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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.

hudson-beach-317555_1920-300x200Three people from Tennessee were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday after their boat capsized in Clearwater about 15 miles off of Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

In a news release, the agency said that they were called at 2:09 p.m. by the boaters from Cookeville, Tennessee who told them their fishing boat was flooding and they needed help right away. 

The Coast Guard sent out a helicopter crew who found the trio wearing life jackets and hanging on to their sunken boat. 

The three men had been in the water for about an hour when they were rescued. They were taken by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital to be evaluated for any injuries. There have been no updates made on their condition. 

The article mentioned that the helicopter co-pilot said the three men did everything right to save themselves. They called for help first, wore their lifejackets, and stayed with their vessel. 

According to the United States Coast Guard, your only priority if you capsize is to survive. This brings up the question of what to do if this happens to you while you are on the water. 

Boats that capsize are a leading contributor to recreational boating deaths and serious injuries. Inclement weather, boater inexperience, and overloading the boat can all lead to a vessel overturning. You can prevent a capsize from happening by practicing good seamanship. You want to make sure you do not overload your vessel, distribute all gear and passengers evenly so the boat has better stability, avoid anchoring from the stern at all times, navigate the vessel at controlled speeds, and stay constantly alert to other boats and waves. The Coast Guard encourages all boat drivers to slow down when encountering a large wave and try to take it head on or at an angle, but never try to power through it. 

In order to safely take a boat out on any body of water, you need to have adequate safety supplies. You will want to have extra life jackets, emergency equipment and signalling devices that you can put into your “ditch bag” on board your vessel. You and all passengers should always be wearing life jackets. It is a great idea to consider purchasing what is called an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which is a device that can tell rescue crews that you need emergency help and provide them with  your exact location. 

In the event that the boat you are on does capsize, you should make sure all passengers are accounted for and stay with the boat. The Coast Guard does not advise trying to swim for shore. A capsized boat may recover on its own, and it is very unlikely the vessel will sink even if it has overturned or flooded. 

Staying with the boat will help emergency crews find you. The only time you will want to swim away from the boat is if it is heading toward a hazard. Other than that, your boat is the biggest and most visible object in the water, which is why the Coast Guard says you should stay with it. 

According to a 2019 report released by the U.S. Coast Guard, recreational boating accident fatalities decreased by 3.2% from 2018. A total of 613 boating deaths occurred across the U.S. in 2019. The total number of boating accidents actually increased from 4,145 in 2018 to 4,168 in 2019. Of those accidents, 2,559 people suffered non-fatal injuries. 

Alcohol was the leading cause of deadly boating accidents in 2019, accounting for 23% of total fatalities (over 100 deaths.) The other top four contributing factors to recreational boating accidents were excessive speed, operator inattention, operator inexperience, and improper lookout. 

These statistics serve as a reminder that all boaters must behave responsibly on the water. Everyone should wear a life jacket, enroll in a boating safety course, get their boat checked regularly, attach the engine cut-off switch, and never operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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people-2598015_640-200x300No matter how you get around these days, everyone, at some point in the day, is a pedestrian. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian deaths across the U.S. are on the rise. 

The numbers don’t lie. According to reports done by the NHTSA, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2018. These numbers represent a 3.4% increase from 2017 and the highest we have seen since 1990. This same information shows that a pedestrian died every 84 minutes in 2018, which translates to 17% of all traffic deaths. 

With the novel coronavirus present this summer, it may feel like you are walking a lot more. Whether you are strolling through your neighborhood or walking to the grocery store, there are a few safety tips that our Tampa Bay Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton would like to share with you: 

  • Stay on a sidewalk or designated walking path, if one is available. If there is not one present, then remember to walk in the direction facing traffic staying as far away from cars as possible. 
  • Before you cross the street, make sure you are at a marked crosswalk or intersection where motorists will expect to see pedestrians. If there is no designated crosswalk or intersection, then wait for a gap in traffic and cross when you have enough time to make it safely to the other side of the street. Make sure you still stay alert for oncoming traffic as you cross. 
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions like headphones and cell phones as you could miss hearing any potential warnings, like a car horn, sirens, or you could fail to see a traffic signal at a crosswalk. 
  • Drunk walking is dangerous. The NHTSA reports that 33% of deadly pedestrian crashes involved a drunk pedestrian in 2018. You can get home safer by calling a friend to come and get you, or using a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. 
  • Do not just assume motorists will see you, as they could be distracted or even under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can help boost your visibility by wearing bright colored clothes during the day, and if you must walk at night, wear reflective clothing and use a flashlight. 

Just like pedestrians need to exercise caution when walking, so do drivers when they get behind the wheel. There are many dangers on the roadways, but keeping a watchful eye at all times can help you get to and from your destinations safely and in one piece. The following safety reminders serve to help drivers avoid a pedestrian crash: 

  • Always be on the lookout for pedestrians. You will see people walking morning, noon, and night, so always keep your eyes adjusted to walkers. 
  • You must follow the laws regarding pedestrians in Florida. You can review Florida laws on pedestrians here. 
  • Exercise added caution when you are in areas where children may be present, such as schools, neighborhoods, parks, etc. 
  • Do not pass cars that are stopped in crosswalks as they could be allowing pedestrians to pass. 
  • Be patient and slow down! Obey posted speed limits. Speed limits are lower in pedestrian-heavy areas because in the event of an accident, pedestrians have a better chance at surviving a lower speed crash. 

