Articles Posted in Tampa Bay Boating Accident Attorney

Can you believe that Labor Day weekend is next week? Sadly, that means that summer is coming to an end. If you are like most Americans, you will have a three-day weekend to celebrate all your hard work this year. While you may be planning a trip to the beach or hanging back to relax at the pool with friends and family, just know that with all gatherings, the risk for injuries increases over holiday weekends.

If you are injured or someone you love is killed in a boating or swimming pool accident, you should discuss your legal options with our Tampa Bay Watercraft & Boating Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible following the accident.

We know that many Floridians favorite pastime over Labor weekend is to head out and enjoy the water on one of the last summer weekends. The waterways and public pools can be crowded this LDW, and crowds can increase the hazards, including drowning or near-drowning accidents.

If you are heading out with friends and family to spend the weekend on beaches, lakes and rivers, put safety first. Boats, jet skis, tubes, and other water sports equipment are fun, but they can be dangerous. Most people tend to listen to music and drink when on the water, which can cause everyone to get distracted and ignore safety measures. Another thing to remember is that drunk, distracted, or inexperienced boat drivers can often be involved in boat crashes that can injure passengers.

Keep in mind, anytime water is involved, there is always the risk of serious drowning incidents or other catastrophic injuries.

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For most, Labor Day weekend symbolizes the unofficial end of summer. As a three-day weekend, this gives many Americans the chance to celebrate with friends and family one more time before fall comes around and the weather gets cooler. Whether you plan on taking one last road trip for a weekend getaway or staying home and celebrating with family and friends, the Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you and your loved ones to stay safe!

Labor Day Weekend has a high rate of preventable accidents, injuries, and deaths, both on the roadways and at homes across Tampa Bay and the rest of the country. To help you and your loved ones stay safe this holiday weekend, our Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers have compiled a few helpful safety tips:

  • Roadway Safety AAA anticipates that nearly 35 million Americans will travel this Labor Day weekend. With this many people on the road, it is very important to remember roadway safety, obey traffic laws and to always stay alert and avoid distractions when behind the wheel.
  • Vehicle Safety – Along with obeying the rules of the road, it is equally important to make sure your vehicle is safe for travel. Check your vehicle’s fluids, brakes and lights before going on a trip. It is recommended to take your vehicle in for a quick inspection before you head out of town. If you have an older vehicle, you may want to consider renting a car with up-to-date safety features for your road trip.
  • Water & Pool Safety Because Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer, pool parties and water activities are common. Make sure that all children are always supervised around and in the water.
  • BBQ Safety Tips – Labor Day weekend and barbecues go hand in hand. If you are planning on an outdoor grilling party, make sure that your grille is properly cleaned to avoid grease fires. Also, make sure to grill in a safe area away from structures, furniture and other flammable hazards. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and have a safety plan ready in place your barbecue goes awry.
  • Drink Responsibly – Holiday weekends, like Labor Day, see some of the highest rates of alcohol-related accidents and injuries than any other time of year, especially on roads and highways. If you plan on drinking, please do so responsibly and plan a safe ride home. Remember, police will be on high alert for motorists driving under the influence, so do not drink and drive.

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Four men were rescued on Friday after their boat capsized near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

A water rescue call came in around 12:52 p.m. for a small boat that had capsized at the bridge, according to St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue.

4939044794_23e70c74fc_zOfficials were able to find all of the men – one was clinging to the capsized boat, and three others were found less than a mile off shore floating west of the bridge.

All four men that were on the boat had their life vests on.

None of the boaters were harmed.

Boat accidents can refer to a vast number of incidences and usually occur due to the following reasons:

  • Inexperienced Operation: Many people operating a watercraft on Florida’s waterways lack the proper training or adequate experience to operate their vessels safely.
  • Operator Inattention: A day out on the water is a fun way to relax and relieve stress, however, countless distractions mean some vehicle operators may not be paying attention to various safety concerns, including other vehicles and channel markers.
  • Boating while Intoxicated: Drugs, alcohol and other substances can impair operator’s judgement and reaction times, leading to dangerous scenarios where accidents are likely to occur.

