Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Wisconsin

The warmer weather is here and that means motorcycles throughout Wisconsin and the rest of the United States will come out of their garages and hit the road. More motorcycles on the road during the summer months means more opportunities for motorcycle accidents to occur, and data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation shows that this has been the case since at least 2012.

Although motorcycle accidents predictably increase during the warmer months, the weather is not the only factor that contributes to the increase. With the increased rainfall of April, May, and June, the road is more likely to be wet and thus, slippery. Below are four common causes of motorcycle accidents in Wisconsin, some of which are closely tied to the weather.

Driver Negligence
Negligence on the part of a motorcyclist or another motorist can cause an accident. Examples of driver negligence include:

    • Riding or driving while talking on a cell phone or otherwise while distracted. This can include eating while driving, using a vehicle’s onboard computer, or looking at the scenery instead of the roadway;
    • Driving or riding while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;
    • Speeding;
    • Riding or driving in an aggressive manner, such as weaving in and out of lanes and tailgating; and
    • Riding or driving while too tired to do so safely.

Adverse Weather Conditions
There are a few ways rain and other weather conditions can cause motorcycle accidents. It takes longer for a vehicle to come to a complete stop on a wet roadway and when conditions are slick, drivers must make wider, slower turns to avoid spinning out and potentially colliding with other vehicles, pedestrians, and stationary objects.

Poor Road Conditions
Motorcycles are more sensitive to roadway conditions than other types of vehicle. A wet roadway during a rainstorm can be dangerous for motorcycles, but this is not the only issue the rain creates. When puddles develop in potholes and dips in the roadway, they can be very dangerous for motorcyclists. Uneven pavement and sharp turns can be magnified by the presence of water on the asphalt and the oils that rise to the asphalt’s surface during the first moments of rainfall.

Poor Visibility
Rainstorms and fog make it difficult for motorcyclists and motorists alike to see hazards in the roadway and other vehicles. At night, visibility decreases further. Motorcyclists can reduce their chance of being involved in accidents by making themselves as visible as possible with lights on their motorcycles and reflective tape on their helmets and clothing.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a collision with a motorcycle, you have the right to seek monetary compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more about your rights and legal options as an injured victim, contact our team of Appleton personal injury lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

Who is Liable in my Dog Bite Injury Case?

As the weather becomes warmer, dogs and children alike will spend more time outside playing in their yards. Once school lets out for summer, children will be playing outside for far longer hours each day, often putting them into contact with dogs that can potentially bite and cause injuries.

When a dog bite results in an injury, the victim may seek compensation for his or her damages through a personal injury claim. A victim can only recover compensation if another party is liable for his or her damages. In a dog bite, the liable party is not always obvious. Dog bites are not like other types of injury case in that the doctrine of strict liability applies.

Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Strict liability means that when a dog bite occurs, the dog’s owner is liable for the victim’s damages regardless of whether he or she acted in a negligent or intentionally harmful manner. It is important to note, though, that this does not mean that the dog’s owner is liable in all cases. There are circumstances under which a dog’s owner’s liability is waived.

Wisconsin’s dog bite law states that if a dog’s owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies before the bite occurred and the bite broke the skin and causes permanent scarring or disfigurement, the owner may be required to compensate the victim twice the dollar amount of his or her damages. Knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies is defined as knowing that the dog had previously bitten a victim and broken the skin to cause scarring or disfigurement.

A victim may file an action to have the dog euthanized. Generally, the court will agree to have a dog put down if both of the following circumstances apply:

  • The dog caused severe injuries on two or more occasions without reason, such as provocation; and
  • The dog’s owner knew that his or her dog caused the first injury before the second injury occurred.

What if a Dog is Provoked into Biting a Victim?

This is the scenario under which a dog owner’s liability for the victim’s damages are waived. If a dog is provoked into biting a victim, the victim might not be able to recover compensation for his or her damages or his or her compensation package may be reduced. Provocation can include teasing a dog, chasing or cornering the dog, or striking the dog with an object or projectile, such as a BB pellet.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Dog Bite Lawyer

Sadly, avoiding dog bites in Wisconsin is not always possible. If you or your child is bitten by a dog, seek medical attention for the bite as soon as possible to ensure that it is cleaned and treated properly. Left untreated, a dog bite can become infected, which can have severe complications for a victim. After receiving treatment for the bite, contact the experienced Appleton personal injury lawyers on our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC to schedule your initial consultation in our office.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

Just about everyone understands the dangers of drinking and driving. But distracted driving may actually be a greater danger for Wisconsin motorists–and their passengers–since it often occurs without people consciously realizing it. After all, how many of us have stopped to check a text message or fixed their makeup while driving? It may not seem like a big deal, at least until you end up causing a serious car accident.

