Tampa Bay Injury Attorney Blog

also licensed in new york

Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties Whittel & Melton, LLC

Accidents caused by other people's negligence are by their very nature, unplanned. It's for this reason that when an accident happens, victims may find themselves bridled with injury, pain and financial losses, not knowing which way to turn.

Being involved in an accident can be one of the most unsettling and devastating times in a person's life. During this time, having a seasoned attorney on your side, looking out for your best interest, can be the difference between becoming whole or struggling with pain and financial loss for years to come. If you are a victim of an accident, who you select as your attorney is the most important decision you need to make.

We are here to help.

The Tampa Bay Personal Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton guarantee that our clients receive the personalized attention they deserve. Our first priority is doing everything in our power to fight for full and fair compensation for your injury and loss.

Our Pinellas and Hillsborough County personal injury practice involves every type of injury case-- from serious car or motorcycle accidents to slip and falls to premises liability. The first step we take with our prospective clients is to schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of the case. Our St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyers then will offer advice about options to seek financial recovery following a serious accident, catastrophic injury or the wrongful death of a loved one. We represent clients on injury claims arising from of a wide range of incidents and accidents. Click any area to the left to learn more about the scope of our practice.

If you have been in an accident, we don't think that you should have to suffer unnecessarily just because you were involved in an accident and are awaiting resolution to your case. While we cannot take the pain away, many times, we are able to refer you to Doctors who will treat and manage your pain, even if you don't have health insurance.

We Stand with You.

Most importantly, at Whittel & Melton, you can be confident that we will stand behind you and your case. Once we commit to representing you, we will never put you or your claim on the back burner, and we are available by phone 24 hours a day.

We promise to aggressively pursue the parties and insurance companies involved in your case to obtain justice for you and your loved ones. Through financial settlement or trial, we will prepare your case to achieve maximum compensation. You will never be responsible for any attorney's fees unless and until there is a successful financial recovery for your damages. Simply put, we will not be satisfied until you are.

We are proud to help accident victims throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties – including Tampa, Brandon, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida.

Please call us at anytime. We are available 24 hours a day. (813) 221-3200, (727) 823-0000, (866) 608-5529.

There were more than 1,400 wrong way crashes in FL in 2015, resulting in 1,454 injuries & 96 fatalities, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Wrong way driving collisions occur when a vehicle has failed to observe a posted traffic sign or pavement marking and proceeds in a lane travelling in the wrong direction.

Motorists are encouraged to stay in the right lane to avoid a crash with a wrong way driver, especially at night and during transitional light times such as dawn and dusk. In most wrong way wrecks, vehicles are hit head-on, resulting in 81 percent of all wrong way fatalities. Head-on collisions are some of the most dangerous crashes, and sadly, result in the most fatalities.

The FLHSMV offers the following safety tips for drivers to avoid a wrong way driving crash:

  • Stay Right at Night to avoid crashes with wrong way drivers.
  • Call 911 right away to report wrong way drivers. If you see a wrong way driver approaching, you should reduce your speed right away and pull off the roadway.
  • Stay alert. Do not drive distracted and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Learn and obey all traffic signs. If you drive past a wrong way sign, turn around immediately. When you see a posted red sign, think about what red traffic sign colors are for: “Stop.” “Do Not Enter.” “Wrong Way.” Orange is used for construction and maintenance warnings. Yellow is for a general warning and advisory of unexpected roadways conditions. Fluorescent Yellow Green is for added emphasis warnings of school, pedestrian and bicycling activities. White/Black are regulatory signs, such as “Left Lane Must Turn Left.” Green signs are for guide or directional information. Blue signs are for motorist services guidance and to identify parking spaces or disabled drivers. Brown signs are reserved for areas of public recreation, cultural and historical significance.

Continue reading

The Fourth of July is the perfect time to enjoy food, fun, and maybe a few drinks with family and friends. Whether you’re attending a fireworks show or hitting the bars, Tampa is the perfect place to celebrate America’s Birthday.

The sad truth is that Independance Day is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year. Fireworks, hot grills, traffic, and other hazards can cause serious injuries or even death. Drunk driving rates spike over the July Fourth weekend.

