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 has been another case of hepatitis A involving a Pinellas County restaurant worker.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County said the employee works at Gulfport Family Restaurant on 49th Street South.

Residents who dined at the restaurant from June 4-11 and haven’t been vaccinated for hepatitis A should contact their doctor or the health department.

Anyone with specific questions about exposure to hepatitis A at Gulfport Family Restaurant can call (727) 824-6932 to reach the Epidemiology staff.

Hepatitis A is on the rise in Florida counties, and our Hepatitis A Outbreak in Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to get vaccinated and wash your hands. The vaccine and handwashing can stop the spread of this disease. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, as alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill hepatitis A germs. Use soap and warm water and wash for at least 20 seconds. You need to wash your hands before you prepare food or work with food that is not already packaged. You need to wash your hands after you use the bathroom, touch people or public surfaces, change a diaper, cough, sneeze or use a tissue, use tobacco, and eat or drink. While it may seem like a no-brainer, these simple tasks can stop these outbreaks from continuously happening.

Since Jan. 2018, 18 Floridians who have contracted the virus have died. The outbreak has been linked to restaurant workers testing positive for the disease.

What is hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is caused by a contagious virus that infects the liver, and can lead to serious liver problems, hospitalization and death. As we mentioned before, there is a vaccine that prevents the virus.

How does hepatitis A spread?

The virus is spread through the feces of people who have the virus. That is why washing your hands is so important. If a person with the virus doesn’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, feces can transfer to objects, food, drinks or drugs. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus. If a person who has the virus comes in close contact with others, like sexual intercourse, the virus can also spread.

People at highest risk are:

  • In direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Homeless or in unstable housing
  • Injection or non-injection drug users
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • Household members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common

Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)

A person can have hepatitis A for up two weeks without feeling sick, and during that time can spread the virus to others. Symptoms usually start two to six weeks after infection and last less than two months.

From January 1, 2018 through June 15, 2019, 2,109 hepatitis A cases were reported. The number of reported hepatitis A cases more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 and nearly doubled again in 2018 after remaining relatively stable in previous years. The number of case counts in 2019 have already surpassed those in 2018.

Tampa Bay seems to be at the center of the outbreak. Here is a list of restaurants where hepatitis A has been confirmed:

Hillsborough County:

  • Ulele
    1810 N Highland Avenue, Tampa
    Joint investigation: Feb. 6
  • IHOP
    11350 Bloomingdale Avenue, Riverview
    Joint investigation: July 2
  • Hamburger Mary’s
    1800 East 8th Avenue, Tampa
    Joint investigation: Oct. 24
  • Golf Club at Cypress Creek
    1011 Cypress Village Blvd, Sun City Center
    Joint investigation: Nov. 14
  • Sandpiper Grille
    1702 S Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center
    Joint investigation: April 3

Pinellas County:

  • Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill
    1320 Central Ave, St. Petersburg
    Case confirmed to owner on April 15
    Joint investigation: April 18
  • Quaker Steak & Lube
    10400 49th St., Clearwater
    Joint investigation: Aug. 31
  • Treasure Island Bar
    245 108 Ave., Treasure Island
    Case confirmed in bartender
    Joint investigation: Dec. 4
  • Subway
    31087 Cortez Blvd.
    Joint investigation: March 22
  • Toasted Monkey
    6110 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach
    Case confirmed in line cook
    Joint investigation: Nov. 2
  • Tony’s Pizzeria
    422 Cleveland Street
    Joint investigation: Nov. 29
  • Taco Bell
    8671 Ulmerton Rd, Largo
    Joint investigation: Dec. 5
  • Taco Bell
    40976 N US Hwy 19, Tarpon Springs
    Infectious period: April 12 – April 14
  • Pollo Tropical
    2140 Gulf To Bay Blvd, Clearwater
    Joint investigation: March 25
  • Jimmy’s Fish House
    521 S Gulfview Blvd, Clearwater Beach
    Joint investigation: April 2

Pasco County:

  • Timber Greens Country Club
    6333 Timber Greens Blvd., New Port Richey
    Joint investigation: Oct. 25
  • Ollies on the Beach
    6438 Clark Street, Hudson
    Joint investigation: Jan. 25
  • Cracker Barrel
    5341 US Hwy 19, New Port Richey
    Joint investigation: Feb. 18
  • Bob Katz Bar and Grill
    12340 US Hwy 19 N, Hudson
    Joint investigation: April 1
  • ICON Gentlemen’s Club
    18728 U.S. Hwy 19, Hudson

Sarasota County:

  • Pizza Burger N Tacos
    1409 Main St, Sarasota
    Joint investigation: Dec. 2018
  • Spring Hill Suites of Sarasota
    1020 University Pkwy, Sarasota
    Joint investigation: Jan. 11

Hernando County:

  • The Grill at Silverhorn Inc.
    4550 Golf Club Lane, Spring Hill
    Patrons may have been exposed between April 12-30

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Since Jan. 1, 2018, 18 Floridians have contracted the Hepatitis A virus and died.