Rise In Mobile Phone Use Mirrors Increase in Distracted Driving Injuries & Fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates approximately 3,500 people are killed–and 391,000 more are injured–each year in car accidents caused by some form of distracted driving. That works out to more than 1,000 distracted driving-related injuries every day. Locally, Wisconsin safety officials estimate there is a distracted driving crash within the state roughly every 22 minutes.

The main culprit in distracted driving is mobile phone usage. The NHTSA estimated roughly 660,000 drivers use their phones while operating their vehicles during daylight hours. This creates a significant risk of a distracted driving accident, particularly during hectic morning and evening commutes.

But distracted driving can occur without using a phone. Anytime a driver takes their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road, or their mind off of driving safely, an accident can happen. A car is a large blunt object traveling, at least in highway conditions, over 50 miles per hour. It is a deadly weapon in the hands of a negligent operator whose attention is not 100 percent focused on driving.

Distracted Driving Is Negligent Driving

Texting while driving is illegal in Wisconsin. To be precise, state law prohibits anyone from driving while “composing or sending an electronic text message or an electronic mail message.” And drivers with a probationary license or an instruction permit may not use a cell phone at all while driving, even in speakerphone mode or with a hands-free device. More generally, Wisconsin law also states drivers may not “be so engaged or occupied as to interfere with the safe driving” of their cars.

If distracted driving leads to a car accident, the driver may be liable in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit. To put it simply, distracted driving is negligent driving. A motorist who is looking at her phone and rear-ends someone is just as negligent as a driver who runs a red light and plows into the side of a truck legally in the intersection.

It is important to hold negligent drivers accountable. Many auto accident victims are reluctant to file a personal injury claim. But not doing so only encourages distracted drivers to continue their reckless habits. Sometimes the prospect of paying a large civil judgment is the only way to get negligent drivers to change their ways.

The Appleton personal injury lawyers at Hammett Bellin & Oswald LLC, know how to deal with distracted and other negligent drivers. If you have been injured in a car accident anywhere in Northeastern Wisconsin and require immediate legal assistance, please contact our offices in Appleton or Neenah today at 920-720-0000.

Common Car Accident Injuries in Wisconsin

On average, about 30,000 people in Wisconsin are injured each year in motor vehicle crashes, according to official figures from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Most injuries are superficial and require only minor medical attention. Tragically, many accident victims suffer more serious injuries that are not always immediately apparent at the scene. And in too many cases–about 500 per year, according to the DMV–the the victims die as a result of their injuries.

Here are just a some of the kinds of injuries that a car accident victim is likely to experience:

Whiplash and Neck Injuries
Rear-end collisions frequently produce whiplash–a rapid, back-and-forth movement of the neck, similar to the motion a person makes when cracking a whip. Whiplash typically produces symptoms of neck pain and stiffness, as well as headaches. While whiplash may only last a brief period of time, in serious cases an accident victim may have chronic neck pain and require several months of pain medication and treatment.

Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
Perhaps the most frightening type of auto accident injury involves damage to the spinal cord. A broken leg can heal with medical attention and time. But spinal cord damage is often permanent and may lead to partial paralysis or even quadriplegia. Even when the spinal cord itself is unharmed back injuries–such as herniated disc–can produce chronic pain and muscle weakness.

Traumatic Brain Injuries
Concussions are often the hardest type of injury to detect after a car accident. Contrary to what you might believe, a concussion does not always result in the loss of consciousness. In fact, many people do not realize they have suffered a concussion or brain injury until days or even weeks after the fact.

Burn Injuries
The U.S. Fire Administration reported 193,500 vehicle fires in 2014. These fires often occur when the fuel tanks of the affected vehicles rupture and the gasoline ignites. Fire may also result from a defect in the car itself, such as improper wiring. Burn injuries arising from car fires often leave victims with permanent skin and nerve damage.

