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.

A construction worker was taken to the hospital Monday afternoon after an incident at Midtown Tampa.

Officials say the worker’s boom lift hit a power line at the construction site at 3725 W Grace Street at 12:05 p.m. 

The boom was still in the raised position with the worker in the bucket and fire crews had to wait until the lines were de-energized to ensure their safety before approaching the person.

TECO came to the site and secured power to the power lines and workers on site were able to lower the lift to ground level at 1:05 p.m. Paramedics then assisted the patient off of the lift and into a rescue car where he was transported to a local hospital.

The extent of his injuries are unknown at this time. 

When it comes to the construction industry, sometimes production is placed above employee safety. Aerial lift accidents involving bucket trucks, cherry pickers, scissor lifts, man lifts, boom lifts and cranes are one of the leading causes of death and injury on large construction sites. Falls, tip-overs, collapses, as well as electrocutions contribute to hundreds of these aerial lift accident injuries and deaths each year across the U.S. 

The number of people who suffer catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths after falling from scissor lifts, boom lifts, and aerial work platforms is quite high. These accidents usually involve heights in excess of six feet, and often occur in the construction industry where these types of lifts are commonly used.

A major cause of aerial lift accidents is lack of training. Sadly, when an aerial lift accident does occur, it often results in serious or deadly injuries. Without proper training, the dangers of operating an aerial lift only increase. Lack of training combined with a lack of inspection and negligent maintenance on the employer, rental company or manufacturer’s part, the risk of danger only rises.

Aerial and boom lift accidents causing serious injury or death often involve electrocutions, falls, collapses and tip overs, and being caught in between or struck by another object. Boom lifts account for around 70% of aerial lift death cases. Aerial lift accidents from the boom lifts can lead to workers being ejected from the bucket after being struck by another object while not wearing a harness to prevent falling. Other aerial lift accidents can happen when the aerial lift, scissor lift, man lift, cherry picker, or boom lift collapses and trips over. This usually happens as a result of mechanical failure with the lift or overloading the aerial lift.

When the brakes, outriggers, wheel chocks and locks on an aerial lift fail, the result can be a tip-over, or an immediate collapse of the lift which will send the operator falling upwards of 20 feet. Besides electrocutions, falls from tip overs are the number one cause of aerial lift accidents. Undecking is another common cause of aerial lift accidents. This happens when the bolts fastening the turret wear out, are defective, break and fail resulting in a collapse of the entire aerial lift. This often leads to ejections, resulting in severe injuries or death. 

It is estimated that 250,000 construction workers use aerial lifts like cherry pickers, boom lifts, and bucket trucks each year, placing them at risk for falls, electrocution and a slew of other possible injuries. In order to prevent accidents while working on aerial lift equipment, it is important that employers stay vigilant in making sure their safety policies and procedures are up to date and strictly followed. 

If you or a loved one has suffered a severe and debilitating injury caused in an aerial lift accident, our Tampa Bay Construction Defect Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you and your family get the financial compensation you may be entitled to. In many construction injury cases, we have successfully recovered damages for our clients, including lost wages, medical expenses, funeral costs, disfigurement, and even monetary compensation for pain and disability. We are happy to review the facts of your case for free, and advise you of the legal options available to you and your family for pursuing financial compensation. 

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A 30-year-old driver accused of killing two people in a wrong-way crash on Sunday at Tampa International Airport made his first court appearance Monday morning. 

A judge set the man’s bond at $150,000.  He faces two charges of DUI manslaughter and two charges of vehicular homicide. 

The man was allegedly intoxicated as he was trying to get on to the interstate going the wrong way when he hit another car head on early Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department.

Police are looking into a potential traffic camera video that may help investigators determine how or why the man was allegedly driving the wrong way, trying to exit the Tampa International Airport on an entrance ramp.

Two men in the car the man hit died at the scene. 

According to reports, police tested the man’s breath four times following his arrest. He apparently blew just over the legal limit of point .08 twice, and just below the legal limit twice.

A blood draw was also taken, but results from that are not back.

Each charge the man faces carries a maximum 15 years in prison.

If the man posts bond, he will not be allowed to drink and he will have to wear a scram monitor that can detect alcohol in his system, according to reports.

