Category Archives: Personal Injury Law

Wisconsin Truck Accident Lawyer

Blind Spots, Trucks, and Injuries

Many people believe that, because a truck driver sits higher than passenger vehicles, the driver can see everything. This common misconception leads to thousands of truck accidents each year. The best way to stay out of a truck’s blind spots is to check the truck’s mirrors. If you cannot see the driver in his or her rearview mirrors, the driver cannot see you, and you are at a higher risk of getting hit by the truck.

Big Blind Spots

A tractor-trailer truck has the largest blind spots or no zones because of the height and length of the trailer. Smaller trucks have similar blind spots, but the blind spots are smaller. Looking for the mirrors on any truck will help keep you out of any truck’s no zone. If you cannot see the truck’s door mirrors—the full mirror—you are in a truck’s blind spot.

The side blind spots are located under each door mirror and extending out. On the left side, the blind spot extends out for at least the width of a lane. On the right side, the no zone extends out at least the width of two lanes. The further away from the truck’s side you are, the deeper the blind spot.

Semis and other trucks also have blind spots in the front and rear. A semi driver has at least 20 feet in front of the truck that is blind and 30 feet behind the trailer that is blind. When you merge in front of a truck and do not give the truck enough space, you risk getting hit since the truck driver cannot see you once you move past the front fender. If you are tailgating, you reduce the truck driver’s options. If the driver knows you are in his or her blind spot, and has to take evasive actions, he or she might choose a different action that could result in less injury if you are seen.

Many vehicles have blind spot monitoring or blind spot warning systems, forward collision mitigation, automatic emergency braking, and other active safety features to help drivers avoid accidents. However, these features have not been implemented on trucks yet.

If trucking manufacturers added at least blind spot monitoring or blind spot warning, it would help truck drivers avoid people who move into their blind spots, especially when a truck is making a wide right turn.

Avoiding a Truck Wreck

As a driver in a passenger vehicle, avoid wrecks with trucks by paying more attention to your surroundings, including the traffic around you. Some things to keep in mind when driving with trucks, whether on the highway or secondary roads, include:

  • Make sure you can see the truck’s door mirrors.
  • Understand that, because of the size and weight of a truck, especially a loaded truck, it cannot make fast evasive maneuvers.
  • Never tailgate or “push” a truck. You are too close, likely sitting in the truck’s rear blind spot. If the driver has to stop fast, the trailer could fishtail and wipe you out.
  • Always signal well in advance of passing a truck. Once you start the passing maneuver, pass as quickly and safely as possible so that you get out of the truck’s blind spot. If you signal ahead of time, you give the truck driver time to notice your turn signal before you get into the truck’s blind spot.
  • Never pass a truck on the right, especially if the driver has his turn signal on. Trucks need to turn wide and often take up a full lane to make a right turn.

In addition to staying out of a truck’s blind spots, you should keep your distance in case the load shifts. Even a box trailer can lose control of its load. If the load is not properly secured, it could slide out of the rear doors and right into your car. Open trailers have the risk of cargo sliding off the side should the load shift or should a cargo strap break.

Types of Truck Wrecks

Truck accidents tend to cause more severe injuries and fatalities because of trucks’ large size and heavy weight. However, trucks are also higher off the ground than many of the compact and subcompact passenger vehicles.

If a truck stops fast while you tailgate it, you could find yourself under the truck. Most trucks have a bar across the back to prevent smaller vehicles from going under the truck. However, that bar could go through the windshield in some subcompact cars or low riders.

Another dangerous place to be is on the side of a semi-trailer. If the trailer sways, or if another vehicle pushes you toward the truck in a smaller car, it could easily get caught under the trailer. Flatbed trailers are also dangerous. While truck drivers and loaders know to strap down a load, that strap could loosen, or the load could shift. If you are next to the truck, the load could fall onto your vehicle.

A truck making a right turn could easily get its trailer stuck on top of you if you pull up to the right, and the driver doesn’t see you before he or she makes the turn.

Another type of accident that is not common to passenger vehicles is a rollover accident. High winds and speed contribute to rollovers. A truck driver could drive at or below the speed limit, but if the wind hits the truck directly from the side, it could push the truck onto its side. If a truck driver is going too fast for a curve, the weight of the truck and trailer could pull it over. These types of accidents are common on highway on- and off-ramps. Though speed is often a factor, the wind could cause a rollover in a curve, even at slow speeds.

If you are injured in a truck accident, schedule a free consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer who can help you understand the next steps in your journey toward recovering compensation.

