Car Accident Lawyer WI

In a Rear End Collision, Is the Car Behind Always at Fault?

Rear end collisions happen every day. Of the six-million accidents that occur annually in the U.S., 40 percent are rear-end collisions; and according to 2016 statistics, in Wisconsin, about 116,301 crashes involved injuries, property damage, or death. Rear end collisions are very common, and people tend to presume that the fault rests with the driver who rear-ended the car in front. However, that is not always completely true.

Causes of Rear-End Collisions

All drivers have a duty to follow other cars at a safe distance because unanticipated stops sometimes happen. Rear end collisions may be caused by a variety of factors, such as distractions, weather conditions, or other circumstances such as:

  • Tailgating
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Distracted driving
  • A car in front suddenly stopping or reversing
  • Weather or other hazardous road conditions
  • Construction zones
  • Breakdowns or other accidents
  • Brake light failure
  • People, animals, or objects in the road

Many rear-end accidents can be avoided by allowing a safe distance from the car ahead of you and by maintaining a consistent speed if you are driving the car in front.

Determining Fault in a Rear-End Collision

Under Wisconsin law, if a court determines you were 51 percent or more responsible for an accident than the other driver, then you are barred from recovering compensation. However, if you are 50 percent or less responsible for the crash, then you can still recover compensation. If you were partially at fault, your compensation would be adjusted according to your percentage of responsibility. Therefore, it is essential to have experienced attorneys investigate the accident and collect evidence.

Generally, the driver of the following car is considered partially or fully at fault because they should have allowed a safe distance between the cars. However, it is possible for the driver of the car that has been rear-ended also to be negligent and thereby contribute to the accident. Some of these situations include:

  • The driver suddenly puts the car into reverse
  • The driver makes a sudden and erratic maneuver
  • The brake lights of the car in front do not work
  • The driver in front has a flat tire, or some other mechanical failure, but does not pull off the road or turn on warning lights
  • The driver stops to turn but fails to complete the turn

Common Injuries Caused by Rear-End Collisions

You may assume that a rear-end collision is just a “fender bender,” and not a serious cause for concern. However, because rear-end collisions happen so frequently, they are a major cause of many personal injuries. Some of these injuries include:

  • Whiplash. Whiplash is a sudden, violent movement of the neck and head. It can damage the soft tissues. Whiplash is the most frequent injury from a rear-end collision, but the symptoms may not be immediately apparent. Of those who suffer a whiplash injury, many experience pain, and soreness for more than a week and in some cases, for a year or more.
  • Back injuries. Even at low speeds, the force of impact can cause compression of the spine and discs in the lower spinal column. A severe brain or spinal injury can even leave the victim partially or completely paralyzed.
  • Traumatic head injuries. Head injuries are very serious and may result in a concussion, loss of consciousness, swelling, abnormal changes in behavior, and cognitive difficulties. As with whiplash, the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may take days or weeks to become apparent.
  • Facial disfigurement. This may be more serious than a cosmetic problem. Injuries such as a broken nose, jaw, or detached retina may require extensive medical care and surgeries.
  • Wrist and arm injuries. If a driver anticipates a crash, they will probably brace themselves by gripping the steering wheel. This can lead to injuries such as broken or sprained wrists or dislocated shoulders.
  • Seatbelt and airbag injuries. Seatbelts and airbags save lives, but in some cases, they may also cause injuries, such as bruising, or broken bones.

Compensation for a Rear End Accident

Once the other driver’s negligence has been established, you may wish to pursue compensation for your physical, psychological, and financial damages. You may be able to collect compensation for losses such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Property damage, if applicable
  • Punitive Damages, if applicable

Call the Groth Law Firm After a Rear-End Crash

If you were in a rear-end collision, attend to the following important matters.

The first is to immediately seek medical attention. Remember that some injuries do not show up until later. Provide accurate and complete information about your condition. Do not either exaggerate or minimize your injuries, or state that you have no injuries. It is best to seek care immediately. After the initial medical care, always keep your scheduled doctor visits. Getting medical care is not only important for your health, but also for any claims you may file in the future. Contact the police and call your insurance company. If possible, take photographs of both cars and the accident scene. Write down the names and contact information of witnesses.

Rear end collisions may seem like minor accidents, but they can have long term consequences. No matter which car you were driving, do not assume that the driver of the following car is automatically and fully responsible. It is important in these accidents to gather as much information as possible, promptly and accurately. It’s wise to consult an attorney who has experience with car accident claims as soon as possible. Our personal injury attorneys have represented clients across Wisconsin. We have the skills and resources to zealously protect your rights and obtain any compensation you are owed. For more information, contact Groth Law online or call Groth Law Firm at (414) 240-0707.

Car Accident Lawyer WI

Watch out for Dangerous Intersections in Milwaukee

In May 2018, the Journal Sentinel published an article online (read the full text here) detailing the twelve top crash-prone intersections in Milwaukee, dubbed “the dangerous dozen.” Using statistics (1506 crashes, 634 injuries) from a five-year study (2012-2016) conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, these infamous locations are:

  1. 41/Highway 45 and Capitol Drive – a three-level intersection with some improvements completed in 2017
  2. I-94 and Highway 164
  3. I-94 and Highway 83
  4. Greenfield Avenue and Moorland Road
  5. I-94 and Moorland Road
  6. Silver Spring Drive and Port Washington Road –Located near the Bayshore Mall, there is a high incidence of driver distraction in this area
  7. I-94 and Hwy F
  8. Bluemound Rd and Barker Rd
  9. Bluemound Rd and Moorland Rd/Pilgrim Pkwy
  10. Les Paul Pkwy and E Racine Ave
  11. S 108th St and W Lincoln Ave
  12. East Moreland Blvd and Kossow Rd

Incidentally, last year Road and Track ranked Milwaukee 19th out of 25 on the list of worst cities for driving in 2018. The findings used data based on traffic volume, safety, and the quality of our city’s infrastructure.