Each year in the U.S., there are nearly 360 fatalities from wrong-way driving on highways, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. While 360 deaths might not seem like a lot, the seriousness of wrong-way collisions should not be discounted because while they are less frequent than other types of crashes, a wrong-way crash is 12-27 times more likely to be fatal, and often involve more than one fatality.

What is wrong-way driving? Wrong-way driving refers to vehicles traveling against traffic on a highway. This usually occurs when a driver enters the highway via an exit ramp rather than the entrance ramp.

How do wrong-way driving crashes happen? Wrong-way driving occurs most often when a motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and fails to notice “Do Not Enter” signs and other safety precautions. According to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study, the majority of wrong-way drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even more shocking is that 59% have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or more. Sadly, Florida has one of the highest rates of drunk driving crashes in the country, which leads to more wrong-way deaths.

Sarasota is the top city in the state of Florida most at risk for DUI deaths. Sarasota averages 12.2 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. St. Petersburg averages 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. Tampa averages 3.77 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. All of these cities are well above the national average.

Other factors involved in wrong-way driving crashes include alcohol, drugs, fatigue, inattention, and driving late at night. Age can also play a role – the NTSB reports that drivers over the age of 70 are more likely to cause wrong-way crashes than right-way crashes.

While some wrong-way driving accidents happen on highway entrance ramps, the most serious and deadly wrong-way crashes occur on the highway at high speeds. Due to the fact that many wrong-way drivers are drunk or impaired, they are not only going the wrong way, but they are also likely to be driving recklessly, and may hit vehicles that are trying to avoid them. 

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A 31-year-old man downed a double shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky at 11 a.m. Thursday and thirteen minutes later struck a pedestrian on Bayshore Boulevard, turning one of Tampa’s most scenic stretches into a crime scene.

The impact flung the pedestrian into Hillsborough Bay and tore off chunks of Bayshore’s balustrade, exposing bare rebar.

Witnesses later recalled how they had seen the man’s white Ford F-150 ⁠— a Pinch A Penny pool supply truck ⁠— swerving in and out of traffic on Bayshore before the crash, according to an arrest report. They estimated that he was going 60 or 70 mph in a 35-mph zone.

The driver struck the man near the intersection of Bayshore and W Julia Street at about 11:13 a.m., police said. Passersby jumped into the water to try to save the man, but he was later pronounced dead.

The deceased, a 70-year-old retired financial trust officer, had been out for a walk near his home on a breezy day.

The driver told officers he smoked marijuana at about 7 a.m., then drank the whiskey later that morning, according to his arrest report. Investigators said he had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.234, or almost three times the level at which Florida law presumes impairment, 0.08. His blood was drawn at the hospital on Thursday. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on Friday.

A police mugshot of the driver showed his face was bloodied after the crash. He currently has a valid driver’s license, records show, but he also has a history of minor traffic infractions.

In 2007, he was cited in two different cases, once for permitting an unauthorized person to drive and later for driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition. Records show he paid both fines.

The next year, he was cited for failure to obey a traffic sign and later paid that fine.

In 2013, he was pulled over while driving a Mercury sedan near N MacDill Avenue and W North A Street. An officer cited him for driving with an expired tag and driving with a suspended license. The man later pleaded no contest to the license charge while the expired tag charge was dismissed, records show. His state driving history indicates the suspension stemmed from failing to pay a fine or fee in court.

He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a felony charge of providing false information on a pawnbroker form and was sentenced to a year of probation. 

This is not the first pedestrian killed on Bayshore Boulevard. The road is a hot spot for speeding, which has resulted in a series of tragic, deadly crashes. 

A 39-year-old mother was killed in 2004 as she prepared for a jog, struck by a Navy petty officer driving 80 mph on a motorcycle.

In May 2018, another mother, 24, was pushing her 21-month-old daughter in a stroller through a Bayshore crosswalk when a Ford Mustang hit them. Mother and daughter both died. The car was going 102 mph six seconds before impact, police said. Two teens face charges of vehicular homicide in that case, accused of racing before the crash.

After that incident, the city made several changes, including lowering the speed limit to 35 mph, narrowing lanes and installing flashing signs at crosswalks.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the city’s former police chief, released this statement: “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim in this horrific tragedy. As a city, we’re committed to Vision Zero and have made and will continue to make a number of safety upgrades to Bayshore Boulevard and many other Tampa roadways.” Vision Zero is a worldwide push to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.

