Category Archives: Car Accident

Appleton Fatal Car Accidents

Car accidents can be fatal. In Appleton, an average of 1.6 fatal car accidents occur each year. Approximately 44 percent of these accidents involved alcohol. Among the recorded fatal collisions, approximately one third occurred on roadways with speed limits 25 miles per hour and lower. Accidents occurred on all types of roadways in the city, both local roads and highways. The interchange with the greatest number of fatal accidents was where Interstate 41 meets US Route 441.

If you are injured in a car accident, you have the right to work with an Appleton personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. If you lose a loved one in a car accident, you may seek compensation for damages related to his or her death through a wrongful death claim.

Fatal Car Accidents in Wisconsin

In total, 603 people died in car accidents in Wisconsin in 2017. This was up from 2016’s figure of 588.

Appleton is uniquely situated in three counties: Calumet, Winnebago, and Outagamie. In Calumet County, five people died in car accidents in 2017. In Winnebago County, nine people died and in Outagamie County, the number of victims was 20.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation data from 2016 shows the following statistics about fatal car accidents in Wisconsin:

  • 186 people died in speed-related collisions;
  • 49 pedestrians died;
  • 11 bicyclists died; and
  • 143 fatalities were linked to alcohol.

Reducing your Chance of being Killed in a Car Accident

There are ways you can reduce your chance of being injured or killed in one of Appleton’s fatal car accidents. Do not mistake this for being able to eliminate your chance of being killed in a car accident – the only way to guarantee that you will never die in a car accident is to spend the rest of your life inside your home. But by taking certain safety precautions, you can reduce your chance of being involved in an accident and if you are in an accident, increase your chance of surviving.

  • Always wear your seatbelt when you are in a motor vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a seatbelt reduces drivers’ and front seat passengers’ risk of dying in an accident by 45 percent;
  • Put the phone down when you are driving. Reading a text message can take your eyes off the road for up to five seconds, which is plenty of time to get into a fatal collision. Even talking on a handheld phone can increase your chance of being involved in an accident because it takes a hand off the steering wheel and your attention off the process of driving;
  • Adjust your driving to your environment. When the road is covered in ice or snow, slow down and take turns less sharply. When you drive at night, use your headlights and when necessary, your high beams; and
  • Never drive if you feel drowsy. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. If you feel too tired to drive, drink a cup of coffee, eat a snack, or take a short nap before you get behind the wheel.

These safety tips will help you avoid causing accidents and help you avoid getting into accidents caused by other drivers. When another driver is speeding or swerving aggressively, staying alert by choosing not to use your phone while driving can help you avoid a potentially fatal collision.

Seeking Compensation After Losing a Loved One in a Car Accident

When a victim dies in a car accident, his or her loved ones can seek compensation for their damages through a wrongful death claim. These damages can include:

  • The victim’s medical bills;
  • The victim’s funeral and burial expenses;
  • The family’s loss of the loved one’s companionship;
  • The family’s emotional trauma from the death; and
  • The loss of the victim’s earnings and employment benefits.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney

Losing a loved one in a car accident is devastating. When you lose a loved one in a preventable accident, you are entitled to seek compensation for your damages through a wrongful death claim. To learn more about filing and pursuing this type of claim, contact our team of experienced car accident lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation with us. We can answer your questions and provide you with the legal guidance you need.

How to Deal with your Insurance Company After a Car Accident

When a car accident happens in Wisconsin, the driver whose negligence caused the accident to occur is liable for the victims’ damages. This means that if victims suffered bodily injuries, the negligent driver’s insurance provider must compensate them for all the expenses that face related to these injuries, like their medical bills and lost wages.

Under most circumstances, you will have to interact with the other driver’s insurance provider if you choose to pursue compensation for your damages after being injured in a collision. In certain scenarios, however, you could have to use your own coverage to recover the compensation you need. If you were involved in a collision with a driver who did not have car insurance or whose insurance coverage was insufficient to cover your damages, you can use your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay for your accident-related expenses.

Report the Accident to your Insurance Provider

Regardless of who caused the accident and whether you plan to file a personal injury claim with another driver’s insurance provider, report the collision to your own provider as soon as you can after the accident. As an insured motorist, you have the duty to act in good faith toward your provider, which includes reporting any accidents that involve you.

Have All the Information you Need Ready Before you Speak with the Insurer

After your accident, you should seek medical attention for any injuries you sustained. Have information about your doctor’s appointment, such as your diagnosis, date you saw the doctor, your health insurance policy number, and your treatment plan ready for your conversation with the insurance provider. The insurance provider will likely contact your healthcare provider to verify that you received medical treatment.

You should also have all your information about the accident itself ready for this conversation, like your copy of the police report, the other driver’s name and if he or she was insured, his or her insurance policy number, and any statements from witnesses to the accident. If you have photographs of the accident, you may be asked to send these to your insurance provider.

