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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A 48-year-old man was arrested on Sunday for a deadly hit-and-run crash that occurred on March 16, in downtown St. Petersburg.

According to police, a Ford F-150 truck was traveling northbound on 28th Street North crossing Central Avenue when it hit a pedestrian.

The pedestrian, identified as a 74-year-old man, suffered serious injuries and died on March 28 at Bayfront Health.

Officials said the driver of the truck failed to return to the scene after a witness told him he struck a pedestrian.

Police were able to catch up with the driver more than 35 blocks away, however, he was not arrested until March 31.

He has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death.

Sadly, many people are injured or killed in hit and run accidents every year throughout the Tampa Bay area. The driver causes a collision, knows they are at fault, and flees the scene in the hopes of avoiding the serious consequences of causing an accident. Our Pinellas County Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help if you or a loved one has been the victim of a hit and run accident.

After fleeing the scene of an accident, a hit and run driver, when found, is subject to both criminal penalties and civil liability. Even if the at-fault party is never identified, victims of hit and run accidents or their families may be able to recover compensation from their own insurance companies.

Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance covers injuries caused by unidentified hit and run drivers. We can help you use UM insurance to secure financial compensation for medical costs, property damage and other losses.

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The family of a woman hit and killed by a garbage truck last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Tampa.

The complaint asks a circuit court to find the municipality liable for the negligence of its truck driver.

The 65-year-old woman was on her morning walk on Davis Islands when she was killed by a waste management truck that was backing up in an alley.

The complaint outlines that the truck was reversing without working backup lights, and that there were no beepers or alarms that might have helped the woman know it was coming.

The lawsuit asserts that as a result of the accident the woman’s family had to pay medical and funeral expenses, and suffered “mental pain and suffering” because of her death.

Wrongful death cases allow families to seek financial compensation from the negligent party for damages suffered after the loss of a loved one. Generally, family members who are entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit include a surviving spouse and/or surviving children.

Wrongful death claims can be complex in the state of Florida, which is why we urge family members interested in pursuing compensation to seek competent legal representation from our Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. Without an experienced lawyer on your side, you are likely to receive far less than you are owed. If you choose to settle with the insurance companies involved, you may be barred from pursuing any future claims.

Our team at Whittel & Melton has several decades of experience representing the families of wrongful death victims in the Tampa Bay area. If you choose to work with us, we will make sure that you receive the just compensation you deserve.

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A 17-year-old skateboarder is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car on Saturday morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Before 7 a.m., the female teen was using the bicycle lane on Providence Lakes Road in Brandon and riding her skateboard when she was hit by a red Volkswagen Passat, according to reports.

The teen was taken to Tampa General Hospital.

The driver stayed at the scene and was not harmed.

It is unknown if the skateboard or the driver crossed the line separating the bicycle lane and the traffic lane.

Investigators do not believe speed, alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash, according to police.

The investigation into the crash is still ongoing.

Motorists have a duty to be on the lookout for any dangers. Sometimes motorists are distracted or are not expecting pedestrian traffic and may strike a skateboarder. This does not mean fault lies with the skateboarder. When a car hits a skateboarder, the driver may be held liable for the injuries that result. Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you determine who is at fault for the accident and whether you can seek compensation for damages.

Broken bones, sprains, strains, brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, and even death are all common after a skateboard vs. car accident. Hospital bills can quickly add up, and insurance companies may even try and blame the entire accident on the skateboarder. This is why you need to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to make sure your rights are protected.

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One person was killed in a multi-vehicle crash involving a Pinellas County deputy in Pinellas Park.

Officials said a Chevy Equinox and a Pinellas County deputy patrol vehicle were stopped at a red light at the intersection of 126th Avenue North when a Buick LeSabre, traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of 66th Street N., collided head-on with the Chevy.

The collision caused the Chevy to hit the deputy vehicle before rolling onto the driver’s side.

The driver of the Buick, a 28-year-old woman, was transported to the hospital for life-threatening injuries and was later pronounced deceased.

The driver of the Chevy and the Pinellas County deputy were also transported the hospital for minor injuries.

Officials said impairment appears to be a factor in the crash.

No other details have been released. The investigation remains ongoing.

Wrong-way collisions are not an anomaly in the Tampa Bay area. The Tampa Bay area is one of the worst areas for wrong-way collisions. In fact, a study by the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles found Florida had 1,490 wrong-way crashes and 96 fatalities in 2015. Three Tampa Bay counties made the top 10 list of most wrong-way driving crashes in the state: Hillsborough was fourth, Pinellas was sixth and Pasco was eighth.

Sadly, an overwhelming number of wrong-way collisions are related to the use of alcohol or drugs. Drivers are more likely to disregard traffic control devices or fail to notice signs that mark the entrances to one-way streets when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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A scooter rider was seriously injured early Tuesday morning in a crash that closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 near Fletcher Avenue for an hour, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 32-year-old scooter driver was slowly operating the scooter in the southbound outside lane at about 6 a.m. when he was struck from behind by a 2011 Toyota Sienna. The driver was attempting to pass the scooter, troopers said.

The impact threw the man from the scooter, troopers said, and he landed on outside grass shoulder.

He was taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of what was reported to be serious injuries, troopers said. The Toyota driver was not injured in the crash.

Both were cited. The scooter driver received a citation for impeding traffic while the driver of the Toyota was cited for careless driving, the Highway Patrol said.