Pedestrian accidents can be incredibly complex. Injury victims or family members who have lost loved ones must deal with insurance companies and possibly even legal teams that do not want to make a large settlement payout. Our Tampa Bay Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can make sure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process. We will start by obtaining all of the evidence from the accident. This can include police reports, video surveillance, photographs from the scene, eyewitness accounts, and more. If you are injured, we will make sure you are evaluated by a trusted medical professional who can attest to the cause and severity of your injuries. From there we will work to calculate your total economic losses by obtaining your medical bills, proof of lost income, necessary home and vehicle modification bills, and more. Once this is done we will calculate your total non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and mental anguish damages. The final step will be negotiating with all parties involved in order to reach a fair settlement. If one cannot be reached we will go to trial to secure the financial compensation you truly deserve.  

Sadly, driver negligence causes a large percentage of pedestrian accidents. All motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care when behind the wheel of a vehicle, and failure to do so is negligence. The most common ways in which negligent drivers cause collisions with pedestrians include:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to obey traffic signals and signs
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to signal when turning
  • Disregarding traffic or weather conditions

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A 50-year-old Lakeland motorcycle police officer was killed in a crash Thursday morning on his way to work.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the officer was killed just before 6 a.m. when his motorcycle for unknown reasons collided with and drove over a raised concrete median between the north and southbound lanes on Lakeland Highlands Road just south of Lake Miriam Drive.

This caused the officer to lose control of the motorcycle. The officer and the motorcycle came to rest on the inside (left) lane of the northbound roadway.

He was operating his agency Harley Davidson Police Road King motorcycle. 

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said multiple passersby stopped at the crash site to help render aid to Dunn and call 911.

One woman stopped and called 911. Another woman, a nurse practitioner, began CPR on the officer.

The officer was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead at 6:53 a.m. at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. The officer, who was with the agency about five years after a dozen years with the Polk Sheriff’s Office, also served as a U.S. Marine. He was married with three adult children.

Authorities are conducting a fatal crash investigation, as it occurred in the unincorporated area of Lakeland.  

Judd said the investigation will be exhausted to determine the cause of the crash. 

Did you know that the state of Florida ranks seventh among all US states in terms of motorcyclist fatalities? This is according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Regrettably, local statistics show that thousands of motorcycle riders get hurt on Florida roads each year.

The latest data from the Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that in 2017 alone, Florida accounted for 18.2 percent of all motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. This amounts to roughly 504 deaths. In 2016, Florida was responsible for 574 motorcycle deaths. This number of motorcycle fatalities actually decreased by 70 from 2016 to 2017.

As fun as they can be, motorcycles are one of the more dangerous forms of transportation. Sadly, it is common for drivers of larger vehicles to not see motorcycles, and as a result, catastrophic accidents occur. Whether you are an experienced rider or a novice, there are a few safety tips you can be reminded of to keep you safe on the road. 

The following are a few safety precautions for motorcycle riders:

  • Maintain your motorcycle. Before taking your bike out for a spin, make sure there are no problems with your motorcycle. You do not want to discover that you’re missing a turn signal or having brake trouble when you’re already out on the road as it could be too late at that point.
  • Wear your safety gear. Helmets can protect you against fatal or life-changing brain injuries. It is also a good idea to wear eye and face protection, a protective jacket, long pants, gloves and boots.
  • Take a safety course. Regardless of if you have years of experience, you can always brush up on your skills. Taking a motorcycle safety course is always a good idea. You can find motorcycle safety courses in Florida by clicking here.
  • Follow the posted speed limit. A large percentage of motorcyclists who die in accidents are speeding.
  • Don’t operate your motorcycle drunk. Never drink and drive any vehicle. Operating a motorcycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be especially dangerous. 
  • Stay alert. Always be on the lookout for potholes, bumps in the road and oncoming vehicles. You cannot always rely on other drivers to look out for you.

Unfortunately, even if you do everything right on your end, sometimes accidents still happen. Our Tampa Bay Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have handled many cases in which motorcyclists and their passengers were injured in accidents caused by other drivers doing the following: 

  • Following a motorcycle too closely
  • Failing to yield at an intersection
  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Cutting off a motorcycle when changing lanes
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Improper turning

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Planning to head out on New Year’s Eve and ring in the New Year? There are several groups that offer safe rides to inebriated drivers including the Auto Club Group and Bud Light, which hosts the Tow to Go service to discourage an intoxicated driver from getting behind the wheel.

