Category Archives: Drunk Driving

Hope Christian School Bus Accident Highlights Dangers of Large Trucks And Impaired Driving

Twenty people were injured on Wednesday, May 23, including five critically, when an impaired driver operating a semi struck a school bus. The bus was carrying students from Hope Christian School in Milwaukee. Students were on their way to the Wisconsin Dells for an end of the year field trip.

The bus was pulled over on the shoulder of I39/90 near Lodi due to mechanical problems when the semi struck the bus from behind. Sgt. Greg Jensworld stated that more than half the semi was on the shoulder when it impacted the bus. Twenty of the thirty-three bus passengers were injured, and five had serious injuries. Two passengers had to be airlifted to the hospital.

Impaired Driver

The driver of the truck, Wayne Murphy, was booked on 5 counts of causing injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Murphy’s employer stated that he had only been driving for an hour. However, state troopers had already received calls reporting Murphy as a reckless driver before the accident. The 42-year-old Murphy, from Indianapolis, reportedly had opioids and a tranquilizer in his system at the time of the crash. Columbia County DA Jane Kohlwey expects to file felony charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence and reckless endangerment soon.

Tragic Impact Of The Crash

School Bus Accident in Milwaukee

Damage From the Accident

To see the impact impaired driving has, you need look no further than 15-year-old Alexis Jenkins. Alexis suffered broken bones, punctured lungs, and was breathing on a ventilator after the accident. In an interview with CBS 58, her grandma described the tremendous grief the driver’s alleged reckless and irresponsible conduct has caused: “He’s put a hole in my heart. My granddaughter was going on a field trip. She was graduating today and he put a hole in my heart. She will never be the same.”

If you’d like to donate to the recovery of Alexis Jenkins, click here.

Large Truck Accident Statistics

This truck accident implicates the extensive damage large trucks can cause on roadways. There are currently more than 2 million semis that operate on U.S. roadways. There are over 500,000 large truck accidents annually which result in approximately 5,000 fatalities nationwide. Fatal large truck accidents tend to occur on weekdays during the daytime. The majority also occur on highways in rural areas. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration illustrates these tendencies:

  • Approximately 61 percent of all fatal large truck accidents occurred in rural areas, 27 percent occurred on Interstate highways, and 15 percent fell into both categories by occurring on rural Interstate highways.
  • The majority of fatal large truck accidents (84 percent) and nonfatal large truck accidents (88 percent) occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).
  • In 2016, 4,440 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 2-percent increase from 2015. The number of large trucks and buses in fatal crashes has increased by 29 percent from its low of 3,432 in 2009.
  • The number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses increased 62% from 60,000 in 2009 to 97,000 in 2015. In 2016, there were an estimated 119,000 injury crashes, based on NHTSA’s new CRSS data collection.

Although a large truck accident may be caused by an array of factors including road conditions, driver-related reasons are often the issue. Driver fault can be divided into four categories:

  • Non-Performance: The driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs, fell asleep, or was disabled by a heart attack or seizure.
  • Recognition: The driver was inattentive, was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason.
  • Decision: For example, the driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.
  • Performance: For example, the driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.

In 2016, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes. “Decision” was the most frequent driver-related factor, followed by “Recognition,” “Performance,” and “Non-Performance.”

What To Do If You See A Reckless Driver

Obviously, semis are much heavier than passenger cars and thus often cause more serious injuries and property damage. Therefore, it is essential to be on the lookout for semis that are driving recklessly or suspiciously.  If you see a semi or any type of vehicle display any sort of erratic behavior, do not hesitate to call 911 to report the activity. These reports could save lives.

Unfortunately, many terrible events like the school bus accident near Lodi occur regardless of proper reporting. If you are injured in an accident caused by a large truck in Wisconsin, you may be able to be compensated for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a large truck or intoxicated driver, contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash.

https://www.cbs58.com/news/four-injured-after-semi-hits-school-bus-carrying-milwaukee-area-students

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016

http://fox6now.com/2018/05/30/911-calls-released-after-semi-strikes-school-bus-injuring-20-milwaukee-area-students/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k34zUW9ZpJc

Traffic-Related Deaths Remain High in the U.S.

