Invasion of Privacy Civil Claims

In the digital age, it has become increasingly easy for people to invade the privacy of others. As technology advances, things like cameras and other recording devices are becoming smaller and easier to hide. What was once a James Bond movie gadget, can now be delivered to anyone with 2-day shipping for a few dollars from Amazon.

Recently, one such device was found at a Milwaukee area BMW dealership. According to reports, on April 6th, a small camera was found hidden in the towel dispenser in the women’s room at Umansky BMW in Glendale. The camera was found after one of the dealership’s employees noticed a light coming from the dispenser.

The police were called to the dealership and the camera was removed. After investigation, the police found that the video camera had several videos of women changing clothing and using the bathroom. The video also, reportedly showed one of the dealership’s employees, a manager, placing the camera in the bathroom and adjusting it. The manager was arrested and fired. It is not currently known how long the camera was in the restroom or how many victims were recorded.

In cases like these, the victims of such a terrible invasion of privacy have several possible civil claims. Employees could have workers’ compensation claims, and both employees and members of the public who were exposed to these actions potentially have claims for invasion of privacy and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Workers’ compensation claims for employees go through the employer’s work comp insurance, but these cases often still need the guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help navigate the complex insurance system in place.

Wisconsin also recognizes a right of privacy and those who have had their privacy unreasonably invaded are potentially entitled to compensation. According to Wisconsin statutes, an invasion of privacy is an “intrusion upon the privacy of another of a nature highly offensive to a reasonable person, in a place that a reasonable person would consider private . . .” such as a bathroom or changing room.

Negligent infliction of emotional distress is another civil cause of action recognized in Wisconsin. Negligent infliction of emotional distress has three elements that must be proved for the injured person to recover as a plaintiff in Wisconsin. First, someone has to have engaged in negligent conduct. Second, that person must have caused the emotional distress. And third, the emotional distress that was caused must be severe. When determining the severity of the emotional distress, it must be more than a reasonable person could be expected to endure.

Both invasion of privacy and negligent infliction of emotional distress are complicated cases to settle or bring to trial, as are workers’ compensation claims. If you or someone you know has been the victim of the Umasky BMW manager’s recordings or any similar invasions of privacy, contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven attorney to discuss your options.


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



Accident Lawyer in Wisconsin

ATV Rollover Accidents

Tragedy struck near the new Foxconn construction sight on October 12th, 2018. According to Mount Pleasant Police, a driver and a passenger were involved in an accident early Friday morning. The Mount Pleasant Police and the South Shore Fire Department responded to a report of an ATV crash near the Foxconn Technology Group construction area, on the 12500 block of Braun Road. Apparently, the caller was the passenger of the ATV, and reported that his friend was unconscious at that time.

Unfortunately, and upon further investigation by the responding professionals, the driver of the ATV was pronounced dead. The passenger was transported to Ascension All Saints Hospital Emergency Room where, thankfully, he was seen for non-life threatening injuries.

Although initial details were sparse, police believe that the driver may have ignored a road closed sign and crashed into a rocky ravine. It was also believed that alcohol may be a factor.

Horrific accidents like this one not only have an effect on the community at large, but they can have a dramatic impact on passengers, drivers, and any other victims. Individuals who are injured in similar crashes can sustain life-altering injuries that may be permanent in nature. Some of these injuries can take years to properly treat, and often necessitate continued care far beyond the day of the accident. Simple mistakes can have lasting impacts on a family, whether that is physical, financial, or even emotional.

Medical bills pile up quickly, and if your injuries prevent you from working, an accident can take a tremendous toll on you and your family. At the Groth Law Firm, we believe the only thing you should worry about after being involved in an accident is recovering. It’s our job to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, so that you are not bombarded by irritating calls from insurance adjusters. We collectively have decades of experience in handling property damage, injury cases, and making sure that you are not left with medical bills in the future.

