The Ultimate Guide for a Successful Thanksgiving

Are you hosting a large Thanksgiving gathering for the first time? Thinking about planning an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a large group can be daunting, from choosing your menu, to keeping your guests entertained while they wait for food, to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout the holiday. To help you prepare for Thanksgiving 2017, we have the ultimate guide for hosting a successful holiday get-together.

Planning Your Thanksgiving Menu: What Should You Serve?

The first step in planning your Thanksgiving menu is finalizing your guest list. You will want to know exactly who is coming over for dinner, along with any food allergies to take into account when you are deciding on a final menu, according to an article in Food and Wine Magazine.

Next, clean out your refrigerator and your freezer so that you have room to properly store all of your food items before you cook them, and to properly store them for leftovers after the Thanksgiving meal is finished. The National Safety Council (NSC) emphasizes the importance of food safety when you are prepping for Thanksgiving or another large holiday meal to avoid personal injury and illness. Never defrost any of your food at room temperature after freezing it. Instead, thaw in your refrigerator, in cold water, or in your microwave. In addition, you should have enough space in your refrigerator and freezer so that you can store your leftovers in shallow containers within two hours after cooking.

Once you are prepared to store your Thanksgiving meal—both before and after cooking—you will need to buy your ingredients. If you need a large turkey, order it ahead of time. When planning your menu, Food and Wine Magazine recommends avoiding complication. Choose five side dishes and two different pies. You can also keep your Thanksgiving menu exciting by introducing colorful dishes like root vegetable gratin and a sturdy salad with greens like kale, escarole, and radicchio.

Getting Your Table Décor Ready for Guests

There are many ideas out there for planning a Thanksgiving dinner tablescape and centerpiece. The following are some tips for putting together stylish table décor for your guests:

  • Wash your linens ahead of time (including tablecloths, table runners, napkins, and even your apron);
  • Coordinate your tableware, but get comfortable with mixing and matching (when you are hosting a large gathering, it is unlikely that you have enough tableware from the same set for everyone, but mixing and matching can create a fun, eclectic table);
  • Create a centerpiece that suits your style (whether it is a vase of autumnal flowers, fruit, or gourds, find a vase or a bowl and fill it up with centerpiece items that complement your tablecloth and tableware); and
  • Choose candles for your dinner table (candles are festive and can create warm light for your guests).

When you use candles at your Thanksgiving table, be sure to consider fire risks and burn injuries. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) emphasizes the importance of blowing out all candles when you are not in the room to avoid a dangerous home fire.

Keeping Your Guests Entertained While They Wait for Dinner

For many Thanksgiving dinner hosts, it is important to think about ways to keep your guests entertained once they arrive at your home but before the dinner is served. Guests often enjoy appetizers, wine, beer, and cocktails while they wait for Thanksgiving dinner. In providing appetizers, Food and Wine Magazine recommends keeping your appetizer list “light and easy.” There are many appetizers you can purchase from your local grocery store, such as a meat and cheese board. Some cheese boards can also be ordered online. Other popular and easy appetizers include olives, pickles, crackers, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

You will want to select your wine and beer well ahead of time, choosing drinks to keep your guests busy while you finish cooking, as well as wine that will complement your menu. Serving alcohol at your Thanksgiving dinner is enjoyable for your guests. Hosts should keep in mind, as the American Red Cross emphasizes, that drinking and driving can result in serious and fatal car accidents. Ensure that your guests do not leave your home too intoxicated to drive, and if they cannot safely get behind the wheel, ensure that there is a designated driver.

Cooking and Serving Your Dinner

The last step to a successful Thanksgiving is preparing and serving your dinner. Always check your cooking devices ahead of time, from your turkey fryer to your stovetop burners. Many items, such as pies and salads, can be prepared ahead of time. Set a kitchen timer to ensure that nothing burns, and keep children out of the kitchen to prevent stovetop burn injuries.

As we mentioned previously, planning ahead to store your Thanksgiving leftovers can ensure that your food leftovers are enjoyable the day after Thanksgiving, too.

