Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Insurance companies in America often market themselves as businesses who are looking out for you, but the truth is that these corporations are really looking out for their bottom line – making trillions of dollars annually from people like you paying your insurance premiums and then denying valid claims, rejecting various coverages, and increasing their premium costs.

Car-Insurance-Promotion-Instagram-Post-1-300x300The American Association for Justice (AAJ) conducted their own research into insurance companies by combing through court documents and interviewing former insurance company employees to narrow down the 10 worst insurance companies in America. Here are the rankings:

  1. ALLSTATE: Here is a perfect example of a company who markets itself as a business that places you in “good hands,” but instead of living up to that promise they tell employees to make low offers for claims and use their team of lawyers to scare off claimants from going after the full and fair compensation they deserve. The CEO, Thomas Wilson, has openly said that the company’s main priority is to increase the wealth of its shareholders. Wilson earned more than $16,300,000 in 2019, but injured policyholders got far less than what they rightfully deserved or nothing at all due to the company’s unfair tactics and ambiguous language in their policies designed to trick policyholders into thinking they have certain coverages and blindsiding them when tragedy strikes because their claims will be denied.
  2. UNUM: While you may not have heard of this disability insurance provider in the U.S., they are known for delaying and denying any claims presented to them, leaving those sick and injured with benefit denials. To break it down, Unum denied their own employee’s benefits following a diagnosis for multiple sclerosis. After three years of fighting with the company, the former employee sought legal counsel to get her valid claim accepted. Sadly, this just further drives home the point that you must get legal help to level the playing field with these insurance companies.
  3. AIG: This company has been nicknamed the “New Enron” because they have multiple charges of multi-billion-dollar corporate fraud. They are also known for creating all kinds of unfair hoops for claimants to jump through to try and get their rightful benefits and have used questionable schemes in court proceedings.
  4. STATE FARM: While this is the top-earning insurance company in the U.S., paying their CEO more than $8.5 million or more a year, they will go to any lengths possible to delay or deny very valid claims.
  5. CONSECO (Subsidiaries PENN LIFE and BANKER’S LIFE): This insurance provider allegedly uses bad faith insurance practices (unfair conduct that exceeds negligence) to keep their pockets lined with cash. Former employees have shared stories of false advertising and unethical policies that are aimed at taking advantage of senior citizens.
  6. ANTHEM (Formerly known as Wellpoint): You may know this insurance provider better from their Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans as well as others. They are notorious for cancelling policies of those battling chronic illnesses as well as pregnant women. Just like all the other insurance companies, Anthem is only out to protect their money, not their policyholders.
  7. FARMERS: This multi-million-dollar company has been ranked as one of the worse home and auto insurance providers in the U.S. by Consumer Reports and JD Powers & Associates. Reports have indicated that this company gives their employees bonuses and raises for partaking in unethical business tactics to meet their low payment standards.
  8. UNITED HEALTH: Much of this company’s success can be attributed to their partnership with AARP. They are known for creating obstacles for patients to get their medical care reimbursed, leaving them to find other ways to pay for their medical bills.
  9. TORCHMARK/GLOBAL LIFE: This insurance provider focuses its policies on southern states, likes Texas and Alabama. Former employers have provided information that apparently shows they charge higher premiums for minority customers when compared to white customers. They also have allegations of defrauding senior policyholders.
  10. LIBERTY MUTUAL: Another insurance company who uses shady and borderline illegal practices to keep the money rolling in. If you are seeing a pattern here, you are correct. Floridians should watch out for Liberty Mutual as they are known for abandoning policyholders after hurricane or tropical storms as well as refusing their renewals.

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U.S. News ranked Tampa Bay as the #15 spot for the fastest-growing places in the U.S. for 2022-2023. The neighboring areas of Sarasota and Fort Myers took the #3 and #4 spots. Interestingly enough, Lakeland, Fl took the #2 spot on the list and Ocala, FL, Port St. Lucie, FL, Daytona Beach, FL, and Naples, FL, took spots 6-9 on the list. Melbourne, FL ranked #12, Jacksonville, FL ranked #14, and Orlando completed the list coming in at #25.

Florida is booming, and the Tampa Bay area is seeing exponentially more growth. More people means more traffic, which is something people want to avoid.

At Whittel & Melton, our Tampa Bay Car Crash Lawyers know that there is really no way to entirely avoid traffic, but we can offer some insight into how to avoid congested areas so that you can keep moving, avoid a collision, and get on with your day.

