the nature of your injuries, you may require extensive and ongoing treatment following your return home. An out-of-state attorney may desire some involvement from Wisconsin counsel to assist in gathering medical bills and records and coordinating the testimony of treating providers should the case proceed through litigation.

Finally, should your personal injury claim turn into a formal lawsuit, you will undoubtedly find yourself in the legal system of the state of injury. However, your lawyers may have the option of bringing your case in Federal as well as State Court due to the citizenship of the parties. An attorney from the state of injury can discuss the pros and cons of Federal Court versus State Court given their knowledge of the local bench, potential jury pool, and other factors.

If you have an out-of-state automobile accident and require an attorney, please contact our experienced personal injury attorneys to assist you.

Don’t be a victim twice!

If A Tree Falls In Your Woods … Property Owner Liability.

If A Tree Falls In Your Woods … Property Owner Liability.

When most people look at trees, legal liability is unlikely the first thing that comes to mind. You may enjoy the shade they provide in the summer and their array of fall colors. However, you should also be on the lookout for liability, particularly for those trees close to your property line.

By way of example, imagine a mid-summer storm comes through sending the large, beautiful maple tree you have enjoyed over the years through your neighbor’s roof and into her living room. In this scenario, normal negligence law should apply. In most cases, your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance company will be responsible for the loss. However, if you knew or should have known of any pre-existing issues to the tree that made it more susceptible to collapse, you may be responsible. In this case, the homeowner’s insurance company could seek to recoup its losses from you through what is called subrogation.

For example, let us assume the tree is dead or dying from insect infestation that has weakened its stability. In this situation you may be liable to repay the insurance company who satisfied the damage claim, particularly if the deterioration of the tree was readily apparent. On the other hand, if the tree was perfectly healthy or its problems were not apparent, it is unlikely that you would be responsible.

In either case, you would want to turn any claim for subrogation over to your insurance company for a defense and coverage.  Whether your insurance company would provide a defense and coverage would depend on the terms of your own policy.  Insurance policies, as one may suspect, have many exclusions and exceptions to coverage.

Another common issue that arises from trees on property lines concerns encroachment. Perhaps you have grown annoyed from the untrimmed tree that has partially crossed onto your property and obstructed your view or yard space. While a brief consultation with your neighbor may lead to a quick resolution, you are permitted to prune the encroaching portions of the tree. Of course, hiring a professional is recommended to guard against causing damage to the rest of the tree. You should also have confidence in the location of your property line to avoid creating your own issues of trespass and property damage should you remove too much of the tree.

Finally, there are statutory prohibitions on cutting certain trees along municipal streets and highways. In such cases, prior consultation with local authorities is recommended. Wis. Stat. § 86.03

Be sure to read through your home insurance policy carefully. If you have concerns about trees on your property we recommend having an aroborist inspect them.

Stevens Point information on trees on property lines. https://stevenspoint.com/1294/Trees-Between-Two-Properties

Shareholder Rights With Corporations

Shareholder Rights With Corporations

As part of my business litigation practice, I regularly represent corporations and shareholders in corporations. On the shareholder side, parties often seek to learn more about what is going on with the corporation they partially own.

Wisconsin law gives shareholders in corporations certain inspection rights depending on the extent or length of their ownership interest in the corporation. Unless you satisfy certain criteria as a shareholder, your inspection rights are generally limited to viewing the corporation’s bylaws and a list of shareholders entitled to notice of a shareholders’ meeting.

If, however, you have owned stock for at least six months or own at least five percent of outstanding shares, your inspection rights as a shareholder are broader. In that case, you may be entitled to access the following:

  1. Excerpts from any minutes or records that the corporation is required to keep as permanent records. These include: (a) Minutes of meetings of its shareholders and board of directors. (b) Records of actions taken by the shareholders or board of directors without a meeting. (c) Records of actions taken by a committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors and on behalf of the corporation.
  2. Accounting records of the corporation.
  3. The record of shareholders.