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, we want you to have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with your family, friends, and loved ones. In the event an accident does result in a serious injury, an experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer at our firm can help.

Starting the Recovery Process After Domestic Violence and Abuse

With last month being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it’s important for us to remember that this issue impacts millions of people every day of the year. Those who have suffered at the hands of someone close to them need protection, support and a healthy road to recovery.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) estimates as many as one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe, physical violence at some point in their lives. The numbers are even higher when factoring in verbal abuse. These attacks leave deep scars and lasting effects, and true recovery can take years.

Finding the strength to overcome

For many victims of domestic violence and abuse, the journey to a better life starts the moment they recognize they are in danger. Staying with a friend, confiding in a relative or speaking with an Appleton domestic violence lawyer can help victims break free from abuse.

This can be a frightening process. Because a person’s self-worth, confidence, trust and happiness are all targeted by an abuser, it’s difficult to muster the courage to seek help.

Thankfully, there are many resources designed specifically to protect victims of abuse. According to current data, there are more than 15 domestic violence and abuse shelters, programs and emergency hotlines in the Appleton, Neenah, Oshkosh and Oneida areas.This includes Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs, which operates right here in Appleton.

Seeking assistance from a domestic violence lawyer in Appleton is also an option. Not only can a qualified legal professional help you secure a protection order, but you’ll also receive guidance on the local networks and resources that can keep you safe.

Healing physically and mentally

Putting distance between yourself and an abuser is not often enough to start the healing process. It takes the compassion of others to truly begin putting the turmoil behind you.This can take many forms:

  • Medical professionals can help mend broken bones, stitch up wounds or provide general medical attention. In cases of sexual abuse, it’s paramount to get medical attention as soon as possible to ensure the safety of the victim and to corroborate police reports or accusations.
  • Counselors can help victims realize abuse is occurring and put things in perspective, allowing them to begin the recovery process. This is critically important for victims who justify their attackers’ abuse or who blame themselves for their situation. Many times, just being able to talk to someone is incredibly beneficial.
  • Survivors are people who know what you’ve been through because they have been there themselves. Talking to people who have overcome abuse can help victims see the light at the end of the tunnel and boost their confidence about their future. It may also be the start of new, healthy friendships that re-cement a person’s self-worth.

Domestic abuse from a loved one takes its toll in so many forms. That’s why it’s so important for victims to receive care and attention as they work to address everything they’ve experienced.

Seeking closure and finality

Depending on the person and the issues involved, recovery from domestic abuse can take months or years. No matter how long it takes to regain a sense of confidence, it’s important to seek legal protection from abuse without delay. Prosecuting an attacker is the ultimate form of domestic abuse defense because it ensures that person cannot continue the pattern of violence against others.

It can be downright terrifying to take an abuser to trial. Having to give testimony in the same room as someone you fear is something no person wants to experience. And, with evidence and previous testimony on trial, it can make victims feel as if they are reliving the worst moments of their lives. However, it also allows victims to truly free themselves from their abusers and experience closure.

Legal action can also be an important way for victims to protect themselves. Being able to publicly show an abuser for who they are gives victims the ultimate protection. It allows you to get on with your life and overcome all that has happened to you.

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, we do everything in our power to help victims of domestic violence and abuse on their road to recovery. Whether you are taking your first step toward separating from your abuser or you are ready to build a legal case, we are here to help.

6 Tips to Keep your Children Safe While Driving

When you are driving with your children, you are not the only one in the car who can be injured in a car accident in Wisconsin. Your children can be victims of a collision as well and potentially suffer severe injuries with permanent complications. The only way you can ensure that your children will never be hurt in a car accident is to never drive with them, which is not practical or realistic. You can take safety precautions to reduce your chance of being involved in a collision and to protect your children from harm if you are in an accident.

Use Appropriate Child Seats for their Ages and Weights

If your children are small enough to need safety seats, make sure the seats they are in are appropriate for their sizes and oriented the correct way in your vehicle. Children age 12 and under are safest in the back seat.