Wisconsin has a proud history of recognizing the importance of highway safety, specifically at intersections. In the past, our state joined forces with California, Virginia, and the Federal Highway Administration in a collaborative effort (the Infrastructure Consortium) dedicated to improving intersection safety.

Contributing Factors to Milwaukee Intersection Accidents

Interstate construction, roadway maintenance, as well as confusing road layouts can result in a driver adjusting his or her speed erratically and shifting lanes quickly. A single reckless maneuver can easily become a safety issue when approaching or navigating through an intersection. Additionally, if a distracted driver fails to react in a timely manner to changing traffic conditions, or to act responsibly, serious crashes can be expected.

Many collisions at intersections are caused by:

  • Drivers attempting to turn left while trying to race the yellow light
  • Speeding
  • Impaired drivers
  • Failing to scan intersections properly on approach
  • Following too closely
  • Improper signaling
  • Misjudging the speed and distance of other vehicles

No driver is immune from the hazards of intersections. Along with passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, pedestrians and/or bicyclists are placed in harm’s way when confronted with:

  • Multiple merging lanes
  • Roundabouts
  • Four-way stops
  • Frontage road intersections
  • Confusing road layouts
  • Tailgating
  • Excessive speed

While there is any number of reasons why a crash happens at a particular intersection, drivers must be aware of what behaviors can possibly put a life in danger.

Dealing with multiple lanes and high traffic volume is frustrating, and as the list of potential problems with intersection design and maintenance grows annually, roadway safety has become both a local and state priority; thankfully, many of our lawmakers and local civic groups are working together to strike a balance between safety, efficiency, and available finances.

The severity of an intersection collision primarily depends on:

  • The volume of traffic
  • Whether the intersection is located in an urban or rural location
  • If the lanes are divided between opposing traffic
  • Visibility
  • The number of parking lot entrances and exits in close proximity to the location

Direct Causes

  • Improperly marked lanes
  • Obstructed signs
  • Lack of a median barrier
  • Confusing signs
  • Improper lane width

To increase roads and intersections safety, federal, state, and local governments need to continue working together to implement necessary changes, including:

  • Reducing speed limits
  • Increasing intersection visibility
  • Better signage
  • The impact of substance abuse

J-Turn Intersections

The restricted crossing U-turns that have been implemented in Wisconsin are minimizing the possibility of collisions as drivers navigate high-speed, divided highways. When constructed with dedicated left-turn and right-turn-only lanes, these intersections reduce accident potential. The benefits of this design include:

  • Reduction of right-angle crashes
  • The driver only needs to look at one direction of traffic at a time
  • Allows for extra space for longer vehicles to store in median
  • Provides additional space for longer vehicles to stand in the median
  • Cost-effective when compared to an interchange or overpass

Pay Attention at Busy Intersections

We can’t always avoid the dangers on our roads, but we can be proactive. There are specific rules of the road (346.31) concerning the required position and method of turning at intersections. Safety at dangerous intersections is every driver’s responsibility:

  • Stay alert and drive defensively in busy intersections
  • Anticipate aggressive behavior from the other drivers
  • Watch for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists
  • Remain cognizant of other drivers’ blind spots
  • Keep your foot on the brake while waiting to cross the intersection.
  • Always use directional signals
  • Keep your vehicle in good working order
  • Plan ahead and listen to local traffic reports before hitting the road

Intersections are sometimes complex and confusing. The design of a roadway influences its safety and can have the ability to improve traffic flow. Raised medians, crosswalks, and bicycle lanes are instrumental in keeping motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians safer. We need to work together to support traffic safety initiatives in our community. Let’s make sure that everyone gets where they are going safely.

Smart Intersection Technology

A viable solution to intersection dangers is on the horizon. “Connected Intersections” use traffic signals that have the ability to communicate with smart cars and emergency service vehicles. The future is indeed upon us: With communication possible between sensors on the roadways, connected vehicles, and smart cars, the timing of traffic signals can be manipulated, in real-time, to meet the daily needs of a city.

According to a current project at Iowa State University Institute For Transportation: “Intersection-focused safety applications are expected to prevent an estimated 575,000 crashes and 5,100 fatalities per year.”

Until we all have smart cars that will alert us to dangers looming in an intersection before we turn the corner, remember to always be aware both of your own driving habits and those of the vehicles around you.

The Groth Law Firm Is Here to Help

If an accident at an intersection in Milwaukee has resulted in physical or financial hardship for you, contact the legal team at Groth Law Firm. When another person’s negligence leaves you physically, emotionally, or financially damaged, we are here to leverage our collective knowledge and experience to maximize recovery for you and your family. Call us at (414) 240-0707 for a free consultation.

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Damages for Drunk Driving Crashes in Wisconsin

It is not uncommon for the evening news to feature a devastating story about someone seriously injured, or even killed, by a drunk driver. Furthermore, it should come as no surprise that Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of drinking and driving in the country.

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which ran through January 1, 2019 was an effort undertaken by law enforcement agencies across the state to limit the number of impaired drivers on Wisconsin roadways. Authorities are optimistic that Wisconsin drivers are finally beginning to hear the messages about the dangers of impaired driving as traffic related fatalities overall actually declined in 2018 during the campaign.

In 2017, the total number of traffic related fatalities in Wisconsin was 594. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s preliminary report in January of 2019 reported 565 deaths through December 30, 2018, which would be the first yearly decline since 2014 of traffic related deaths. David Pabst, who is the Director of Transportation Safety, noted that the overall traffic fatalities in Wisconsin were down about 4% in 2018. The hope is that this trend continues in 2019 and beyond.

