Category Archives: Milwaukee Litigation Attorney

Five Things to Do to Preserve Your Claim in a Premises Liability Case

premises liability lawyer in milwaukee wisconsinIn our practice, we speak with many individuals who have been injured because they slipped and fell or tripped and fell on someone else’s property. These types of cases, called premises liability cases, occur frequently and many times result in serious injuries. Premises liability cases can be difficult to prove if certain steps are not taken in a timely manner or if the proper evidence is not obtained to be able to satisfy the burden of proof in an injury case. The purpose of this article is to outline five basic steps that must be taken following a fall in order to pursue a claim against the property owner or homeowner for injuries sustained.

1. Notice

When a fall has occurred on either public property or a private residence, it is important to make someone aware that a fall occurred and there were injuries. If the fall occurs at a store or restaurant, you should speak with a manager and ask that they document the fall by filling out an incident report. Proper documentation in premises liability cases is crucial and giving notice of the fall itself is something that absolutely must be done in a timely manner, preferably immediately after it occurs. If you wait too long to give notice, not only can important evidence be lost, but it also begins to look rather suspect. The thought would be something like, “If this person really was injured this badly on my property, why did they wait so long to say anything about it?” Notice not given immediately after the fall calls into question many things, including the believability of the person who fell and whether the fall actually did occur where and when he or she claims it did. To avoid these problems, give notice right away and insist that a written incident report is completed.

2. Take Photos

In this day and age, most of us carry our cell phones with us everywhere we go. Cell phones are useful for gathering the initial photographic evidence of the area where the fall occurred. When an injury has occurred on someone else’s property, the hazard that caused the fall must be documented with photographs. If photos are not taken immediately, there is a high likelihood that the evidence will be lost. For example, ice could melt, a spill could be cleaned up or the area where the fall occurred could be otherwise manipulated such that it no longer constitutes a hazard before photos are obtained. The saying “pictures are worth a thousand words” rings true in premises liability cases. It is much more difficult for a property owner or their insurance company to refute concrete pictorial evidence than someone’s verbal recollection of what happened or what caused their fall. Taking a few photographs of what caused the fall will prove to be extremely helpful to an injured victim down the road.

3. Take Contact Information for Any Witnesses to the Fall

If any witnesses were around at the time of the fall, it is important to take down their contact information. Given the difficulty in proving liability on a property owner in a slip or trip and fall case, the more important it becomes to have independent witnesses on your side that can substantiate your version of facts. Even if the witness did not actually observe the fall itself, they can still talk about the general condition of the property, which is helpful in establishing that the property owner did not maintain the property in a safe manner. Unless you know a witness personally, you must obtain any witness contact information right away, or you have likely lost the opportunity to do so.

4. Go to The Doctor

If you were injured in a fall, it is important to seek medical care immediately. Going to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care is best as you will receive care immediately and not have to wait for an appointment with your family doctor. Many injuries caused by a fall are serious, and it is important that you get to a doctor right away. Be truthful with the doctor when asked about what caused your injuries. The more information that medical professionals have, the better they are able to diagnose and treat your injuries.

5. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

After your initial visit with the doctor following a fall, you will receive follow up instructions. Depending on the extent of the injuries, a doctor may have recommended a follow up in three to five days, or the doctor may have referred you to a specialist if the injury was more severe. In these types of cases, it is vital that an injured person follow their doctor’s instructions. Do not let large amounts of time pass without going back to the doctor. Make your well-being a priority and be diligent in getting the treatment that you need to fully recover from your injuries.

If you have been injured due to negligence on someone else’s property, time is of the essence. There are many things that need to be done in a short amount of time in order to preserve an injury claim. Evidence must be preserved, investigations need to commence and statements must be taken from witnesses before their memories fade. Groth Law Firm takes this burden off of their clients’ shoulders and makes sure that the proper steps are being taken to build their case from start to finish.