Many injuries, especially if you are older, can have effects that last well into the future. If you require care in the future for injuries stemming from an accident, we will fight side by side with you to make sure you get every dollar from the insurance company. The insurance companies are in the business of minimizing claims, and they are not sympathetic to the severe stress accidents put on you and your family. The Groth Law Firm is in the exact opposite business. We make it our personal mission to maximize every claim for our clients. Whether it’s lost wages, future care, or reimbursement for damage to property, we have the skills, dedication, and proven track record that’s required to take care of our clients.

ATV, and other recreational sport accidents have the potential for severe injuries, and unfortunately, death. Dissimilar from most commercial cars, recreational vehicles typically are not equipped with safety equipment such as seatbelts, airbags, and roll cages. As a result, injuries from these types of accidents have the propensity to be much more catastrophic. Additionally, ATV vehicles often give riders a false sense of security due to their ability to traverse different types of terrain. Alcohol is often a factor in these types of accidents because, unlike cars, ATV’s sole purpose is recreation, and they’re often driven while on vacation, or over the weekend. Although most people are familiar with how to operate a vehicle, many individuals have little to no experience in operating an ATV or other recreational vehicle. Further, they are often given the controls without proper safety instruction, and worse, without property safety gear such as a helmet.

The exposed nature of these vehicles also causes minor mechanical defects to have much more catastrophic outcomes. For instance, a flat tire on a car can often be a minor inconvenience, but a sudden, unexpected flat tire on an ATV has the potential for much more severe consequences.

Oftentimes, individuals will overload ATVs, either with equipment, people, or game that you’ve successfully hunted. This can create the potential for rollovers, or difficulty in breaking, and accelerating. Prior to using an ATV, you should familiarize yourself with the weight limits, and passenger limits. Many ATVs are designed exclusively for one passenger. In instances of reckless driving with more than one passenger, the results can be dire. Generally the most common ATV accidents are caused by rollovers, and these rollovers can cause crushing-type injuries, and even death.

The location you choose to drive your ATV can also have a serious impact on how safe your ride will be. ATVs are designed, primarily, for off-road driving. It’s right there in the name, “All Terrain Vehicle.” Very often, ATV accidents occur when they are ridden on pavement or other surfaces that they are not necessarily designed to operate on.

Due to their recreational nature, ATVs can be seen only as toys, and not the serious vehicles they are. ATVs are responsible for tens of thousands of injuries, and even deaths. Drivers and riders alike are strongly encouraged to approach these vehicles with the respect they require to be enjoyed safely.

ATV’s are an enjoyable way to navigate some of Wisconsin’s more treacherous terrain, and when used safely, are fun for a variety of ages. Helmets, proper lighting, and understanding of the area you’ll be driving on, safety training, all help ensure that an ATV trip starts and ends without injury.

Even with safe operation, accidents and injuries happen. Especially given the colder weather and snowy conditions, drivers should exercise even greater than usual caution while using our roadways. While using an ATV, make sure you familiarize yourself with not only it’s operation, but any limits on riders, weight, or terrain. Ensuring that you are prepared can help avoid potentially disastrous consequences and injuries. Further, properly adhering to any road signs, and cautions can be the difference between a safe weekend, and an accident. Planning out your route ahead of time may take some time away from your ride, but it also might save your life.

Auto Accident Lawyer in Wisconsin

Marijuana on the Road

As marijuana usage becomes increasingly legalized throughout the United States, police officers and law enforcement are noticing a frightening increase in people driving while high. Unlike alcohol, which is much easier to objectively test for, driving while high creates new complications for officials working to keep our roadways safe. The increasing prevalence of both recreational and medical marijuana means this issue will not be going away anytime soon.

Alcohol can be tested onsite, via breathalyzers and other instant-read type devices. Marijuana however, typically necessitates blood or urine tests. Dissimilar from alcohol, marijuana affects people at a much more subjective rate than alcohol. While BAC (Or Blood Alcohol Content) can quickly provide information as to how intoxicated someone is, Marijuana is more significantly affected by factors like bodyweight, tolerance, and potency of the marijuana smoked. Even with advanced testing (which is often expensive, and not yet widely available) the level of impairment of someone who has smoked marijuana is difficult to determine.

