November 22, 2023

Thomsen Reaches Settlement With City of Milwaukee on Behalf of a Blind Client Injured Falling Into an Unguarded Hole in the City Sidewalk and Advocates for Higher Personal Injury Damage Caps for Municipalities

GTW partner Mark Thomsen reached a $45,000 settlement with the City of Milwaukee on behalf of his client Arthur Ward, a blind man who sustained a neck injury when he fell due to a hole in the city sidewalk.

In July of 2019, Ward was walking near Butterfly Park where utility work was taking place. Because of this, there was a large hole where a portion of the sidewalk was entirely removed.

Since he is legally blind, Ward uses a cane to alert him where curbs and other obstructions are located. However, no barriers or protective measures were placed near the missing sidewalk, causing Ward to fall into the hole.

Many personal injury law firms do not file lawsuits for such matters against cities and villages because Wisconsin law has placed a $50,000 limit on the amount of damages an individual can recover.

Mark Thomsen of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs Lawyers felt it was imperative to help Ward secure justice and advocate for wider legal change.

“Wisconsin needs to up the cap,” Thomsen said. “That cap has been $50,000 forever, and it just is not enough to cover people these days.”

Thomsen also believes the entire process needs to be revisited so injured individuals like Ward don’t have to wait so long to be compensated.

Ward and Thomsen filed the initial Notice of Injury and Claim with the City of Milwaukee in November 2019. After several years with no progress, Ward ended up suing the city in the summer of 2022.

Thomsen noted that it’s fairly common for cities to ignore similar injury claims. He suspects it’s because people are discouraged from taking the next step of filing a lawsuit, knowing the $50,000 maximum is in place and they’ll have to pay legal fees.

While Thomsen and Ward feel justified by the settlement in this case, both hope the situation will lead to a discussion about improving safety and personal injury protections for all Wisconsin residents moving forward.

View the full complaint here.

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