No one plans to be involved in a pedestrian accident, but they definitely happen, and that is why our Tampa Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you understand your rights. Whether you were injured or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, we can make sure all critical evidence is preserved and work to resolve your case through negotiations or trial, when necessary. 

Like we mentioned before, pedestrian accidents are unexpected, and these tragedies can be devastating. Let us help you and your family pursue full and fair compensation for all damages so that you can focus on putting the pieces of your life back together. 

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driving-933281_640-300x200The data from Tampa is in, and it shows that while coronavirus has caused many people to stay home, the drivers that are still out are punching the gas

Speeds have increased by at least 7 percent through early this week, according to more than a month’s worth of data collected by the city’s red light camera vendor from 54 cameras. Most drivers who blow through red lights are speeding.

Data collected found a blue Ford Mustang running through a red light at 71 mph. A grey Chevy Camaro with the racing stripes flew through a red light at East Hillsborough Avenue and North 22nd Street also traveling 71 mph. 

The findings, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through a public records request, show a worrisome trend, according to Charles Territo, spokesman for Verra Mobility, the Mesa, Ariz.-based red light camera vendor.

The cameras, which are used to catch drivers blowing through red lights, also capture the speed at which cars are traveling the moment that dreaded blinding flash signals a violation.

“The violations that are being captured are being captured at some pretty high speeds,” Territo said.

And while traffic has dropped by 30 percent in Tampa, the rate of red light violations has increased by two-thirds compared to the same time frame a year ago. The company’s data also shows a rise in speed around the country.

What does this mean? While there have been fewer cars on the road since March 1, more drivers appear to be developing a lead foot.

In Tampa Bay, officials are calling this trend open-road syndrome. Fewer cars tempt some drivers to indulge their Fast and Furious fantasies.

“Traffic congestion is actually a traffic calming mechanism,” said Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter. “People forget that.”

During this crisis, many area law enforcement agencies have stopped pulling people over for all but extreme speeding to avoid the risk of coronavirus infections. Statewide, moving violations are down 92 percent due to a mix of less traffic and social distancing policies by many police departments.

In Tampa, police issued 586 traffic citations this March compared to 1,266 last March, which is a huge drop of 54 percent.

But law enforcement continues to warn people to not ignore the law even though roads may be vacant.  

Highway Patrol data comparing March 2019 and March 2020 show motorists ticketed for driving over 100 mph declined slightly in Hillsborough — from 14 to 10 — but tripled in Pinellas to 36. Drivers ticketed for blazing along at 30 mph over the posted limit fell by half in Hillsborough to 22, but doubled in Pinellas to 101.

St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said the Sunshine City hasn’t seen much of a problem with speeding during the crisis. In fact, crash data for the bay area’s second-largest city shows a decrease from last year. From March 14 to April 14, there were 508 accidents in the city compared to 856 during the same period last year.

Fewer drivers might mean fewer crashes, but more of them are speeding, the recent data from Tampa indicates. These habits could be hard to break whenever we get to whatever the new normal will be. 

It’s not just the cameras noticing, either. Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman said last week at the county’s Emergency Policy Group meeting that residents have complained to her about speeding more than anything else lately.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has heard the calls about speeding drivers, too. She has acknowledged that reckless driving is a danger as two recent fatal wrecks on Bayshore Boulevard and on Adamo Drive have made that obvious.

The coronavirus pandemic has made the city sensitive to handing out a speeding ticket to someone who might be struggling to keep food on the table or the lights on, but common sense should prevail, Castor said.

“Individuals need to understand that just because there’s less traffic on the roadways does not mean that the speed limit is not in effect. I mean, we’ve seen some horrific examples of what speed can do on our roadways,” she said. 

During these strange and difficult times, our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here ready to help you. We are working remotely, but it is business as usual. After an auto accident, we can deal with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you receive the proper settlement or financial compensation in your case. We are also able to help you find medical providers who can assist you with any pain and suffering caused by an accident.

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sunglasses-1284419_640-300x200Drowning deaths in Florida are up 70% when compared to this time last year, according to Water Smart Tots.

For children in the state between ages 1 and 4, drowning is the leading cause of death. Florida Health reported that there are enough child drowning deaths each year to fill three to four preschool classrooms. 

The nonprofit says 12 children died from drowning in February and March of this year, compared to zero deaths during those months in 2019.

pedestrian-crossing-160672_640-150x150On Sunday, a five-year-old Florida boy was struck and killed and his mother injured by a driver who failed to stop, according to authorities.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office said in a news release that deputies are searching for a light-colored sedan following Saturday night’s crash.

