Have You Been Injured on the Job?

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Almost 5,000 American workers were killed on the job in 2015, and almost 3 million workers were injured. Many of those deaths and injuries happened here in Wisconsin.

On May 31, 2017, an explosion at Didion Milling Plant in Cambria, Wisconsin, killed three workers and injured 11 others. Six years ago the corn mill had been cited by federal safety investigators for not taking precautions to protect against dust explosions.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety and enforces federal safety standards. In 2011, OSHA officials reported that Didion had failed to keep its corn processing facility “free from recognized hazards that caused or were likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Employees were exposed to the hazards associated with dust explosion, deflagration or other fire hazards.”

Didion is not the first workplace to experience a deadly explosion. In fact, between 2011 and 2015 workplace fires or explosions killed 104 workers in Wisconsin, including in the farm, fishing and forestry industries.

Other Examples of Workplace Accidents

Other common workplace accidents include:

Construction site and highway work zone accidents: In March 2017, a worker died at a construction site in Rib Mountain, which is near Wausau, Wisconsin, in Marathon County. The 45-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man was drilling holes in the ceiling when he fell off a ladder. OSHA officials investigated the incident and noted that falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the workplace.

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals: In February 2017 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a report on the dangers of large containers of unknown chemicals, specifically at facilities designed to recycle and refurbish those containers. Many such facilities needed to make safety improvements to protect their workers and the community.
  • Motor vehicle accidents (including drivers who work for trucking companies): In November 2016, a 64-year-old man was run over by a slow-moving semi-truck at a loading dock at Midwest Manufacturing Countertops in Eau Claire County. OSHA officials investigated the accident.

Legal Rights of Employees

Workers who are injured on the job have the right to be compensated by their employers for their injuries. In fact, all companies are required to maintain certain safety standards and obtain workers’ compensation insurance. But workers’ compensation is not always enough to recoup the expenses faced by injured workers (or the families of deceased workers) such as their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses. That is why employees need to know that workers’ compensation is not their only option. In many cases, they may also bring a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent contractor, or another party who might be responsible for the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complexities of workplace injury law.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a workplace accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde today for a free consultation. We will discuss your legal options and help you determine the best course of action for pursuing the compensation that you deserve.

Accidents Involving Semi-Trucks

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Drivers are often wary of semi-trucks, and for good reason. Because of their size, accidents involving semi-trucks can be devastating. And unfortunately, such accidents are fairly common.

Semi-truck accidents can happen for a number of reasons. Tired drivers trying to make timely deliveries might accidentally fall asleep at the wheel. Drivers might not see smaller cars tucked into their blind spots and change lanes before the other car can move out of the way. Trucks carrying heavy loads might have weight imbalances that make it difficult to maneuver, especially if they need to suddenly stop or change lanes. And, like any driver, semi-truck drivers might be guilty of speeding, driving under the influence, or other forms of reckless driving.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were 7,358 large truck accidents in 2014, which resulted in 63 fatalities and more than 2,100 injuries.

Examples of Recent Accidents Involving Large Trucks

There was a head-on collision between a Toyota Camry and a semi-tractor in January that caused the cab of the truck to burst into flames. The truck driver was able to escape his vehicle, but the Toyota driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

On April 28, a 68-year-old man was driving a pickup truck on a federal highway in Dodge County when he was struck by a semi-tractor. Law enforcement reported that the semi-tractor rear-ended the pickup, forcing it off the road into a ditch, where it overturned. Both the pickup driver and a female passenger were taken to the hospital with injuries.

In early May, two other people were injured when their Chevrolet Cruze was struck by a semitrailer while they were waiting to take a left turn on Route 6 just south of Bowling Green. The truck driver said that he had looked down to shift the semi and when he looked up realized that the Chevrolet was stopped. He attempted to swerve but still rear-ended the smaller car.

What Should I Do If I’m Involved in a Semi-Truck Accident?

The first thing you should do is seek medical attention. Then you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Keep in mind that the truck driver might not be the only person responsible for the accident. If he or she was driving the truck in the course of his or her employment you can likely hold the employer liable as well. If there was something wrong with the truck — like poor maintenance or a faulty part — you might also be able to hold the mechanic or parts manufacturer responsible.

You may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and other related expenses.

Contact Us Today

The semi-truck accident attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that truck-accident injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With 40 years of experience, we know how to build an effective personal injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

The National Council on Aging Offers Helpful Steps to Prevent Falls For People Over Age 65

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According to the  National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over age 65. Because the key is to know where to look, the NCAO lists the following common factors that can lead to a fall:

  • Balance and gait: During the aging process, people commonly lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance, primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina, making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
  • Chronic conditions: More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.