On February 15, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “U.S. Road-Death Rates Remain Near 10-Year High.” The article discusses the National Safety Council’s (NSC) statistics on traffic-related fatalities for 2017.[1] The NSC found that traffic-related deaths in the U.S. declined by approximately 1% in the year 2017. While any decline in traffic-related deaths is good news, analysts hoped to see an even larger decline following back to back increases in traffic-related fatalities in 2015 and 2016.

The National Safety Council is one of two primary organizations that publish data on roadway fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also published data but only reports deaths occurring on public roadways. The NSC incorporates incidents from private roadways into their report which slightly increases the number of total fatalities.

The NSC reported a 7% increase in 2014 and a 6% in 2015.[2] Both years’ data came as a surprise because traffic-related deaths per vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have declined since 1921 (see graph below).[3]

Traffic-Related Deaths are High in U.S.

The Wall Street Journal article also documents the comments of experts regarding the factors behind the unfortunate trend.[4] A spokesperson for the NSC attributed the rising fatality rate to drunk driving incidents. She cites the differences between the blood alcohol level laws in the United States and other nations and remarks that the best way to drive down roadway deaths is to reduce drunk driving. Automotive executives point to the increased use of hand-held devices as a catalyst for the trend. Automakers have focused resources in recent years to add hands-free technology in their vehicles to reduce this trend among motorists.

Experts are unable to pinpoint the exact reasons the trend in traffic-related fatalities has shifted upward in recent years; however, the problems of drunk driving and smartphone use continue to plague drivers across the nation.

In most cases, traffic accidents result in injuries rather than fatalities. Over the past decade, traffic-related injuries in the U.S. have vacillated between 2.2 million and 2.4 million.[5] The sheer volume of these numbers underscores the necessity of paying attention while driving. Of course, avoid driving while intoxicated and refrain from smartphone use, but it is also imperative to stay alert while operating a motor vehicle realizing that others may not exercise careful driving.

If you think you have been injured as the result of a traffic accident see a doctor, and, as always, please call Groth Law Firm, S.C. at 877-375-7001 with any questions.  We are available 24/7 to discuss your options as the victim of someone else’s negligent actions. Our initial consultations are always free.

 

[1] https://www.wsj.com/articles/death-rates-on-u-s-roads-remain-near-10-year-high-1518692401

[2] http://www.nsc.org/NewsDocuments/2017/12-month-estimates.pdf

[3] http://www.businessinsider.com/traffic-fatalities-historical-trend-us-2016-4

[4] https://www.wsj.com/articles/death-rates-on-u-s-roads-remain-near-10-year-high-1518692401

[5] https://www.statista.com/statistics/191900/road-traffic-related-injuries-and-fatalities-in-the-us-since-1988/

It’s Our Party We Can Do What We Want

Not really, Miley. At least not in Wisconsin. The MTV Music Awards this year were eye opening. I didn’t think that show would be the inspiration for a blog post.

In Wisconsin, if a minor is served alcohol by an adult and gets into a car, crashes it and causes injuries or property damage it’s not just an “accident” and an “oops.” It is a serious matter where multiple parties, kids and adults, can be held responsible and pay the consequences.

Simply looking at the child’s actions isn’t enough. The adults throwing the party can not just “do what they want” in this situation.

In Wisconsin, negligent supervision and possibly Dram Shop responsibility must be researched. For example, Wisconsin law forbids adults from knowingly allowing the illegal consumption of alcohol beverages by underage individuals, so long as the individuals are under the adult’s control or are on premises owned by the adult. The need for responsible behavior from both kids and adults goes beyond alcohol related incidents. It is also important to be responsible with phone use and driving privileges.

When you live in society everyone needs to live by the rules.

You need to stop texting, stop driving while buzzed or drunk, stop driving recklessly, and stop for pedestrians.

If someone “can’t stop” and “won’t stop” doing these things and their actions result in a crash, please contact our law firm.

In Wisconsin, “This is OUR house … This is OUR rules.” Let’s all be responsible and obey the rules of the road. Doing so will help keep our community safe.

New Client Testimonial

Thanks again to our clients for their support over the years. We just received another great recommendation:

I am extremely grateful to have had Jon as my attorney for my personal injury case. I feel Jon went above and beyond to make sure I received the settlement I deserved for my injuries. Every aspect of my case was taken care of by Jon and his wonderful staff and I can honestly say that I was in good hands from beginning to end.

