Monthly Archives: April 2017

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.