Wisconsin DOT Releases Preliminary 2016 and 2017 Fatal Crash Data

While we are just in the midst of completing the first quarter of 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation-Division of Motor Vehicles (WisDOT-DMV) has released preliminary data on fatal traffic crashes for 2016 and year-to-date 2017. So far this year, the number of fatal crashes is significantly down from this time in 2016. In 2017, we have seen 70 fatal traffic crashes, as compared to 91 fatal traffic crashes this time last year. Similarly, there have been 79 fatalities to date in 2017, as opposed to 102 fatalities during the same time period in 2016. As Wisconsin traffic fatalities increased by some six percent in 2016, the hope is that 2017 trends continue and result in a smaller number of traffic fatalities for the year. More specifically, there were 588 traffic fatalities in 2016, which was 33 more than 2015 and 40 more than the previous five-year average.

Over the last four years, from 2012 to 2016, year-to-date, there have been an average of 72 fatal crashes so far and an average of 81 fatalities. The vast majority of fatalities so far, both in 2016 (63) and 2017 (53) have been drivers. The next most common type of fatality was passengers, with the remaining fatalities consisting of bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

Trends also continue with the number of fatal traffic accidents among the different Wisconsin counties. Thus far in 2017, the highest number of fatal traffic accidents occurred in Milwaukee County, as was the case in each of the previous four years. This is not uncommon due to the more urban nature of that county, as opposed to more rural areas.

As this post illustrates, there are still far too many deaths attributable to motor vehicle accidents throughout the United States, some of which are due to increased speed limits. Boller & Vaughan are Wisconsin motor vehicle accident lawyers who dedicate their practice to protecting the interests of individuals who have been fatally injured in traffic crashes, as well as their surviving family members. Call our office today to set up your free consultation and learn what options are available to you.

Calculating Damages in Car Crash Cases

Car crashes occur on a daily basis in the state of Wisconsin and throughout the United States. Serious injuries and even fatalities can result from these crashes, often when families least expect it. When the negligent or reckless behavior of another person causes a crash that leads to injuries or death, Wisconsin law permits families to file lawsuits seeking compensation from the responsible person, or damages. These damages are one way that an injury victim and his or her family can recover from a debilitating or fatal accident.

The first step is to establish that the other person is liable, or legally responsible for, the crash that led to your injuries. Once you have proven liability, then you must determine the amount of damages to which the injury victim is entitled. Since Wisconsin law uses a modified comparative fault system, or the 51% rule, to calculate damages, then you must determine percentage of fault that is attributable to each party. As long as the victim is less than 51% responsible for the accident that led to his or her injuries, then the victim can recover damages from the responsible party. However, the ability of the victim to recover damages is limited by his or her degree of responsibility for the accident. In other words, the amount of the victim’s recoverable damages is reduced by his or percentage of fault for the accident. Therefore, if the victim is 10% responsible for the accident, then his or her damages award will be reduced by 10%.

There are different types of damages available through a personal injury lawsuit. Generally, damages are classified as economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that represent the actual financial losses that the victim has suffered as a result of the accident. Examples of economic damages include medical expenses related to the injuries from the accident, such as hospital expenses, emergency transport costs, surgical costs, and physical therapy expenses. Economic damages also may include lost wages or income due to your injuries from the accident.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are more difficult to calculate, since they are not based on actual economic losses. The most common type of non-economic damages is pain and suffering, which is the physical and emotional consequences of the accident on the victim and his or her family. Pain and suffering might include the psychological trauma resulting from the accident and ongoing physical pain from the injuries sustained in the accident.

When a traffic accident occurs as a result of a driver’s negligence, and causes injury to a passenger, driver of another vehicle, or even a pedestrian, the injured individual may have a claim for damages under Wisconsin law. However, there are strict time limits on personal injury claims in the state of Wisconsin, and you can lose your right to compensation if you do not consult an experienced lawyer in time. Don’t delay in contacting the Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan today, and set up your free consultation today.

U.S. DOT Uses Connected Vehicle Technology to Prevent Crashes

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued a proposed rule that would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles. This step would allow many different forms of crash avoidance technology, which could result in hundreds of thousands of fewer accidents each year. In doing so, the DOT is recognizing the value of this rapidly expanding technology and its capacity to prevent injuries on our nation’s roadways. This proposed rule is designed to work in conjunction with the development and deployment of automated vehicles.