Around 12:39 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, 2019, a 36-year-old woman from Waterford, Wisconsin was critically injured in a drunk driving crash. The crash occurred on WIS-20 in Racine when the drunk driver, a 36-year old East Troy man, crossed the center line and struck a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured. Both the drunk driver and passenger were non-responsive at the time 911 was called. The drunk driver was transported to an area hospital and treated for minor injuries. He was then transported to Racine County Jail to await charges to be filed against him for his third OWI offense.

The female passenger in the drunk driver’s vehicle was also transported to an area hospital and is being treated for life threatening injuries. Along with an OWI (3rd), the driver of the vehicle was also arrested for felony causing injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle due to the extent of the woman’s injuries.

This accident is just another example of the devastating effects caused by drunk driving. The driver’s bad decision will now potentially have horrific lifelong effects on his passenger. What makes tragic situations such as this even worse is learning that the offender has been convicted in the past of the same offense, often on more than one occasion. The sad reality is that many times, even multiple convictions is not enough to stop the abhorrent behavior.

Like any other motor vehicle crash in which the injured victim has a right to be compensated for the damages caused by the at-fault driver, drunk driving crashes work in much the same way. The drunk driver who caused the crash is responsible for compensating the injured victim for his or her medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and for any future care that may be needed if the injury is permanent.

Since drunk driving is a much more egregious type of negligence, another type of damages may be available for the victim in certain circumstances. These types of damages are called punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to have a deterrent effect; not only will they work to punish the wrongdoer, but punitive damages should also deter the wrongdoer – and others – from engaging in the same type of behavior in the future.

Wisconsin Statute Section 895.043 governs the law as it relates to punitive damages in this context. According to Wis. Stat. § 895.043(3), a plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages if he or she can show that “the defendant acted maliciously toward the plaintiff or in an intentional disregard of the rights of the plaintiff.” In order to prove that the defendant (i.e drunk driver) acted with an intentional disregard of the plaintiff’s rights, three criteria must be met:

(1) the act must have been deliberate;
(2) the act must actually disregard the injured party’s rights; and
(3) the act is sufficiently aggravated to warrant an award of punitive damages.

With regard to element number one, typically no one ever forces someone to drink and drive. It is typically obvious that someone who makes the decision to drink and drive did so deliberately. Similarly, element number two is usually not too difficult to show as a drunk driver on the roadway disregards the rights of all other users of the roadway, at large, by making it inherently unsafe. The third element – the aggravating factors – is generally where there is most room for argument. Aggravating factors include details that make the act of drunk driving even more egregious. For example, prior convictions, a high blood alcohol concentration or having children in the vehicle at the time of the accident may all constitute factors sufficient to warrant an award of punitive damages.

It is important to note that, generally, Wisconsin law imposes a cap on punitive damages to no more than twice the amount of underlying compensatory damages or $200,000, whichever is greater. According to Wis. Stat. § 895.043(6), however, this cap does not apply to an injured person seeking punitive damages from a defendant whose actions giving rise to the injury occurred while operating a motor vehicle “under the influence of an intoxicant to a degree that rendered the defendant incapable of safe operation of the vehicle.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the Groth Law Firm may be able to help. The team at Groth Law Firm has experience in handling cases against drunk drivers and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Groth Law Firm will ensure that your rights are protected and your recovery is maximized. They can also evaluate whether or not you may be able to pursue a claim for punitive damages against the defendant driver. Call the attoneys of Groth Law Firm for a free consultation at (414) 375-2030.
Woman critically injured, man arrested for 3rd OWI after crash in Racine County

dog bite lawyer in Wisconsin

Dog Bites in Wisconsin

Dogs are one of the most common household pets in Wisconsin. While many owners train their dogs to be obedient and not violent, the same is not true of all dog owners. Even well behaved dogs act out at times, and it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain what is going to provoke a dog to attack. Regardless of the care a dog owner takes to train his or her dog, Wisconsin law dictates that the owner is ultimately responsible for the full amount of damages caused by the dog when it injuries another person, domestic animal or property. (Wis. Stat. § 174.02).

In certain cases, a dog owner may be on the hook for double damages if their dog attacks another person. The law in Wisconsin states that if a dog bites someone with enough force to break the skin and cause permanent physical scarring or disfigurement, the dog owner would be liable for two times the full amount of damages caused when that owner knew that his or her dog had previously bitten another person with force sufficient to break the skin and cause permanent physical scarring or disfigurement without any provocation. (Wis. Stat. § 174.02(1)(b)).

There may be monetary penalties imposed by statute, which are in addition to the damages caused to the person, animal or property discussed above. If a dog has not bitten or attacked in the past, the owner could be liable for a monetary penalty of not less than $50 but not more than $2,500 depending upon the extent of the damages. If an owner has notice that his or her dog has injured someone in the past, that monetary penalty could range from not less than $200 to not more than $5,000 depending upon the extent of the damages caused by the dog.

In some circumstances, a court may order that a dog be killed when a civil action has been filed by a person who was injured by a dog, or by a person whose minor child or animal was injured by a dog. According to Wis. Stat. § 174.02(3)(a), the court must find that two criteria are met before granting an order to kill a dog. First, the court must find that the dog caused “serious injury” to either a person or a domestic animal on two separate occasions off of the owner’s property and without reasonable cause. (Wis. Stat. § 174.02(3)(a)(1)). Second, the court must find that the owner was aware that the dog caused the first injury prior to the time when the dog caused the second serious injury. (Wis. Stat. s. 174.02(3)(a)(2)). The statute requires that the officer tasked with enforcing the judgment of killing the dog shall do so “in a proper and humane manner.” (Wis. Stat. § 174.02(3)(b)).

There is an exception in the statute for dogs used by law enforcement agencies. The exception states that an owner of a dog used by a law enforcement agency is not liable for damages that may be caused by the dog to a suspect while the dog is performing “law enforcement functions.” (Wis. Stat. § 174.02(4)).