The following six steps are recommended by the NCOA to reduce falls:

  1. Enlist the support of older loved-ones in taking simple steps to stay safe. For example, the NCOA recommends sharing its article “Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls.”  It may be necessary to discuss concerns with health care provider who can assess the risks and suggest programs or services that could help.
  1. Discuss your older loved one’s current health conditions. This includes taking advantage of all the preventive benefits now offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit. Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns.
  1. Ask about their last eye checkup. If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor.
  1. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair. These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist.
  1. Talk about their medications. In particular, beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids, including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness.
  1. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home because there are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer.

 

The NCOA website provides helpful information in many areas to improve the lives of older adults.

If you or your loved one is injured in a fall, contact the personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde for a free consultation.

 

Filing a Motorcycle Personal Injury Lawsuit

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Motorcycle accidents can be scary, largely because drivers and passengers don’t have the same level of protection that is afforded by an enclosed vehicle. But the law treats motorcyclists no differently than other drivers, and everyone must respect the same rules of the road. Like any driver, if a motorcycle driver or passenger is injured due to someone else’s negligence, he or she might be entitled to compensation.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were almost 2,000 people injured in motorcycle accidents in 2013. There were also 83 deaths (including both motorcycle drivers and passengers). Other significant motorcycle accident statistics in Wisconsin include:

  • Between 2004 and 2013 the number of Wisconsin residents holding a Class M motorcycle license increased by 20 percent. Having more motorcyclists on the roads creates more opportunities for motorcycle accidents.
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol and driving faster than the posted speed limit were the primary causes of almost half of the single unit fatalities in 2013.
  • Only 38 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents in 2013 were wearing helmets. Wearing a helmet substantially reduces your risk of suffering a head injury.
  • Interestingly, more motorcycle accidents occur between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. than in any other six-hour time period.
  • More motorcycle fatalities occur in southeastern Wisconsin than in any other region of the state.

There are several important things to know before filing a personal injury lawsuit after a motorcycle accident, namely who can bring the lawsuit and when?

Who May Bring a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident?

The authority to bring any kind of lawsuit is called “standing.” When your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you have standing to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person. However, the injured party is not the only party who might have standing to sue. Other people who might have standing include:

  • A parent or guardian — when the injured party is a minor (someone who is under 18 years old), his parent or guardian may bring the lawsuit on his behalf. Note that the statute of limitations (time to file a lawsuit) is extended for minors. They have until two years after they turn 18 to file the claim (when they no longer need to have a parent or guardian bring the lawsuit).
  • The personal representative of the victim’s estate — when a person is killed in a motorcycle accident, the personal representative of his estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • The guardian of a mentally incompetent adult — if the injured party is considered mentally incompetent under the law, his guardian may bring the lawsuit on his behalf.

Injured parties typically have three years from the date of the accident to file their personal injury lawsuit, unless they are a minor or the accident involves a municipal entity. If a city or county is involved then you only have 120 days to notify the municipality of your injuries.

Be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that your lawsuit is filed on time and complies with all applicable rules and procedures.

Contact Us Today

The motorcycle accident attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that motorcycle injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With 40 years of experience, we know how to build an effective personal injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

Resistance Exercise Bands Can Be Dangerous

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With today’s health crisis we are increasing aware of the need for regular strength training.  When it comes to simplicity, versatility and affordability, it is hard to beat resistance exercise bands.  The bands, which come in a variety of widths, are portable, and usually color-coded according to the level of resistance.  In addition to strength training regimens, they can be used in physical therapy for rehabilitation and to improve range of motion.  But most people use the bands without any awareness of the potential danger.  Unfortunately, the bands can be released suddenly or even snap under resistance.  Eye injuries are common when this occurs.  But the snap-backs may also result in other sorts of injuries.

For example, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was using an exercise band when it broke or slipped out of his hand, which caused him to spin around and strike his face on a cabinet.  He alleges severe injuries, including loss of vision, a concussion, hand injuries, facial lacerations and a broken rib.

Many online sources are available to provide extensive recommendations for safety, precautions and maintenance of resistance exercise bands.  Because of the risk of injury, these need to be taken seriously.  Some common recommendations include:

  • Wear eye protection.
  • Inspect the exercise band prior to and after use.
  • Keep the exercise band clean and dry.
  • Store your exercise band out of direct sunlight and away from extreme temperatures.
  • Discard old or damaged exercise bands.
  • Do not disregard the instructions of your physical therapist or personal trainer.
  • Check the security of any attachment to accessories or your feet before beginning the exercise.
  • Do not snap the resistance band towards anyone’s face or body.
  • Do not let go of the band while it is under tension.
  • Make sure the band is held so that it cannot contact the face if it breaks.
  • Do not over-stretch the product. This applies to each individual loop, as well as the overall band.