Wisconsin Auto Accident Attorneys

What to Do After a Car Accident That Is Not Your Fault

When you are in a car accident that is not your fault, the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company are responsible for your medical expenses and other costs that you incur because of the accident. Wisconsin is a fault state, which means that you are not required to carry personal injury protection. Instead of your insurance covering your expenses in an accident that is not your fault, the at-fault driver and/or his or her insurance must pay your claim.

At the Scene

If you feel your injuries are bad, don’t try to move. Let the paramedics check you out first. If you move, you could cause more damage. If possible, call 911 instead of relying on someone else to do it. The other person might be unconscious.

If you can walk around, check on other involved individuals, including the other driver. Call 911 while you are doing this. You might be able to let first responders know if more than one ambulance should come to the scene.

Take Pictures

Most people carry a cell phone. If you have your cell or another camera, take pictures of the accident scene. Even if you have a dashcam, you’ll want photos of the accident. Be sure to take photos from all angles at a distance and close-up pictures of the damage. When taking close-up photographs, don’t get so close that it’s hard to tell what you’re looking at. If you left skid marks, be sure the pictures show the skid marks, too.

Get Contact Information

Get the other driver’s license number, registration information, insurance information, year, make and model of the vehicle, address, and phone number. Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses standing around, as well.

Do Not Talk About the Accident

Even if you were not at fault, do not talk about the auto accident. The at-fault driver could twist your words in his account to his insurance company, which could make it look like you were at fault or partially at fault.

When speaking to the police officer and/or investigators, just give them the facts. They will come to their own conclusion about fault. Just because a police report includes assertions of who was at fault in the accident, such information is not dispositive. An accident recreation investigator will go through pictures, videos, and other evidence to help determine fault.

Contact Your Insurance Company

When you contact your insurance company, let the representative know that you were involved in an accident and the location of the accident. Let your car accident lawyer tell the insurance company the details of the accident. You may accidentally say something that the insurance company will use against you. Do not contact the other driver’s insurance company. Let your attorney do that for you, as well.

After the Accident

First responders might give you the option of going to the hospital. Always go to get thoroughly checked out. You can pick up your vehicle later if it drives. If not, police officers will arrange for a tow truck to take your car either to their lot or your choice of garage for repairs. If the police officers insist on taking your vehicle to their lot, they might need to go through it for more evidence for their police report.

If the hospital releases you, get copies of your medical records. Contact the police station for a copy of the police report. Contact your car accident lawyer to set up a consultation once the hospital releases you.

If your loved one is expected to be in the hospital for several days or weeks, you should get medical records and the police report for your loved one. Contact a car accident lawyer regarding the accident. If your loved one can talk but does not expect the hospital to release him or her for several days, we might do a phone consultation or might visit your loved one in the hospital.

Recover and Work With Your Attorney

The most important thing to do after an accident is to recover from your injuries. Never deny treatment because it will cost more money. The at-fault driver’s insurance company and/or the at-fault driver will be responsible for your medical expenses, which also covers physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy. Wisconsin law allows you to recover the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Repair or replacement of personal property damaged in the accident, including your vehicle
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the things you did yourself, including shopping, cleaning, home maintenance, and other tasks
  • Loss of consortium
  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Extra compensation for the loss of use of a limb
  • Punitive damages. The court may order the at-fault driver to pay punitive damages as a punishment for gross negligence or if the other driver’s actions were with the intent to harm you or someone in your vehicle.

You have a limited amount of time to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, so contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on the insurance company, the time to start a claim may be as little as 30 days after the date of your accident.

Don’t try to negotiate with the insurance company yourself. Insurance companies are in business to make money, which means they will offer the least amount possible. If you have injuries that doctors expect to last longer than a year, you will want enough compensation to pay for future medical expenses.

If the insurance company does not offer you a fair settlement, even though you have retained an attorney, your attorney might advise you to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In many cases, a jury will award a higher amount than the insurance company offers.

Your car accident lawyer can answer your questions and help you decide what to do next.

Wisconsin Car Accident Lawyers

The Consequences of Road Rage

A mom giving her son a driving lesson dies when someone allegedly shoots her in a road rage incident. The person who shot her also hit her vehicle and caused a car accident. The suspect allegedly left the scene but was eventually apprehended. While the mom got medical attention, she did not survive.

In another case, two people allegedly shot a 13-year-old boy in a road rage incident. Those two suspects allegedly ran and remained at large as of this writing.

Many people go over the top when they get upset on the road, even if the incident seems to be their fault. Is road rage really worth a life?

What Is Road Rage?

Mirriam Webster defines road rage as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.” Road rage could be something as minor as shouting at someone when they can’t hear you or, as in the news stories above, shooting someone and even taking their life.