Never Assign Blame or Admit Fault

During your conversations with your insurance provider, it is always important that you avoid admitting fault for the accident, even if you think you are only admitting partial fault. Do not mention that you were drinking coffee or reading a billboard when the collision occurred. The insurance provider may conduct an investigation of the claim to determine which party was at fault.

Similarly, do not assign blame for the accident to another driver, even if the other driver’s actions clearly caused the accident. Again, this is something your insurance provider will work out, not you.

Always Tell the Truth

When the insurance provider asks you a question about your accident, answer truthfully without admitting fault or blaming another party for the collision. Keep to the facts: if your car was hit by another car while traveling through an intersection, state that. Do not provide unnecessary details in your recount of the accident.

Under no circumstance should you ever lie to an insurance provider. Depending on the lie, this can be an act of insurance fraud. Even seemingly minor lies can be used to justify a higher insurance rate for you.

Part of being 100 percent truthful is being honest about not knowing certain answers. If your insurance provider asks you a question you cannot confidently answer because you do not remember certain details, do not try to “fill in” these details with what you think happened. Instead, tell the insurance provider that you do not know the answer to their question.

Let your Lawyer Help You

Before interacting with your insurance provider, talk to your lawyer about the types of questions you will face and how to answer them. Your lawyer can coach you through these interactions and eliminate any anxiety you have about them.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Attorney

When you have to deal with an insurance provider after being involved in a car accident, it is always a good idea to do so with an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. Your lawyer is your advocate and can negotiate with the insurance provider on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected and your interests are promoted. To start working with one of the Appleton personal injury lawyers on our team, contact Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation with us.

Driving Safely on Wisconsin Roads this Holiday Season

The winter holidays can be especially dangerous for drivers for a few reasons. One of these is the reduced visibility at this time of year – the days are at their shortest in December. Another is the weather. Snow and ice on the road can make it slippery and difficult for drivers to maneuver, increasing their chances of being involved in accidents. Add drunk drivers leaving holiday parties to the mix, and you can see why your chance of being involved in a car accident is higher during the December holidays than it is at many other points of the year.

Use the following guidelines to reduce your chance of being involved in a car accident this holiday season.

Drinking and Driving Do Not Mix

A driver whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher is not only at risk of being arrested and charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), he or she is a hazard to everybody on the road. Alcohol inhibits an individual’s perception and judgment, rendering him or her unable to safely operate a vehicle.

This holiday season, choose not to drive drunk. There are a few different strategies you can use to stay safe, such as:

  • Volunteering to be a designated driver and choosing not to drink. You can protect loved ones by driving them home after a holiday party;
  • Riding with a designated driver;
  • Using a rideshare service like Uber or public transportation to get to and from your parties; and
  • Staying with your host overnight or being the host and inviting guests to stay in your home until the day after the party.

Keep an Eye on the Weather Before, During, and After your Trip

When you plan a trip to visit loved ones, take a look at the weather forecast first. Look at the weather for your location as well as theirs. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the time of your departure, the duration of your drive, and your drive back home after the visit. If snow or heavy rain is predicted for any point in your trip, consider rescheduling or canceling the trip.

Do a Vehicle Inspection Before you Hit the Road

Before you leave your home, inspect the following:

  • Your tire treads;
  • Your tire pressure;
  • All fluid levels, such as brake fluid, antifreeze, and engine oil; and
  • Your windshield wiper blades’ wear.

If anything on your vehicle needs to be replaced or topped off, do this before leaving for a long trip. Having tires with sufficient treat is particularly important during the winter months when roadways may be covered in ice or snow. Dramatic changes in temperature can also cause your tires to deflate, so make it a point to check their pressure levels and refill them if necessary.

Be Vigilant and Courteous Toward the Other Drivers on the Roadway

During the holiday season, visitors from other states and regions will be on Wisconsin’s roadways visiting their loved ones. These drivers might not be familiar with the area and can make mistakes, like stopping suddenly or driving below the speed limit as they look for signs. Be patient with these drivers and when you get stuck in holiday traffic, remain calm. Use defensive driving strategies and be alert at all times as you share the roadway with others.

Be Prepared for a Breakdown, Car Trouble, or an Injury

Pack the following in your vehicle to ensure that you are safe in the event of a variety of situations:

  • A first aid kit;
  • Clean water;
  • A flashlight;
  • A warm blanket;
  • A bright colored scarf or other fabric to use to flag down aid in the event of a breakdown;
  • A car cell phone charger;
  • A tool kit;
  • A spare tire and a jack; and
  • Extra antifreeze, oil, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid.

In the event of a breakdown, remain calm. If you have AAA or a similar service, call it to have help dispatched to your location.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Car Accident Lawyer

Our team of car accident lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC wishes you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season. If you are injured in a car accident because of another party’s negligence this winter, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. Contact our office to schedule your initial consultation with us to learn more about your rights and options.