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The Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to wish everyone throughout Tampa and the state of Florida a very happy Fourth of July! During this summer holiday period, many of us celebrate the time with friends and family. As with many other holidays, risks of accidents and injuries can increase during the Fourth of July weekend.

To help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe this weekend, we have compiled some helpful safety tips:

Drunk Driving

Drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths always peak during Fourth of July weekend. If you plan on celebrating Independence Day with a few drinks, make sure to drink responsibly and plan for a ride. Make arrangements with friends or family, or call a cab or transportation service like Uber or Lyft. Remember, law enforcement officers will be out in full force this weekend looking to catch intoxicated motorists.

Fireworks Safety

4428561177_831c2f9269_zIf you plan to light off a few Sparklers or fireworks yourself, please remember these important tips:

  • Always follow instructions and supervise children. Never provide fireworks to small children.
  • Use fireworks in a safe area where they cannot harm others or damage property. This may be  a given, but never throw or point fireworks toward people, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.
  • Do not light multiple fireworks at once and never attempt to relight a “dud” firework that failed to go off the first time.

Water Safety

Many Tampa Bay residents celebrate the Fourth at the beach, lake or by enjoying the water at backyard pool parties. When having fun near the water, make sure that safety is a top priority. Supervise children, use safety vests when on the water, drink responsibly and have a safety procedure set in place in the event of an emergency.

Grilling Safety

Use caution when barbecuing! Many people suffer injuries when cooking on charcoal and gas grills. Never grill indoors, supervise the grill when it is on, follow all instructions and never add lighter fluid when charcoal has already been ignited.

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Spring break is officially here, which means there are going to be lots of kids, teens, families and college students taking cruises to exotic places. While some will be cruising with their parents, others will be venturing off into the seas with friends. Due to the fact that there will be a higher number of young passengers on board cruise liners, our Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to point out some tips to keep yourself and those you are travelling with free from danger.

cruise ship departure in MiamiCruise vacations should be fun, relaxing and enjoyable. However, the reality is that many cruises can bring out all kinds of hazards, such as injuries, illnesses and even rape and other crimes. Statistics show that sexual assault is the number one type of crime that is most likely to occur on cruise ships, which is why it is essential for spring breakers to always be on high alert. If you have planned on going on a cruise during spring break, please review the following safety tips:

  1. Travel with a Group. It is much easier to become the victim of an assault or other type of crime when you are travelling solo. Always make sure you have a buddy with you, even though larger groups are preferable. Avoid exploring the ship by yourself at all times.
  2. Be Aware of your Surroundings. You should feel free to socialize with other passengers, but keep all interactions well within the public eye. In the event that there is any trouble, as long as you are with others, you will not be alone or isolated. Keep your communications in common areas and in sections of the ship where there is a lot of traffic, like the Lido deck or dining room. Do not allow yourself to be alone with a stranger in their stateroom or in yours. You never want to be in a secluded area that is away from cameras, passengers or other crew members who can assist in the event of an emergency.
  3. Keep a Close Watch on Your Beverages. Many cruise ship passengers become distracted when socializing and drinking, making it very easy to slip something in a potential victim’s drink, regardless of whether the drink is alcoholic or not. Since a drink can be drugged in just seconds, it is very important to always keep a close eye on your beverage. Should you walk away from your drink, always ask for a new refreshment when you return.

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This Saturday, Tampa Bay-area residents and visitors join in an unusual celebration called Gasparilla, one that marks the beginning of a new year and serves as a reminder of ancient times. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival was named in honor of the pirate Jose “Gasparilla” Gaspar, who is famed for terrorizing Florida’s west coast during the late 18th century and early 19th century. On Saturday, the city of Tampa will be “invaded” by Gasparilla and his men when their 165-foot pirate ship arrives in downtown Tampa, known as the Jose Gasparilla. The mayor of Tampa gives the key to the city to the pirate captain and a victory parade begins throughout the city’s streets.

