Articles Posted in Tampa Bay Personal Injury Lawyer

It is standard for all Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July with friends and family. Boating, swimming, grilling and watching fireworks is something many look forward to on this summer holiday. While there is much fun to be had, the activities that surround the Fourth of July can also be dangerous.

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That is why you must plan for the unexpected to happen on this long weekend. Our Tampa Bay Holiday Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind you to be safe this Fourth of July while celebrating in Tampa. Here are our top 5 safety tips for Independence Day:

  1. Let the pros handle the fireworks show: Fireworks injure thousands of people each year, most of them being children and teens. What many people fail to realize is that fireworks are quite dangerous and can easily result in severe burns, property damage and fires, and even death. Even sparklers, when lit, can reach temperatures of 1,800 degrees. We encourage you to let the professionals handle the fireworks and just sit back and enjoy them – all while staying injury free. If you must use some sparklers, then make sure you view what the State Fire Marshal has deemed legal for 2022.
  2. Avoid a grill injury: While you may be the grill master of your neighborhood, accidents can happen at any time. Grill injuries are actually quite common, affecting about 20,000 Americans annually. If you are going to be firing the grill up this Fourth of July weekend for hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks, or anything else, remember these important tips:
  • Wash your hands and all grilling equipment before you handle any food – this will help prevent the spread of germs.
  • Clean your grill before and after you use it to keep fat buildup (this can cause fires) at bay.
  • Check any hoses for holes or cracks that could make gas leak and be sure to open the grill lid before lighting it.
  • Never grill in enclosed spaces, like a garage or near trees or bushes as these areas can ignite fires.
  • Use a grill pad under your grill to help with splatters and keep your grill on a flat surface.
  • Keep pets, kids, and anyone drinking away from the grill to be safe.
  • Make sure the grill is properly shut off when it is not in use. Any spare propane tanks should be disconnected and stored in a cool place away from sunlight.
  1. Drink responsibly: The Fourth of July is a celebration, but you can party responsibly. If you are having guests over and serving beer and cocktails, make sure you have plenty of food and water to help assist with the metabolism of alcohol. Do not serve alcohol to any guests under 21 and take the keys away from anyone who has been overserved. You can have a guest room available, call a cab, or even download a rideshare app.
  2. Be safe when boating: If you are going to be on the water over the Fourth of July weekend in Tampa, then follow these tips:
  • Check weather conditions before you head out, like high winds, thunderstorms, or even severe heat (to avoid heatstroke).
  • Do not drink and operate a boat. On that same note, limit any passenger’s consumption of alcohol to prevent any unnecessary boating accident injuries.
  • Tell friends or family where you are going and when you will be back – this is just in case something goes awry.
  • Everyone on the boat should wear a lifejacket at all times on the boat and make sure that it fits properly.
  1. Be safe at swimming pools: The Fourth of July means that many people will be swimming in pools, beaches, or lakes, which is a great way to beat the high temperatures in Tampa. Drowning accidents are a leading cause of death in children under the age of 15. If you are going to be at a pool or swimming in any body of water this holiday weekend, please remember the following:
  • Always keep an eye on children in the water. Drowning and near drowning incidents can happen in seconds. Don’t ever assume that someone else is watching your child, even if a lifeguard is present – make sure you are alert.
  • Make sure no one runs around a pool, as children, teens, and adults can all slip and fall very easily.
  • If you have young children that are not able to swim or are not strong swimmers yet, then invest in flotation devices that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Never dive into shallow waters as this can lead to spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

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New Year’s Eve is upon us and our Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you to start 2022 off stress free. We want you to enjoy the celebrations and reflections of this past year, but also keep in mind the bright possibilities for the year to come. With that said, stay alert to what is going on around you and be extra to avoid ringing in the New Year with the added cost of a DUI arrest or an unnecessary injury.

Drinking

New Year’s Eve often involves popping champagne bottles. While this is a lovely tradition, be mindful that the corks can go all over and hit eyes. Be sure to aim corks away from people to avoid a tragedy. Another wise tip: keep an eye on your drink at all times, especially if you are at a large party or bar. Make your own drink or have the bartender do the mixing and do not leave your drink unattended.

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 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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You will likely see a drove of electric scooters whizzing around St. Petersburg this fall if the city meets its goal, but don’t expect to find them on sidewalks.

