Summertime in Wisconsin is magical. Residents emerge from an interminable hibernation to enjoy the beauty, recreation and many celebrations dotting our region.
But it isn’t all fun and games. Summer in Wisconsin is a prime time for injury-related accidents—many of which can easily be avoided and many of which carry big liability issues when they aren’t.
Boating while intoxicated
The term OWI (operating while impaired) not only applies to cars, it also applies to boats. In fact, the Coast Guard reports that OWI the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths. Think about it: operating a boat requires more than staying in a lane (an unmarked lane, that is). It also requires being mindful of water depth, waves and rocks or trees lingering beneath the surface of the water. With so many potential dangers, boating is not a time to be drinking.
Tip: Don’t drink and drive when boating.
In Wisconsin in 2011 (the most recent year for which data is available), fireworks caused 17,800 fires and 9,600 injuries severe enough to visit an emergency room, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Perhaps that’s why all fireworks are illegal and require a permit to use.
Keep in mind the state doesn’t define the following as fireworks: sparklers up to 36 inches, stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, confetti poppers with less than ¼ grain of explosive mixture and novelty device that spin or move on the ground (Wis. Stat. § 167.10(1)).
Outside of safety concerns and penalties, it’s important to understand what is and is not allowed because of liability issues. If you set off something as seemingly innocent as a bottle rocket and it starts a fire, you’re liable for those damages. And if those damages occur on private land, you’re liable for double damages.
Tip: Stick to the items that are not legally considered fireworks, and only use them in safe places and with adult supervision.
Drowning is another leading cause of injury-related death, especially in children and young adults, according to the Wisconsin Medical Journal.
Clearly, the primary concern is safety, but liability can also come into play if you have a swimming pool on your property. A swimming pool is considered an attractive nuisance, an object on your property that may draw the attention of and cause injuries to a child. If you have an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool or a trampoline, you need to take care to block access to it. A solid, tall fence—especially one that hides the pool from children—will serve you well.
Keep in mind that under Wisconsin law older trespassers don’t pose the same liability threat unless you intentionally harm them.
Tip: Build a tall fence and block the outside view of attractive nuisances. Further, ensure you have adequate lifesaving equipment around your pool and learn CPR.
By Brent Smith, La Crosse Personal Injury Lawyer. For a personal injury lawyer in La Crosse WI, call him at 608-784-5678.