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 recalls.gov 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.

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.

Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash is the injury that can occur when the head is jerked forward, then rapidly snapped backward. It can be extremely painful for the victim and cause him or her to suffer complications like chronic headaches. When whiplash occurs because of a preventable accident, the victim can seek compensation for his or her related financial damages through a personal injury claim.

If you are involved in any type of accident, it is important that you seek appropriate medical care as soon as possible after the accident. This way, you can receive an accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. The sooner you receive medical treatment for your injury, the better your chance of making a relatively easy, quick recovery. Seeking treatment in a timely manner also increases the likelihood of your personal injury claim resulting in an appropriate settlement because if you wait a while after the accident to seek medical care, the other party’s insurance provider may assume that you were not hurt badly and offer you a minimal settlement amount.

Which Accidents Can Cause Whiplash Injuries?

Generally, whiplash is associated with car accidents, particularly rear end car accidents. But it can occur in any type of accident where the victim’s head is rapidly jerked forward and back, such as a pedestrian accident or a fall.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Common whiplash symptoms include:

  • Dizziness;
  • Stiffness in the neck;
  • Headache; and
  • Neck pain.

Sometimes, victims experience additional symptoms like irritability, ringing in the ears, and difficulty with concentration and memory. Numbness or weakness in the arms and pain in the shoulders or arms can indicate more severe trauma. Individuals with these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

What are the Complications of a Whiplash Injury?

Initially, the vertebrae, muscles, discs between the vertebrae, and tendons and ligaments in the neck can be stretched, broken, and fall out of place. These can all cause the victim to suffer severe pain and can potentially require surgery to correct.

Long-term complications of whiplash include chronic pain, particularly in the neck, and headaches. Complications following whiplash are rare. Typically, whiplash symptoms subside within a few weeks.

What Should I Do if I Suffer a Whiplash Injury?

Seek medical attention as soon as possible to receive a diagnosis. In many cases, the only treatment for whiplash is to alleviate your pain with ice, heat, and over-the-counter medication. If you have severe pain at the site of your injury, your doctor may prescribe painkillers or muscle relaxants. In some cases, doctors also prescribe foam collars to hold patients’ heads straight, aiding the neck as the patient recovers.

Physical therapy is also a common component of a whiplash recovery plan. This involves exercises guided by a physical therapist to help the victim regain strength and range of motion in the affected area of his or her body. It can also involve relaxation techniques to aid in pain reduction and recovery.

Some whiplash victims find relief through chiropractic care, massage, or acupuncture. Talk to your doctor about incorporating one or more of these therapies into your recovery. He or she can provide advice and potentially refer you to an appropriate therapist.

If you are considering filing a personal injury claim, you will need to start working with a car accident attorney in Wisconsin as soon as you can and have your claim filed within three years of the date of your injury. Your lawyer can help you obtain the evidence you need to support your claim, such as expert testimonies or a digital reconstruction of your accident, and organize the evidence to reach its maximum potential with your claim. Other evidence can include photographs you took at the scene of the accident and documentation showing your medical bills and lost wages. After your claim is filed, your lawyer can negotiate with the other party’s insurance provider on your behalf to help you reach a fair compensation package to cover your damages related to the injury. While your claim is pending, focus on your physical recovery by following your doctor’s instructions and getting a sufficient amount of rest.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Personal Injury Attorney

If you are suffering from whiplash after being involved in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you have the right to seek monetary compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more, contact our team of experienced Appleton whiplash injury lawyers at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our Neenah, Wisconsin office.

FIGHT COMPLACENCY ON SUMMER SAFETY NIGHT

The National Safety Council recently reported that motor vehicle deaths rose by 9% in the first 6 months of 2016 over 2015, and 18% over the same period in 2014. After years of downward trending, deaths have been on a steep curve upwards. According to the CEO of the National Safety Council, “our complacency is killing us.” Americans should be outraged at the high number of preventable deaths. In an effort to curb the increase, the NSC has recommended the following:

  • Every passenger should use a safety belt
  • Designate a drug or alcohol free driver
  • Get plenty of sleep and take breaks to avoid fatigued driving
  • NEVER use a cell phone behind the wheel, not even hands free
  • Stay engaged with your teens and their driving habits; they are 3 times as likely as an experienced driver to be in a crash
  • Learn all of your vehicle’s safety systems

Here in the Fox Valley, there are many law enforcement sponsored safety events. Take advantage of them. On Thursday June 15, 2017, the Village of Fox Crossing, Wisconsin is holding their Summer Safety Night. They have 300 bike helmets to give away, several hundred Home Depot building kits, and more. The event will be held at the Police Department, and it is a great time to learn more about keeping you and your family safe, and obtaining free safety items. Thanks to Fox Crossing Police.

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.