If you are injured, you need a strong legal team on your side to make sure that the proper steps are taken to ensure that your rights are protected. The Groth Law Firm wants its clients to focus on what is most important, and that is getting the treatment they need to recover from their injuries. Contact the Groth Law Firm if you were injured by negligence on someone else’s property. The Groth Law Firm offers free consultations and is available seven days per week to speak with injured victims, answer their questions and help them in their journey of recovering from their injuries.

Governmental Immunity

municipality lawyer in milwaukee wisconsinGovernment bodies and municipalities in the state of Wisconsin enjoy various immunities and protections from lawsuits. Wisconsin Statute Section 893.80 governs what must be done in order to pursue a claim against governmental entities or municipalities, and it also outlines certain immunities enjoyed by these entities. In light of the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in Engelhardt, et al. vs. City of New Berlin, et al., this article will specifically focus on “governmental immunity”: what is is, who is protected and what are the exceptions.

In the Engelhardt case, an eight year old girl named Lily went on a field trip with the New Berlin Parks and Recreation Department to an aquatic center. Lily could not swim, and her mother made the playground coordinator aware of that fact prior to the field trip. Lily’s mother even questioned whether Lily should go on the field trip at all, but she was assured by the playground coordinator that Lily would be safe because the camp staff would evaluate her ability to swim in the shallow end. Lily drowned while most of the staff were still in the changing area assisting other campers.

Put simply, governmental immunity is the notion that municipalities (and other government bodies) are immunized from liability for acts that are within their discretion while performing their work-related functions. This is codified in Wis. Stat. § 893.80(4). As long as it can be shown that an employee of a governmental body or municipality was acting within his or her discretion when the claim arose, the individual and municipality is subject to governmental immunity.

As with most rules, there are some exceptions to the rule of governmental immunity. There are multiple sets of acts that would not enjoy immunity pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 893.80(4).

“There is no immunity against liability associated with: 1) the performance of ministerial duties imposed by law; 2) known and compelling dangers that give rise to ministerial duties on the part of public officers or employees; 3) acts involving medical discretion; and 4) acts that are malicious, willful and intentional.”

The question in many cases becomes whether the act of the public officer was ministerial, which would create an exception to the general rule of immunity, or whether the act of the public officer was discretionary, thus invoking the protections of governmental immunity. The Court describes a test to determine whether an act constitutes a ministerial duty. “A public officer’s duty is ministerial only when it is absolute, certain and imperative, involving merely the performance of a specific task when the law imposes, prescribes and defines the time, mode and occasion for its performance with such certainty that nothing remains for judgment or discretion.”

Another exception to the rules of governmental immunity, and the exception that was the most prevalent in the Engelhardt case, is the known danger exception. For purposes of the known danger exception, a ministerial duty is said to arise “when an obviously dangerous situation presents itself.” The case that originally established the known danger exception was Cords v. Anderson, 80 Wis. 2d 525, 259 N.W.2d 672 (1977). The Cords case involved hikers who, while hiking at night, fell deep down into a gorge that was located on a part of a trail that the park manager knew was hazardous. While the park manager would have otherwise been protected from liability by governmental immunity, the Court found that the known danger exception applied because the park manager knew that the area was particularly hazardous, was in a position to do something about it (such as put up a warning sign) and failed to do so. The Court noted that the park manager “had an absolute, certain, or imperative duty to either place the signs warning the public of the dangerous conditions existing on the upper trail or to advise his superiors.” Having failed to do so, the Court determined that the park manager had breached his duty.