For example, there is a generally accepted national standard that if your BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, you are considered impaired to an extent that renders you unsafe to drive a motor vehicle. Since marijuana effects the human body in notably different ways than alcohol, this level of impairment is much more difficult to quantify.

As of this writing, Marijuana is now recreationally legal in 10 different states. These states include Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine. This is in addition to the District of Columbia. New York has also indicated that legalization of marijuana has would be a top priority going into the 2019 year. Beyond recreational usage, over thirty states have cleared the use of medical cannabis.

The national trend clearly is in favor of increasing legalization of marijuana, whether it is for recreational, or medicinal purposes. This will force lawmakers, and law enforcement alike, to adapt and adopt new ways to deal with the inevitability of drivers operating vehicles while affected by marijuana. Policies regarding impairment will have to be in place soon if the government wants to keep pace with this trend.

Marijuana, notwithstanding some of the health benefits it may provide, can have multiple adverse impacts on a user’s reflexes and ability to focus. Both of which are essential to safely operate a motor vehicle. These potential negative effects have caused some states to implement zero tolerance laws that prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle when you have any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in your system. THC is the component in marijuana that is largely responsible for it’s intoxicating influence. Some states with this law include, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.

Conversely, Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 considers drivers with more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood to be “intoxicated.” Despite these policies that are already on the books, this is clearly an evolving area of law. Both legal experts, and users of marijuana, cannot seem to agree on what constitutes intoxication, and how to codify potential intoxication.

This confusion and disagreement can be attributed to a few factors. For one, the testing available for THC is limited, and often imprecise. This is compounded by the fact that THC can stay in a user’s bloodstream for weeks after use. So, for example, someone could use marijuana legally, and a test a month later could reveal that THC was still in their blood or urine. Thus, any analogies to alcohol consumption are flawed at best. For instance, it is hard to compare “shots of liquor” to amount of marijuana smoked, or ingested. Variances in potency and the method of consumption have a tremendous influence on a user’s level of intoxication.

The complications caused by testing procedures provide exacerbate challenges for law enforcement personnel. Often characterized as the most reliable procedure for testing, blood testing is costly, and difficult to do on-scene. Additionally, often seen as an alternative test, hair follicle tests are just as cumbersome. Many private companies are workshopping different THC-breathalyzers, although most are in their very early stages, and are not for widespread, national use.

Some law enforcement agencies are using subjective tests administered by on-scene officers to determine whether or not someone is impaired. These tests, similar to field sobriety tests that enjoy wide use, are also inexact and open law enforcement up to legal challenges. Even so, many highway patrol members are being given training to determine whether or not someone under the influence of marijuana is legally impaired.

Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are also working to ensure that officers are properly trained and that people are aware of the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana. Even with adequate training, these tests are subjective, and are subject to human error.

Despite increased education regarding marijuana use and abuse, the amount of auto accidents that are caused (at least in part) by marijuana use, use of marijuana is on the rise. As mentioned, the national trend is increasingly slanted towards legalization, whether that is for recreational use or medicinal use. Thus, Americans can reasonably expect that drivers impaired by marijuana will become more and more prevalent over time.

If you are involved in an accident where another driver was influenced, or suspected to be influenced, by marijuana or any other drugs, do not hesitate to call the Groth Law Firm. We have experience handling cases involving alcohol, marijuana, prescription pills, and many other drugs. Often these cases require specific expertise to make sure you are adequately compensated for your injuries. Due to increasingly accepting attitudes regarding marijuana, drivers are more likely to take the risk of driving while under the influence of marijuana.

If you, or a family member, was injured by a driver under the influence of marijuana, Groth Law firm is your Wisconsin personal injury law firm. We handle accidents of every size and severity. When you call, you can always expect to reach your attorney. At Groth Law Firm we believe you deserve legal counsel that is skilled, disciplined, and proven.

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.

car accident lawyer in Wisconsin

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.


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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.

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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.


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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.