Actions that are considered road rage behavior include speeding, running stop signs and stop lights, weaving in and out of traffic, not yielding the right-of-way, and tailgating. Situations that often cause road rage behavior include:

  • Traffic delays and traffic jams;
  • Running late;
  • No regard for others;
  • The behavior is habitual; and
  • The accused has no regard for the law.

As pointed out in the above situations, road rage can cause catastrophic injuries and even death, yet people continue this destructive behavior. Instead of leaving early enough to get somewhere on time, they leave too late and are late to work, an appointment, or even just a fun time shopping or going on a date. Irritation sets in if someone is driving too slowly, someone is not going “fast enough” on the highway (even if that person is going the speed limit), or even because someone slows down to make a turn.

Types of Road Rage Accidents

Speeding and cutting in and out of traffic often cause accidents, and these behaviors are two of the more common road rage behaviors. Roads have posted speed limits because they tested for those safe speeds. If a highway has a 75 mph speed limit that drops to 55 mph in a specific area, it is because the Department of Transportation deemed it dangerous to go faster than 55 mph on that stretch of highway.

Going 85 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone is just as bad, if not worse, than going 65 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone, especially if you are already upset. Not only is it easier to lose control of your vehicle at higher speeds, but your aggression makes you react slower to vehicles and circumstances around you.

Speeding can cause:

  • Rear-end accidents
  • Side-swipe accidents
  • Roll-overs if the speed is too fast for a curve
  • Head-on crashes with other vehicles and stationary objects

Cutting in and out of traffic is also dangerous. People around you don’t know what you are going to do, especially if you are not using your turn signal. Jerky movements on the steering wheel as you dodge in between other vehicles could cause you to wreck by side-swiping someone, hitting another vehicle’s front with your vehicle’s rear if you are merging in too close, or even a roll-over wreck.

Running stop signs and stop lights, and not yielding to traffic, can cause T-bone accidents, roll-overs, and side-swipes.

Road Rage Accident Injuries

Any accident can result in injuries, but road rage accidents usually cause more severe accidents (and thus injuries) because of the aggressive driving involved. The type of vehicle you are driving when someone hits you in a road rage fit also determines the extent of your injuries. If you are driving a large truck and someone in a compact car causes a road-rage wreck, you might suffer minor injuries. However, if you are driving a motorcycle or are walking along a sidewalk and someone hits you in a road rage fit, you could suffer catastrophic injuries or even death.

  • Death: Even an accident that doesn’t look “bad” can cause death if the impact throws your body in such a way that you injure a critical organ or a seemingly minor injury causes internal bleeding that is left alone.
  • Traumatic brain injury: TBI comes in several different forms. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. Whiplash may cause a TBI because, like in a concussion, your brain moves back and forth quickly and hits the skull as it moves. Traumatic brain injuries might happen if a piece of bone from a crushed skull pierces the brain, if something else pierces the brain—such as a piece of metal, wood, or a bullet, or if not enough oxygen gets to the brain for several minutes.
  • Neck, shoulder and back injuries: These types of injuries often require physical therapy or surgery to repair, depending on the extent of the damage. Minor damage to the spine may also cause neurological problems, which may last for months or years.
  • Fractures: A standard fracture is when the bone doesn’t break the skin. A compound fracture is when the broken bone breaks through the skin. Both are very painful and could take up to six to eight weeks to heal. However, a compound fracture has the added complication of infection because of the open wound.
  • Strains, sprains, and soft tissue injuries: While these might not seem serious at first, always have a medical professional check them out. You might think something is a painful strain, but you could suffer from a torn muscle that might require surgery.
  • Minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises: These minor injuries could become serious if cuts and scrapes become infected. Even if you believe that you don’t have more injuries, you should have a medical professional check you out, as serious injuries, including whiplash, often appear hours or even days later.

If someone hit you in a road rage accident, a free consultation with a car accident lawyer can make sure you understand how to proceed.

Wisconsin Semi Accident Lawyer

Causes of Truck Accidents

Why Big Trucks Get Into Accidents

Over 15.5 million trucks transport $671 billion of retail and manufactured goods in the United States each year, accounting for an astonishing 70 percent of all freight transported on American roads. Truck drivers transport an additional $490 billion in goods between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico each year.

Because of the sheer number of trucks on the road, it is unfortunately inevitable that commercial vehicle accidents will occur. Given the size difference between the two, the passenger vehicle often ends up much more severely damaged than the truck, and the drivers and any passengers in the smaller vehicle also wind up more severely injured most of the time.