On Sunday, March 3, 2019, a four-year-old boy in Layton, Utah was attempting to play with some dogs in the yard next door to his house. When he reached through the fence, a husky-breed dog bit his hand. The dog bit the hand so hard that it was ultimately severed from the little boy’s arm. While a severed limb can sometimes be reattached, the article states that unfortunately that will not be an option for the boy. Authorities searched the area for several hours, but the hand could not be found. They believe the hand may have been eaten by the dog.

While severed limbs are not all that common following a dog bite, victims often do sustain permanent scarring on the parts of their body that were bitten. This can be especially traumatic in young children who are forced to grow up with permanent marks often on parts of their body that are visible to their peers, such as the face. The medical field has come a long way in what can be done cosmetically for these scars, but they typically will never be fully healed. The victim is almost always left with a constant reminder of the attack, which often results in emotional and psychological issues in addition to the physical injuries.

It is important to note that dog bites are not always cut and dry on liability. If the person who was bit did something to provoke the dog, the law in Wisconsin recognizes that there may have been some contributory negligence on the victim. In those types of cases, the dog owner would not necessarily be held 100% responsible for the damages. As long as the dog owner’s negligence was more than the victim’s, however, the dog owner is still responsible for compensating the victim for the portion of the damages caused by the dog.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a dog bite in Wisconsin, the attorneys at Groth Law Firm may be able to help. When a dog bite occurs, it is crucial to take the appropriate steps to ensure that the injury is documented by the proper authorities. Investigation must also be done to determine whether or not this is a dog’s “second offense” thus exposing the owner to liability for double damages.

Time is of the essence in these types of cases. You will want to have a skilled, dedicated and experienced dog bite attorney fighting for you every step of the way. That is where the team at Groth Law Firm comes in. We walk with you through every step of the process ensuring that your rights are protected and your recovery is maximized. Our attorneys are available seven days per week to discuss the facts surrounding your injury and to answer any questions you might have. The Groth Law Firm offers free consultations and does not charge you unless they recover compensation on your behalf. Call the attorneys of Groth Law Firm today at (414) 375-2030.


personal injury lawyer in Milwaukee Wisconsin

Crosswalk Laws in Wisconsin

Over the years, it has become increasingly dangerous to cross the streets of Wisconsin even where there are marked crosswalks. Whether it is because of an increased population resulting in an increased number of drivers on Wisconsin roadways, or simply a greater number of distractions causing drivers to divert their attention away from the road, accidents involving pedestrians have been on the rise in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the average number of crashes involving pedestrians each year between 2011 and 2015 was 1,248. Of those 1,248 pedestrian crashes, an average of 46 pedestrian deaths occurred and 1,196 pedestrian injuries were reported. The year with the highest number of deaths and injuries was 2015. In 2015 alone, there were 1,289 reported accidents involving pedestrians, 54 deaths and 1,227 injuries in Wisconsin.

Many of these pedestrian accidents occur because Wisconsin drivers simply do not abide by the rules pertaining to pedestrians crossing the road in crosswalks. It is illegal in the state of Wisconsin to fail to stop for a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk. A pedestrian in a crosswalk does have the right of way. A crosswalk does not necessarily have to be marked in order to be considered a crosswalk. As Tom Held, ambassador for Wisconsin Bike Fed, explains it, “Any point where there is a natural crossing for a sidewalk, pedestrians have the right of way. It’s not an option for drivers to stop or not stop – they are obligated by law to yield or stop.”

The pertinent language from the Wisconsin statutes is as follows:
346.23: Crossing controlled intersection or crosswalk.
(1) At an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, or to a person who is riding a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device in a manner which is consistent with the safe use of the crosswalk by pedestrians, who has started to cross the highway on a green or “Walk” signal and in all other cases pedestrians, bicyclists, and riders of electric personal assistive mobility devices shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully proceeding directly ahead on a green signal.”

While pedestrians crossing roadways at any point other than a marked crosswalk (or an area where a sidewalk ends and there is a natural sidewalk crossing) do have to yield the right of way to vehicles, drivers should always be scanning the sides of the roads while they drive to look for pedestrians who may be attempting to cross. Even though pedestrians must yield to vehicles in those situations, many pedestrian involved crashes could be avoided if drivers paid closer attention, even in areas where there are not crosswalks.
346.25, Wis. Stats. governs the rules pertaining to crossing at any point other than crosswalks. It states:
346.25: Crossing at place other than crosswalk
Every pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”

On Friday, February 15, 2019, 82 year old crossing guard, Gail Bantes, was struck by a vehicle while performing her crossing guard duties in the Peshtigo School District. Prior to getting struck by an SUV, Bantes pushed two young girls to safety. Before working as a crossing guard for the city of Peshtigo, Gail Bantes was a bus driver for 43 years. Bantes spent several days in the hospital due to the injuries that she sustained.

The Peshtigo police chief confirmed that the woman driving the SUV did receive a citation. She allegedly told officers that she was unable to see people in the crosswalk due to the sun glare.
Barriers to vision do not render the laws pertaining to crosswalks null and void. Drivers must exercise greater caution when their vision is obstructed in order to avoid a pedestrian collision.

Sun glare does pose an issue, especially when driving directly toward the sun, but a driver still has a duty to exercise ordinary care, particularly in less than ideal driving conditions. Wearing sunglasses, using a sun visor and reducing speed are several ways to reduce the risk of a crash on very bright days.

In the winter, there are other types of hazards drivers face when it comes to being able to see when approaching a crosswalk. Large snow piles block the view of drivers as they approach intersections, particularly in a winter such as this where there are record snowfalls for the season in parts of the state. Many snow piles are pushed so high that it is impossible to see if pedestrians are walking behind them and are about to step into the crosswalk. In these situations, it is important to slow down and exercise greater caution, especially near school zones. Peshtigo police chief warned drivers, “Slow down, watch at intersections, because if you can’t see them, they can’t see you.”