Until your child is one year old or 22 pounds, he or she should be in a rear-facing car seat. Once a child’s height or weight exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendation for his or her forward-facing car seat, he or she should use a booster seat. Most children are ready to ride with just an adult seatbelt by age eight, but some are not large enough to ride without a booster seat until age 10.

Follow Posted Traffic Laws

Obeying the posted traffic signs protects you and all others on the roadway, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Come to a full stop at every red light and stop sign, drive within the speed limit, and comply with all other signs like yield and merge signs.

Do Not Drive Drunk, Distracted, or Drowsy

Just like obeying the posted traffic signs is safest for you, your passengers, and all others on the roadway, it is important that you are in a safe state of mind when you drive. This means driving only when you are alert enough to safely operate a motor vehicle and choosing not to drive if you are under the influence of alcohol or another drug. Using your cell phone and allowing yourself to become distracted by other sources like eating, drinking, and your vehicle’s radio can also put you and your passengers at an increased risk of being involved in an accident.

Be Mindful of Safety Recalls

Visit and sign up for email notifications about new safety recalls to keep yourself aware of all new child safety seat and vehicle recalls as they are issued. Having a faulty part on your vehicle replaced or repaired can reduce your chance of causing an accident and replacing an insufficient car seat can protect your child from injury if you are involved in one.

Keep Up on your Vehicle’s Maintenance

A well-maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle. Be sure to keep your tires appropriately inflated at all times and to replace your brake pads as necessary. Bald tires, worn brakes, and worn windshield wipers can all increase your likelihood of being involved in a collision.

Model Safe Driving Behavior

Before you know it, your children will be teenagers and driving on their own. As a parent, you want to be sure that your children are safe when they get behind the wheel. One of the most effective ways to do this is to model safe driving behavior like wearing your seat belt and maintaining a safe following distance with other vehicles. When your children ride in your car, they see everything you do. If they see you using your cell phone while driving, speeding, and making other unsafe driving choices, they will be more likely to make these choices themselves.

Talk about the consequences of unsafe driving, and be sure to go beyond your personal consequences for them if you catch them speeding or using the phone while they drive. Talk about the fines and other legal consequences for speeding and drunk driving and the injuries they can sustain or cause others to suffer if they are involved in a collision.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or your child are injured in a car accident, work with an experienced Appleton car accident attorney to file and pursue a personal injury claim. Contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation in our office, during which we can discuss your case in greater detail and determine the most effective way for you to move forward with your claim.

Texting While Driving: A Killing Combination

It is no secret that text messaging while driving causes car accidents. Text messaging is by no means the only distraction drivers face, but it is currently one of the most prevalent. Many states across the nation have passed laws prohibiting the practice, imposing steep fines and other penalties on drivers found using their smartphones for text messaging and app use while driving. In fact, lawmakers in a few states have even proposed legislation to permit law enforcement to use “textalyzers,” electronic devices that can determine whether a driver was using his or her phone at the time of a collision.

Wisconsin and National Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,477 people died as the result of distracted driving in 2015. That year, 391,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. Each day, an estimated 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while driving.

In Wisconsin, 24,016 collisions due to distracted driving were reported in 2015. 10,615 people were injured and 94 were killed by distracted drivers that year.

Why is Texting while Driving Dangerous?

Text messaging while driving is dangerous because it takes the driver’s eyes and hands – the most important connections he or she has with the vehicle and the task at hand – off the road. Not only does text messaging physically inhibit the driver’s ability to control his or her vehicle, it takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving as well.

When a driver relinquishes control of a vehicle like this, he or she can easily cause a collision by missing a hazard in the roadway, failing to swerve, stop, or adjust speed appropriately to the present traffic conditions, and miss stop signs, yield signs, and red lights. Even taking one’s eyes off the road for a few seconds can dramatically increase his or her risk of being involved in a collision. On average, a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that driver travels the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Texting and Other Driving Distractions

Other distractions drivers face in the car include:

Talking on the phone. Although hands-free headsets and software can make talking on the phone while driving less dangerous, it is still safest for drivers to completely focus on the roadway;

  • Loud music that blocks important sounds outside the vehicle;
  • Eating while driving;
  • Grooming while driving;
  • Adjusting a vehicle’s radio, climate control, or GPS;
  • Daydreaming while driving;
  • Pets in the vehicle; and
  • Heated interactions with passengers in the vehicle.