Fractures
The sudden impact of a car crash often leaves victims with broken bones. This includes injuries to the extremities–i.e., legs and arms–as well as the ribs, sternum, and skull. In fact, car accidents are the leading cause of fractures to the the femur shaft (thighbone).

Internal Injuries
Not all car accident injuries are external or visible. For example, a broken rib may puncture one or more internal organs, such as the lung, spleen, liver, or heart. If that happens, the victim may require emergency surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Do You Need Assistance From an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney?

At Hammett Bellin & Oswald LLC, our qualified Appleton personal injury lawyers understand how to help accident victims seek full compensation for their injuries. If you have been in an accident and require immediate legal assistance, call our offices in Appleton or Neenah today at 972-720-000 to schedule a free consultation.

FOX VALLEY SCAMS ON THE RISE

The Fox Valley in Northeast Wisconsin is a beautiful and peaceful place to live. However, we are not immune from the scams, identity thefts, and other crimes that plague bigger cities. Our local police departments are professional and dedicated, but they often cannot help victims, because the crimes are committed by scammers from out of state or from half way around the world. Prevention is the best policy.

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald Law Firm we are dedicated to serving the Fox Valley and that includes representing victims of car crashes, negligence, and other injuries. We also try to assist the community in staying safe and protecting individuals against unnecessary injuries and damages. To that end, we are sharing this comprehensive summary of the many scams and thefts plaguing the Fox Valley. Anyone concerned about protecting themselves or their loved ones should take a moment and review the summary brochure.

A special thanks to the Town of Menasha/Fox Crossing police department for sharing this information and for keeping the public informed. To speak with someone here at HBO Law Firm, please contact us through our website or call our toll free number, and if we can help, we can set up a conference at our Neenah or Appleton locations.

Consequences of Multiple DUI Convictions in Wisconsin

Drunk driving remains a major problem in Wisconsin. According to the Department of Transportation, approximately 24,000 drivers are convicted of drunk driving offenses in the state every year. Wisconsin drunk driving offenses are charged as OWIs (operating while intoxicated). While all intoxicated driving charges need to be taken seriously, it is especially important for those who already have a prior OWI conviction. Indeed, after a first conviction, any subsequent Wisconsin OWI conviction will carry heightened penalties.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Wisconsin

On January 1st, 2017, Wisconsin put in place new drunk driving penalties. The new legislation, which was signed in April of 2016 by Governor Scott Walker, is designed to try to reduce the rate of intoxicated driving in the state. The updated penalties are substantially more harsh on repeat offenders. As of now, the consequences for multiple Wisconsin DUI offenses are as follows:

Second Offense

  • Skyrocketing insurance costs;
  • Financial penalties, including up to $1,100 in fines;
  • Jail time, between five days and six months;
  • License suspension for up to 18 months; and
  • Possible installation of an interlock ignition on your car.

Third Offense

  • Skyrocketing insurance rates;
  • $2,000 in fines, which can be increased further depending on your level of intoxication;
  • Jail time, between 45 days and one year;
  • Loss of license for up to three years; and
  • The mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device on your car.

Fourth Offense (Plus Additional Offenses)

  • Skyrocketing insurance premiums;
  • Mandatory felony charge;
  • In excess of $10,000 in fines;
  • Substantial jail time, likely to be at least five years starting at your fifth offense; and
  • Automatic license revocation, lasting for at least three years.

Defending an OWI Charge

As the penalties for multiple drunk driving convictions can be extremely harsh, you need to take immediate action following an OWI arrest. It is imperative that you work with an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer who can help to protect your legal rights. In crafting a defense strategy, you attorney will consider several different things, including:

  • Your due process rights, including assessing the existence of probable cause in your case;
  • Whether or not there is sufficient evidence to sustain the charges against you; and
  • The existence of opportunities to seek a reduction in your charges or your penalties.

Ultimately, a proper legal defense strategy should always be narrowly tailored to the individual circumstances of each case. In some cases, it may make sense to aggressively fight the OWI charges. Whereas in other cases, the best strategy may be to focus on seeking a reduction in punishment.

Contact Our Office Today to Speak with a Skilled Appleton DUI Lawyer

At Hammett Bellin & Oswald LLC, our experienced Appleton criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling DUI cases. If you need legal assistance, please get in touch our team today by calling 920-720-0000. We offer initial consultations are free of charge. From our offices in Appleton and Neenah, we represent clients throughout Northeastern Wisconsin, including in Wautoma and New London.