More recently, a Pinellas County restaurant worker has tested positive for the disease, making this the sixth time a Pinellas County food service worker has tested positive for the disease.

A Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County epidemiological investigation confirmed Friday that an employee of the Friendly Fisherman at 150 John’s Pass Boardwalk Place in Madeira Beach was infected while working at the restaurant between May 7 and May 20.

Anyone who ate at this restaurant during this period who have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A should consider getting vaccinated, said DOH officials.

Those who ate at the Friendly Fisherman between May 7 and May 20 can receive free vaccinations at the following clinics:

  • DOH-Pinellas is offering the vaccine at the following locations Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
  • St. Petersburg: 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
  • Pinellas Park: 6350 76th Ave. N.
  • Mid-County (Largo): 8751 Ulmerton Road
  • Clearwater: 310 N. Myrtle Ave.
  • Tarpon Springs: 301 S. Disston Ave.

The Florida Department of Health is closely monitoring an outbreak of the virus in Florida, and Tampa Bay is the epicenter.

The shocking numbers show that since January 2018, 1,768 people have tested positive for Hepatitis A, which is more than double the number from 2016 to 2017.

And being that we are only five months into 2019, the number of cases – 898- has already surpassed the total number of cases in 2018.

Of the 1,768 total cases in Florida from Jan. 1, 2018, to May 18, 2019, 834 of the cases were in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Pinellas County had the highest number of cases – 357.

Even more shocking is that the outbreak isn’t showing signs of abating. Between May 12 and May 18, there were 89 cases reported in Florida.

The DOH confirmed 97 percent of the cases since January 2018 were contracted locally with 21 percent of the cases linked to other cases in Florida.

Here is what you need to know about Hepatitis A:

  • Hepatitis A is caused by a contagious virus that infects the liver, and can lead to serious liver problems, hospitalization and, as has been reported,  death.
  • The virus spreads through the feces of people who have the virus. If a person with the virus doesn’t wash his or her hands after going to the bathroom, feces can transfer to objects, food, drinks or drugs. When these things are shared, other people can unknowingly swallow the virus.
  • The virus can also spread through close contact, such as sexual relations.
  • Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease if given within two weeks after exposure. Those exposed should receive the first dose of the hepatitis A immunization immediately and a second dose in six months.
  • Symptoms of a hepatitis A infection include sudden onset of abdominal discomfort, dark urine, fever, diarrhea, pale white stools, and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice).
  • Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention promptly. The DOH has set up a 24-hour hotline for people who have questions about hepatitis A. The number to call is 727-824-6932.

Florida is the third largest state in the nation, so the health department is not surprised the numbers have been rising.

The state’s ongoing opioid crisis is also a factor. The largest population of people infected are homeless men between 30 and 50 years old who use drugs.

Since January, cases have been confirmed at the following restaurants in Tampa Bay:

  • ICON Gentlemen’s Club, 18728 U.S. 19, Hudson, April 24
  • Ulele, 1810 N. Highland Ave., Tampa, Feb. 6
  • Taco Bell, 40976 U.S. 19 N., Tarpon Springs, April 12
  • Hellas Bakery, 785 Dodecanese Blvd., Tarpon Springs, March 19
  • Central Park Inc., 7657 State Road 54, New Port Richey, Jan. 19
  • Jimmy’s Fish House and Iguana Bar, 521 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, March 19
  • Pollo Tropical, 2140 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, March 25
  • Sandpipe Grille, 702 S. Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center, April 3
  • Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill, 1320 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, April 15
  • Ollies on the Beach, 6438 Clark St., Hudson, Jan. 25
  • Cracker Barrel, 5341 U.S. 19, New Port Richey, Feb. 18
  • Bob Katz Bar and Grill, 12340 U.S. 19 N., Hudson, April 1
  • Arby’s, 30263 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater, April 5
  • Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Lane, Spring Hill, April 12

The Florida Department of Health is actively working to vaccinate those most at risk for the hepatitis A infection including:

  • All children at age 1 year
  • People who are homeless
  • Users of recreational drugs, whether injected or not
  • Gay and bi-sexual men
  • People with direct contact with others who have hepatitis A
  • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People with chronic or long-term liver disease, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • People with clotting-factor disorders
  • Family and caregivers of children adopted from countries where hepatitis A is common

To further complicate the Hepatitis A outbreak, symptoms of this disease do not show in everyone infected. You may be exposed to it and spread it to others without knowing that you have it. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, it can take up to 50 days from exposure to the illness for symptoms to develop. If you are experiencing symptoms that point to hepatitis A, our Florida Hepatitis A Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to see a doctor right away. Getting a vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure can prevent infection.