Choose Not to Text and Drive

Texting while driving is a choice. You can protect yourself and others on the roadway by choosing not to text while you are driving.

For many, curbing a text messaging habit is not easy. Many individuals have to train themselves not to text and drive. A few strategies to consider to keep yourself from being tempted to respond to your phone’s notifications include:

  • Setting your phone to silent when you are in the car;
  • Downloading an app like Live2Txt and Cellcontrol to block incoming phone calls and messages while you are driving;
  • Putting your phone in the glove box or back seat where you cannot reach it while you are driving; and
  • If you are driving with a passenger, having him or her take over phone duties. This can mean taking your calls for you and responding to text messages on your behalf.
  • If you are expecting an important text message or phone call, change the notification tone for its sender so you can differentiate between that individual and others. When you hear the tone for that caller or sender, pull off the road and park so you can take the call or respond to the message.

If you are the parent of a teen who drives or soon will drive, model safe driving behavior by opting not to text and drive. Talk to your child about the dangers of distracted driving and the consequences for texting and driving, which can include tickets, fines, damage to the vehicle, and injuries.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a collision with a distracted driver, you have the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for your related damages. To get started on your case with an experienced Appleton personal injury lawyer, contact our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

DWI in Wisconsin: What Are the Consequences?

There are more than 24,000 drunk driving convictions in Wisconsin each year, according to the state Department of Transportation. But not all cases of operating a vehicle while intoxicated–OWI, the Wisconsin equivalent of DUI or DWI in other states–are treated the same by the legal system. In fact, Wisconsin is relatively lenient with first-time offenders, although the penalties will escalate for each successive OWI conviction.

First Offenses in Wisconsin

If you have no prior drunk driving record, a first OWI conviction will generally result in a fine and a suspension of your driver’s license. You will not face any jail time. The judge will fine you between $150 and $300, and you will lose your license for 6 to 9 months.

However, if there was a minor–anyone under the age of 16–in the vehicle with you at the time of your OWI arrest, you can be sentenced to jail, for a period of anywhere between 5 days and 6 months. The maximum fines and license suspension period also increase, to $1,100 and 18 months, respectively.

Second Offenses

The penalties for a second offense largely depend on when your first offense occurred. If you have a prior OWI conviction within a 10-year period, you are facing jail time of between 5 days and 6 months. Otherwise, the second offense has the same penalties as a first offense. For example, if you were convicted of OWI in 2002, and convicted a second time in 2017–more than 10 years later–you would only face a maximum possible $300 fine and a license suspension.

Third and Subsequent Offenses

Once you get to a third OWI conviction, you are facing at least 45 days in jail. Starting with the fourth conviction, Wisconsin treats OWI as a felony. Here is a brief rundown of the felony classifications and penalty ranges:

  • 4th offense – Class H felony, punishable by 60 days to 6 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
  • 5th-6th offenses – Class G felony, punishable by 6 months to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
  • 7th-9th offenses – Class F felony, punishable by 3 years to 12 years, 6 months, in jail and a $25,000 fine.
  • 10th and all succeeding offenses – Class E felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

From the third OWI conviction forward, your driver’s license will also be suspended at least 2 to 3 years, which will be in addition to the length of any prison term.

OWI Involving Death or Injury to Other People

All of the drunk driving penalties described above apply to cases where nobody else was injured. If you cause injury to while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, even if it is a first offense, you will face up to 1 year in jail and lose your driver’s license for 1 to 2 years, in addition to the length of your confinement. For second and succeeding OWI’s involving bodily injury, you can be charged with a Class H felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 6 years.