V2V technology will use dedicated short range communications to transmit data between vehicles at a rate of up to 10 times per second. Using that information, these vehicles can identify risks and warn drivers so that they can avoid imminent accidents and other hazards. This technology would complement automated driving functions, such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, to help avoid crashes. For instance, this type of technology may be able to warn a driver when it is unsafe to pass on a two-lane highway due to an oncoming vehicle that the driver may not yet be able to see.

The DOT anticipates that the Federal Highway Administration will soon issue guidance about vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, as well. This technology would allow communication between vehicles and traffic lights, stop signs, and work zones. The goal of these technological advances is to generally reduce congestion and to improve safety on the road.

If you believe that you may be entitled to compensation following an accident, no matter what the cause may be, you owe it yourself and to your family to look into any potential legal claims that you may have. So many different circumstances can lead to accidents that cause injuries and even death. Don’t allow a possible claim for compensation to go uncollected. Boller & Vaughan are the Wisconsin motor vehicle accident lawyers who dedicate their practice to protecting the interests of the injured and their families. Call our office today to set up your free consultation and learn what options are available to you.

What is Negligence and How Does It Affect My Car Accident Case?

Negligence is a legal concept that indicates whether a person involved in an accident is at “fault” for the accident. Simply defined, negligence is failing to exercise the care that a reasonable person would use in the same or a similar situation. In terms of motor vehicle accidents, negligence typically involves the violation of a traffic law or the rules of the road. For instance, a driver is probably negligent if he or she fails to stop at a stop sign and causes an accident. Likewise, a driver is most likely negligent if he or she is speeding and causes an accident as a result. The bottom line is that you don’t have to take any intentional action to hurt another person in order to be negligent. Even if you didn’t mean to violate a traffic law, you still can be negligent for violating that law.

Even if one driver is negligent for violating a traffic law and causing an accident, it is possible that another driver, even if he or she is injured, is also at least partially at fault for the accident. This situation is called contributory negligence. If you unreasonably put yourself at risk for harm, you may also be somewhat responsible for the accident that led to your injuries. As a result, although you still can recover compensation for your losses from another negligent party, you will not be able to recover as much compensation as if you were not at fault for the accident.

Under Wisconsin law, if one driver is injured, but both drivers are negligent, the injured driver’s ability to recover compensation for his or her injuries also will be limited. In other words, if a driver is 20% at fault for his own injuries due to his own negligent actions, then that driver can only receive 80% of his or her compensation from the other negligent driver.

While determining whether negligence occurred in a motor vehicle accident may seem relatively straightforward to you, it is not always easy as it might first seem. Proving negligence is often a central part of your personal injury claim. The Madison personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan will meet with you at no cost in order to the facts relevant to your situation. Once we have heard all of these facts, we can evaluate your claim and the settlement offer that you have received from the insurance company, if any. We will assess your claim and place a value on it in order to get the maximum payout to which you are entitled from the insurance company. Take the first step and call our office today to set up your free consultation with one of our Wisconsin personal injury lawyers.

How Soon After a Car Accident Should I File a Personal Injury Claim?

After a car accident occurs in which you suffer property damage or injuries, you have only a certain period of time during which you can file a personal injury lawsuit against any parties who are responsible for causing the accident. Prior to that filing deadline, it is common for the other party’s insurance company to offer you a settlement amount or attempt to negotiate a resolution of the case. If you are able to reach a settlement, then you will have no need to file a personal injury lawsuit.

In many cases, however, the settlement that the insurance company offers you is simply insufficient to cover the injuries or damages that you have sustained in the accident. You shouldn’t be tempted to take the first settlement amount that the insurance company offers you, since it is likely to be much lower than the amount of compensation that you really should receive.

If settlement negotiations fail, then your only option for getting compensation from the responsible party is to file a personal injury lawsuit. In the state of Wisconsin, you generally have three years from the date of the accident in which to file the lawsuit. You can file a lawsuit at any time during that period, but you will not be able to file your lawsuit after the three years has expired. This is called a statute of limitations. If you fail to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, then you lose your ability to file the lawsuit at all, which means that you get no compensation for your losses.

Whether your injuries result from a drugged driving crash, drunk driving accident, or an incident caused by another type of wrongful behavior by another driver, the Madison personal injury lawyers of Boller & Vaughan are here to help you get through the often complex process of filing a personal injury accident. We will determine there are any personal injury claims that may be available to you, and help you choose the best course of action for you and your family to get compensation for your losses as quickly as possible. Call our office today and get a better understanding about how our attorneys can help ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation that is possible in your case.