Please contact our firm with any questions or helpful information toll free at 877-375-7001 or visit our website https://www.grothlawfirm.com/contact/

Be Careful!!!! Children are on Summer Break

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a good reminder in today’s Opinion section:

With most children out of school and on summer break, now is an excellent time to remind drivers to slow down, and to remind children to be careful when playing near a street. In an editorial published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning, it stated that in the last three weeks, already six children have been hit in the Milwaukee area.

Drivers should watch their speed and make sure they are not distracted by things such as texting while driving, especially in busy areas where children are playing. Likewise, parents should remind children that when crossing the street, it is always best to cross at the street corner or walk in a designated crosswalk. Parents should also make sure that children are always properly supervised when playing near a street.

Best advice: just watch out, slow down, and do not get distracted or you could cost someone their life.

For the full article, please visit http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/with-summer-break-here-watch-out-for-children-v65ofta-158643945.html

If you have been injured in an automobile accident in the Milwaukee area or any other area in Wisconsin and are in need of a personal injury attorney, contact Groth Law Firm S.C. at 877-375-7001.

Scary Research About Teens and Texting While Driving

New research released by State Farm Insurance shows that teen may not be getting the message about the dangers of texting and driving.  Some of the figures produced by this survey are quite shocking.  Notably, over half of teens with their license, 57% to be exact, admit to text messaging while driving.  The survey produced by State Farm also makes comparisons between teens views on texting while driving and drinking and driving.  While 83% of teens think they are likely to be in an accident if they regularly drink and drive, only 63% of teens believe they are likely to be involved in an accident if they regularly text while driving.  The study also shows a link between parents who regularly talk to their children about safe driving.  Of teens who responded that they never texted and drove, 82% said their regularly talked to their parents about safe driving.  Of teens that reported that they do text while driving, only 67% reported talking to their parents regularly about safe driving.

Texting and driving became illegal in Wisconsin in 2010 with the passage of Wisconsin Statute 346.89.  The risk of getting a ticket, however, is nothing compared to the safety risk that texting and driving creates.  Text messaging while driving is an extremely dangerous action both the person doing it and those around him or her.

If you have been the victim of an inattentive driver or have been injured in an automobile accident in the Milwaukee area or any other area in Wisconsin and are in need of a personal injury attorney, contact Groth Law Firm S.C.

Wisconsin Passes Tougher Law For Unlicensed Drivers

Wisconsin passes tougher law for unlicensed drivers

Wisconsin Passes Tougher Law For Unlicensed Drivers

A recent bill passed by the Wisconsin legislature and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker will make it much more difficult for unlicensed drivers who cause injuries on the road. Prior to the passage of the new law, if a driver was unlicensed and caused a death on the road, but was not drunk, negligent, or reckless, the most the driver could be charged with was a Class A misdemeanor.

That is what happened last year when Lucia Torres-Bisarraga’s Toyota Corolla collided with the body of a volunteer worker picking up litter on the side of a Wisconsin highway. Torres-Bisarraga did not have a driver’s license at the time of the accident. She was attempting to avoid a car that had pulled out in front of her. She lost control of the wheel and hit 70-year-old Cornelius “Corky” Van Handel. He eventually died from his injuries.

Torres-Bisarraga was sentenced to two years probation and is also required to spend four days per month in jail during the time she is serving her probation. The possible maximum sentence under the old law was 9 months in prison. Under the recently enacted law, the possible sentence jumps to 6 years. The new law makes it a felony to cause a death by vehicle while knowingly driving without a license. The new law also bumps up the punishment for causing serious injury on the road while knowingly driving without a license. That charge will now carry a possible 3 and ½ year prison term.

Everyone, however, is not as excited about the new law as the legislature and the governor. Torres-Bisarraga’s lawyer does not think that the change is a good idea. His problem with the new law is that it has no regard for which driver caused the accident. He is reported as saying, “I could fail to pay some parking tickets, have my license suspended and, through no fault of mine, be looking at a felony… It could be the other person’s fault, 100 percent.”