Additionally, if an OWI causes “great bodily harm,” it is considered a class F felony, and the maximum prison term more than doubles from 6 years to 12 years, 6 months. And drunk driving that results in the death of another–legally, “Homicide While OWI”–is a Class D felony. This carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years. But if the driver has any prior OWI convictions, Homicide While OWI is elevated to a Class C felony, which can lead to a prison term of up to 40 years.

Penalties for Refusing Chemical Tests for OWI

When police arrest you for OWI they will typically request you take a blood, breath, or urine test to confirm your blood-alcohol level is above the legal limit. By law you are deemed to give “implied consent” for such tests. But constitutionally, you have the right to refuse to give evidence that may serve to incriminate you.

You cannot be fined or sent to jail for refusing a chemical test, even if you have multiple prior OWI convictions. But the State of Wisconsin can–and will–automatically suspend your driver’s license if you refuse. Since license suspensions are administrative actions in this context, rather than criminal penalties, they are not considered a violation of your constitutional rights.

Do You Need Help From an Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Any drunk driving arrest is a serious matter, regardless of whether or not you have a prior OWI record. Given the potential consequences of a conviction, it is critical you work with a qualified Appleton DUI lawyer. Contact Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, today if you need immediate legal assistance.

Wisconsin State Bike Laws

Bicycle accidents are often overlooked in comparison to car accidents and truck crashes. But according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a bicyclist is killed or injured approximately every 9.7 hours on the state’s roadways. Altogether, that is more than 1,000 crashes per year. And while there may be fewer overall bicycle accidents, bicyclists are more exposed than someone driving a motor vehicle. Indeed, the Department of Transportation noted that bicyclists “are almost always injured in a collision also involving a motor vehicle.”

What Are My Rights as a Bicyclist?

But just because bicycles are at a disadvantage when pitted up against a car or truck, that does not excuse irresponsible driving on the bicyclist’s part. Remember, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” under Wisconsin traffic laws. This means that as a bicyclist, you must obey the same rules of the road as any other vehicle. Conversely, you also have the same rights as any motorist.

Of course, many bicyclists do not travel as fast as cars. Wisconsin law therefore requires anyone operating a bicycle on a public roadway “at less than the normal speed of traffic” for that time of day to ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb” of the road. This is only a general rule, however, and the bicyclist is allowed to reenter the main part of the lane to overtake another vehicle traveling in the same direction, to prepare for a left turn or U-turn, or to avoid a hazard or “unsafe condition” on the right-hand side.

Bicyclists should always stay on roadways or specially designated bicycle paths where available. You should never ride a bicycle on a sidewalk unless it is expressly permitted by local laws. In Appleton, for example, the City does have an ordinance that permits bicyclists to use most public sidewalks so long as they exercise “due care.”

But according to a recent report by the Appleton Post-Crescent, this ordinance does not apply to “sidewalks on College Avenue between Drew Street and Badger Avenue.” Local police have issued at least 42 citations this year for bicyclists who rode on those prohibited sidewalks. Appleton Police Department policy is to issue written warnings for each such violation, which carry fines of between $20 and $162.70.

Can I Ride Double-File?

Bicycling is a popular group activity. Riding double-file–or “2 abreast”–often helps reduce the risk of serious car accidents by deterring motor vehicles from attempting to make unsafe pass attempts. And overall, when multiple bicyclists operate as a group, they are simply more visible to traffic. For this reason, riding 2 abreast is legal on Wisconsin roadways so long as it does not “impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic” and both riders stay in a single lane when traveling on a two-lane road.
But as with single riders, double-file riders must stay “as close as practicable” to the right-hand side of the road, except as discussed above. Nor is it legal for bicyclists to ride in groups of more than 2 abreast–i.e., no riding triple-file–on public roads, although it is permissible on designated bicycle paths.

Do I Need to Use Hand Signals?