In a similar fashion, the Wisconsin Supreme Court noted the same sorts of dangers as were present in the Cords case to be present in the Engelhardt case. The Court noted an apparent danger of bringing a young, eight year old girl, who was unable to swim, to a busy aquatic center with dozens of other children. The Court recognized that serious injury or death can occur very quickly if a young child cannot swim, and that the nature of the dangers were “immediate, compelling, and self-evident.” The Court emphasized that the playground coordinator for New Berlin was aware of the fact that the young girl could not swim yet he did not inform any other staff member of the same nor did he ensure that she received a swim test prior to allowing her to be in the water without direct supervision. As was the park manager in the Cords case, the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that the playground coordinator for New Berlin was aware of the danger, in a position to do something about it yet failed to do so. Accordingly, the Court determined that the known danger exception to governmental immunity applies.

In cases involving injuries due to the negligence of a municipality or government body, there are certain things that need to be done in a short amount of time in order to preserve the injured victim’s right to pursue the claim against the municipality. In many cases, arguments will develop, as in the Engelhardt case, that the act fell outside of the realm of immunity for the municipality. If you or someone you know has been injured by this type of negligence, you need a strong team of attorneys on your side with the experience to stand up to and fight the municipalities. The team at Groth Law Firm has that experience and welcomes the opportunity to fight for you. Call us today for a free consultation.

Stadium Injuries

On July 26th, The Milwaukee Bucks released long anticipated information about the naming of the new downtown arena. Fiserv Inc. entered a 25 year naming rights deal with the Bucks to call the new stadium The Fiserv Forum. Fiserv is based in Brookfield, Wisconsin and provides financial services technology. The arena opens in September with popular band, The Killers, leading the Grand Opening event.

With all of Wisconsin getting ready to cheer on the Bucks in their upcoming season, it’s a good time to reflect on keeping your family safe at sporting events. Whether it’s poorly maintained bathrooms, simple food spills, or flying balls or shirts, there are a host of dangers to be cautious of. For instance, if you were to slip and fall on concessions, what are your next steps? First, immediately seek medical attention. Even if you feel like you are able to “walk off” an injury, most major stadiums have medical transportation available and at the ready. Depending on the circumstances of your incident, you will want to make a report as soon as possible. These reports are useful in determining whether or not the stadium owner was negligent. Next, contact The Groth Law Firm so that we can start working on your case. If you are injured at a stadium, the last thing you want to worry about is dealing with insurance and paperwork. The Groth Law Firm is your Milwaukee firm that has the expertise required to take on your injury case.

Although premises liability cases are the most common instance of injuries at a sports stadium, fans could also be injured by flying baseballs, pucks, and even players. Most stadiums have safety measures in place to protect fans, as well as disclaimers in the fine print on many tickets. Although these injuries are less common, they can be severe. In 1970 the L.A. dodgers Manny Mota fouled a ball into the stands the struck a young fan in the head. Tragically, the fan passed away four days later. A fan at a Chicago Blackhawks game was struck by a puck in 2013, despite sitting beyond a safety net. This ultimately resulted in a lawsuit. In 2015, at the Daytona International Speedway, a vehicle crashed into the fence protecting the spectators, injuring five. Auto racing accidents are among the deadliest as debris from crashes can fly into the stands at an extremely high rate of speed.

Owners of these stadiums have a legal obligation to minimize the risk of injuries to fans. If an owner is aware of damages, such as a loose railing or slippery floor, they must repair it or warn others of the dangers. If an owner fails to take these reasonable steps, they may be liable for your injuries and other damages.

With the recent draft pickup of Donte DiVincenzo and new Head Coach Mike Budenholzer, the Milwaukee Bucks are looking forward to a strong season and playoff push in a weak Eastern Conference. The Bucks will start regular season play in the new Fiserv Forum in October of 2018.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a sports stadium contact Groth Law Firm at 877-375-7001.

Harley-Davidson Roars into Milwaukee for 115th Anniversary

This Labor Day weekend marks the 115th anniversary of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. With their distinctive “potato-potato-potato” idle and rumble, thousands of riders and their Harleys have roared into Milwaukee this week to celebrate 115 years of an American tradition.