With the ever-increasing number of distractions drivers are faced with nowadays, it is crucial to be aware of the Wisconsin crosswalk laws and exercise an even higher degree of caution when approaching crosswalks. Pedestrians in crosswalks have the right of way, and it is illegal not to stop for a pedestrian who is crossing a street in the crosswalk. Additionally, it is illegal to begin making a turn, even on a green light, if there is a pedestrian crossing in the crosswalk if the turn would endanger or interfere with the pedestrian in any way.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a pedestrian vs. vehicle crash while crossing lawfully in a crosswalk, the team at Groth Law Firm may be able to help. Time is of the essence in these types of cases, so call the Groth Law firm today to make sure that your rights are protected and valuable evidence is retained and preserved. Call the attorneys at Groth Law Firm at (414) 375-2030 today.

car accident lawyer in Milwaukee Wisconsin

The Consequences of Texting and Driving in Wisconsin

Cell phones have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Over the years, cell phones have transformed from devices that could only be used to make or receive calls to devices that are, more or less, personal computers. We not only use these devices to communicate; we surf the web, do online banking, shop, order food, scroll social media and obtain driving directions, only to name a few. Cell phones can do many helpful things for us, but do not forget about the harms caused by the use of cell phones at inappropriate times, particularly while driving.

Wisconsin Statute 346.89, entitled “Inattentive Driving,” outlines the law in Wisconsin as it relates to texting while driving. Wis. Stat. 346.89 states, in pertinent part: “No person may drive, [. . .], any motor vehicle while composing or sending an electronic text message or an electronic mail message.” Wis. Stat. 346.89(3)(b)(4) provides an exception for “[t]he use of a voice-operated or hands-free device if the driver of the motor vehicle does not use his or her hands to operate the device, except to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the device.” In other words, a driver is not permitted to send a text message while driving unless he or she does so through the use of a hands-free “talk to text” type feature.

Texting while driving is the number one cause of distracted driving, but many other activities can cause a driver to be distracted as well. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were 24,089 motor vehicle crashes in 2015 due to distracted driving, which equates to a distracted driving crash occurring approximately once every 22 minutes.

Not only is texting and driving dangerous, an offender could get a citation and demerit points assessed on their driving record. Fines range from $20 for a first offense up to $400 for repeat offenses. (Wis. Stat. 346.95(2)). If someone is actually injured or killed due to texting and driving, the fines and penalties can be much worse.

In July of 2012, PaKou Xiong was driving home from work around midnight and simultaneously texting her friend about a wedding when she struck and killed Jim Weiss, a bicyclist, as he rode his bike in Kimberly, Wisconsin. An accident reconstruction revealed that Xiong did not attempt to brake before striking the bicyclist. The criminal complaint stated that Weiss had several reflectors affixed to his bike. This should have made the bike visible had the driver been paying attention. Xiong was sentenced to one year in jail followed by five years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

According to a Target 2 article out of Green Bay, Xiong is quoted saying: “You just have to put that phone down and think for a little while and say ‘is it worth it? Is it worth putting other people’s lives at risk or your own life at risk?’”

To ensure safety on Wisconsin roadways while in the presence of electronic devices that ever so easily grab our attention, it is important to keep a few things in mind so that we do not become part of a new distracted driving statistic.

1. Set Your Phone to Send an Auto Response While Driving

Advances in technology allow us to program our electronic devices in virtually any way we can imagine. You can now program a smartphone to send an auto-response to any text messages that are received by your phone while you are driving. Anyone who sends you a text message while your Do Not Disturb setting is turned on will receive a message saying something like, “I’m driving with Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on. I’ll see your message when I get where I’m going. If this is urgent please call me instead.” This ensures that the people who are trying to reach you get a notification that you are driving and you do not get disturbed so that you can focus on what is most important – getting to your destination safely!

2. Turn Your Phone on Silent

For many people, hearing their phone ring or buzz and not being able to look at it is nearly impossible. When they hear that they received a message or other notification, it eats away at them until they know what it is or who it is from. This is why it is a good habit to put your phone on silent while driving. You will not be disturbed when a message comes through nor will you be anxious to grab for your phone. Put the cell phone on silent, and tuck it away in a purse or a bag so that it is not a distraction while you are on the road.

3. Pull Over If You Need to Check or Send a Message

If you truly cannot wait until you get safely to your destination to read or send a text message, pull over once it is safe to do so and go about your business. Do not put others’ lives at risk to read or send a simple message. While pulling over may take a few extra minutes, you could be saving your life and the lives of others by not texting and driving.

4. Make a Commitment to Never Text and Drive

Make the commitment to never text and drive again. Do not be part of another texting and driving statistic in Wisconsin. Do your part to make Wisconsin roadways safer, and do not text and drive!

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash because of someone who was texting and driving, our firm may be able to help. The Groth Law Firm has many years of experience handling cases that involve distracted driving, and the team remains committed to providing the best possible representation to its clients who are injured through the carelessness of others. Our attorneys offer free consultations and are available seven days per week. Don’t wait – call the Groth Law Firm today at (414) 375-2030.


personal injury lawyer in Milwaukee Wisconsin

How To Choose The Right Personal Injury Attorney

Being involved in an auto accident is stressful. Motor vehicle crashes oftentimes leave people injured, without a vehicle and unable to work and provide for their families like they used to. For most, navigating the world of insurance companies and auto accident claims is new terrain and something that they are not familiar with. Injured victims need guidance and compassion, neither of which they usually get when dealing with insurance companies.