The best way to prevent injuries and deaths this holiday weekend is to follow the below safety tips:

Do Not Drink And Drive

The best way to avoid a DUI collision is to stay sober if you will be getting behind the wheel of a car. Too many people believe they can operate a vehicle safely after a few drinks, but the truth is that driving under the influence puts your life, your passengers’ lives, and the lives of others sharing the road at risk, so do not chance it.  

Look Out For Possible Drunk Drivers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, police use more than 100 visual cues to identify drunk drivers. Knowing the signs can help you to avoid a DUI crash. Some of the cues include:

  • Swerving
  • Almost hitting an object in the road
  • Stopping well before or after a stop line
  • Not using headlights at night
  • Using the wrong turn signal
  • Parking too far from a curb
  • Abnormal accelerating and braking patterns

Use Lyft Or Uber

Both Uber and Lyft operate in the Tampa Bay area. If you intend to drink or if your DD gets drunk, use a taxi or rideshare service to get to your destination. You can even split the fare with your friends. Even if you are riding alone, the cost of a ride home safe  is much cheaper than a DUI.

Continue reading

It’s summer! That means it is time to get to the pool and cool off with friends and family. There are pool parties, family gatherings and just pure summer fun all centered around the pool. Tampa can get pretty toasty in the summer months, so you and the kids are bound to take a dip in the pool a few times, if not daily.

Swimming pools are awesome, but they can also present some hazards to kids. However, if you follow the safety tips listed below you can stay cool and safe.

An Adult Needs To Supervise Kids At All Times!

Kids have to be monitored 24/7 by an adult whenever they are near water. Some parents are OK with passing this responsibility off to a teen babysitter, but we urge you to reconsider. Teens can get distracted way easier than adults. Looking away or stepping away from the pool for even a few minutes can prove deadly. It is best to follow the 10/20 rule: Check the pool every 10 seconds and make sure you are close enough to get to a child in distress within 20 seconds.

Install A Fence And Gate Around Pools

Pools should be enclosed with a fence and a gate. This makes it a lot harder for small children to gain access to the pool unsupervised. Children can find ways around gates and fences, so try to keep anything they can stack to climb over the fence out of their reach.

Safety Devices Can Malfunction

“Water wings” and life jackets can deflate, puncture, etc. Don’t rely on these to help your youngsters. Teach your kids to swim or enroll them in swimming lessons.

Keep A Fully Charged Cell Phone Nearby

Accidents can happen in mere seconds. Having a phone close could save a life if a medical emergency arises. It is also a good idea to have your address clearly listed on spot that guests can easily find in case an emergency occurs when you are not there and the emergency operator needs it.

Empty Kiddie Pools After Every Use

Children can drown in very small amounts of water because they  do not have the upper body strength to pull themselves up. Leaving a kiddie pool filled with water near the house could be disastrous as kids can easily fall in and drown.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake

Pool festivities often involve alcohol. Just keep this mind: drinking can cause your focus to drift away from the main task at hand, which is watching the little ones swimming or playing near the pool.

Nix The Horseplay

Don’t let kids play too rough or try to perform any crazy tricks. Cannonballs and backflips should be left to the professionals.

Continue reading

Each year, numerous accidental deaths occur when children are left inside hot vehicles. Since 1998, an average of 37 US children have died every year from being left inside hot cars. A good amount of these were caused by lack of attention and could have been prevented. In these cases, vehicular heatstroke can be a wrongful death case.

According to statistics from 1998 to present, children left inside cars are the result of three primary circumstances:

  • In 54 percent of cases the child was ‘forgotten’ to be in the car.
  • In 29 percent of cases, kids were playing unattended inside a car without the knowledge of the caregiver.
  • In 11 percent of cases, the child was intentionally left inside the car generally while the adult ran an errand.