He believes that the status of a driver’s license should not determine whether one of the drivers should be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. The felony/misdemeanor determination should be based on which one of the drivers caused the accident and whether the accident could have been prevented had the one who caused the accident taken a different course of action.

On the other side of this debate are the legislature and the district attorney who believe the law is what is best for the state which has a compelling interest in protecting its highways. The District Attorney conceded that the new law might amount to putting a bandage on a broken arm, but says that the new law is important because it sends a message to drivers about how serious the state is regarding its license requirements.

The passage of this new law demonstrates the changing legal landscape in Wisconsin. Sometimes a simple car accident may lead to more serious consequences, especially now that Wisconsin is cracking down on unlicensed drivers. As the law continues to change, those who are not familiar with it would be wise to contact someone who is skilled in the area. The attorneys at the Groth Law Firm, S.C. will be happy to advise you on your best course of action should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Source:Wisconsin targets unlicensed drivers,” by Paul Srubas, published by www.greenbaypressgazette.com

New Study On Driving Under the Influence

On Saturday, USA Today posted this article about new research from the University of California – San Diego, that says even one alcoholic beverage can increase the likelihood of a driver being involved in a serious collision. The study found that drivers with a small amount of alcohol in their system, an amount under the legal limit for driving, had accidents on average that were 36.6% more serious than sober drivers. While it is extremely unlikely that a single drink would cause a person’s blood alcohol level to climb above the legal limit of .08 thus subjecting the driver to possible charges for driving under the influence, a single drink can influence a drivers concentration, and speed of travel. The study showed that drivers that had consumed alcohol were more likely to drive over the speed limit than those drivers who had not consumed alcohol.

Please remember to always drink responsibly and never to drive under the influence. If you have been injured in an automobile accident by a driver under the influence please contact Attorney Jonathan P. Groth at 877-375-7001. Groth Law Firm, S.C. has offices to meet with clients in Wauwatosa, Brookfield, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Marinette.

Drunk Driving a Wheelchair

Doesn’t this story just make my point that taking the keys from a drunk driver probably won’t stop the offender?  Jail time or prison takes the multiple drunk driver off the streets…that is really the only to guarantee a drunk driver won’t drive.  This guy had 4 prior convictions.   Cars or a wheelchair – the guy, for some reason, had to drive.

Civil Justice In Wisconsin

I’ll write more about this in coming days but I wanted to link to this “Fact Book” published by The University of Wisconsin Law School.  

Below is the “Foreword” from the Fact Book:

Our civil justice system has always been a matter of intense public interest, from television drama to newspaper editorial pages. To some, trial lawyers are the champions of the underprivileged and downtrodden; to others, they are a threat to the state’s business climate. All too often, these impressions are shaped by the attention paid to a single sensational case, severed from the context of the hundreds or thousands of other disputes that people regularly look to our court system to resolve. In the interest of shifting the focus to that broader context, two of our faculty members volunteered to gather the data and provide the commentary that forms this booklet. Their goal was to provide an objective picture of the civil justice system in Wisconsin, focusing on the basic facts about the state’s civil courts and the litigation in them and comparing it with the situation in neighboring states. The authors need little introduction to those familiar with civil litigation and the court system. Marc Galanter is the John and Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law Emeritus, and an internationally recognized expert on trends in civil litigation. Susan Steingass recently retired from her position as the Director of the Law School’s Communication and Advocacy Program. She brings to the project her substantial experience as a former trial judge, state bar president, and litigator with a long career of representing both plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation. Some readers may well be surprised by some of the statistics that follow. Other readers with a particular stake in the civil justice debate may wonder if this project is an effort to advocate for one position over another.  I can assure you that this is neither the project’s intent nor, in my opinion, its effect. Open debate on issues of consequence to our state and nation is one of the hallmarks of our Law School’s educational tradition. This booklet reminds us that collecting the best available information provides a platform for such a debate and leads to the process of finding the best possible solutions to the issues. On behalf of the Law School, I wish to acknowledge and thank the authors and the law students who worked with them for their important contribution to the ongoing discussion of the civil justice system.

Kenneth B. Davis, Jr.

Fred W. & Vi Miller Deanship

University of Wisconsin Law School

You can order the Civil Justice in Wisconsin book at the UW Law School’s website.  It is a good read and I’ll have comments in the coming days.