Personal injury attorneys can add great value to an auto accident case, both in terms of monetary compensation and simply taking the stress and burden of dealing with insurance companies off of the injured person’s shoulders. In fact, Allstate’s website even admits that “represented claims settle for 2-3 times more than unrepresented claims.” (See page C000011298). It may seem like personal injury attorneys are a dime a dozen, so how can you be sure you are making the right decision? While finding the right attorney may seem like a daunting task, here are some tips for making sure you are selecting the right attorney for your particular case.

#1: Schedule a Free Consultation

Most Wisconsin personal injury lawyers offer a free case consultation. Call the prospective law firm and ask to schedule a free consultation with one of the attorneys to discuss the facts of your case. The free consultations are very informative and you are able to get the attorney’s perspective on the legal aspects of your case prior to hiring him or her. During the consultation, the attorney gathers information to determine if it is a case the law firm will be able to pursue. Prospective clients also have the opportunity to ask the attorney any questions they have, which is especially helpful since dealing with injuries and insurance companies following an auto accident is not something most people do regularly.

#2: Read the Firm’s Online Reviews

When trusting a law firm with your case, you want to make sure that they have a good track record. Take time to read the feedback that past clients have left for the law firm. Not only will this give you a feel for what you can expect when you hire the firm, but you will read about the first-hand experiences others have had with the firm. Hiring an attorney is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. It is important that you do your research and make sure the attorney you chose has the requisite knowledge, experience and results to handle your case and achieve the best possible result for you.

#3: Make Sure You Feel Comfortable With The Attorney

Before signing a retainer contract with an attorney, make sure you sit down with them – or at least speak with them on the telephone – to make sure that you feel comfortable. Reading positive reviews and seeing creative advertisements from a firm may give you an idea of what the firm is like, but make sure to personally connect with the attorney prior to hiring him or her to make sure you feel comfortable talking with them. Depending upon the duration of your case, you may have a long-term attorney-client relationship, so it is important to make sure it is a good fit. By speaking directly with the attorney, you are better able to gauge how confident they are and how easy it is to communicate with them. Before hiring an attorney, it is important that they gain your trust.

#4: Make Sure The Attorney Works on a Contingency Fee Basis

Most people who have just been injured in a motor vehicle crash or a fall do not have the extra cash to put down as a retainer fee for an attorney. For these types of cases, you will want to make sure the attorney will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the attorney does not get paid unless you get paid. This shifts the risk away from you – as the injured party – and allows you to rest assured that unless you are compensated, you do not owe any money out of pocket. Many personal injury firms handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, but it is a good practice to ask about the fee agreement up front so there is no confusion.

#5: Be Thorough In Your Search, But Don’t Wait Too Long To Make a Decision

While you want to be certain that you did thorough research before hiring an attorney, you also do not want to wait too long after an accident or injury to retain counsel. It is most advantageous to get an attorney on board sooner rather than later to ensure that your rights are protected. If an attorney represents an injured victim, the insurance company should not reach out to that person directly any longer, but rather, all communication from the insurance company should go to the attorney. This prevents the insurance company from trying to get an injured party to sign settlement documents prematurely or taking a recorded statement without an attorney present. The best practice is to have the least amount of contact possible with an insurance company and let a skilled attorney handle all communications.

Choosing the right attorney for you can be an intimidating task. At the Groth Law Firm, we make sure that our clients know that they are not in this alone. In fact, we dedicate our practice exclusively to representing people who were injured by the negligence of others. Our main goal is to make this process as stress-free for our clients as possible. We take all of the heavy lifting off of our clients’ shoulders so that they can focus on what is most important: treating and healing from their injuries. The skilled, dedicated and proven attorneys at Groth Law Firm offer free consultations and are available to speak with you seven days per week. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your potential case, answer any questions you might have and explain the ways we may be able to help. Give us a call at (414) 375-2030 today.

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Civil Litigation Overview

If you are a party in a lawsuit, the process can seem both scary and overwhelming. Most people have never had this experience, and without a basic understanding of civil litigation, trials and court can be perceived as daunting. Fortunately, most civil litigation lawsuits follow a basic, often formulaic, trajectory.

The first component of any civil lawsuit begins with what are known as the “pleadings.” In essence the pleadings are the documents that activate the litigation process and give a basic overview of what claims a party is alleging. A plaintiff in a lawsuit files a “complaint” with the court. This complaint is also formally served on the defendants. Within the complaint, the plaintiff (through his or her attorney) alleges what harm the defendant caused and also provides the legal foundation that holds the named defendant responsible.

Following the filing of the complaint, the defendant will respond with an “answer” within an allotted amount of time. Essentially, the answer outlines and explains the defendant’s response to the charges laid out in the plaintiff’s complaint. In addition to their response to the specific allegations found in the complaint, the defendant is afforded the opportunity to file a counter-claim. A counter-claim is a defendant’s claim that the plaintiff may have harmed the defendant in some way, and should be held liable. This counter-claim can sometimes give rise to a reply from the plaintiff, depending on the allegations contained in the counter-claim. It is also important to note that within certain allotted times following the filing of pleadings, both the plaintiff and the defendant are provided opportunities to amend their pleadings without suffering any harm to their case. This is often done to add additional relevant parties, or amend information found in their initial pleadings.

Sometime after the pleadings are filed (timing is often dependent on jurisdiction and the court’s current calendar), the court will call a scheduling conference where all parties will meet with the judge to determine the major dates for the remainder of the case. This includes trial, and everything leading up until that point. Typically, the first relevant dates will dictate how discovery is to be carried out.

Broadly, discovery refers to the curated exchange of information between all parties in a lawsuit. Discovery serves multiple purposes, and is typically the longest part of any given case. Discovery includes interrogatories which request parties to answer specific questions as they relate to a case. For example, interrogatories in an auto accident case may include, “Were you using your cellphone at the time of the accident?” or “Have you ever had injuries to your back prior to this accident?” More than anything, attorneys use discovery strategically to look for information that might help their case, and harm the other’s side case. Discovery can become contentious, especially when parties seek to keep information about their clients private, and outside the scope of discovery. It is uncommon for a court to weigh in on discovery unless there are genuine disagreements that all parties are unable to resolve amongst themselves.