Tampa Bay Rankings from U.S. News

U.S. News took on the task of analyzing 150 metro areas in the U.S. to find the best places to live, basing their research on job markets, quality of life, the value of living there and the desire to live there. Here is how Tampa ranked:

#39 Best Places to Live

#6 Best Places to Retiredazzle-300x300

#6 Safest Places to Live

#5 Best Places to Live in Florida

And as we know, #15 in Fastest-Growing Places

Understanding the Population Growth in Tampa Bay

The 2022 metro area population of Tampa is 2,945,000, which is a 1.17% increase from 2021. Tampa’s population in 2021 was 2,911,000 – a 1.18% increase from 2020. In 2020, Tampa’s population was 2,877,000 – up 1.23% from 2019.

Interstate-275, I-4, I-75, SR 580, SR 582, SR 583, US 301, US 92, and Dale Mabry Highway are a few of the major stretches of roads and highways that have issues during peak travel times. Tampa’s worst times to be on the roads are from 7:30 am – 9:30 am and again from 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

Worst Intersections in Tampa

Below you will find a list of the 30 Worst Intersections in Tampa Bay, according to FDOT. If you can avoid these during rush hour travel times, you can keep yourself and anyone else in your vehicle a bit safer.

  1. US 19 @ TAMPA RD, PALM HARBOR
  2. US 19 @ GULF TO BAY BLVD, CLEARWATER
  3. US 19 @ CURLEW RD, PALM HARBOR
  4. US 19 @ DREW ST, CLEARWATER
  5. SR 60 @ S BELCHER RD, CLEARWATER
  6. US 19 @ EAST BAY DR, LARGO
  7. US 92 @ I 275, TAMPA
  8. SR 589 @ SR 580, TOWN ‘N’ COUNTRY
  9. SR 60 @ BRANDON TOWN CENTER DR, BRANDON
  10. SR 582 @ 30TH ST, TAMPA
  11. US 301 @ GIBSONTON DR, RIVERVIEW
  12. US 92 @ CHEROKEE AVE, TAMPA
  13. US 301 @ PROGRESS BLVD, BRANDON
  14. US 19 @ PARK BLVD N, PINELLAS PARK
  15. CR 1 @ RIDGE RD, NEW PORT RICHEY
  16. DALE MABRY HWY @ WATERS AVE, TAMPA
  17. SR 574 @ I 275, TAMPA
  18. SR 574 @ I 275, TAMPA
  19. US 41 @ SR 54, LAND ‘O LAKES
  20. US 19 @ MAIN ST, DUNEDIN
  21. US 19 @ E TARPON AVE, TARPON SPRINGS
  22. SR 686 @ 34TH ST N,CLEARWATER
  23. SR 686 @ STARKEY RD, LARGO
  24. US 301 @ BIG BEND RD, RIVERVIEW
  25. SR 60 @ FALKENBURG RD, TAMPA
  26. I 275 @ E BUSCH BLVD, TAMPA
  27. SR 688 @ STARKEY RD, LARGO
  28. I 75 @ BIG BEND RD, RIVERVIEW
  29. CR 584 @ HANLEY RD, TOWN ‘N’ COUNTRY
  30. I-275 @ 22ND AVE N, ST. PETERSBURG

Road Construction Projects in Tampa for 2022

  • I-275 (Howard Frankland Bridge) New southbound bridge between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties
  • I-275 Capacity Improvements from north of I-4 to north US 92 (Hillsborough Ave)
  • I-275, I-4, I-75 Wrong-way Detection Installation in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties
  • I-4 ITS Communication System from I-275 to Polk County line
  • I-75 Ramp Reconfiguration and Interchange Modification from MLK (Exit 260) to I-4
  • SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) Intersection Improvements (Multiple Locations)
  • SR 597 (Dale Mabry Highway) Lighting Improvements at Various Intersections
  • SR 60 (Adamo Drive) Intersection Freight Improvements at N 34th Street
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Blvd) Safety Enhancements and Pedestrian Improvements from West Shore Blvd to MacDill Ave
  • US 92 (Dale Mabry Hwy) Drainage Improvements from Neptune St. to Henderson Blvd.
  • US 92 (Gandy Bridge) over Old Tampa Bay
  • US 92 / Dale Mabry and SR 574 / MLK Blvd – Lane closures for Spring Training Traffic

