Wis. man has little recourse after highway mishap
FALL RIVER, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin man who was blinded in one eye after a chunk of concrete flew through his windshield last spring isn’t finding many avenues for recourse.
That’s because of the state’s “pothole-liability law,” which took effect two weeks earlier. The law makes it harder for drivers to sue local governments for most damages or injuries resulting from highway defects, according to a Capital Times report.
If Kevin Droz, 51, had been injured before the law went into effect he could have filed a claim for up to $50,000. But the accident happened 13 days afterward, leaving him with substantially fewer options. A $50,000 award is “still peanuts but it’s something,” Droz said. “My medical bills are well beyond that amount now.”
The law was pushed by two Republican lawmakers: state Sen. Glenn Grothman of West Bend and state Rep. Andre Jacque of De Pere. Neither returned messages left Friday by the newspaper, but Jacque’s website said the $50,000 would be better spent fixing roads than enriching trial lawyers.
He called the measure “a basic fairness issue.” He said on his website that most drivers leave the scene, making it difficult to connect any damage to a specific road defect. He also said the measure wouldn’t apply to instances of “egregious negligence” such as a bridge failure.
Droz isn’t exactly sure what happened in his case. He does know he was driving April 17 when a softball-size piece of concrete crashed through his windshield, hitting him in the head and opening a deep gash in the left side of his head.