In addition to the exchange of information through the use of interrogatories, discovery will also contain requests for production of documents. The scope of these requests is often broad and all encompassing. Alongside document exchanges, parties will conduct interviews and depositions of relevant parties. Depositions include sworn testimony from a witness that has the potential to be used at trial. For example, in an auto accident case, depositions may include testimony from witnesses, police officers, and doctors who have treated any injured individuals. These depositions help parties learn about the case that their opposition hopes to present. Insurance companies will often hire a doctor, or multiple doctors, to evaluate plaintiffs and their injuries. These doctors often represent insurance companies on multiple cases throughout the year. Sometimes these are referred to as independent medical examinations, but they could be more appropriately characterized as defense medical examinations as there is disagreement over whether or not these exams are truly independent. If testimony from anyone in a deposition is inconsistent or contradicts their testimony at trial, then attorneys from either side may use their sworn testimony in a deposition to impeach that witnesses credibility.

When parties in a lawsuit utilize “expert witnesses”, a court will often require a written report regarding what their testimony may contain at trial. For doctors, this report may be very comprehensive and can include years of an injured person’s medical care and treatment. Additional experts might include crash reconstruction experts who can more accurately describe how a collision occurred, or vocational experts, who may provide testimony regarding a injured person’s lost wages, or lost of future earning capacity.

Prior to trial, parties may exchange and file motions with the court asking for the court’s ruling or specific action on a matter. They typically ask the court to deviate from normal trial practice and procedure. These motions often require support from legal briefs that attorneys file with the court. Additionally, the court may require that the parties argue their rationale for or against filed motions, in front of the court.

Many civil litigation cases that go into suit are ultimately settled before trial occurs. This is most commonly done through mediation, which is a popular type of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation entails a neutral third party mediator who will help try to reach a middle ground between adverse parties. The mediator is either picked by the court, or agreed upon by all parties in a case. Typically, the results of mediation, and the fact that it occurred are confidential. Mediations are not inherently binding, and if one or both parties do not reach a mutually agreed upon middle ground, they are not prejudiced or held to their negotiations. The majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled through mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution and do not ever get to trial.

Before trial occurs, most judge will order a pre-trial conference where they discuss particulars for trial and address any attempt by the parties to resolve the case prior to trial. Broadly, the aforementioned provides a brief overview of the civil litigation process. Every case is different, and unfolds accordingly. Collectively, the Groth Law Firm has decades of trial experience and success. Call today to discuss your free case consultation.

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Drunk Driving Consequences

These days, more than ever, there is no excuse for drunken driving. With the ever-increasing, affordable, ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber, there are more ways to safely enjoy a night out than ever before. Despite this, irresponsible drunk drivers still regularly cause death and destruction nationwide.

No matter your age or alcohol tolerance, consumption of alcoholic beverages affects your decision making, reaction time, and judgement skills. All three of these skills are required to safely operate a motor vehicle on Wisconsin’s roadways. When people ignore the law and drive drunk there can be consequences beyond just the associated criminal penalties. Nearly everyone knows someone who has personally been affected by drunk driving. Whether it is family, friends, or a member of your community, drunk driving’s catastrophic consequences are far-reaching, and often irreversible.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident cause by a drunk or impaired driver, you may have a right to compensation. This compensation can address various losses that you have sustained as result of a drunk driver’s negligent actions. This includes, but is not limited to, payment of medical bills, compensation for lost wages, payment of property damage, and pain and suffering. In addition to the aforementioned, you may further be entitled to additional damages that are often characterized as “punitive damages.” Punitive damages may be awarded by the court to punish a drunk driver for their recklessness in choosing to operate a motor vehicle while drunk or inebriated. Our full staff of attorneys and paralegals have experience in achieving all forms of compensation that are related drunk driving accidents. When you or your family is impacted by the actions of a drunk driver, you want a legal team with the experience and skill to litigate your case.

Unfortunately, even in some cases of drunk driving, insurance companies are reluctant to pay you the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies will look for every reason not to pay, and will often only offer you a “nuisance value” on your case. All too frequently we have Wisconsinites call in and say, “I was struck by a drunk driver and the insurance company offered to pay my medical bills and $500 for my case. Is that a good deal?” If that sounds familiar, don’t hesitate to contact the Groth Law Firm. We will work with you during our free consultation to determine the true value of your case, and explain exactly how we’re going to fight for you to achieve what you are entitled to.

Insurance companies will fight every step of the way to hide the fact that their insured was drunk, or even minimize how much their intoxication effected their ability to drive. It is an unfortunate fact that insurance companies will do everything within their power to reduce their exposure and pay as little as possible to injured people. If you are struck by a drunk driver, the last thing you want to do is to argue with an insurance adjuster who is difficult to get ahold of, unsympathetic, and unwilling to pay you what you deserve. The Groth Law Firm ONLY represents injured people and their families. We know that it can be overwhelming to take on huge insurance companies alone.

Drunk driving accidents can also become further complicated by potential Dram Shop laws. In Wisconsin, and many other states, a bar, restaurant, or location serving alcohol can also be held liable in certain cases. For example, if a bar is found to have knowingly served alcohol to a minor and that individual goes on to cause an accident, there may be an additional action that can be brought against the bar. One of the primary reasons these laws exist are to incentivize bartenders and others to help keep our roads safe, and to not intentionally over-serve someone who could then cause a horrific accident.

In Wisconsin it is illegal for a driver over the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a Blood/Breath Alcohol concentration of 0.08 or great. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of an intoxicant; while you have a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in your blood; or while under the influence of a control substance or any other drug. The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation defines “under the influence” as when a driver’s ability to operate a motor is impaired. Additionally, “A person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired if he or she is less able to safely control the vehicle because of the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances.”