The city has been watching scooter rollouts in other jurisdictions,  including Tampa, where scooters have been zipping along city sidewalks since May. That likely won’t be happening in St. Petersburg.

The city’s transportation and parking management director told the Tampa Bay Times that the scooters are “just too fast and don’t mix well in a downtown urban environment like we have in St. Pete with sidewalk cafes and how busy the sidewalks are.” 

After Governor Ron DeSantis approved a law in June that allows scooters to ride in streets and bike lanes across the state, the city is drafting an ordinance to regulate scooter use and is seeking bids from scooter companies. During an upcoming meeting with council members, city officials will share resident feedback about scooters, as well as make recommendations about how the vehicles should be regulated.

From there, the city’s goal is to have scooters up and running at some point this fall. The city hopes that their use will be a “first mile, last mile solution” for trips that are too long for walking but too short for cars to be necessary.

Scooters are a great alternative to getting around without exerting too much effort. You can get places faster without sweating as much on foot or biking. 

Scooters seem to be gaining support, including from the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Bill Kent, the chamber’s board chair, said there is consensus among the chamber that scooters should be given a chance, but in a slow rollout as to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact local businesses.

“You’ve got to get it right or it will lead to concerns. There is a general consensus that is should be explored,” Kent said. “They add one more fun thing to our funky town.”

Some details are still up for discussion, but it seems pretty clear that the city does not want scooters on sidewalks and helmets likely won’t be required. The St. Petersburg City Council would give final approval.

New state legislation was good for the city because it allowed the scooters to ride on the street. Due to the amount of pedestrians, the city probably wants the scooters to be limited to bike lanes and low-speed streets. 

Just like helmets aren’t required for bike-sharing, they likely won’t be mandated for scooters.

Helmets tend to be a “pretty major impediment,” as it is hard to get helmets into everyone’s hands, but the city will likely strongly encourage helmet use.

Speed would probably be curbed to 15 miles per hour or less. New technology could allow the city to change maximum speeds based upon location. For example, on certain trails, perhaps scooter speed could be limited to 10 miles per hour to allow for safer mixing with bikers and walkers. 

Most scooters used on the Pinellas Trail would be under Pinellas’ County’s jurisdiction to regulate, not the city’s. Scooters would likely be allowed on the downtown trail extension, but “less likely” to be permitted on the waterfront trail.

Questions remain about hours of operation, the number of scooters to be allowed and whether scooters will have to always park in designated “docks” or merely follow general guidelines on where to park.

An undetermined number of scooters would be phased in while the hours of operation would likely not be 24 hours per day or stretch into the wee hours of the night.

Requiring scooters to be parked in docks won’t be ideal, but that can be logistically difficult if there aren’t enough docks.

 

Parking rules might just generally describe where scooters could park as to not block sidewalks, among other things. 

In Tampa, scooters must be parked in “corrals,” but people have still complained about scooters parked in ways that blocked sidewalks.

The city has been examining injury and death rates from scooter use in a number of cities, including in Tampa, where a scooter rider died last month after being struck by a semi-trailer truck. The death was unfortunate, but isn’t likely to sway the project.

In the city of Tampa, scooter operators must be 16 years or older and are required to have a valid driver’s license or permit.  Helmet wearing is encouraged, but not required. On average, the scooters can travel at speeds up to about 15 mph and operate between 15 to 20 miles on a single charge.

Motorized scooter users must: 

  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian
  • Not carry passengers (only one person may occupy a motorized scooter at a time)
  • Helmet-wearing is encouraged, but not required
  • Not operate a scooter while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Electric scooters are new to most people in Tampa Bay and the surrounding areas, and there are bound to be more than a few accidents as people learn how to operate them. The types of accidents that people are involved in can vary, and victims could be the riders of scooters, as well as other people, like pedestrians and bystanders. Due to the fact that these devices have speeds that are relatively low, most people do not anticipate a huge risk of injury when operating these vehicles.   

While scooters seem perfectly safe, the people riding them can be exposed to serious injuries simply because of their inherent lack of protection. Some of the most severe scooter accidents can result in such injuries as:

  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Muscle strains
  • Road rash
  • Nerve damage
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis

These types of injuries usually involve hefty medical bills. Some scooter accidents may even result in fatal injuries. In such cases, family members could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. 