Proving Your Slip and Fall Case in Wisconsin

Slip and fall accidents remain far too common in Wisconsin and around the country. Indeed, the (CDC), reports that nearly three million Americans require emergency medical attention for fall accidents each year. Property owners need to do a better job removing safety hazards on their premises. If you slip and fall on another person’s property, you may be able to hold that property owner liable for your damages. Here, our Appleton personal injury attorneys discuss what you need to know about proving liability in a Wisconsin slip and fall case.

Slip and Fall Liability in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, slip and fall accident cases, like all premises liability cases, are based on the negligence standard. This means that in order to hold a property owner liable for your damages, you will need to be able to prove that your accident occurred as a result of their negligence. In broad terms, negligence is the failure to take proper care in a particular situation. In premises liability cases, proving negligence requires proving each of the following three legal elements:

  • Danger: First, you will need to prove that an unreasonable safety hazard was present on the property. Property owners are not automatically liable for a fall accident. For example, a property owner cannot be held liable simply because a person tripped over their own feet. Dangerous conditions must have been present to prove liability.
  • Knowledge: Next, the property owner (or manager) must have had knowledge of the dangerous condition. To be clear, in Wisconsin you can satisfy this element by proving either ‘actual knowledge’ or ‘constructive knowledge’. In other words, you must prove that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the unreasonable safety hazard.
  • Failure to act: Finally, your slip and fall attorney will need to prove that the property owner could have taken action to remove (or reduce) the safety risk, but that they failed to take those actions. Property owners cannot be held liable if there was nothing they could have done to prevent the accident.

Slip and Fall Cases Can Be Complex

Fall accidents victims may seek compensation that covers the full value of their damages. This includes everything from medical bills to lost wages to pain and suffering. However, property owners, and their insurance companies, usually fight slip and fall accident cases very aggressively. To actually recover the compensation that they rightfully deserve, victims need to have an experienced attorney by their side early on in the claims process. Without thorough investigation early on in the claims process, you will have a difficult time obtaining the evidence necessary to support your claim.

Contact a Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer in Wisconsin

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald LLC, our Wisconsin personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling slip and fall accident cases. To request a free review of your case, please call our team today locally at 920-720-0000 or toll free at 866-720-0009. We represent victims throughout Northeastern Wisconsin, including in Green Bay, Oshkosh and DePere.

2017 Law & Justice Scholarship Winner Announced

Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC is pleased to announce that Hannah Krueger is the recipient of the 2017 Law & Justice Scholarship.

This scholarship was offered to all first-year college freshman who planned on attending an accredited College/University during the 2017-2018 school year to assist with college education expenses. Judges selected the scholarship winner based on school activities, special honors and awards, community involvement, interest in pursuing a law degree, academic performance and an essay.

On behalf of the lawyers and staff at HBO Law Firm, we would like to congratulate Hannah Krueger on being the 2017 winner of the Law & Justice Scholarship. We wish her the best of luck in all her educational endeavors.

How Do I Deal with Car Insurance After an Accident?

If you are injured in a car accident because of another party’s negligence, you are entitled to seek compensation for your medical bills and other damages through a personal injury claim. In most cases involving negligent drivers, the money comes from the negligent driver’s automobile insurance provider, but they will generally only pay upon a settlement or a verdict (if a lawsuit has to be filed). Thus, the medical bills usually must first be paid by your auto insurance medical expense coverage or your health insurance. Your auto or health insurance will then want reimbursement for the amounts they pay out of any settlement or verdict you ultimately achieve. If the other driver does not have insurance or enough insurance, you may have to seek coverage under your own auto uninsured motorist coverage.

If you have never filed a personal injury claim before, the process can seem daunting. But once you break it down into small steps, you will see that it can be a fairly straightforward process. Work with an experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer to give your claim the best possible chance of resulting in a fair settlement. Dealing with an uninsured or underinsured negligent driver raises additional issues that will be addressed in future blog posts.

Determine your Damages

Your lawyer can help you determine your damages to determine an amount of compensation to seek. Through a personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for the following:

  • Your medical bills and related expenses;
  • Your lost wages; and
  • Any expenses related to the injury that do not fit into either of the above categories. This can include the need for a mobility aid or your need for hired domestic help while you recover.