Since most bicycles lack automated turn signals or “signal lamps,” state law does require bicyclists to use generally accepted hand signals to indicate a turn or stop. Here is a brief reminder of those hand signals: in Hand and arm extended horizontally – bicyclist is making a left-hand turn or U-turn
Hand and arm are extended upward – bicyclist is making a right-hand turn
Hand and arm are extended downward – bicyclist is making a stop or decreasing speed
Any bicyclist who fails to give a proper turn signal may be cited by local law enforcement and fined $20.

Do I Need to Wear a Helmet?

It is always a good idea to wear a helmet when operating a bicycle, especially on public roads. According to the Department of Transportation, helmet use “can eliminate 85 percent of head injuries when crashes do occur.” That said, there is no state law that mandates bicycle helmets for either adults or children. At least one Wisconsin city–Port Washington–has its own municipal ordinance requiring children under the age of 16 to wear bicycle helmets. You should check with your local police department to see if there are any similar rules in place for your city or town.

Get Help From a Qualified Appleton Bike Accident Attorney

Negligent motorists often try to blame bicyclists for accidents. That is why it is critical for all bicyclists to understand and follow state bike laws in Appleton, Green Bay and all throughout Wisconsin. And if you are in a serious bicycle accident, you need to work with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer in Wisconsin who will zealously defend your interests. Contact the injury lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today if you have been injured and would like to schedule an initial consultation with our office.


Hammett, Bellin and Oswald Law Firm is proud to be one of the sponsors for the 2017 Wilson Center for the Arts Guitar Festival. From August 17-19 artists from around the world will converge in Wisconsin to showcase their talents and compete in numerous guitar competitions. There will be classes, exhibits, and incredible performances from world class musicians.

This year there will be tickets provided for several community organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, so that they can provide free entry for 100 children to attend the performances. This is an incredible event for all ages and lovers of all styles of music. Individuals create the conscience of the community, and at HBO Law we believe providing opportunities for all members of the community will only make it stronger. Thanks to the Wilson Center for making this great event happen.

Is Summer the Most Dangerous Time to Drive?

Yes. During the summer, there are hazards present that are not there during other times of the year. This is actually true of all seasons: in the winter, drivers face snow and ice accumulation, in the Fall, drivers face rapidly shortening days and heavy autumn rains, and in the spring, winter’s leftover potholes can make for a difficult, bumpy ride. In the summer, heat makes drivers uncomfortable and can cause vehicles to overheat. More drivers, particularly inexperienced drivers, are on the roadway and with summer holidays can come more impaired drivers, both of which are linked to a higher incidence of car accidents.

More Teen Drivers on the Road Means More Chances for Inexperience-based Collisions

The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the “100 deadliest days of summer” for teenage drivers. This is because the number of teenage traffic fatalities increases during the summer months, when young drivers are driving through new locations, during later hours of the night, and more frequently with friends in their cars.

Hot Weather Can Mean Hot Tempers

During the summer months, drivers are more likely to experience road rage than they are at other times of the year. Road rage can include, but is certainly not limited to:

  • Rude gestures, such as “flipping the bird;”
  • Tailgating;
  • Shouting at other drivers; and
  • Driving in an aggressive manner, such as weaving in and out of traffic.

If you experience road rage from other drivers, do not engage with them. Instead, choose to continue driving in accordance with the posted traffic signs and focusing on getting yourself to your destination safely. Engaging with an angry driver will only encourage them to continue their behavior and can put you into a dangerous position.

Although you cannot control how others behave, you can avoid making other drivers upset by driving in a safe, considerate manner. Do not use a handheld phone while you are driving and make it a point to keep up with the flow of traffic. Do not cut others off in traffic or follow other vehicles too closely, because these can make other drivers upset and cause them to react in a negative manner.

Road Work Can Mean New, Confusing Traffic Patterns

It is not uncommon for states, counties, and municipalities to do road work during the summer in order to avoid weather-based delays that can come at other times of the year. When road crews are working, lanes might be closed off or traffic patterns could be rerouted, both of which can be confusing for drivers and back traffic up. Pay close attention to the posted traffic changes that accompany roadwork this summer to reduce your chance of being involved in an accident.