Officials said the mother and son were walking along a road about 9:30 p.m. when both were hit by the car that never stopped.

Deputies tried CPR on the boy before he was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The mother was also injured but is expected to survive.

The sheriff’s office released surveillance photos of a light-colored sedan described as “of interest” that was in the area at the time.

Anytime pedestrian hit and run accidents are reported in the news, it is unfortunate to hear about what has happened to the victims. Sadly, these accidents are not uncommon and there are countless other victims who suffered the same fate. Car accidents are still a huge problem in this day and age, as they still continue to happen on a regular basis. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents occur almost every minute of every day, and every 16 minutes, someone dies from a car accident. This means that every year there are about 6 million car accidents, and 37,000 lives are taken.

Car accidents are especially deadly for pedestrians. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates that the number of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. was 6,000 in 2017, a 25-year high. This is a 27% increase from 2007 to 2016. 

Severe and fatal injuries can occur when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle. Even at low vehicle speeds, the damage done to pedestrians can be deadly. Common injuries associated with pedestrian accidents include:

There are five states that had the largest number of pedestrian fatalities in 2017, and Florida made the list. California, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Texas all accounted for about 43% of pedestrian fatalities during the first half of 2017 despite the fact that they are home to only 30% of the U.S. population. The GHSA also reports that children and the elderly are the most vulnerable in pedestrian accidents.

You may be wondering about deadly hit and run crashes. According to a study done by roadside-assistance giant AAA, there were 2,049 hit-and-run deaths that occurred in 2016. This number is the highest annual total on record, and in the decade leading up to that number, 682,000 hit-and-run crashes happened each year.

Car accidents, especially motor vehicle vs. pedestrians and hit and run collisions, can be quite traumatic and very difficult for the victims and their respective families. Thankfully, there are lawyers that specialize in these types of auto accidents, so if you are a victim of this kind of accident, our Tampa Bay Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you protect your rights and fight for the justice that you deserve.

Pedestrian Safety Tips for All Drivers

As drivers, there are ways we can help keep the roads safe for everyone, including pedestrians. We urge you to follow these guidelines to help keep pedestrians safe while driving:

  1. Always keep an eye out for pedestrians and remain vigilant in heavy traffic areas and crosswalks.
  2. Always obey the speed limit. This is especially important when you are driving in school zones and inside neighborhoods because you will likely see an increase in pedestrians.
  3. Always drive slower in areas with poor lighting or bad road conditions. 
  4. When you are backing out of a driveway or parking lot, look for pedestrians first. 
  5. Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk.

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Three teens are dead after a head-on crash with a semi-tractor trailer on U.S. 92 early Saturday morning in Hillsborough County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

A 17-year-old from Dover and his 15-year-old passenger were killed in the crash.

A second passenger, 14, was transported to the hospital in critical condition but died on Sunday from his injuries. 

At around 12:38 a.m., the teen was driving a 2008 Ford Escape going westbound on U.S. 92, west of Turkey Creek Road, when for some unknown reason he crossed the centerline of the road and struck head-on with a 2005 semi-tractor trailer, driven by a 61-year-old man, according to FHP. 

The driver and the female passenger died at the scene and the 14-year-old passenger had to be airlift to Tampa General Hospital.

The semi-truck driver was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical in serious condition.

FHP stated that all involved in the crash were not under the influence of alcohol, however the teens were not wearing their seatbelts.

Currently, there are no charges pending.

This accident highlights just how critical it is to wear your seatbelt every time you get in a vehicle. Statistics show that seat belts save lives. When used correctly, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45%, and risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%. For those riding in the back of a larger vehicle, like a truck or SUV, seat belts are shown to be 73% better at preventing fatalities. The sad reality is that victims are not properly restrained in more than one-half of all fatal car accidents. Likewise, children are likely to be buckled 92% of the time when adults in the car use seat belts, as opposed to 72% of the time when adults do not buckle up.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), many Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt as the national use rate was at 90.7% in 2019. Seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017.

In 2017, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. Of those, 47% were not wearing seat belts, according to the NHTSA. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts. 

seatbelt-1314338The consequences of not wearing a seat belt are pretty clear, but our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton would like to reiterate some key facts:

  • Buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. Not wearing a seatbelt can cause you to be completely ejected from a vehicle in a crash, which is almost always fatal. 
  • Air bags are not enough to protect you in a crash. In fact, the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up.
  • Not wearing a seat belt properly, such as putting the strap below your arm, puts you and your children at risk in a crash.

The benefits of buckling up are abundantly clear:

  • If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and your risk of moderate to critical injury by 50%. 
  • When you buckle up in a van or truck, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 60% and reduce your risk of moderate to critical injury by 65%. 

Drivers should know the risks of operating a vehicle when they get inside. Cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs can be dangerous, whether you are buckled up or not. Just because you’re wearing a seat belt doesn’t mean you will survive a car crash. However, using a seat belt as an added safety measure, along with defensive driving skills and basic safety can ultimately help reduce your risk of suffering a serious injury or fatality in the event of a car accident.

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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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