Take Advantage of Public Transportation in Tampa Bay

Both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties utilize public buses and trolley systems. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, known as HART, has public buses running through all of Tampa and the greater Hillsborough County. There is also the TECO Line Streetcar that has routes between downtown Tampa and Ybor City. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) has a public bus system catering to St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The Pinellas County trolley system – the Suncoast Beach Trolley – operates between downtown Clearwater and St. Pete Beach. Continue reading

tampa-g3c4b10e68_1920-300x240Tampa Bay traffic is a nightmare. The financial site Wallethub conducted a 2020 study ranking Tampa Bay as the 9th fastest growing metro area in the country, so it comes as no surprise that traffic is such a headache. More people = more traffic.

Last summer, the auto insurance site Quote Wizard placed Tampa at #4 on their list of the worst areas in the country for traffic crashes.

Now, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay has found the 30 worst intersections in the Tampa Bay area using data from FDOT from 2015-2019.

Below you will find some of the worst intersections in the Tampa Bay area for 2022, including Riverview, Brandon, Largo, and of course, U.S. Highway 19 – the stretch of highway that is responsible for 4,842 traffic collisions out of a total of 13,864 in Tampa Bay.

Intersections Total Crashes Total Fatalities Severe Crashes Pedestrian and Bike Injuries
1.US 19 @ TAMPA RD, PALM HARBOR 642 2 13 2
2. US 19 @ GULF TO BAY BLVD, CLEARWATER 660 0 13 8
3. US 19 @ CURLEW RD, PALM HARBOR 613 2 13 8
4. US 19 @ DREW ST, CLEARWATER 591 0 8 13
5. SR 60 @ S BELCHER RD, CLEARWATER 542 3 7 18
6. US 19 @ EAST BAY DR, LARGO 542 1 13 11
7. US 92 @ I 275, TAMPA 536 0 7 3
8. SR 589 @ SR 580, TOWN ‘N’ COUNTRY 531 1 10 3
9. SR 60 @ BRANDON TOWN CENTER DR, BRANDON 513 2 9 8
10. SR 582 @ 30TH ST, TAMPA 501 1 4 5
11. US 301 @ GIBSONTON DR, RIVERVIEW 487 1 17 6
12. US 92 @ CHEROKEE AVE, TAMPA 469 0 7 2
13. US 301 @ PROGRESS BLVD, BRANDON 467 1 11 6
14. US 19 @ PARK BLVD N, PINELLAS PARK 463 0 6 7
15. CR 1 @ RIDGE RD, NEW PORT RICHEY 450 1 40 7
16. DALE MABRY HWY @ WATERS AVE, TAMPA 436 3 5 18
17. SR 574 @ I 275, TAMPA 427 1 9 8
18. SR 574 @ I 275, TAMPA 419 0 9 0
19. US 41 @ SR 54, LAND ‘O LAKES 414 2 21 5
20. US 19 @ MAIN ST, DUNEDIN 401 0 3 5
21. US 19 @ E TARPON AVE, TARPON SPRINGS 388 0 8 4
22. SR 686 @ 34TH ST N,CLEARWATER 386 3 15 4
23. SR 686 @ STARKEY RD, LARGO 385 0 11 17
24. US 301 @ BIG BEND RD, RIVERVIEW 375 0 19 10
25. SR 60 @ FALKENBURG RD, TAMPA 374 2 7 4
26. I 275 @ E BUSCH BLVD, TAMPA 374 0 3 0
27. SR 688 @ STARKEY RD, LARGO 370 0 10 17
28. I 75 @ BIG BEND RD, RIVERVIEW 369 1 22 0
29. CR 584 @ HANLEY RD, TOWN ‘N’ COUNTRY 368 1 5 14
30. I-275 @ 22ND AVE N, ST. PETERSBURG 368 0 12 3

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David Gwynn, Florida’s regional transportation secretary, said that the state is looking to make the 13 mile stretch of highway from Tampa to Pasco County safer by installing three traffic signals at dangerous, crash-prone intersections.

The state is also researching how to widen the U.S. 301 due to the high number of accidents as well as future projections showing as many as 49,300 vehicles using the road by 2040.

Gwynn told the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization last week that when he drives U.S. 301 from Tampa to meetings in Pasco County that he finds himself often speeding just to keep up with other motorists sharing the highway and prevent them from erratically passing him.