Other free safe transportation options are sponsored by Uber and Lyft.

Uber is offering free rides up to $10 with the code “SAFERIDETPA.”The code is good from 9 p.m. Tuesday until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

HARTline will offer rides on the TECO Line Streetcar in downtown Tampa for free on New Year’s Eve from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., during the annual Light Up Tampa event. The free In-Towner will also be operating throughout Downtown Tampa until 1 a.m.

HART also will offer free rides beginning at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve on all fixed-route bus services.

The hours between 6 p.m. Dec 31 and 6 a.m. Jan. 1 are the most dangerous time of the year for drivers.

Compared to the average weekend night, the 12-hour window on New Year’s Eve and Day has about 71 percent more crashes where alcohol or drugs are listed as a contributing factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 5,125 alcohol- or drug-related crashes in Florida in 2017. Of those, 350 fatalities were fatalities.

St. Petersburg ranked fourth in the state with 4.63 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents. Tampa came in at No. 7 with 3.77 DUI deaths per 100,000 residents.

Ranking in the top 10 for medium-sized Florida cities were Plant City (4), Temple Terrace (5) and Pinellas Park (8). And in the top 10 for small cities was Gulfport (5).

According to the Tampa Alcohol Coalition, Tampa Bay is making headway in reducing drunk-driving crashes with the help of tougher enforcement measures, new statutes, sober rides programs and public service campaigns.

The TAC said safe ride programs are helping to keep socially responsible drinkers off the roads and may be responsible for a decrease in drunk driving accidents in major metropolitan areas like Miami-Dade, which dropped 65 percent in 2017.

Additionally, Millenials in Florida, concerned about their environmental footprint, are driving less and using public transportation more.

Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking are much more likely to cause accidents than sober drivers. Drunk drivers have delayed reaction times and their judgement is impaired, which is why drunk driving accidents are often more serious and cause more severe injuries than other car accidents.

At Whittel & Melton, our Tampa Bay Injury Attorneys have no sympathy for people who choose to drink and drive. If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, we will do whatever we can to hold that person accountable and fight to get you financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Many people can actually be responsible for a drunk driving accident, including:

  • The drunk driver: drunk drivers are responsible for their own behavior, and that includes choosing to drive a car after consuming any amount of alcohol.  
  • Party hosts: people who host parties where alcohol is served can be held liable in the event a guest leaves their party after being served alcohol and causes a drunk driving accident. This is especially true if the host was known to provide alcohol to the guest after it was clear they were inebriated.
  • Bar/Restaurant, staff & owners: bar and restaurant owners, bartenders, and other employees can also be held responsible for drunk driving accidents. It is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.

If you or a loved one was harmed in a drunk driving accident, once you get in touch with us we can investigate the accident and any contributing factors, including any parties or bars where the negligent drunk driver may have consumed alcohol prior to causing the accident. We will then fight to get you awarded damages for your accident-related expenses.

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Florida had 58 hepatitis A cases reported last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 3,028 as of Saturday, according to the state Department of Health.

Sarasota County led the state in the number of new cases last week with eight, followed by Volusia County with seven, according to a News Service of Florida analysis of the data.

As of Saturday, 274 cases of hepatitis A had been reported this year in Volusia County, while the number of cases in Sarasota County stood at 92. Pasco County led the state with 404 cases, including two new cases last week.

Pinellas County had one new hepatitis A case last week, bringing its total for the year to 376, according to the News Service analysis of the state data.

Hepatitis A, which can cause liver damage, can be spread through such things as food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter from people with the disease.

Health officials have urged Floridians to get vaccinated against the disease.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, has used $3 million in funds from county health departments to hire additional workers to help vaccinate high-risk populations, including homeless people, drug users and gay men.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is caused by an infection from hepatitis A virus. What is shocking about this illness is that not everyone who is infected with the virus will have symptoms of the illness. In most cases, the illness is results in mild, flu-like gastrointestinal symptoms. In the worst cases, hepatitis A can impair proper functioning of the liver and even lead to death.

The hepatitis A virus is a collection of molecules that uses the body’s method of constructing new material to produce copies of itself. When the virus uses a human host to reproduce itself, the human host often becomes ill in its effort to fight the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year in the United States an estimated 143,000 cases of hepatitis A infection occurs, but only around 30,000 are reported. Hepatitis A is also responsible for an estimated 1.4 million cases worldwide each year.