Within minutes of being left inside a hot vehicle, a child is in serious danger. The following tips can help you prevent making a lethal mistake:

  1. Never Leave A Child Alone In A Car. Sadly, 53 percent of all the children who died from vehicular heatstroke were under the age of 2. Some of this is because caregivers/guardians did not want to disturb sleeping infants or deal with unbuckling car seats for a “quick stop.” The truth is that even a few minutes can be fatal. The inside of a car can heat up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit in less than ten minutes on an average summer day.
  2. Heatstroke Can Happen In Minutes. Heatstroke can happen in a child when their core body temperature reaches around 104 degrees and becomes lethal at 107 degrees. A child’s core temperature can spike three to five times faster than adults, so heatstroke can happen in temperatures as low as 57 degrees and in shaded areas. Symptoms that a child is reaching dangerous heat levels include disorientation, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
  3. Give Yourself A Reminder. Most cases of child deaths in cars involve forgetting the child was even in the car. You can prevent this by setting reminders and insisting that caregivers set reminders that there is a child in the back. Place something you need in the backseat so that you are trained to look in the back seat every time you exit the car, even if you don’t have a child with you.

Continue reading

A man on a scooter was killed early Tuesday by a car that had run a red light in Clearwater.

According to Clearwater Police, the crash occurred at 1:45 a.m. at the intersection of Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.

Police believe the 55-year-old Palm Harbor man was on a scooter traveling northbound on Belcher Road when he was struck by a westbound 2006 Chrysler Sebring that ran the red light on Gulf-to-Bay.

The impact of the collision pushed the scooter into the side of a 1995 Lincoln Town Car that was also heading north on Belcher.

The scooter driver died at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

Police have identified the driver of the car that ran the red light and believe the driver showed signs of impairment.

The driver was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license in an accident involving death or serious bodily injury.

The driver of the Town Car suffered minor injuries.

Due to the increased use of mopeds and scooters, we have seen many more accidents, crashes, injuries and even fatalities. Lots of Floridians opt to travel by moped or scooter because of the pretty much warm year-round climate, which makes sense as these vehicles have much better gas mileage compared to cars, truck and SUVs.

A recent Florida study found the following to be common factors in scooter accidents resulting in serious injuries and wrongful death: lack of a helmet, the speed of the moped or scooter, the speed limit in the area of the accident, and the amount of traffic in the area.

Continue reading

A 29-year-old Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy was arrested and charged with DUI and leaving the scene of a crash after deputies say he caused an accident driving the wrong way.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the man was driving southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 at 3:30 a.m. Friday when his Ford Explorer struck a semi-truck.

The crash happened near the Hillsborough-Manatee county line. There were no injuries in the crash.

Troopers believe the man drove off in his heavily damaged SUV, but abandoned the vehicle on the inside shoulder of I-75 at Mile Marker 232. A short time after discovering the damaged vehicle, troopers apparently found the man on the west side of the roadway attempting to hide, authorities said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed the man is a District IV deputy, employed with HCSO since October 2011.

He has been suspended without pay pending an internal investigation.

When you are driving, there are few things more terrifying than seeing the headlights of another vehicle coming towards you head-on. A car driving towards you the wrong way can cause you to panic, whether you are on a road or interstate. Crashes frequently occur from wrong way driving and usually result in fatalities. Sadly, in the Tampa Bay area and the rest of Florida, these types of accidents seem to be on the rise.

Continue reading

A 19-year-old man suffered critical injuries in a St. Petersburg crash Saturday night.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crash took place on 28th Street North and 47th Avenue North just before 11 p.m.

Troopers believe a 1999 Toyota Corolla traveling northbound on 28th Street was slowing to make a left turn onto 47th Avenue when a GMC pickup truck crashed into the back of it.

The Corolla was knocked into the parking lot of the adjacent B&N Food Mart at 4700 28th Street North and struck an unoccupied Ford Explorer.

The GMC continued northbound after the second collision and came to rest in the intersection of 28th Street and 50th Avenue North.

The 19-year-old passenger in the Corolla suffered critical injuries and remains at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

The driver of the Corolla, a 20-year-old Largo man, suffered serious injuries.

The driver of the GMC truck, a 40-year-old man, suffered minor injuries.

Troopers said charges are pending.