Filing your Claim with the Negligent Driver’s Insurance Provider

In Wisconsin, you must settle your claim or file a personal injury lawsuit within three years of the date of your accident. Your lawyer can prepare your claim and submit it to the negligent driver’s insurance provider along with the necessary pieces of evidence to support the claim, such as the accident’s official police report and documentation of your lost wages.

An insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. He or she will either reject your claim or offer you a settlement offer. Do not accept the settlement offer without discussing it with your lawyer first – usually, this amount is far lower than the amount of money you will need and your lawyer can negotiate a higher settlement for you. If your claim is rejected, your lawyer can help you to file a lawsuit to litigate your claim.

Interactions with the Insurance Adjuster

Let your Appleton personal injury lawyer guide your interactions with the insurance adjuster. It is best to let your lawyer interact with them on your behalf. Your lawyer can also deal directly with the medical expense adjuster under your own auto insurance and your health insurance as may be necessary.

Do not make any statements to the negligent driver’s insurance adjuster and do not admit to fault for the accident. These can be used to justify reducing your settlement amount or even rejecting your claim.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Lawyer

If you are involved in a car accident, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of working with an insurance provider to seek compensation for your damages. Medical providers often do not know who to bill for services, and coordinating payments with the different insurers can be difficult and time consuming. But it does not have to be a difficult, uncomfortable process. Work with a compassionate car accident lawyer in Wisconsin who can guide you through the steps of filing and pursuing your personal injury claim. Contact our office today to set up your initial consultation with a member of Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC.

8 Driving Safety Tips to Follow in 2017

With the start of the new year, take the time to assess your habits and focus on creating safer, healthier ones. Use the following safety tips to make yourself a safer driver and reduce your risk of being injured in a car accident.

1. Adjust your Driving to your Surroundings

As the weather changes, so should your driving style. When the road is covered with snow and ice, drive more slowly and consider using tire chains to give your vehicle better traction.

2. Never Drive Distracted, Drunk, or Drowsy

Remember the three Ds of dangerous driving: drunk, drowsy, and distracted. Always drive well rested and put your phone and any other devices away while driving. If you plan to consume alcohol, get a ride home with a designated drive or make use of public transportation.

3. Share the Roadway

In most settings, you are not the only one on the road. And when you have to share the road with others, you usually have to share it with pedestrians and motorists operating other types of vehicle, such as motorcycles, tractor trailers, and bicycles. Give other road users the space they need to use the roadway safely. Large vehicles like commercial trucks need a greater distance to come to a complete stop and motorcycles can be difficult to see, especially at night.

4. Be Aware of Safety Recalls

It is not uncommon for vehicle parts to be recalled because they pose safety risks to their operators and others on the roadway. Subscribe to a recall newsletter and regularly check websites like recalls.gov to keep yourself informed about current recalls.

5. Proper Maintenance Keeps your Vehicle Safe

Keeping your vehicle in proper condition will keep you and other motorists safe. Replace all worn-out parts, such as brake pads, windshield wiper blades, and lights in a timely manner.

6. Be Prepared for a Break Down

Have a safety kit in your car in the event your vehicle breaks down. This kit should include a flashlight, a warm blanket and at least a gallon of fresh water for you, a phone charger, a basic tool set, and a bright colored ribbon to tie around a nearby tree in the event you are stranded and need to make yourself more visible.

7. Know What to Do After an Accident

If you are involved in an accident, pull over immediately and call 911 if anybody needs emergency medical attention. If not, gather evidence you will need to support a personal injury claim later, such as photos of the accident and contact information for eyewitnesses. Call the local police to have an officer come to fill out an official police report. Do not leave the scene of the accident without exchanging automobile insurance information with all other drivers involved.

8. Keep Calm Behind the Wheel

Your state of mind has a significant impact on your driving ability. Although traffic, aggressive drivers, and personal issues can make you upset while you are driving, keep yourself calm at all times. If you are not in a safe emotional state to operate your vehicle, pull over and give yourself time to calm down before you resume driving.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer

You can take steps to reduce your chance of being injured in a car accident this year, but you can never completely eliminate that chance. If you are a victim of a car accident facing significant expenses like medical bills and lost wages, consider working with a member of our team of experienced Appleton personal injury lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC to pursue compensation for your damages. Contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation with us.