You may be wondering how this virus is spread to others. The hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by “fecal-oral” transmission. This means the virus is transmitted when a person puts something in their mouth that has been contaminated with the fecal matter of a person infected with the virus. Because this virus depends on the fecal-oral route for transmission, the illness is most easily spread under poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed. 

Outbreaks are often traced back to contaminated food. Food supplies can become contaminated when infected workers come into contact with food supplies during processing or in restaurants. If a restaurant worker has the hepatitis A virus and does not wash their hands after using the restroom, they can then transfer the virus to others during food preparation.  

Foods that are most commonly associated with outbreaks are water, shellfish, and salads. In most cases, the true source is water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Other common food sources are cold cuts, pre-made sandwiches, unwashed fruit, fruit juices, milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks.

Most people who become infected with hepatitis A return back to normal health. This virus is more common in children, but is often more severe in adults. More than one-fifth of adult hepatitis A patients require hospitalization. In the most severe cases, hepatitis A can cause inflammation and swelling of the liver, which can impair liver function and cause permanent damage to the liver. Most of these cases require hospitalization. Each year approximately 100 people die as a result of these infections in the U.S.

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Sharing the road with large trucks can be frightening, and also very dangerous. Large trucks, including semis and tractor trailers, are particularly dangerous when they are traveling too close to the cars in front of them at a high rate of speed. If you have ever experienced this while driving on a highway then you know exactly how terrifying it can be, especially when you are in a smaller vehicle. When trucks are travelling along side you it is crucial to avoid the truck’s blind spots and to make sure that you keep a safe distance from the truck. However, sometimes there are no warning signs that a truck is driving too fast or too closely to your vehicle and there is no way to avoid being struck by one of these large vehicles. Sadly, this is exactly what happened on I-75 in Hillsborough County in a truck crash where two people were killed. 

The northbound lanes of Interstate 75 just past Bruce B. Downs Boulevard were reopened Thursday morning after a fiery semi truck crash that left two people dead and five others injured Wednesday night. 

The lanes were reopened just before 8 a.m., more than 12 hours after the crash, which happened just before 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

At least eight vehicles were involved in the crash.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the driver of the semi could not slow down in time to avoid the traffic ahead that had slowed to an almost stop. The semi plowed into multiple vehicles and collided with a pillar for an overhead roadway sign on the outside shoulder. 

The semi and another vehicle became engulfed in flames. Both those drivers died. Troopers have not released the names of the people killed. 

Crews were finally able to remove the semi just after 7 a.m. and reopened the lanes. Cleanup has continued along the side of the roadway.

The crash remains under investigation.

Truck accidents can lead to devastating injuries that require expensive medical care and could prevent you from working for days, weeks or even permanently. Due to the severity of the injuries that result from truck accidents, it is absolutely vital that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Our Tampa Bay Truck Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can conduct an investigation into your crash to build a strong case on your behalf.

In order to successfully prove fault in your case, we must show that someone else’s negligence caused the truck accident. We will gather all of the evidence necessary to help you obtain maximum financial compensation. We will start by reconstructing the accident scene and reviewing the police and accident reports. We can then analyze any photos or video footage of the crash site. We will look into the truck driver’s driving history and figure out how many hours the trucker had driven and when their break was before the accident. We will also work with industry experts to investigate and build your case. This includes making sure that the truck trailer did not exceed weight restrictions and was loaded properly, as well as verifying the truck drivers’ background, driving records and criminal background. 

While some truck accident cases are easy to find where the fault lies, others can be more complex. This is why we utilize the latest technology and expert guidance to uncover what was happening in the moments leading up to, during, and after the collision. This helps us piece together the entire picture of what caused the accident.

The victims who are killed in truck accidents leave behind their spouses and children. Close relatives can be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and/or the trucking company for the death of their loved one. Wrongful death suits can be tricky, which is why it is best to have our experienced Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton on your side. We are a team of caring and compassionate legal professionals who will guide you through the process of recovering from your injuries or losses and recover the full and fair monetary damages to which you are entitled. We know that nothing we do can replace a lost loved one or minimize your injuries, but we can make sure that your financial reward is just so that you can focus on moving on from your pain. 

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Investigators are on the lookout for a hit-and-run driver who they say struck and killed a skateboarder early Wednesday. 