Common Causes of Trucks Accidents

As one might expect, trucks get into different accidents depending on their size, their weight, and what cargo they are carrying. Of course, all truck accidents are different, but there are some causes seen more frequently than others, including:

Truck Driver Fatigue

The federal government provides guidelines governing how many hours a truck driver can be on the road as well as the downtime that drivers should take between drives. However, the trucking industry is deadline-driven. Unscrupulous companies encourage drivers to work overtime. Furthermore, most drivers are paid per mile driven, and a driver’s personal financial situation may make it hard for him or her to stop driving when the regulations demand.

So why does it matter? Drivers who are not properly rested make critical errors that they otherwise would not make. The effects of drowsiness on drivers are similar to those of alcohol intoxication. Drivers suffer a diminished ability to pay attention to road conditions and surroundings. Drowsiness slows reaction time and impairs judgment. Worst of all, drowsiness can lead to a driver falling asleep at the wheel and losing all control of the vehicle.

Although statistics relating specifically to truck driver fatigue are not available, an estimated 80,000 accidents annually are caused by drivers too tired to operate their vehicles and nearly 6,000 of those crashes result in fatalities.

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Truckers are required to perform certain maintenance checks before hitting the road. If truckers fail to perform these checks properly, or if they miss certain issues, it can lead to dangerous accidents. The most common type of maintenance issue involves tires. Tire blowouts occur when a truck’s tire pressure is too low or because of insufficient tread. In some blowout situations, the tires come completely off of a truck’s wheels and fly into the air, creating dangerous obstacles for other drivers. Blowouts can also make it difficult for truck drivers to control their vehicles, causing them to behave in unsafe and erratic ways.

Improper maintenance can also result in lost loads. If a truck’s load is not secured properly, it may fall off the truck during sharp turns or sudden stops. Loads that end up in roadways become dangerous for other drivers who may not have time to stop before colliding with the spilled cargo. Other drivers may attempt to swerve to avoid the debris in the road, causing them to crash into vehicles in adjacent lanes or to cross the centerline.

Driving in a Truck’s Blind Spot

All vehicles have blind spots, which are the spaces that a driver cannot see in either side or rearview mirrors. While drivers of passenger vehicles can and should look over their shoulders to check their blind spots before making lane changes or turns, truck drivers do not have that option. Their trailers prevent them from seeing over their shoulders, and they may make lane changes without perceiving the presence of another vehicle. Passenger car drivers should take care to not drive in a truck’s blind spot and exercise caution when passing trucks on either side.

Following Too Closely

Any drivers following the car in from of them too closely can cause a rear-end collision if the front car stops or slows down. This holds true with truck drivers as well, but their negligence can have devastating consequences due to the weight and size of their vehicles. Impact to the back of a passenger vehicle by a truck can cause severe damage to passengers in the back of the car in addition to serious property damage. The impact from a truck may cause a pile-up by pushing the car immediately in front of it into the vehicles in front of the car, multiplying the potential for injury and property damage.

Sudden Stops

When a truck stops suddenly, it creates a situation in which the car following it does not have time to safely stop and avoid a collision. These types of accidents, called underride crashes, are some of the most devastating between passenger vehicles and trucks. Often, the passenger vehicle ends up underneath the back of the trailer connected to the truck. While the occupants in the front of the car are the most likely to sustain injuries, if the speed of the impact is high enough, the entire car may come to a stop under the trailer, injuring those in the back as well. Fatalities are not uncommon in underride accidents, and the passenger vehicle is usually totaled.

Crossing the Centerline

Crossing the centerline can result in a front-end collision. Like underride accidents, front-end collisions are serious accidents that can result in death and severe bodily injury. The large size and weight of a truck make front-end collisions especially serious. These accidents usually happen at higher rates of speeds than other types of accidents, and oncoming drivers have little warning that the truck will cross and therefore a small window of time in which to react.

Taking Turns Too Sharply

When a truck makes too sharp of a turn, it can cause it to jackknife, a situation in which the truck cab and trailer end up at a 90 degree angle. These types of accidents may not involve another vehicle, but they do create dangerous obstacles in the road to which other drivers may not have time to react. In addition, trucks may lose their cargo loads, which creates additional dangers on the road.

Running Stop Signs or Stoplights

When trucks run stoplights or stop signs, they can cause a T-bone accident. In these crashes, a car coming from a side direction may not have time to stop before colliding with the truck. As with underride accidents, the passenger car may end up under the trailer, and the damage can be just as severe.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer if You Need More Information

If you or someone you know was injured in a truck accident, you may face a mountain of medical bills and such a change in your physical capabilities that makes it impossible for you to return to life as you once knew it. A truck accident attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve for injuries suffered due to truck driver or trucking company negligence.