After an auto accident, taking care of your injuries should be your top priority. Most people injured in car crashes assume that because they have insurance that all of their injuries from the accident will be covered. However, the truth is that insurance companies are in business to make money, and even though your medical care is of the utmost importance, it is entirely possible that your insurance company won’t cover the full extent of your injuries.

Continue reading

A Ruskin woman has been charged with driving under the influence after deputies believe she caused a crash going the wrong-way with a toddler in her vehicle.

On Monday night, two Hillsborough County deputies were traveling northbound in the inside lane of 50th Street South in the area of Habersham Lane when they say they saw a small sedan driving southbound in the northbound lane.

According to reports, they conducted an evasive maneuver to avoid a collision with the small sedan but ended up hitting a small blue pickup as a result. After checking on that driver, they made a U-turn and caught up to the small sedan as it was approaching the intersection of 50th Street South and Causeway Boulevard.

Deputies conducted a traffic stop on the 31-year-old woman, during which they observed several signs of impairment. Deputies also noted that there was a toddler inside the vehicle.

Child Protection investigators responded and took custody of the child.

The woman was arrested for DUI. She has multiple suspensions to her Florida driver’s license for prior DUI offenses, as well as several non-extraditable warrants from other jurisdictions.

Additional charges are pending.

While not all wrong-way accidents are caused by intoxicated drivers, many of them are. It is easy for an intoxicated driver to not see signs or to not realize the consequences of entering a one-way street in the wrong direction.

Continue reading

One motorcyclist died and another was critically injured Saturday in an accident in Tampa involving both riders colliding with a van.

According to Florida Highway Patrol troopers, the accident happened just after 4 p.m. at North Florida Avenue and Palm Drive. Two bikers, one 19 and the other 20, were riding southbound on North Florida Avenue when a van driven by by a 69-year-old man pulled into the road from Palm Drive into the motorcycle’s path.

The man reportedly failed to see the bikers as he pulled into the roadway to make a left turn onto North Florida Avenue. The bikers were both traveling in the left lane at high rates of speed, and both struck the van, according to reports.

The 19-year-old suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. The 20-year-old suffered serious injuries and was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Both riders were wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

The driver of the van was transported to Florida Hospital Fletcher and treated for minor injuries.

Charges in the case are pending the results of the investigation.

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident with a passenger vehicle, you stand little chance of escaping the accident without any injuries. Bikers that are clipped by larger vehicles are much more susceptible to bodily injuries and even death due to their direct exposure to contact and lack of protection.

The most common injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Broken Bones & Fractures
  • Road Rash
  • Catastrophic Spine & Neck Injuries
  • Wrongful Death

Continue reading

A Tampa man died Monday after he was involved in a single-vehicle crash on I-275 in Pinellas County.

The crash occurred at 4:43 p.m. on northbound I-275 at mile marker 26 in Pinellas County.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 20-year-old Tampa woman was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier north on I-275. She was making several lane changes when she lost control and drove onto the grass median, which caused the Cavalier to overturn several times.

A 20-year-old male passenger was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where he died later that day from his injuries.

The woman sustained minor injuries. She was ticketed for careless driving.

It is critical to pay attention to your driving habits and patterns as well as those of the motorists around you to make sure you do not behave carelessly behind the wheel. Driving carelessly can cause serious accidents and injury to you, passengers in your vehicle and others around you.

Some of the most common examples of careless driving are:

  • Texting & driving
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Assuming right-of-way
  • Not signalling when changing lanes or turning
  • Tailgating
  • Not stopping at intersections
  • Failure to stop for emergency vehicle
  • Improper lane change
  • Making an improper turn
  • Speeding

Defensive driving tactics are a vital part of being a cautious driver. In order to avoid driving carelessly, make sure to:

  • Signal before you turn
  • If changing lanes, signal then wait to make sure the other drivers see you before passing
  • Come to a complete stop at all stop signs
  • Do not let passengers take your attention off of the road
  • Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road
  • Follow the speed limit
  • Avoid using electronic devices or cell phones
  • Never tailgate –  give the driver in front of you plenty of room

Continue reading

Contact Information