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A motorcyclist has been pronounced dead after apparently losing control of his bike on U.S. 19 and then being struck by a car.

The crash shut down northbound U.S. 19 just south of 126th Avenue for hours Sunday morning.

Pinellas Park Police believe the 22-year-old motorcyclist was speeding when he lost control and was thrown off the bike.

Police say the driver of a passing vehicle tried to stop traffic, but another vehicle drove through and struck the biker. Another vehicle struck the bike debris.

Police say everyone is cooperating with the investigation. No one else was hurt.

The aftermath of motorcycle accidents can be devastating. While some bike riders can escape a crash with just minor injuries, in many speed-related accidents, the rider can suffer life changing injuries, that may include:

  • traumatic brain injury
  • spinal cord damage
  • paralysis
  • nerve damage
  • facial injuries
  • road rash
  • broken bones
  • internal injuries
  • death

If you’ve been injured or lost someone you love in a motorcycle accident, our Pinellas County Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help level the playing field against insurance companies and fight for what you deserve. We handle all motorcycle accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay no legal fee unless we obtain financial compensation for you through an insurance settlement or jury verdict.

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A 3-year-old boy drowned in a pool Saturday afternoon in Tarpon Springs.

According to Tarpon Springs police, the drowning happened at a home on Stone Creek Drive.  

Authorities believe the incident was accidental.

The case remains under investigation.

Swimming pools can bring lots of fun, but they can also be the source of drowning and near-drowning deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the following statistics:

  • Ten people die every day across the U.S. in drowning accidents, including two children under the age of 14.
  • For every child that dies in a drowning accident, another five children require emergency department care for non-fatal drowning-related injuries.
  • More than half of all drowning victims treated in emergency rooms need hospitalization or specialized care for brain damage.

When a drowning accident occurred in a private backyard pool, many victims and/or their families are hesitant about taking legal action. This is usually because the pool owner is a friend or neighbor. Our Tampa Bay Swimming Pool and Drowning Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to know that a person’s homeowner’s insurance, and not their personal assets, typically provides the financial compensation in a drowning accident lawsuit. We are prepared to pursue the compensation that you and your family need and deserve. You will never pay any fees whatsoever unless we secure a financial award for you.

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A 7-year-old boy is in critical condition at the hospital after he was hit by an SUV in Clearwater Tuesday night.

Emergency crews responded to a call at an apartment complex in the 2200 block of Nursery Road a little after 7:30 p.m. Upon arrival, officers on scene were told the boy was riding a bike in the parking lot of the apartment complex when he rode into the path of a Nissan Armada, which ultimately hit the child.

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with the investigation, according to officials in Clearwater.

The boy was taken to Bayfront Health in Saint Petersburg and is in critical condition, according to officials.

When drivers fail to take proper safety precautions and check all areas surrounding their vehicle, parking lots can be the site of very serious or even deadly pedestrian or bicycle accidents. Larger vehicles, especially SUVs and trucks, have several blind spots, so driver’s must pay extra attention to their surroundings. There are far too many preventable accidents that occur every day when driver’s do not take a few extra seconds to check out the area before beginning to drive.

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A woman, who caused a crash that killed three after she suffered a seizure, was in a wheelchair at her pretrial hearing Monday morning.

In August of 2017, prosecutors say the woman was driving over 100 miles per hour when she slammed into a Hyundai, killing a man, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter.

Investigators say the woman did not stick around after the crash. She fled the scene, but did not make it far.

Police caught up with the woman a couple of miles from the crime scene.

While being questioned by detectives, she allegedly said she takes anti-anxiety medication for her seizures.

She was emotional after the crash, even breaking down during a bond hearing.

Fleeing the scene of an accident, or hit and run, is a very serious criminal offense. Under Florida state law, drivers are required to stop and exchange information or render assistance when they are involved in an accident that causes property damage or bodily injury. Even though it is against the law to leave the scene after an accident, data from the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety shows that 11% of all car accidents involve hit-and-run drivers.

When a driver flees the scene of an accident, they leave behind victims without taking any responsibility for their actions. Our Tampa Bay Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton regularly file personal injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of those injured or killed in hit-and-run accidents. We can answer any questions you may have regarding your legal options following an incident involving a fleeing driver.

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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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