Shortly after sharing the state’s plan – just 16 hours later – a four-vehicle crash happened on U.S 301 just before 3 a.m. killing two people and leaving two others with serious injuries. The accident caused the road between Zephyrhills and the Temple Terrace area to be closed off for over six hours.

According to state data, 16 people have died and another 338 have been injured in 464 crashes on U.S. 301 for a five-year span ending in 2019. This crash rate is twice the statewide average for similar roadways.

From 2015-2019, there were 24 head-on collisions on the highway, with speeding being identified as the main issue. Gwynn said that impatient drivers try to maneuver dangerous passing techniques that can result in serious crashes.

Pasco-County-Car-Accident-Lawyers-1-300x300The plan to turn the two-lane road into a four-lane divided highway between State Road 56 in Pasco and Fowler Avenue is in the study stage, according to reports. There is no money currently budgeted for this estimated $199.5 million job.

There are also concerns about the speed limit and whether it should be reduced to 45 mph.

Head-on crashes happen when two cars strike each other from the front straight on. These are some of the most dangerous types of auto accidents, due to the fact that when two cars smash each other head-on this doubles the force of the impact. Imagine you are travelling at 60 mph on the highway and are struck by another car head-on travelling at the same speed of 60 mph. This is now the equivalent of a crash at 120 mph.

If you have been the victim of a head-on crash in the Tampa Bay area, that was no fault of your own, or if you have lost a loved one in a head-on smash up, then you need to enlist the help of a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You want to make sure that you fully protect your rights, which includes your right to seeking financial compensation for your losses as a result of the accident you were involved in. Our Tampa Bay Car Crash Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you. We can walk you through your case and what to expect. We have a long history of working with injury victims and their families in Tampa Bay and throughout the state of Florida.

The more serious your injuries following a car accident, the more money you should be able to recover from the at-fault driver. The driver who caused the collision, or rather, their insurance provider, should be the ones to cover all of your mounting medical bills (both now and in the future), lost wages due to missing time from work, pain and suffering, or even wrongful death if your loved one was killed in the collision. Continue reading

Thanksgiving is upon us, and that means millions of people are hitting the U.S. roadways to get to their families and friends for the holiday.

A spokesman for AAA estimates that 2.6 million Floridians will be road tripping this year (2021), which is 200,000 more than last year. With so many drivers on the roads this year, AAA also estimates that 400,000 motorists will need roadside assistance this Thanksgiving weekend.

car-ga1dde5ccf_1920-300x199So, what are the most common auto issues for road trippers?

  1. Dead Batteries
  2. Flat Tires
  3. Lock Outs

Due to the stretching months of the COVID19 pandemic, many motorists may have neglected their vehicles and left them sitting for long stretches. This means that something like low tire pressure could easily turn into a big problem once out on the road. Underinflated tires can quickly lead to tire blowouts, which is the last thing you want to deal with once your trip is underway and you are on the highway travelling 50-60 mph.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), 2020 saw 3,069 tire-related crashes in the Sunshine State, resulting in 184 injuries and 61 deaths.

Luckily, AAA has a pretty cool trick to check your tire inflation level. Start by grabbing a quarter. Then stick Washington’s into the tread, and if you can still see the top of his head, then this means your tread is too low and it might be time to replace your tire.

AAA also noted that you should check these 5 things on your vehicle before making any long trips:

  1. Tires
  2. Battery
  3. Brakes
  4. Fluids
  5. Wiper Blades

If your car has been sitting for extended periods of time, then sediment can be lingering at the bottom of those systems, so you may need to flush your brake fluids, coolant, and power steering because if left untreated then your car could overheat, your brake cylinder could fail, or power steering pump could go out.

Before you head out for the holiday, get your car serviced by an expert. A simple inspection could make all the difference in how your road trip goes and whether you make it safely to Thanksgiving dinner or not.

Prep Your Car for Safe Travels

Just because your car has been running without issues, never assume it is ready for a road trip. Our Tampa Car Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton recommend taking your car to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection before you head out for your long Thanksgiving trip. Your mechanic should change your oil, top off all fluids, rotate your tires, check your tire air pressure, and make sure all components of your vehicle are in excellent condition for travel. All repair should be made before you make your trip.

A proper maintenance check before you head out on a road trip can keep you from being stranded on the side of the road in an area that you are not familiar with. Most road trips mean many hours spent in the car or behind the wheel, so you want to make your trip as pleasant as possible.