There are a range of penalties associated with drunk driving, and they can range from forfeiture and license revocation to spending multiple years imprisoned. Penalties are increased if the drunken driving results in death or injury. Despite the severity of these penalties, irresponsible drivers still make the reckless choice to operate their vehicle while under the influence.

Injuries from drunken driving accidents can be even more severe than typical motor vehicle accident collisions. Drunk drivers have a tendency to exhibit more risky and reckless behavior while on the road, and may even greatly exceed the speed limit. As a result, injuries from drunken driving accidents have the potential to be permanent, or effect you for the rest of your life. Insurance companies are aware of this, and often, they will quickly try to settle your case before you can properly plan for future care you might require. Sometimes, you may need additional surgeries years from the day of the accident. If the insurance company is only paying your existing medical bills, this future care would be wholly excluded. Whether it’s surgeries, injections, support hardware, or in-home care, the Groth Law Firm has helped thousands of clients cover every aspect of their case. If you, or someone you know has been the victim of a drunk driver’s careless actions, please call in today for a free consultation. At the Groth Law Firm, our staff of attorneys is available to speak day and night regarding your potential case.

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Statute of Limitations: What It Is and Why It Is Important

Many people have heard the term “statute of limitations,” but do not quite know what it means or why it is important. They are generally aware that it is a legal term, but for many, that is the extent of their understanding. For lawyers and their clients alike, the statute of limitations is important because it governs the time frame with which the parties have to take certain actions. By definition, the statute of limitations refers to the amount of time an injured party has to file a lawsuit following their injury. If a case has not been settled by the expiration of the statute of limitations or a lawsuit filed, the claimant loses their right, by law, to recover compensation for their injuries. Their claim is time barred.

This article will focus on statutes of limitation for many types of Wisconsin personal injury cases. Each state has their own rules regarding statute of limitations, and the time frames vary by state.

In general, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case in Wisconsin is three years. This means that in order to preserve the right to continue pursuing a personal injury claim after the statute of limitations has expired, a lawsuit must be filed before the three year anniversary of the injury. As with most rules, there are exceptions depending upon what type of claim is being made, when the injury occurred, etc. This article will dissect some of those nuances and identify the statute of limitations for various types of personal injury claims that are often made in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Statute § 893.54 outlines the general rule for the statute of limitations in Wisconsin for “Injury to the person.” It states as follows:

(1m) Except as provided in sub. (2m), the following actions shall be commenced within 3 years or be barred:
(a) An action to recover damages for injuries to the person, including an action to recover damages for injuries to the person caused or sustained by or arising from an accident involving a motor vehicle.
(b) An action brought to recover damages for death caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.
(2m) An action brought to recover damages for death caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another and arising from an accident involving a motor vehicle shall be commenced within 2 years after the cause of action accrues or be barred.

As mentioned previously, a case involving injuries to the person must be settled or a lawsuit filed within three years of the date of injury, or it will be time barred. Subpart (2m) of Wis. Stat. § 893.54 provides that the statute of limitations for a wrongful death arising from a motor vehicle accident is only two years from the date of accrual. This is one of the exceptions to the three year rule in Wisconsin. NOTE: “Date of Accrual” for a wrongful death claim has been defined by case law as date of death.
It is also important to note that a wrongful death claim not involving a motor vehicle still falls under the general umbrella of a three year statute of limitations.

Generally, most personal injury cases in Wisconsin fall within the three year statute of limitation time frame set forth in Wis. Stat. § 893.54(1m). These include, but are not necessarily limited to:
• Motor Vehicle Crashes
• Premises Liability Cases (i.e. slip and fall, trip and fall)
• Dog Bites
• Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Below is a chart* that contains a more comprehensive list of statutes of limitation in Wisconsin for specific types of cases, many of which changed with the passing of 2015 Wisconsin Act 133, which was enacted into law on February 4, 2016 and officially published on February 5, 2016.

Cause of Action Accidents Occurring BEFORE February 6, 2016 Accidents Occurring On or After February 6, 2016
Auto Property Damage 6 Years from Date of Accident 3 Years from Date of Accident
Bodily Injury Claim (NOT involving death) 3 Years from Date of Accident NO CHANGE – 3 Years from Date of Accident
Wrongful Death (involving a Motor Vehicle) 3 Years from Date of Accrual 2 Years from Date of Accrual
Uninsured Motorist Claim 6 Years from Date of Accident 3 Years from Date of Accrual
Underinsured Motorist Claim 6 Years from Date of Accident 3 Years from Date of Accrual

The statute of limitations for minors in Wisconsin is also an exception to the general rule. Minors have two years after they reach the age of majority (i.e. two years after their 18th birthday) to file a lawsuit for injuries they sustained in an accident while still a minor pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 893.16.

Claims against a government entity or employee are subject to a different rule set forth in Wis. Stat. § 893.80. For claims against government entities or employees, a written notice of the claim must be served on the proper government agency within 120 days of the accident or injury. If a claimant fails to give proper notice within the 120 day time frame, his or her claim could be barred.

While most personal injury claims are governed by a three year statute of limitations, there are many types of claims that are subject to a different statutory time frame as well. If you or someone you know has been injured by someone else’s negligence, you do not want to risk missing an important statutory deadline. Injured parties can lose their right to recover for their injuries if they miss the statute of limitations by one day. At the Groth Law Firm, we will make sure your case is filed on time so that you do not lose your right to continue pursuing your claim for damages. Make sure to have a skilled team of attorneys on your side to ensure that all of the statutory deadlines specific to your case are met. Call the Groth Law Firm today for a free consultation!

*The information contained in this chart was taken largely from an informational chart provided by a representative of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, a plaintiffs’ trial lawyer association.