Harley-Davidson and the Harley-Davidson Museum have packed each day this weekend with events. There are museum tours, motorcycle demos, live music acts, street parties, and many more events. Visit Harley-Davidson.com for a full schedule of events

Harley-Davidson Roars into Milwaukee for 115th Anniversary.

The celebration is not without dangers though. With all the extra bikes on the road, Milwaukee’s streets and highways have many more smaller moving vehicles on them this weekend than usual.

Drivers who aren’t used to large numbers of bikes on the road may miss the smaller Harleys if they aren’t careful and some riders may find traveling alone or in larger groups more difficult depending on what they’re used to. All of this is a recipe for a crash or other traffic accident. But there are things everyone on the road this weekend can do.

To help avoid accidents and injuries this weekend, both riders and drivers should:

  • Watch out for each other – check your mirrors and be aware of your surroundings
  • Obey traffic laws and directions from the Officers and Sheriff’s Deputies directing traffic
  • Park in designated spots near events
  • Wear your seatbelt or helmet
  • As always, don’t drink and drive or ride

Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend and enjoy all that the 115th anniversary of Harley-Davidson has to offer! If the unthinkable happens and you or a loved one is involved in a crash and injured, see a doctor and contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash. At Groth Law Firm, S.C., we are available 24/7 to discuss your injuries and offer a free consultation. Call or text us today at 414-240-0707

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

The Hop’s Hot New Tracks Aren’t So Hip

Two people have already been injured trying to cross the tracks of Milwaukee’s newest transit option, The Hop, in less than a week. One man was driving a motorcycle over the tracks when his wheel got stuck in the tracks throwing him from his bike on August 10th. And on the 16th, a woman was crossing the tracks on a bicycle when her wheel also got stuck and threw her to the ground, injuring her ribs and elbows. Both riders are considering suing the city because of their injuries and have retained lawyers to represent them.[1]

The Hop is not yet in operation at the time of writing, but its tracks have been laid throughout Milwaukee in some of the city’s busiest areas. The Hop runs from the Historic Third Ward and Intermodal train station up to the Lower East Side of Milwaukee and back. This route puts the street car’s tracks in the path of several of Milwaukee’s major commuter hot spots.[2]

The Hop’s New Tracks (City of Milwaukee)

©City of Milwaukee

Before the two bike crashes in August, there had already been several reports of less serious injuries, including one in June, sparking concern amongst the city’s cyclists.[3]

Through there are several signs near the tracks warning bikers and cyclists to take the tracks at a right angle – meaning to cross straight over the tracks—this is not always possible for people riding two wheeled bikes and motorcycles in heavy downtown traffic. With two crashes on the tracks in less than a week and the Hop not even running yet, there are likely to be more injuries in the future.

On top of the tracks’ risk to cyclists in warmer months, there is also concern that they will be a slipping hazard in Milwaukee’s common winter and spring storms as snow piles up on the roads.[4]

The Hop and its tracks are owned by the City of Milwaukee. As with any claim against a city, or other municipality, someone who is injured by the city or its property only has 120 days to file a Notice of Claim or they will never be able to bring a lawsuit against the city no matter how badly injured they are. Because of this, it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an injury involving the city.

If you or a loved one has been injured by The Hop or its tracks, see a doctor and contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash. At Groth Law Firm, S.C., we are available 24/7 to discuss your injuries and offer a free consultation. Call or text us today at 414-375-2030

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It is not medical advice and should not be used as medical advice. The legal statutes, laws, and procedures contained in this article may not be current and may have been revised since the time of publication or contain errors. An attorney can provide legal guidance only after reviewing the details of your individual case.

[1] https://fox6now.com/2018/08/16/frustrated-2nd-person-could-be-suing-city-after-accident-they-say-was-caused-by-streetcar-tracks/

[2] https://thehopmke.com/

[3] https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/-the-hop-milwaukee-streetcar-tracks-raises-bicycle-safety-concerns

[4] https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2015/03/31/a-short-history-of-milwaukees-old-streetcar-system/2/