8431098388_181f4bc534_zWhile this event is a lot of fun, it can also be very dangerous if proper steps are not taken to ensure the safety of yourself and others while on a boat. The following safety tips could be of use to you this weekend:

  • Make sure that you have a designated driver. In the state of Florida, it is illegal to operate any vessel on Florida waters while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any mixture of intoxicating substances.
  • Keep a close watch out for other boaters and watch your speed!
  • It is important to make sure that you have enough personal flotation devices for everyone on board before you head out on the water.
  • Make sure you have all necessary safety equipment on board and in working order.
  • Create a float plan with friends or family and have a working VHF radio on board.
  • Talk with all of your passengers before you head out about what to do in case of an emergency. That way you all have a game plan should your adventure go awry.

This weekend you will see many law enforcement vessels on the waterways, including boats from the Coast Guard, Tampa Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Hillsborough County and Pinellas County sheriff’s offices.

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Boating is a popular and enjoyable activity here in the Tampa Bay area, but it is also a pastime filled with accidents as well. If you find yourself hurt or injured while boating due to someone else’s negligent or careless actions, it is worth speaking to a Boating Accident Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton about your rights.

Three adults were rescued by a Coast Guard crew eight miles west of Bean Point on Anna Maria Island Sunday after their 37-foot boat began taking on water.

191748229_619e5f44e9_mCoast Guard watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a report around 3:50 p.m. that the boat had begun taking on water from a six-inch hole in the hull.

A boat crew from the station made it to the scene around 4:30 p.m., plugged the hole, began dewatering and put the boat in tow.

The boat was safely towed to Bradenton Beach Marina by 8 p.m.

A command duty officer at Sector St. Petersburg mentioned a valuable tip for boaters: “It is important for boaters to remember the Coast Guard can always be reached via channel 16 in an emergency. Having a marine band radio on board a vessel, like in this case, can save lives when a situation becomes an emergency.”

Manatee County Fire and Rescue also responded to the accident site.

In the United States, boating collisions are the most common type of accident. More than 8 percent of all boating accidents result in fatalities. Nearly half of boating accident tragedies occur because of passengers falling overboard, with 70 percent of those victims drowning. Of these drowning accidents, 86 percent involve passengers not wearing a life jacket. The most common recreational boat accidents involve the following:

  • Capsizing
  • Falling overboard
  • Collisions with other vessels or stationary structures
  • Fires
  • Flooding or Sinking
  • Explosions

When operating a boat, there are certain steps that can be taken to prevent a boat accident injury or minimize the damage. The following tips can prove useful to boaters when an emergency situation arises:

  • Always have enough life jackets for all crew and passengers, and make sure everyone wears one
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol while boating
  • Always have a working VHF radio on board, a submersible model is preferable
  • Use GPS technologies to know your location at all times
  • Keep flares on board
  • Make sure to have a first aid kit on board
  • Keep fire extinguishers in an easily accessible location
  • Leave your itinerary with someone on land

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Any time a dangerous situation erupts or a catastrophe occurs onboard a cruise ship it makes headline news. However, when a crime happens aboard a cruise line, we do not always hear about it despite the fact that cruise lines are obligated to report all allegations of serious crimes to the FBI.

Major cruise lines even post criminal data online for the general public to view. There are some limitations, though. Cruise lines are only required to report theft of items totaling more than $10,000, and assault causing serious bodily injury.

48210215_5bb70ad1c4_mWhile more than 22 million people travel via cruise ship every year, crime figures are actually quite low. Trips aboard cruise ships are not inherently dangerous.

Due to the fact that these ships sail internationally, the laws can be somewhat cloudy. Criminal investigations are usually handled by the FBI, but this also depends on where the ship is located at the time as well as where it is registered.

The main thing to be concerned with is how crimes are reported, investigated and tracked.

Should you find yourself the victim of a crime, make sure to report it right away to onboard security and demand that the crime scene be secured until law enforcement can gain access to the ship.