Types of Injuries Involved in Personal Injury Cases

Millions of individuals fall victim to personal injury accidents each year. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly thirty million people across the country are injured and require medical treatment every year. Unfortunately, incidents that lead to personal injury are common; vehicle crashes, slip and fall accidents, and even assaults add up to a hefty number of injury claims.

Victims of injury should understand that their cases may take one of many forms as they approach the time for settlement or trial. Most people understand that there is a wide variety of injuries that they may sustain throughout their lives; most are not aware they can seek compensation via the legal system. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to personal injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your eligibility to file a personal injury claim. Consider the following cases:

  • A car accident case: Vehicle accident cases form a wide umbrella. If you were injured during a vehicle accident, no matter the type of automobile or your own physical position (for example, a driver, passenger, or pedestrian), you should speak with an attorney regarding your eligibility.
  • A slip and fall case: Countless individuals fall victim to slip and fall injuries every year. If you’ve fallen and sustained an injury on private property, you may have a case against the property owner or renter of the property.
  • A medical malpractice case: Injuries may arise during treatment at the hands of a medical professional. If this has occurred to you or your loved one, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
  • A dog bite case: Dog owners are liable for bites caused by their dogs in most cases. Laws of responsibility vary from state to state.
  • An assault, a battery, or another intentional tort case: These cases occur when one party harms another on purpose. If you’ve been attacked in a criminal incident, you may need to speak to an attorney about an assault or battery claim.

Head and Brain Injuries

Types of injuries in personal injury accidentsThe potential outcome of a head or brain injury stands to have a tremendous impact on a victim’s life. While some individuals are fortunate enough to escape these injuries with their mental and cognitive abilities intact, others are not so fortunate. Head and brain injuries are some of the most dangerous, especially because certain symptoms often fail to appear until a condition has already become dangerous (or would have already benefited from treatment).

If you or a loved one sustained a head injury during an accident, you should be on the lookout for:

  • Concussions
    • Sometimes caused by whiplash-type injuries or violent head-shaking.
    • May damage cranial nerves and stretch blood vessels in the brain.
    • The victim may or may not experience a brief loss of consciousness or appear dazed.
  • Hematoma in the brain
    • Hematomas occur when blood clots outside of the blood vessels.
    • If a hematoma occurs in the brain, it may lead to permanent brain damage.
  • Skull fracture

Broken and Fractured Bones

Broken and fractured bones can severely limit an injured victim’s abilities. Tasks that were once easy may become painful, difficult, or even impossible when broken bones are brought into the equation. A severe example would be a spine related injury that resulted in paralysis.  Some bone breaks are obvious; they may be visible under the skin or even break through the skin in more severe cases.

Other fractures are often small and difficult to pinpoint. If you believe that you or a loved one may have suffered a bone fracture during an accident, seek diagnosis and care as soon as possible. Even small hairline fractures can impede your abilities for the remainder of your life if you forgo early treatment.

Electrocution, Burns, or Drowning

Some cases present unique conditions that may lead to injuries caused by burns, electrocution, or even drowning. These traumatic events can deeply impact the human body and may lead to critical injuries. The extent of your injuries determines the aggression level of your treatment plan.

If, for example, a victim’s entire body is covered in severe burns, he or she will require long-term hospitalization. The individual may even need skin grafts or other specialized care to heal properly. Many instances of drowning can leave victims coughing up water for days, delaying the recovery process further.

The Effects of Injuries (and an Overview of Compensatory Damages)

Numerous injuries may result in considerable changes to the way that victims live their lives, make money, and engage in society. The United States court system understands that injury victims are often left without a way to continue providing for themselves or their families after their accidents. Not only that, but most jurisdictions are more than happy to offer victims some level of compensation for the emotional pain and suffering brought on by their experiences.

When injury victims elect to begin the claims process for damages, they may pursue compensation to cover:

  • Medical treatment, including all past, current, and future treatment associated with the injury or injuries. This also extends to include emergency transport from the site of the accident, any medications that your doctors may suggest that you take, and more.
  • Lost wages or diminished earning potential if your injuries keep you from working and earning money or render you unable to earn the same wage as you earned before the accident.
  • Pain and suffering damages are also available if a victim’s injuries have caused him or her considerable physical or emotional distress and pain.
  • Loss of enjoyment or consortium, reserved for injuries that keep you from enjoying your day-to-day life or hinder a physical relationship with your spouse.

The Importance of Legal Support

Any victim of personal injury should contact a trustworthy and compassionate personal injury attorney for advice. At the Groth Law Firm we will not only help guide you through the tangled web of processes that make up the legal system, but also assist you in collecting and maintaining records and information that will prove useful if you decide to file a lawsuit.