We want to make sure you get to your destination safely this Thanksgiving holiday. However, we know that accidents happen. If you are involved in a car accident this holiday weekend, then we are available 24/7 to help you. You can call us day or night at 813-221-3200 or contact us online to request a free consultation. Continue reading

WalletHub named Tampa the 9th fastest growing city in the United States in 2020, which means tourism and revenue are up in the area, but this also means rush hour traffic can be a nightmare to contend with. 

At Whittel & Melton, our Tampa Bay Car and Truck Accident Lawyers know full well that there is no realistic way to completely avoid traffic. However, there are some tips we can offer to help you spend less time sitting in heavy traffic, which may help you have a better day.  

Steering clear of traffic reduces your chances of being involved in a car accident significantly, which is just one benefit. If you have been involved in a car accident in the Tampa Bay area then we urge you to get in touch with us to learn more about what we can do to help you file a personal injury claim for damages. 

miami-2690191_1920-300x200The good news is that there are some great strategies that you can implement when you are aware of the traffic patterns and can act accordingly. 

The more you understand about Tampa’s population growth, the more you can understand why traffic is such an issue. Interstate-275, I-4, I-75, SR 580, SR 582, SR 583, US 301, US 92, and Dale Mabry Highway are a few of the major highways that have become a bear to navigate during peak travel times throughout the day. While there are many benefits to minimizing your time spent in traffic and thus in your vehicle, the main one is that the less amount of time you are on the roads the less likely you are to be involved in a car accident. We know that it is not always possible to avoid a car accident, but we know that there are ways to reduce the odds of being involved in one. 

Read on to understand more about traffic in Tampa and how you can navigate it more effectively. 

Factors that Contribute to Growing Traffic in Tampa

Increasing Population

Florida dominates the growth trend as an entire state, and Tampa Bay is growing every single day with more people setting up residence here. Over the past 9 years Tampa’s population growth rate remains pretty consistent ranging from 0.63% to 2.45%, adding around 2,199 to 8,817 people every year. There are numerous workers and entrepreneurs moving here every year to take advantage of the many job opportunities, which contributes to the strong population growth. 

Construction Projects

Tampa has its fair share of construction projects that result in lane closures, street closures, etours, and of course, delays. You can register for alerts to be sent to your phone or email each day so that you can have an update about traffic patterns before you leave your house every morning. 

Some of the construction projects in Tampa include:

  • Dale Mabry Highway Roadway Lighting Maintenance at W. Humphrey Street
  • Hillsborough County Bridge Maintenance Repair US 41, SR 60 and US 301
  • I-275 (Howard Frankland Bridge) New southbound bridge between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties
  • I-275 Widening from I-4 to north of US 92 (Hillsborough Ave.)
  • I-275, I-4, I-75 Wrong-way Detection Installation in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties
  • I-75 Ramp Reconfiguration and Interchange Modification from south of MLK (exit 260) to I-4
  • Independence Parkway Repaving of SR 589 (Veterans Expressway) Ramps
  • SR 580 (Hillsborough Ave) Median Safety Improvements from Memorial Hwy/Sheldon Rd to Himes Ave
  • SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) Intersection Improvements (Multiple Locations)
  • SR 583 (56th St) Roadway Lighting Maintenance from Hillsborough Ave to Puritan Rd
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Blvd) Safety Enhancements and Pedestrian Improvements from West Shore Blvd to MacDill Ave
  • US 301 Median Safety Improvements from Falkenburg Road to Sligh Avenue
  • US 92 (Hillsborough Ave) Highway Lighting from 56th St and I-4
  • US 92 (Hillsborough Avenue) Mid-block Crosswalk between Central Ave and 56th Street

By knowing these locations and the traffic patterns, you can plan alternate routes and help yourself have a better commute. 

Learn Peak Traffic Times in Tampa 

When you are able to understand the peak times and traffic patterns, it can become a great deal easier to navigate Hillsborough and Pinellas County traffic. 

The “Rush Hour Rampage” in Tampa is from 7:30 and 9:30 am and again from 3:30 to 7:30 pm. During these times, it is best to avoid Hillsborough Ave and popular I-275 exits.