An Overheated Vehicle Can be a Hazard to Everybody on the Roadway

If your vehicle overheats, it can break down on the roadway and become a collision hazard for others. If your car is in danger of overheating, which you can determine by watching its temperature gauge, pull off the road and turn the engine off. White vapor or a strange smell from under the hood can also indicate a dangerously high temperature for your engine.

Keep yourself Cool and Safe on the Road this Summer

To avoid becoming a victim of road rage or engaging in road rage yourself, it is important that you stay cool, both emotionally and physically. Physical discomfort is linked to emotional overreaction and anger, so it is important that you keep your body cool while driving this summer by using your air conditioning system and drinking enough water.

Play soothing music in the car and consciously choose not to get upset by things you cannot control, like the heat or the traffic congestion. Consider learning how to relax your body with breathing techniques. By lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, you can reduce your stress level and arrive at your destination calm and ready for the rest of your day.

Work with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Wisconsin

If you are involved in a car accident this summer and suffer an injury, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your related damages through a personal injury claim with the help of an Appleton personal injury attorney. To learn more about the personal injury claim process, your rights as an injured claimant, and how to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve, contact our team of Appleton car accident attorneys at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.

How to Avoid Car Accidents in the Summer

Although it can seem counterintuitive at first, the summer is actually one of the most dangerous times of year to drive. Although the lack of snow and ice on the road and the longer daylight hours seem like they would reduce the number of collisions on Wisconsin highways during the warmer months, there is actually a higher incidence of collisions during the summer, especially for teenage drivers.

You can take steps to reduce your likelihood of being involved in a car accident this summer. Just as you do throughout the year, follow the posted traffic signs and always obey the posted speed limit. Drive defensively and adjust your driving to your surroundings. A few other ways you can avoid car accidents this summer include:

Choose Not to Drink and Drive

Summer often means barbecues, graduation parties, and for those around Green Bay, days on the boat. And a lot of these events mean drinking alcohol. Drunk driving is not only dangerous, it is illegal and carries criminal penalties for those found guilty of OWI.

If you choose to drink, do not drive. Get a ride from a designated driver or use a rideshare like Uber or public transportation to reach your destination. Alcohol inhibits a driver’s perception of the road, his or her judgment, and his or her reaction time, all of which can cause a deadly accident.

Keep your Car from Overheating and Be Prepared for Breakdowns

If your car overheats, it can break down and potentially cause a collision. It can also leave you facing a steep car repair bill or even mechanically total your car. If you notice white vapor coming from under your hood, a strong unpleasant smell in your car, or the needle on your dashboard temperature gauge going beyond the normal temperature range for your engine, pull off the road immediately and turn the car off. Open the hood to allow it to cool, but do not touch anything inside until it has cooled completely. Once you can open the coolant tank, check its level. If all you need is to top it off, do so and get yourself home or to a mechanic to determine if there is a leak in your cooling system.

Share the Road with Others

During the summer months, school is out and there are more teenage drivers on the road than there are during the academic year. Many of these new drivers are driving on unfamiliar roads and could be facing certain roadway challenges for the first time, like navigating a divided highway or driving at night. Pay close attention to the road at all times so you can react to sudden, irrational moves by inexperienced drivers.

Summer is also a popular time of year for road trips. Visitors who are unfamiliar with the roads and cities they visit can make similar mistakes to young drivers, such as driving too slowly and making sudden turns.

In addition to young and visiting drivers, there tends to be more motorcyclists and bicyclists on the road during the warmer months. Again, be conscientious of these individuals to avoid collisions with them.

Keep Yourself Calm, Cool, and in Control Behind the Wheel

It can be easy to become frustrated when sharing the road with the drivers discussed above. This, paired with the heat of the summer months, can easily cause drivers to overreact to others’ actions and create an aggressive driving environment. This is known as “road rage,” and it is not productive for anybody.