If you are injured by an exercise resistance band or tubing, it is crucial that you save the accident band, the packaging and any package inserts.  Be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately to ensure that necessary evidence is properly preserved.

The personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde have experience litigating product liability cases, including resistance exercise band accidents.  Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

Do Not Assume Your Case Is Precluded By A Harsh Liability Waiver

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It is now routine to sign liability waivers for almost any kind of activity, ranging from puppy kindergarten to skydiving.  The waivers offer a stark choice; give up your legal rights or don’t participate.  The Tough Mudder  hardcore obstacle event is so unusually harsh that its participants have adopted the slogan:  “Remember, you signed a death waiver.”  This slogan became a tragic reality when an unfortunate participant died after the “Walk the Plank” obstacle.  A lawsuit over that death settled before reaching a jury.  So, it remains uncertain whether the Tough Mudder “death waiver” would have been ruled legally enforceable.

There is no doubt that persons signing liability waivers lack bargaining power and many such liability waivers are extremely broad in scope.  As a result, liability waivers are often contrary to public policy and, therefore, void and unenforceable.  Because of this possibility, one should not assume their case is precluded by the waiver.  In every case, it is necessary to seek legal help to determine the enforceability of the waiver.

In many cases, the  personal injury attorneys  at Bye, Goff & Rohde have been successful in overcoming liability waivers.  If you were injured, or your loved one was killed, after signing a liability waiver do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

 

Enjoy Bicycling During National Bike Month – But Watch out for Dogs

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Since 1956, the League of American Bicyclists has sponsored a National Bike Month in May to showcase the many benefits of bicycling and to encourage more folks to try bicycling.

To keep bicycling safe this May, it is helpful to review Bicycling Magazine’s tips Bicycling Magazine’s tips for dealing with aggressive dogs.

  • The average dog can sprint about 19 mph. If you are capable of out-sprinting the dog, try taking the dog on a field sprint.  The downside of this approach is that you will be going really fast if the dog gets in front of your bicycle.
  • Try to deter or scare the dog by yelling, squirting it with your water bottle, using an air horn or using pepper spray. If you use pepper spray, make sure not to accidentally spray yourself.
  • You can try stopping the bicycle and putting the bicycle between yourself and the dog. Sometimes if you stop moving this will mitigate the dog’s aggression.
  • The dog may cease attack mode if you give it something to chew on.
  • If all else fails, the dog may give up its attack if you play dead.

If you do end up injured, Wisconsin’s Dog Bite Statute makes the owner and/or keeper of the dog strictly liable for the full amount of damages caused by their dog causing injury to a person, including a bicyclist.  There is no statutory exception for innocent acts of the dog as opposed to aggressive biting.  This means the statute applies even if your injuries are caused by a bicycle crash as opposed to a dog bite.

If you are injured by a dog while bicycling, it is important to seek legal representation.  The personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde have extensive experience litigating dog injury cases.  If you are injured by a dog, you can contact us for a free consultation.

 

Traumatic Brain Injuries

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Sports fans have been hearing more and more the last several years about the dangers of concussions and traumatic brain injuries.  The NFL and NHL lawsuits regarding sports related head injuries have brought publicity to the devastating long term effects of concussions.  Due to this litigation, sports leagues have been taking more precautions to protect athletes from returning to action too soon.  While concussions and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) occur frequently on the playing field, they are also a common occurrence in motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and slip/trip and fall accidents.

Traumatic Brain injuries can be caused by a blow to the head, but can also be caused by rapid acceleration/deceleration (whiplash) of the head, which often occurs in motor vehicle accidents.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control) found that in 2013 motor vehicle accidents were the third leading cause of TBI related emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths.  https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get_the_facts.html

The effects of a TBI can be temporary, but they can also last for the rest of your life.  If you feel you have suffered a TBI seek medical evaluation.  The symptoms of a TBI can include:

Headaches;

Poor memory;

Difficulty with word finding;

Poor concentration;

Fatigue;

Unusual Temper;

Vision changes;

Changes in sense of smell;

Changes in sense of taste;

Depression;

Irritability;

Difficulty with organizing daily tasks; and

Problems with balance, dizziness or vertigo.