The accident happened near the intersection of Upper Manatee River Road and Waterlefe Boulevard just before 3 a.m. The roadway and nearby Fort Hamer Bridge were shut down for nearly five hours during the morning commute. 

The victim is a 15-year-old boy. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, EMS workers first noticed the skateboarder around 2:15 a.m. as they were transporting a patient to the hospital. They say he was traveling on the north side of Upper Manatee River Road with no lights or reflectors. 

Roughly 30 minutes later, after dropping off the patient, the same ambulance traveled back on Upper Manatee River Road and discovered the skateboard laying in the roadway. That’s when they located debris from a vehicle scattered across the roadway and the victim deceased by the side of the road. 

“There is no way this driver does not know they hit someone or something,” said Trooper Kenn Watson with the Florida Highway Patrol. “The bottom line is, they should have stayed on scene. With the amount of damage that vehicle sustained, they’ve got to know they hit someone.” 

Investigators are looking for a 2012-2015 silver Toyota Tacoma with extensive front end damage. 

Anyone with information about the driver or vehicle is asked to dial *347.

On July 1, 2014, the penalties for hit and run drivers changed when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes) was signed into Florida law. The statute is named after Aaron Cohen, a 31-year-old father of two that was fatally struck by a drunk driver that fled the crash site in February 2012 in central Florida. The hit and run driver was sentenced to two years in prison, which is a lesser sentence than what the driver would have served had he been sentenced on a DUI manslaughter charge. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act imposes a mandatory minimum of 4 years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in a fatality.

In the state of Florida, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine. Leaving the scene of a crash where injuries have resulted is a second or third-degree felony carrying consequences of up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine and a revoked license for 3 years. Leaving the scene of a crash with a fatality is a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison or up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine as well as a revoked license for 3 years. 

There are a great number of reasons drivers choose to flee the scene of a crash site in Florida. Some drivers are drunk or under the influence of drugs and they fear being charged with a DUI, especially if they have been charged with a DUI before. They might also be scared of being charged with other vehicle crimes associated with causing injury or death while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Some drivers may be so intoxicated that they do not even realize that they have caused an accident, and drive away without even knowing the devastation they have caused. Other drivers leave the scene because they are driving without a license, driving without registration, or driving without insurance. Some may be driving a stolen vehicle, or they may be wanted by police for another crime, like an outstanding warrant. Others are just afraid of what they have done and too scared to face the consequences of their actions. 

It is absolutely vital that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after a hit-and-run accident. As time goes on, important evidence can be lost or destroyed, and witnesses may forget important information, or you may not be able to find them. 

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Providers could see an automatic shift in their federal star ratings all because of several new changes to the system, including the controversial addition of a warning icon next to certain cited facilities and the removal of two pain quality measures.

The Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services announced last week that it is removing from the Nursing Home Compare website and the Five-Star Quality Rating System quality measures related to residents’ reported experiences with pain. 

The measures being removed are: percentage of short-stay residents who report moderate to severe pain and percentage of long-stay residents who report moderate to severe pain. 

CMS also announced last week that it will soon place a bright red “stop” hand icon next to facilities that have received recent abuse, neglect or exploitation citations. 

Nursing homes with an alert icon will have their highest-possible health inspection rating capped at two stars and their overall possible rating capped at four stars, said Amy Stewart, MSN, RN, DNS-MT, QCP-MT, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA, vice president of curriculum development for the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing.

Stewart added that providers could see a shift under the quality measures domain following the removal of the two measures. She strongly suggested that providers, especially those cited for abuse within the last 24 months, check their Five-Star Ratings once the changes go into effect on Oct. 23. 

She joined other providers in calling for CMS to address inconsistencies with surveys between states and to consider adding other determinants of quality instead of pursuing the “alert” icon, which some have pointed out actually conveys a much more foreboding “Do not proceed” message.

“Abuse is never OK,” Stewart said. “Abuse and neglect to the resident is never to be tolerated. We all agree on that, but the real issue is how surveyors determine whether abuse and neglect has occurred. We’re all one incident from potentially getting cited for abuse and then this icon being put up there.”

Quality measure thresholds will also be increasing under CMS’ latest efforts. The change could result in nursing homes seeing a decline in their ratings until improvements are made. 