While this information could give you a wealth of insight into the workings of a corporation you hold ownership in, you must have a reason to request the information. Specifically, to access the more detailed information described above, you are required to make a written request to the corporation stating a good faith purpose for your inquiry and the records requested must be connected to that purpose.

For more information on these rights please consult the Wisconsin State Legislature.

If you have questions about shareholder rights, please reach out to one of our experienced Business Attorneys.

Are You Ready to Build a House?

Are You Ready to Build a House?

Are you ready to finally build the new home you always dreamed of? Perhaps you are considering adding on to your existing home. Construction projects are expensive. The last thing you want to discover after the project is over is that an unsatisfied construction lien encumbers your property.

When a prime contractor performs work on your project, the contractor acquires a lien on the improvements. However, in many cases, the prime contractor contracts with subcontractors to assist with certain aspects of the project. These subcontractors will also have lien rights on your property to the extent of any of their improvements.

Being aware of these lien rights is critically important. In many cases, the prime contractor pays subcontractors directly with your construction funds, often in draws taken throughout the project. Should the subcontractors go unpaid, they will have the right to perfect their lien rights on your property. An unsatisfied lien is a burden on your property, affecting your ability to sell it and putting it in jeopardy of foreclosure.

For these reasons, you should demand lien waivers from all contractors at the close of a project. With certain exceptions, where a prime contractor retains subcontractors to work on your project, you should receive notice of the contractors’ lien rights. You should receive notice of the prime contractor’s lien rights either in the written contract with the contractor or within 10 days of the start of any work on the project. Subcontractors must give you notice of their lien rights within 60 days of the start of any work they perform on the project.

If a subcontractor has not been paid, the contractor must first provide you with written notice of the contractor’s intention to file a lien. If the lien is not satisfied within 30 days, the contractor may file a lien on your property. There are time limitations regarding when the contractor must file the lien based on the last work performed on the project. If you discover the unfortunate news that a contractor has filed a lien on your property, you should consult with an attorney to determine if the lien was properly and timely perfected. Please contact one of our experienced attorneys to guide you through this process.

The ABCs of ATVs and UTVs

The ABCs of ATVs and UTVs

In Wisconsin, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) are becoming increasingly popular not only for recreation but for travel between and within local communities. In turn, more cities, villages, towns and counties are opening roads, streets and highways to ATV and UTV travel.

To start, ATVs and UTVs are regulated by state law through the Department of Natural Resources. Chapter 23.33 of the Wisconsin Statutes outlines numerous requirements from registration, to noise, to lighting and more. When it comes to access to roadways and highways, however, regulation largely falls on local communities.

State law allows local counties and municipalities to designate some or all highways and roadways under their jurisdiction as all-terrain vehicle routes. On designated routes, these local governments may enact ordinances that regulate the use of ATVs and UTVs. State law leaves local governments with discretion when it comes to regulating aspects of use on routes under their jurisdiction.

While local control is retained over travel within communities, this deference may result in a patchwork of different regulations affecting travel between communities. For example, while one community may limit hours of operation, another may have no limits. For these reasons, it is important to be familiar with the local laws of the communities you intend to travel before heading out on the road with your ATV or UTV.

Some basic things from state law to be aware of include registration as well as operator and occupant restrictions. With limited exceptions, ATV and UTV owners must register the vehicle with the State of Wisconsin. Non-residents may obtain an annual trail pass from the DNR. Generally, ATV operators must be at least 12 years of age and UTV operators must be at least 16. With some exceptions, those born on or after January 1, 1988 shall obtain a safety certificate issued by the DNR. With limited exceptions, those under 18 years of age must wear protective headgear. Furthermore, seatbelts are required for all occupants.

Remember, local communities may impose greater restrictions on operators and occupants. For example, local ordinances may require operators to be at least 16 years of age and hold a valid Wisconsin driver’s license. You should always check with local law enforcement prior to traveling between communities to ensure that you and your occupants will be in compliance with all laws governing all-terrain vehicle operation on locally designated routes.