Careless driving is defined as failing to drive a vehicle in a careful and practical manner. Careless driving can include:

  • Tailgating
  • Failing to yield properly
  • Improper passing of another vehicle
  • Improper lane changing
  • Running a red light
  • Speeding
  • Failure to stop for an emergency vehicle
  • Making an improper turn

Driving carelessly can result in a serious car accident. Sometimes motorists drive carelessly with the intent of not getting caught and other times motorists do this without even realizing what they may be doing. Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to take the following precautions to avoid driving carelessly:

  • Always use a turn signal when changing lanes or making a turn
  • Obey all traffic signals and signs
  • Avoid being distracted by a mobile device
  • Do not drive aggressively and tailgate the vehicle in front of you

It is up to all motorists sharing the road to drive properly, so when even just one person fails to follow the rules of the road, serious accidents can occur.

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A man has been arrested on DUI charges after an overnight Interstate 4 crash involving a motorcycle.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 23-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a crash on I-4 just east of State Road 574.

Troopers said the crash happened at 1:45 a.m. when the motorcycle and a 2018 Dodge Ram truck were both traveling eastbound on I-4.

Authorities said the motorcyclist tried to overtake the truck but collided with the back of the truck. The motorcyclist was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died.  

Following the crash, the truck left the scene and turned northbound on Interstate 75 then turned back southbound on I-75 until stopped by troopers near milepost 268.

The 39-year-old was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of the crash, driving with a suspended license, and DUI.

Drunk drivers have delayed reaction times and impaired judgement, which makes them a huge risk to motorcyclists sharing the roadway. Our Tampa Bay Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to keeping the roads and highways in the Tampa Bay area safe for motorcyclists. We know that injured riders often suffer significant physical, emotional and financial burdens, and we can help to lift these stresses by obtaining the financial compensation you deserve.

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A Good Samaritan died Sunday morning when he was struck while trying to help a man who had been injured in a previous traffic crash on I-75, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 59-year-old man died at the scene.

A 31-year-old woman was one of the drivers taken to Tampa General Hospital in serious condition. Another 24-year-old driver was taken to St. Joseph’s South with minor injuries.

The third driver, a 32-year-old man, was taken to Tampa General with minor injuries. Troopers said he had been drinking.

The crash happened about 4:39 a.m. on southbound I-75 at about Milepost 254 in Hillsborough County.

Troopers said the third driver was driving a 2018 Toyota Tacoma south on I-75 when, for an unknown reason, he stopped in the inside travel lane. The first driver was driving a 2003 Buick LeSabre, and was unable to see or stop in time and collided with the Tacoma. Both vehicles came to rest in the travel lanes.

The Good Samaritan, who had been driving south on I-75, stopped and extricated the third driver from the wreckage and moved him to the inside shoulder to provide medical aid, troopers said.

The second driver, who was driving a 2010 Toyota Camry, failed to see the Tacoma and the LeSabre. The Camry collided with the Tacoma, which rotated and hit the Good Samaritan, killing him.

After the impact between the Camry and the Tacoma, the Tacoma burst into flames.

Charges are pending, troopers said.

According to the Florida Good Samaritan Act, “any person, including those licensed to practice medicine” who willingly, and in good faith, provides emergency care or treatment to another in an emergency situation shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of such aid or treatment.”

This story highlights the need to exercise caution when rendering aid during a car crash. While helping others when they are injured is something most people want to help with, it is equally important to take your own safety into account first and foremost before putting yourself in harm’s way.

Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have compiled a list to help Good Samaritans stay safe and still help crash victims:

  • Park a safe distance from the crash. We recommend parking at least 100 feet from the crash site, so that first responders have room to work. This also allows you to assess the scene from a good distance to make sure that your own safety is not at risk.
  • Use your hazard lights to tell oncoming traffic that they should proceed with caution.
  • Call 911. Never make the assumption that someone else has notified 911 of the accident.
  • Assess the situation from a distance, and look for victims who may have been thrown from their vehicles and any other hazards, such as leaking fuel, broken glass and downed power lines.
  • Assist victims only if it is safe to do so. You can approach victims, but don’t attempt to move them unless the car is on fire or there’s some other imminent danger. Sometimes just talking to them, calming and reassuring them that you’ve called 911 is a big help.

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A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with a fatal hit-and-run crash that happened in January.

The 36-year-old is charged with leaving the scene of a crash without rendering aid and driving with a suspended license, among other charges.

The crash happened January 17 off Charlie Taylor Road near U.S. Highway 92 in Plant City.

A 57-year-old was hit by a 2006 Hyundai Tucson, according to the Plant City Police Department. He died at the scene.

The vehicle was recovered in Lakeland and impounded.

Police said a follow-up investigation led them to the man, who was located in Connecticut. He returned to Florida, was interviewed by police, and arrested.

He was taken to the Orient Road Jail.

The AAA Newsroom recently released a report titled “Hit-and-Run Deaths Hit Record High,” that shows there have been approximately 682,000 hit and run accidents every year since 2006. That’s a shocking daily average of roughly 1,868 hit and run crashes in the United States. When spread across the year, that figure amounts to nearly six deaths every day. The highest fatality rates were found in Florida, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Our Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have handled numerous auto accident claims involving fatal hit and run crashes. We have extensive experience with uninsured driver claims, so we evaluate the crash to determine whether financial compensation may be available through UM/UIM (Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist) coverage, which many Florida drivers elect to carry in addition to mandatory insurance coverage like PIP (Personal Injury Protection).

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