Category Archives: Personal Injury

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.

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.

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.

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 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.


It is truly better to give than receive, and this is the season for giving. However, two recent unpublished Wisconsin appellate cases should remind everyone that safety should come first. More people volunteer to help others during the holidays than at any other time. The two recent cases reflect important policy decisions reflected in Wisconsin statutes and case law with respect to injuries suffered by or caused by volunteers.

Mueller Case

In the Mueller case, many volunteers agreed to assist in a project organized by the WI DNR. As part of the project to construct fish cribs on a frozen lake, 75 volunteers used ATV’s and equipment to place trees into concrete culverts. A private business developed and helped supervise the project. Mueller was pulling a metal wire through a culvert when another volunteer tried to pull a tree through the culvert in the opposite direction. The culvert broke and a piece of cement struck Mueller’s face causing severe injury. Mueller sued the developers and supervisors of the project, but his suit was dismissed. The court held that the suit was prohibited by the RECREATIONAL IMMUNITY statute which prohibits anyone from suing for injuries sustained while engaged in a recreational activity.

Although Mueller’s activity does not sound like a “recreational activity” – he was building up a fishery for the benefit of the public and local business – nevertheless, his suit was prohibited because he was unpaid, and he was using an ATV at the time. The RECREATIONAL IMMUNITY statute, 895.52, lists operating an ATV as a recreational activity – along with 28 other specific activities. Thus, one could look at the big picture and conclude that if a volunteer is assisting a government agency, a private business, a local club, or anyone, with a project that could full under activities in 895.52, one better be very careful and hope that they are not severely injured by someone else’s negligence. Because, the injured person may have no remedy.

Snowmobiling Case

In another unpublished case, volunteers agreed to teach snowmobiling through a course offered by the DNR. In this tragic case, a 13 year old girl participating in the course was severely injured and died the following day from her injuries. The parents alleged that the volunteer instructors were negligent and should accept responsibility for causing the death of their daughter. One of the instructors was dismissed from the suit, because the instructors were deemed to be agents of the state, and the notice required to sue the state or a state agent was insufficient. The big picture coming from this case is that if an activity is sponsored by a government agency, volunteers who are negligent and cause injury could have the same protections and limited liability that the government has.

Contact our Appleton Criminal Defense Attorneys

So, the holidays will always be a time of giving, and volunteering will always be a very popular way of giving. But, it is important to consider safety and know going into any volunteer activity that if you or a family member are injured because of another’s negligence, you may be on your own for medical bills and other damages. At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, we have attorneys well versed in the Wisconsin liability laws and have advised volunteers and volunteer organizations. We are here to help provide preventive advice and assist anyone who suffers injuries because of the negligence of others. Give back to the community, volunteer, and stay safe.

Watch Out For Pokemon Accidents in Wisconsin

The phenomenon of Pokemon Go is getting people off the couch and outside exercising. However, people and news agencies are reporting an increase in car crashes, bicycle accidents, trip and falls, sunburns, and even finding a dead body. Distracted driving is already a huge problem resulting in wrongful deaths, criminal prosecutions, and new laws. To prevent that problem becoming worse, smartphone users need to be more vigilant, and Wisconsin drivers need to know the applicable laws.

Wisconsin motorists must yield to pedestrians in marked AND unmarked crosswalks. An unmarked crosswalk will generally be an extension of the sidewalk that would cross the roadway. However, pedestrians cannot step out into traffic suddenly into the path of a moving vehicle when it would be difficult for the vehicle to stop. So pedestrians and motorists need to keep a lookout. Green lights won’t necessarily help a motorist either. For example, even on a green light, a motorist cannot begin a turn if it could endanger a pedestrian legally in the crosswalk.

Bicyclists are generally considered to be pedestrians. Thus, motorists have to be particularly vigilant in the summer when many bikes are on the road and sidewalks and they can enter crosswalks suddenly. Bicyclists have to be aware of their local ordinances. Some cities and towns prohibit bicycles from riding on sidewalks in certain areas such as business districts.

Most of the Wisconsin Rules of the Road do NOT apply to parking lots. Thus, determining liability for a parking lot crash can be difficult and result in protracted litigation. In many cases, the law simply requires drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, operators of play vehicles, and people in motorized wheelchairs to be reasonable and prudent. It is imperative for everyone to go slow and watch in all directions when in a parking lot.