If you have been exposed to Hepatitis A in Pinellas County or anywhere else in Florida, you may be able to pursue financial compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of medication, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Hepatitis A injuries and deaths fall under food poisoning litigation and food safety. If you are the victim of an outbreak involving Hepatitis A or you have suffered any other foodborne illness, we can help you pursue damages related to the infection.

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An elementary student was hit and killed while riding his bike to school in Sarasota Monday morning.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the 9-year-old boy was hit at the intersection of Webber Street and Nodosa Drive just before 8 a.m.

Deputies said the boy was riding his bike to Brentwood Elementary School.

As he was following his older sister across the intersection, the driver of a silver Chevy Silverado did not see him and hit him with his truck.

They 9-year-old was transported to Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, where he later died.

Deputies said the driver of the Silverado did stop and is cooperating.

It is quite common for people of all ages to ride their bikes on Florida roadways for fun, exercise or to get to work or school. It is a driver’s responsibility to keep an eye out for bikers and make sure they are operating their vehicles safely. When drivers make a mistake behind the wheel, it is usually the bike rider that suffers the consequences. Due to the lack of structural protection, bikers involved in accidents may suffer from broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, neck and back injuries and even wrongful death.

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A 29-year-old Lakeland man was killed Thursday in a multi-vehicle crash on State Road 60 at the intersection with Grape Hammock Road in Lake Wales.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the 2:45 p.m. crash involved four vehicles, including two semis, which resulted in significant diesel fuel and oil on the roadway and debris.

Deputies said a silver 2012 Volkswagen car being driven by the man Lakeland was heading westbound on SR 60 just west of Grape Hammock Rd at a high rate of speed when it began to hydroplane, as it was raining heavily at the time.

The VW went into the eastbound lane and bounced off of a 2019 red Kia Sorento. The VW rotated and was then struck by an eastbound 1986 Kenworth semi truck pulling a trailer, causing significant damage and killing the Lakeland man.

The semi exited the roadway and came to a rest in a ditch, with the trailer still in the eastbound lane.

Another semi heading westbound struck some debris from the crash and came to a controlled stop.

None of the other drivers were injured.

Hydroplaning happens when road conditions are wet and the surface of the asphalt becomes slippery. The combination of moisture and oil residue on roadways can result in a very slippery surface. For drivers experiencing this, the tires of their vehicle can become separated from the road surface by a thin layer of water, and they can experience a loss of steering, as well as a loss of braking ability and vehicle control. A hydroplane crash can be catastrophic, as this case shows, and affect multiple vehicles and cause significant injuries and property damage.

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A motorcyclist has been pronounced dead after apparently losing control of his bike on U.S. 19 and then being struck by a car.

The crash shut down northbound U.S. 19 just south of 126th Avenue for hours Sunday morning.

Pinellas Park Police believe the 22-year-old motorcyclist was speeding when he lost control and was thrown off the bike.

Police say the driver of a passing vehicle tried to stop traffic, but another vehicle drove through and struck the biker. Another vehicle struck the bike debris.

Police say everyone is cooperating with the investigation. No one else was hurt.

The aftermath of motorcycle accidents can be devastating. While some bike riders can escape a crash with just minor injuries, in many speed-related accidents, the rider can suffer life changing injuries, that may include:

  • traumatic brain injury
  • spinal cord damage
  • paralysis
  • nerve damage
  • facial injuries
  • road rash
  • broken bones
  • internal injuries
  • death

If you’ve been injured or lost someone you love in a motorcycle accident, our Pinellas County Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help level the playing field against insurance companies and fight for what you deserve. We handle all motorcycle accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay no legal fee unless we obtain financial compensation for you through an insurance settlement or jury verdict.

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A 3-year-old boy drowned in a pool Saturday afternoon in Tarpon Springs.

According to Tarpon Springs police, the drowning happened at a home on Stone Creek Drive.  

Authorities believe the incident was accidental.

The case remains under investigation.