The Trial Attorneys at BGR are experienced in handling claims involving TBIs.  Recently our attorneys Steve Goff, Brian Laule, Tracy Tool and Dean Rohde participated in the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance 32nd Annual Conference for Professionals in Brain Injury.      https://www.braininjurymn.org/events/  The conference was attended by professionals in the brain injury community who also serve the needs of individuals whose lives have been touched by brain injuries. If you have been diagnosed with a TBI contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Premises Liability: Can You Recover for a Fall at a Retail Store?

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Last week we discussed slip and falls on ice.  Slip and falls involving snowy or icy conditions are common in the winter and spring.  The Attorneys at BGR are experienced in handling slip and falls on ice, but we also represent people who are injured due to slippery conditions and/or tripping hazards inside retail stores.

We don’t typically think of shopping as a dangerous activity.  However, a trip to the grocery store, a big box store, or your favorite retail chain can be more dangerous than you think.  It is difficult to do your shopping and keep an eye out for dangers that are low to the ground.  While shopping we have a tendency to always look up.  We are looking for the items we want to purchase and at signage directing you throughout the store. We are also distracted by displays put out by the retailer.  In fact, the stores do not want you looking at the ground.  They set up the stores to direct your attention upwards and to view the items they are selling.

For this reason, store owners need to keep the floors clear of slippery conditions and remove items that are low to the ground.  For example, they may have wet floors due to other customers tracking in snow or water from the outside.  Spills can occur and need to be taken care of promptly.  They may have a cooler or freezer malfunction that is leaking water.  It is important for store owners to perform periodic “sweeps” of their floors to make sure slippery conditions are taken care of as soon as possible.

Store owners also need to make sure that empty pallets and boxes used for stocking are promptly removed.  They also need to make sure that their displays are tall enough and stocked high enough for people to see.

If you fall while shopping, always remember to document the accident scene with a photograph.  It might not be the first thing on your mind, but most people carry a cell phone with a camera.  Also make sure to report the incident to the manager or supervisor on duty.

Contact Us Today

The personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that slip-and-fall injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With 40 years of experience, we know how to build an effective premises liability case. Contact us today at 1-800-607-3030 for a free consultation.

Premises Liability: Can You Recover for Slipping on an Icy Surface?

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Winter might be winding down, but there is still ample opportunity for snow, ice and other wintry precipitation in the Badger State, which can make for slick sidewalks, parking lots, driveways and roads.

While icy conditions are dangerous for drivers, pedestrians are also at risk. In January, the La Crosse Tribune reported that numerous hospitals have treated above-average numbers of patients for ice-related injuries, including concussions, fractures and bruises. Many of these injuries were sustained when people slipped and fell on icy walkways. Doctors recommend taking certain precautions, like keeping your arms extended out to your sides to maintain balance and wearing an extra layer of padding.

Proving Liability for Your Slip-and-Fall Accident

Slippery surfaces make it especially difficult for customers, who can easily slip and fall in a parking lot or sidewalk while trying to visit a restaurant, department store or other retail establishment.

The Wisconsin Safe Place Law requires business owners to maintain their premises in a manner that is as safe as reasonably possible (for both employees and customers). For example, owners must remove snow and ice from outside their stores in a reasonable amount of time. (What is considered reasonable often depends on the circumstances.) If the owner outsources snow and ice removal to a third party, that party can also be held liable for a customer’s slip-and-fall injury.

While business owners are responsible for keeping their premises safe for customers, injured customers are responsible for proving their case. Here are a few tips for ensuring that you have enough evidence to establish the owner’s liability:

Take photographs of the conditions that led to your injury and the surrounding area.

  • Document exactly what happened and when — note the date and times.
  • Go to the doctor so that you have medical records documenting the extent and likely cause of your injuries.
  • Take note of any eye witnesses who might be willing to testify on your behalf.

Contributory Negligence

To recover damages from a business owner, you have to prove that the owner acted negligently and that his negligence caused your injury. If the business owner proves that your own negligence contributed to the injury, then the amount of damages you’re entitled to recover will be reduced by your percentage of negligence.

What does this mean? If the business owner can prove that you weren’t watching where you were going, or that you strayed from a clearly marked walkway where the snow and ice had already been removed, or anything that shows you were at least partly at fault, you won’t recover full damages. And if the business owner can prove that your negligence was greater than his negligence, then you might not recover any damages at all. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you prove your case.

Contact Us Today

The personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that slip-and-fall injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With 40 years of experience, we know how to build an effective premises liability case. Contact us today for a free consultation.