CMS will begin increasing quality measure thresholds by 50% of the average rate of improvement in QM score, and will do this every six months. The agency hopes the change will “drive continuous quality improvement by raising standards for all facilities to achieve certain ratings,” documents stated. 

“As CMS changes the QM thresholds, some nursing homes will see a decline in their rating in these areas until they make further improvements. Also, because the QM ratings are also used as part of the overall rating, some nursing homes will see a decline in their overall five star rating,” CMS wrote.

Nursing home negligence can present itself as physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse or any other types of abuse or neglect. Every year an estimated 2.5 million Americans are victims of elderly abuse through negligent nursing home care and assisted living facility care.  

Due to the fact that nursing home and assisted living facility residents are a very vulnerable population, family members and friends rely upon the chosen facility to ensure that their loved one receives the high quality of care and dignity they are entitled. Unfortunately, nursing homes and assisted living facilities don’t always do this. Nursing home negligence embodies anything that fails to protect residents from health and safety hazards. Negligence can result in severe injuries such as broken bones, bedsores or pressure ulcers, dehydration, malnutrition, and other medical conditions which cause harm and even death.

Our Tampa Bay Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will fight to recover all that you and your loved one deserve. We have extensive experience in nursing home negligence matters, and we are thorough in our investigations of each individual case. We know that no two cases are exactly alike, which is why we prepare each case for either settlement or trial in order to obtain financial compensation for injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Our ultimate goal is to help victims and their families hold these negligent facilities accountable.

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Derby Lane in Pinellas County has announced an employee has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Known for its live greyhound racing, poker and dining events, Derby Lane took the potential exposure very seriously, according to reports.

The business worked closely with the Health Department during the investigation.

The employee was diagnosed on September 22 and has been treated, according to reports.

The employee is not allowed to return to work until cleared by the Florida Department of Health.

As of September 30, 2019, the state of Florida has had 3,174 total cases of hepatitis A. Of these cases, 2,255, or 71%, have resulted in hospitalization. Since January 1, 2018, 43 deaths related to hepatitis A have been recorded in Florida.

In the United States, as of October 4, 2019, there have been 26,789 total hepatitis A cases reported from 30 states. Of these, 16,157, or 61%, have resulted in hospitalization. A total of 274 deaths have been recorded.

What Is Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A virus. This is one of several types of hepatitis viruses that result in inflammation and affects your liver’s ability to function. Most people contract hepatitis A from contaminated food or water or by having intimate contact with someone who is already infected. While mild cases do not require treatment, severe cases can result in permanent liver damage.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A

It can be hard to tell right away if you have contracted hepatitis A as the symptoms of hepatitis A infections usually do not surface for a few weeks. Symptoms of hepatitis A include, but are not limited to:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain near your liver on your right side beneath your ribs
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

To further complicate matters, not everyone with hepatitis A will develop these signs or symptoms. You can easily be exposed to hepatitis A and spread it to others without knowing that you have it.

If you are experiencing any symptoms at all that you think could be linked to hepatitis A, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will recommend a vaccine or immunoglobulin therapy within two weeks of exposure to prevent infection. You should also see a doctor if you:

  • Dined at a restaurant, such as Derby Lane in Pinellas County, which reported a hepatitis A food poisoning outbreak.
  • Live with someone who has been diagnosed with it.
  • Recently had sexual relations with someone who has hepatitis A.

Causes of Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is most often spread through the ingestion of fecal matter. This most commonly happens in restaurants when someone serves food without carefully washing their hands. Drinking contaminated water or having sex with someone who has the virus can cause an infection as well. Even if someone is not currently suffering from hepatitis A symptoms, they can still spread the infection to you.

Preventing Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A Vaccine: The hepatitis A vaccine is typically administered in two doses. Young children, lab workers, people with chronic liver disease and those traveling in areas that have a high rate of hepatitis A, are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine.
  • Take precautions: If you are traveling in regions where there is a high incidence of hepatitis A, take preventive measures to protect yourself and others, such as washing fruits and vegetables, using bottled water and avoiding undercooked meat and fish.
  • Good hygiene: Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing food or eating and after changing a baby’s diaper.

Pursuing Compensation for Hepatitis A

If you have been exposed to hepatitis A in Tampa Bay 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. Our Tampa Bay Hepatitis A Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can provide you with more information regarding your legal rights.

Hepatitis A Food Poisoning Lawyers in Pinellas County

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