The other thing you want to make sure to do is write down the names of everyone involved in the incident – this includes witnesses. If a criminal act occurs while you are at a foreign port, contact the closest embassy or consulate.

Keep your eyes and ears open when taking a cruise. Trust your gut – if something appears odd or suspicious to you, it probably is. Should something appear out of the norm to you, take a trip to the Purser’s Office and let the staff know. They will appreciate the heads up, and you might just keep a criminal act from occurring.

Taking a cruise is a fabulous experience, so don’t think they are all bad. As long as you are prepared and watch out for your own safety, it will be smooth sailing all the way.

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Two people were injured recently after a personal watercraft collided with another watercraft near Bunce’s Pass near Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a 47-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, both of Kissimmee, were riding on the watercraft around 5:30 p.m. when the accident happened.

pwcBoth were taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with non-life-threatening injuries.

The other watercraft involved in the collision was driven by a 44-year-old man.

Nor further information is available regarding the incident at this time. The accident is currently under investigation.

According to the United State Coast Guard, more than one million personal watercrafts are registered in the United States. While personal watercraft’s only account for around 8 percent of all watercrafts, they generate nearly 26 percent of all boating injuries. There were 779 personal watercraft accidents reported in 2012, including 58 fatalities. Moreover, the United States Coast Guard ranks personal watercrafts as the second most dangerous type of watercraft on the water, and classifies these vessels as the most dangerous when accounting for percentage of operator injuries.

Boating accidents are quite different than automobile crashes in that there is not usually an accident scene to investigate. These incidents rely heavily on witness testimony as well as physical evidence in and on the boat. Watercraft accidents can be complex, which is why it is necessary to have a maritime lawyer working in your corner in order to achieve successful results.

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The Tampa Bay area is well known for its beautiful rivers, lakes, bays and access to the Gulf of Mexico. Because areas like Clearwater Beach and Treasure Island have so many various waterways, jet skiing is quite popular among tourists and residents alike. However, jet skiing is an inherently risky activity, with the U.S. Coast Guard broadcasting more than 700 fatalities involving jet skis and more than 3,000 injuries nationwide.

A moment of negligence or recklessness on a jet ski can result in severe personal injuries and even wrongful death. The good news is that most jet ski accidents can be prevented by understanding the common causes of these accidents and how to identify risky behaviors that can easily lead to an unfortunate mishap. Moreover, it is vital that jet ski riders know how to operate a jet ski in a safe fashion before heading out on the waterways.

Were you injured on the waterways of Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island or the surrounding areas? Call Whittel & Melton today at 727-823-0000 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.

Were you injured on the waterways of Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island or the surrounding areas? Call Whittel & Melton today at 727-823-0000 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.

SPEEDING

Nearly 15 percent of all accidents involving personal watercrafts, such as jet skis, were caused by speeding drivers, according to the US Coast Guard. Driving a jet ski can undoubtedly be an exhilarating experience. As a jet ski driver, it is important to not get carried away when operating these vehicles as the amount of horsepower these vessels have can be intense. When excessive speeds are used, serious accidents can occur.

INEXPERIENCED DRIVERS

Many people hop on jet skis and take off into the water without fully realizing how dangerous these vehicles can be. It is important to get the proper training and experience before darting off in these vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that nearly a third of drivers involved in a jet ski or other personal watercraft accident had operated the vehicle ten times or less prior to their accident.

INATTENTIVE DRIVERS

As water sports like jet skiing become more and popular, waterways become more crowded, increasing the number of distractions for drivers. Unnecessary collisions on personal watercrafts are often caused by drivers who fail to pay attention to their surroundings. By staying focused while on a jet ski, you can prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

RECKLESS DRIVING

One of the leading causes of jet ski accidents is reckless driving. Often referred to as the motorcycle of the waterways, jet skis can be quite dangerous when operated in a reckless manner. Following the rules of the waterways is crucial when operating a jet ski, and failure to do so can result in broken bones, fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma and even death.

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