Wisconsin Traffic Deaths Increased in 2016

According to a recent Journal Sentinel article, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is reporting that motor vehicle accidents increased by almost six percent in 2016. There were 588 traffic fatalities in 2016, as compared to 555 fatalities in 2015 and 548 fatalities averaged over the last five years. 2016 had the highest number of fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents in the state of Wisconsin since 2012.

WisDOT officials attribute the increase in fatalities for 2016 in part due to more vehicle miles traveled. Increased travel typically occurs as a result of lower gas prices and a better economy in general. When gas is cheap and unemployment rates are low, people are far more likely to purchase vehicles, travel farther to work, and go on vacations that involve driving.

However, officials also note that about 90% of these accidents are caused by the bad decisions and dangerous habits of drivers. These bad habits include speeding, impaired driving, and a failure to use seatbelts. Distracted driving, largely due to cell phone usage, also has contributed to increases in accident rates.

Some also cite the increase to Wisconsin’s interstate speed limit in recent years, or 70 mph, as another factor that had led to increased motor vehicle accidents. Nonetheless, state officials claim that the speed limit increase has had little or no effect on accident rates. Rather, officials point to distracted driving, excessive speeding, and other driver actions as responsible for increased traffic deaths. Furthermore, while technology is obviously useful in the automotive manufacturing industry, it also brings about more opportunities for driver distraction, from GPS technology to satellite radio to cell phones in general.

Boller & Vaughan is substantially skilled in Wisconsin personal injury and wrongful death law and has the extensive experience necessary to lead you throughout the often lengthy and complex process of a personal injury claim. Regardless of the cause of the car wreck that led to your injuries, we know how to help you get the compensation that you deserve. If you are facing this type of situation, you can count on your Madison motor vehicle accident attorneys to help you develop and manage your claim for damages under Wisconsin law.

Factors that Impact Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents always have been a major area of concern, simply because they are more likely to result in severe injuries or fatalities than other types of accidents. Since pedestrians lack any sort of safety features or protective measures that can shield them from harm, they tend to be injured or killed more often when struck by a motor vehicle. Despite many safety precautions that different jurisdictions have taken, however, accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles still occur.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one pedestrian is killed every 113 minutes, and one pedestrian is injured every eight minutes. In the state of Wisconsin, about 60 pedestrian fatalities occur each year and about 350 pedestrians are seriously injured. This averages out to about one pedestrian death or injury in the state about every five hours. Furthermore, pedestrian accidents tend to disproportionately affect children and the elderly. About 30% of all non-fatal pedestrian accidents involve children aged 15 or younger, and about 16% of fatal pedestrian accidents involve individuals over the age of 65.

One of the major factors that affects the rate of pedestrian accidents is the time of day. Pedestrians on the street after dark are not typically as visible to drivers as they would be during daytime hours. Drivers also are more likely to be intoxicated during nighttime hours, thus leading to a higher rate of fatal pedestrian accidents. In fact, many pedestrian accidents involved either a driver or pedestrian who was intoxicated. Pedestrian accidents disproportionately occur on busy urban streets at road crossings.

The Madison personal injury lawyers of Boller & Vaughan devote their time to advocating on behalf of clients who have fallen victim to all types of car accidents, whether they are pedestrians, drivers, passengers, or bicyclists. Our job is to seek compensation for you and your family through the applicable legal framework, while you can focus on healing from your injuries and rebuilding your life with your family. Never hesitate to call our office for legal advice and counsel about your situation, so that we make our experience and knowledge work for you.

Unique Issues That Older Drivers May Face

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that although it is not always necessary for an elderly individual to stop driving altogether, there are some unique issues that older drivers should be aware of and face head on. As your elderly relative ages, you may begin to notice some uncharacteristic behaviors, such as driving too fast or too slowly, becoming overwhelmed by directions or getting lost on familiar routes, and receiving traffic tickets or becoming involved in minor crashes. If you notice any of these behaviors, then it may be time to have a conversation with your loved one about safe driving.

The fact is that if an older driver is involved in a wreck, he or she is more likely to suffer injuries or death, especially if over the age of 75. Older male drivers are particularly vulnerable to being involved in fatal crashes, as compared to older women drivers, but many older drivers in general do tend to moderate their own driving levels. For instance, older drivers do not tend to drive as far from home or as often as drivers of other ages. These drivers also tend to avoid rush-hour traffic, as well as driving at night if at all possible.