Swimming pools can bring lots of fun, but they can also be the source of drowning and near-drowning deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the following statistics:

  • Ten people die every day across the U.S. in drowning accidents, including two children under the age of 14.
  • For every child that dies in a drowning accident, another five children require emergency department care for non-fatal drowning-related injuries.
  • More than half of all drowning victims treated in emergency rooms need hospitalization or specialized care for brain damage.

When a drowning accident occurred in a private backyard pool, many victims and/or their families are hesitant about taking legal action. This is usually because the pool owner is a friend or neighbor. Our Tampa Bay Swimming Pool and Drowning Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to know that a person’s homeowner’s insurance, and not their personal assets, typically provides the financial compensation in a drowning accident lawsuit. We are prepared to pursue the compensation that you and your family need and deserve. You will never pay any fees whatsoever unless we secure a financial award for you.

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A 7-year-old boy is in critical condition at the hospital after he was hit by an SUV in Clearwater Tuesday night.

Emergency crews responded to a call at an apartment complex in the 2200 block of Nursery Road a little after 7:30 p.m. Upon arrival, officers on scene were told the boy was riding a bike in the parking lot of the apartment complex when he rode into the path of a Nissan Armada, which ultimately hit the child.

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation, according to officials in Clearwater.

The boy was taken to Bayfront Health in Saint Petersburg and is in critical condition, according to officials.

When drivers fail to take proper safety precautions and check all areas surrounding their vehicle, parking lots can be the site of very serious or even deadly pedestrian or bicycle accidents. Larger vehicles, especially SUVs and trucks, have several blind spots, so driver’s must pay extra attention to their surroundings. There are far too many preventable accidents that occur every day when driver’s do not take a few extra seconds to check out the area before beginning to drive.

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A woman, who caused a crash that killed three after she suffered a seizure, was in a wheelchair at her pretrial hearing Monday morning.

In August of 2017, prosecutors say the woman was driving over 100 miles per hour when she slammed into a Hyundai, killing a man, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter.

Investigators say the woman did not stick around after the crash. She fled the scene, but did not make it far.

Police caught up with the woman a couple of miles from the crime scene.

While being questioned by detectives, she allegedly said she takes anti-anxiety medication for her seizures.

She was emotional after the crash, even breaking down during a bond hearing.

Fleeing the scene of an accident, or hit and run, is a very serious criminal offense. Under Florida state law, drivers are required to stop and exchange information or render assistance when they are involved in an accident that causes property damage or bodily injury. Even though it is against the law to leave the scene after an accident, data from the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety shows that 11% of all car accidents involve hit-and-run drivers.

When a driver flees the scene of an accident, they leave behind victims without taking any responsibility for their actions. Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton regularly file personal injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of those injured or killed in hit-and-run accidents. We can answer any questions you may have regarding your legal options following an incident involving a fleeing driver.

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A bill to make texting while driving a primary offense in Florida is closer than it has ever been to the governor’s desk.

The Florida Senate voted 33 to 5 Thursday to pass the House version of the bill, (HB 107) substituting it for the Senate version, which was broader and prohibited using any wireless communication device.

However, the Senate added an amendment to the House bill that would ban the use of any wireless device while in school zones or work zones. The Florida House will now have to decide what to do with the amended version of the bill.

The bill is the closest Florida has ever gotten to allowing law enforcement to pull over drivers for texting while driving. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means officers need another reason to pull over a driver in order to cite them for texting while driving.

If the bill passes the Florida Legislature and is signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, it would go into effect on July 1.

Texting while driving has been identified as the most dangerous form of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 480,000 drivers use cell phones while driving every day. These devices create a huge potential for injuries and fatalities to drivers, passengers, and everyone else sharing the road.

The truth is that most drivers underestimate the time it takes for a car accident to happen. When you are travelling 55 mph, in a matter of just five seconds – the approximate amount of time it takes to read a text – you will have travelled the entire length of a football field. Serious collisions can happen in as little as three seconds.

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Lawmakers, law enforcement and families who have faced the danger of distracted driving firsthand are urging all Florida drivers to put the phone down while behind the wheel.

At least 233 Floridians were killed by distracted drivers in 2018, according to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The Florida Highway Patrol says, on average, distracted driving accounts for more than 1,000 crashes in our state every week.

Under current Florida law, texting while driving is only a secondary offense. That means drivers can’t be pulled over for texting alone.

Some, are trying to change that, and Florida’s laws could soon change.

Even though Florida does have a statewide texting ban in place, many people continue to engage in the behavior. Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could take a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. While texting behind the wheel is considered the most dangerous distraction, others include:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to or interacting with passengers
  • Personal grooming
  • Reading maps
  • Watching videos
  • Adjusting a radio or other audio player
  • Using a navigation system

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