When crossing a roadway by other than an unmarked or marked crosswalk, the burden is on the pedestrian or bicyclist to yield to motor vehicles. However, motorists must still remain observant because a pedestrian could legally begin crossing before the motorist is observable or in the area.

One may think that a pedestrian with their gaze fixed upon their smart phone would be at fault if they trip and fall. However, that is not necessarily the case. Property owners need to inspect their premises and make repairs to all points of ingress and egress, including doorways, walkways and the like. Federal, and sometimes local, regulations set the amount of height that is acceptable for changes in level and firmness of surfaces. If a ramp is required but is not in place, the property owner could find themselves liable for an injured Pokemon player. There is at least one report of a person falling into a hole while playing. Even though a hole may be open and obvious, it would make sense to clearly mark the hole, repair it, or block off the area.

Wisconsin has very strict laws protecting property owners from lawsuits by people injured while using the property for a recreational purpose. It is too early to tell how these laws will affect people on other’s property while playing Pokemon. Such a case could involve application and interpretation of Wisconsin immunity laws, trespassing laws, negligence laws, nuisance laws, and others.

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald Law firm we have been protecting the rights of Wisconsin residents for many years. If you are involved in a personal injury, car crash, truck crash, trip and fall or similar serious matters, call us for a free consultation and know your rights and responsibilities before you strike out after Pokemon.


Summer in Wisconsin is biking season. However, biking can also be very dangerous. It is always recommended to use designated trails, but many areas in the Fox Valley do not have trails or sidewalks. Bikers often have to ride on two lane county highways, some of which do not even have shoulders. We always recommend the use of safety equipment including mirrors, bright clothing, lights, and helmets. Here in the Village of Fox Crossing/Town of Menasha the police department has additional helmets free to the public. However, this Thursday may be the last opportunity to get them. The notice below is from the PD:

“Just a reminder that this Thursday is our Summer Safety Night from 4:30pm to 7pm here at the police department. Lots of FREE bike helmets, FREE inflatable activities, FREE Home Depot building activities, and much more. Our detective division and the chief will be working away at the refreshment area offering brats, nachos and world famous steamed corn for sale! Stop by and say hi!!”

At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC we handle bicycle versus car crashes all too often, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the free safety night and helmets, and make summer as safe as possible.

Car and Pedestrian Crash Deaths On the Rise in Wisconsin

According to the “Spotlight on Highway Safety” published by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), pedestrian fatalities have dramatically increased. From 2009-2014, deaths in the U.S. went up 19%. During the same period, total traffic fatalities only increased 4%. The trend is continuing.

GHSA estimates that pedestrian deaths will increase an additional 10% in 2015 from 2014. The report identifies numerous factors that may be causing the troubling increase. One possible factor is cell phone use. Distracted walking can be as dangerous as distracted driving. Alcohol use is another.

In a surprising note, the report indicates that 34% of pedestrians involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol levels (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. That is high compared to the fact that 15% of drivers involved in such crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or more.

Wisconsin ranked in the lowest 10 states for pedestrian fatality rate per capita. However, Wisconsin is not immune from the disturbing trend. In fact, pedestrian deaths in WI increased 47% in the first 6 months of 2015 as compared to the same period in 2014. That was the 8 the highest increase in the entire U.S.

As with other states, WI is taking action to improve this senseless loss of life. WI funded the “Share and Be Aware” program to educate roadway users, is implementing training classes for law enforcement, is training planners and engineers in pedestrian safety, and has begun high-visibility enforcement projects in 3 cities. WI law enforcement has also begun enforcing distracted driving laws.

For example, a driver was recently convicted of negligent homicide in Fond du Lac, WI. The driver had been sending and receiving texts just moments before rear ending another vehicle at 70 mph and causing the wrongful death of the other occupant. The defendant driver is set to be sentenced on June 24, 2016, and she faces 10 years in prison.

This is an important safety issues for all residents of the state of WI. Despite best efforts, any of us could become the victim of a distracted or impaired driver. Such cases require the assistance of an experienced car crash and personal injury attorney. There are potential issues with payment of medical bills, insurance coverage, and the right to pursue punitive damages. At Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC, we have the experience and knowledge to handle such insurance claims. If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, call Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC or go to our website for more information.