However, the reality is that older Americans are likely to outlive their driving abilities by about seven to ten years, on average. This may be due to changes in physical or cognitive abilities, a loss of confidence in driving ability, a loss of basic driving skills due to disuse of those skills, dementia, and declining central vision. While physical changes tend to be more noticeable, cognitive changes are much more subtle, and, as a result, you may not notice the decline as quickly as you might think.

At Boller & Vaughan, we know that suffering injuries in a serious accident can be both physically and emotional painful. We are here to take some of the burden off your shoulders by allowing us to pursue any legal claims that are available to you and work toward much-needed and much-deserved compensation. As skilled Madison accident lawyers, we are here to help you through this ordeal from a legal perspective, while you concentrate on healing yourself and your family by receiving the proper care and moving forward with your life. Please call us at 608-268-0268 for your free consultation.

Parents Should Place Restrictions on Teen Drivers

According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s National Poll on Children’s Health, while parents report that they place significant restrictions on their teenage drivers, the teens themselves tell a different story. Teenagers report that their parents do not restrict their driving as much as they might think. Since teenagers are the drivers who are at the highest risk for crashes, fatal or otherwise, parents need to rethink the restrictions that they place on their children in order to prevent unthinkable tragedies.

Although nine of out of 10 parents report that they place restrictions on their teen’s driving, only 81% of teens between the ages of 13 and 18 report that their parents place at least one driving-related limit on them. The most common types of limits include the following:

  • Limits on cell phone usage, such as not using cell phones at all unless parked, no texting while driving, and turning off or otherwise putting away cell phones while driving
  • Limits on passengers, such as allowing only one or two friends in the car, allowing only certain friends in the car, or forbidding any teenage passengers altogether
  • Limits on driving times and locations, such as no driving after 10:00 p.m., driving only to and from work, school, and activities, and refraining from driving on the highway

Furthermore, those parents who think that their children are “above-average” drivers are much less likely to place any limits on their teenage drivers. These parents constitute 32% of all parents. While parents are more likely to place limits on their teen’s cell phone usage while driving, they are much less likely to place limits about passengers and driving times or locations. In fact, as much as 25% of all parents report that they place no limits on teen passengers, nighttime driving, and highway driving.

The experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan are here to help you and your loved ones through the aftermath of severe injuries that may impact your life on a permanent basis. No matter how grave the injuries or death of your loved one may be, we can look into the facts and circumstances surrounding your claim, evaluate your likelihood of recovery, and determine the best path to follow in any legal claims that you may have. We know how to build a strong case on your behalf against those who acted negligently in causing your injuries. Take a moment to contact our office today and schedule a free initial consultation about any potential claim that you or your loved one may have.

How Your Personal Injury Attorney Will Investigate Your Truck Accident Case

Trucking accidents are similar to any motor vehicle accidents in some respects, but they also can be much more complex in some ways. Every truck driver and his or her employer must follow both state and federal trucking safety regulations and laws. One of the most critical aspects of a trucking accident investigation involves determining whether the driver and the employer followed these regulations. If the driver and/or employer failed to meet the requirements of these regulations, then there may be a strong case of negligence that led to the injuries resulting from the crash.

First, your personal injury attorney will take a look at the driver’s traffic history for any past incidents of disregarding traffic safety regulations or truck driver negligence. The attorney also will look into the employer’s history of compliance with safety rules and regulations. If an employer or driver regularly violated these rules, it can be used as evidence to support your personal injury claim.

Next, truck drivers must keep detailed logbooks that show all of their stops, cargo picked up and delivered, time spent sleeping, fuel receipts, weigh station receipts, and any other aspects of their trucking route. A driver’s logbook can reveal important details about the driver’s actions prior to the accident. Additionally, your personal injury attorney physically will look the official accident report, but also at the truck involved in the accident before it is repaired, in order to ensure that any necessary evidence is preserved.

Most trucks contain a so-called “black box,” which records important information about the driver’s travels. For instance, the black box can reveal information about how fast the truck was going near the time of the accident, when and whether the brakes were activated, and the force with which the brakes were activated. This information can give the attorney crucial information about the crash.

Whether the death of your loved one results from a drugged driving crash, drunk driving accident, or an incident caused by another type of wrongful behavior by a truck or vehicle driver, the Madison personal injury lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how to effectively represent your interests. We will determine whether a personal injury claim is available to you, and help you choose the best course of action for you and your family to get compensation for your losses. Contact our office today and get a better understanding about how our attorneys can help ensure that you obtain the maximum compensation that is possible in your case.

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