Back Roads Might Increase Your Travel Time 

While you might think that taking the back roads will shorten your commute, you’d be wrong. There are over 130 main roads in Pinellas County that have smart technology, like Ulmerton Rd. and U.S. 19, so if you are traveling with traffic the green lights actually last longer. Smaller roads like Belcher Rd. or Bellaire Rd. have shorter green lights, which means more time waiting.  

Follow Speed Limits 

The “InSync” smart traffic signals are timed to work with speed limits, so if you are going too fast or too slow then you could hit more red lights. 

Talk to Your Boss About Working from Home 

Even if you can work a few days from home, this could help you avoid a few days of traffic. Start by asking your boss to work 1-2 days from home to show that you can be just as productive at your home office as at your work office. If you can show that you are able to be as productive, if not more, then they may be more inclined to let you work more days from home or even full time at home. 

You could even ask to work off peak hours so that you avoid rush hour traffic, like 10:00am to 7:00pm or 6:00am to 2:00pm.

Take Advantage of Public Transportation

Tampa boasts many different options for getting around, such as bikes and buses. Tampa has Coast Bikes available and numerous hubs to park them located around the city. Tampa also has various scooters to rent, such as Lime, Bird and Spin. Tampa also has a pirate water taxi, the Downtowner ride share service, the Hart bus, Zipcar, and the Teco Line Streetcar

Avoiding Traffic Means Hours of Your Life Back 

Rush hour traffic can add hundreds of wasted hours to your life. By taking advantage of some of the options we have outlined above, you will see lots of time saved and value added back to your life. You will also minimize your risk of being involved in a traffic accident.  Continue reading

A 47-year-old woman was arrested and charged with her involvement in a hit and run collision with two motorcycles. 

Clearwater police said that the 47-year-old woman was charged with two counts of leaving the scene of a crash with injury.

The hit and run crash happened around 8:30 p.m. Friday evening on State Road 590 at Lucas Drive. Officers said the woman fled the scene immediately following the crash. 

mustang-1279781_1920-300x200The Florida Highway Patrol has confirmed that a Plant City man has been arrested on a vehicular homicide charge after a fatal crash Monday night. 

The 18-year-old Plant City man was apparently racing another driver when the accident happened on State Road 60 near Cassels Road. 

Reports indicate that the man was driving a yellow 2018 Ford Mustang around 10:25 p.m. when he smashed into a black 2015 Mercedes-Benz C250 which was driven by a 33-year-old man of North Lauderdale. 

An arrested report shows that the two were racing when the driver of the Merceded was killed. 

Both men were driving their cars east on the four lane highway when they began racing. The driver of the Mustang was speeding and changing lanes, and almost struck a third vehicle, according to reports. 

This is when he lost control of his car and barrelled into the Mercedes, causing both cars to be pushed onto the south shoulder. The Mustang hit an embankment, and ultimately flipped onto its roof. The Mercedes rolled until it stopped in the south shoulder. The man was killed upon impact, according to reports. 

The driver of the Mustang suffered serious injuries. He was arrested on Tuesday at Brandon Regional Hospital. An hour later he was booked into jail. Records show that at the time of the fatal collision he was out on pretrial release for being arrested on a DUI charge in June. 

Street racing is very dangerous and can ultimately result in death, as this case shows. While the driver that caused the accident is now facing criminal charges, it is important to point out that the family of the deceased victim can also file a wrongful death suit against the at-fault driver. A wrongful death lawsuit is different from a criminal suit as it allows the victim’s loved ones to seek financial compensation for their loss. Our Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help those who have lost their loved ones pursue just compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured. 

In order to be successful in a wrongful death civil suit, it must be demonstrated that the at-fault person’s negligence caused the other person’s death. For this case purposes, drivers must follow the rules of the road. When they do not, this is a violation of the law, which points to negligence. 

Even in cases where the deceased is found to be partially at fault for the accident that caused their death, surviving family members may still be able to recover compensation as long as the other person is found to be more at fault. When this happens, the person’s fault will be deducted from the total amount of the financial award. 

Wrongful death damages can include loss of consortium (loss of benefits from the deceased), loss of future income, loss of companionship, funeral and burial expenses, and pain and suffering. 

Our Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand your legal rights following the death of a loved one from an accident that was not their fault. We can explain how these cases work and advise you on the best way to proceed. We do like to remind family members and loved ones that the time to act is now. Wrongful death cases do have a limited time frame placed on them, called a statute of limitations. In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death. Once the statute of limitations expires, you will not be able to recover financial damages from the at-fault party. 

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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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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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