When you drive this summer, keep your mood stable by keeping yourself cool physically and emotionally. Keep a bottle of water in the car to keep yourself hydrated at all times. If your vehicle has air conditioning, use it to stay comfortable. When traffic piles up or other drivers make inappropriate moves, do not take it personally. Make safety a priority and do not engage when others make aggressive – or stupid – choices.

Work with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Wisconsin

Even if you take all the necessary precautions to prevent a car accident this summer, there is still a chance that another driver will behave in a negligent manner and cause you to suffer an injury in a collision. If this happens, you could be entitled to recover monetary compensation for your resulting damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more, contact our team of experienced Appleton car accident lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation with us. Our Appleton personal injury attorneys can answer any questions you have and help you move forward with the personal injury claim process.

How to Reduce your Risk of Bicycle Accidents

The warm weather is here, and that means more Neenah residents are heading out for bicycle rides. For some, a bicycle is purely a recreational vehicle and for others, it is a primary mean of transportation to work, school, or to run errands. Any individual who rides a bicycle is at risk of being injured in a bike accident in Wisconsin.

Although you can never completely eliminate your risk of being injured in a bicycle accident, you can reduce it significantly by taking safety precautions when you ride. Safe bicycle riding starts before you even leave your home. Wearing a helmet shields your head from the trauma of hitting the asphalt or another object, reducing your chance of suffering a traumatic brain injury. Keeping your bicycle in good working condition, which includes using chain lube, keeping your tires inflated to a safe pressure level, and replacing your brake pads as needed will also reduce your chance of being injured in a bicycle accident.

When sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians, keep the following in mind:

Make yourself as Visible as Possible
It can be difficult for drivers to see bicyclists on the roadway, even in broad daylight. No matter what time of day you ride, take care to stay out of vehicles’ blindspots.

If you ride at night, you need to take extra care to make yourself visible. Wear white or light colored clothing and use reflective tape on your clothing, bicycle, and helmet to make yourself visible to drivers. A light on your bicycle or helmet can be a great way to make yourself visible when riding at night.

Follow the Rules of the Road
When you ride your bicycle on the roadway, you are subject to the same laws that govern motorists. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, signaling before making a turn, and yielding to traffic and pedestrians where appropriate.

Ride on the right-hand side of the road, just as you would when driving a car. Give cars enough following distance and never between lanes of traffic. Although this can be an easy way to get through tight traffic, it is also quite dangerous because drivers might not see you riding between the lanes.

Find the Safest Place to Ride your Bicycle
If there is a bicycle lane on the roads you use, this is the safest place for you to ride. Otherwise, you generally have the option to ride in the roadway or on the sidewalk. Check with your municipality to determine whether local laws prohibit bicycles on certain sidewalks or roadways. When you must ride in the roadway and there is no bicycle path, ride in the shoulder or as far to the right of the roadway as safely possible.

Designated bicycle trails are also a safe place to ride your bicycle. When riding on a trail, the sidewalk, or the roadway with another bicyclist, ride single file to avoid blocking others or creating a hazard.

Be Aware of your Surroundings at All Times
Just like you need to make others aware of your presence, you should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Do not use your cell phone while riding your bicycle. This diverts your attention from the roadway and can reduce your reaction time, putting you at greater risk of collision. If you ride at night, equip your bicycle with a sufficiently bright light to see the roadway ahead and to your sides. This will allow you to see potholes and other roadway hazards like uneven pavement and debris.

Do not wear earbuds while riding your bicycle. Hearing can be as important as sight when riding in public, so make sure that none of your senses are compromised when you are riding. If you plan to ride through an unfamiliar area, take some time to research the area’s roadways and traffic patterns beforehand.

Be careful when riding around parked cars, particularly when riding to the immediate left of parallel parked cars. It is not uncommon for bicyclists to be hit and seriously injured when car doors are swung open in front of them.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Bicycle Accident Lawyer

A bicycle accident can leave you suffering from severe, sometimes permanent injuries. If you are in this position and facing significant expenses, consider working with a member of our team of experienced Appleton personal injury attorney to seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. Contact Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office.