Articles Posted in Tampa Bay

Florida had 58 hepatitis A cases reported last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 3,028 as of Saturday, according to the state Department of Health.

Sarasota County led the state in the number of new cases last week with eight, followed by Volusia County with seven, according to a News Service of Florida analysis of the data.

As of Saturday, 274 cases of hepatitis A had been reported this year in Volusia County, while the number of cases in Sarasota County stood at 92. Pasco County led the state with 404 cases, including two new cases last week.

Pinellas County had one new hepatitis A case last week, bringing its total for the year to 376, according to the News Service analysis of the state data.

Hepatitis A, which can cause liver damage, can be spread through such things as food or drinks that have been contaminated with fecal matter from people with the disease.

Health officials have urged Floridians to get vaccinated against the disease.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who doubles as secretary of the Department of Health, has used $3 million in funds from county health departments to hire additional workers to help vaccinate high-risk populations, including homeless people, drug users and gay men.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is caused by an infection from hepatitis A virus. What is shocking about this illness is that not everyone who is infected with the virus will have symptoms of the illness. In most cases, the illness is results in mild, flu-like gastrointestinal symptoms. In the worst cases, hepatitis A can impair proper functioning of the liver and even lead to death.

The hepatitis A virus is a collection of molecules that uses the body’s method of constructing new material to produce copies of itself. When the virus uses a human host to reproduce itself, the human host often becomes ill in its effort to fight the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year in the United States an estimated 143,000 cases of hepatitis A infection occurs, but only around 30,000 are reported. Hepatitis A is also responsible for an estimated 1.4 million cases worldwide each year.

You may be wondering how this virus is spread to others. The hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by “fecal-oral” transmission. This means the virus is transmitted when a person puts something in their mouth that has been contaminated with the fecal matter of a person infected with the virus. Because this virus depends on the fecal-oral route for transmission, the illness is most easily spread under poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed. 

Outbreaks are often traced back to contaminated food. Food supplies can become contaminated when infected workers come into contact with food supplies during processing or in restaurants. If a restaurant worker has the hepatitis A virus and does not wash their hands after using the restroom, they can then transfer the virus to others during food preparation.  

Foods that are most commonly associated with outbreaks are water, shellfish, and salads. In most cases, the true source is water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Other common food sources are cold cuts, pre-made sandwiches, unwashed fruit, fruit juices, milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks.

Most people who become infected with hepatitis A return back to normal health. This virus is more common in children, but is often more severe in adults. More than one-fifth of adult hepatitis A patients require hospitalization. In the most severe cases, hepatitis A can cause inflammation and swelling of the liver, which can impair liver function and cause permanent damage to the liver. Most of these cases require hospitalization. Each year approximately 100 people die as a result of these infections in the U.S.

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A 2-month-old injured in a multi-car pileup Monday on Interstate 75 in Seffner has been pronounced dead, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

This is the second reported death from the crash. A 46-year-old man was killed at the scene Monday. 

The baby was in a vehicle with a parent and two siblings who all suffered minor injuries. 

Troopers say the pile up happened at about 2:30 p.m. when traffic on I-75 south was slowed. The driver of a dump truck collided with two vehicles, overturned on another and then collided with five more cars, according to a release from FHP.

In total, six people including the dump truck driver suffered minor injuries.

Southbound lanes were closed until about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

FHP says the investigation is still under way, and charges are pending.

Dump trucks carry cargo that can weigh over 50 tons, and are incredibly dangerous to operate. Accidents caused by dump trucks are usually devastating, which is why we hear so much about them in the news. 

Dump trucks are mainly used to haul various materials like concrete, gravel, and sand. A standard dump truck uses what is called a hydraulic lift to tilt its cargo carrier and dump the load. Some of these vehicles are equipped with a super standard hydraulic cylinder that can haul 26 tons or more.

Dump trucks are quite tall and when they are involved in a crash, the other vehicle is usually is pushed under the truck, which can lead to serious injuries and death for anyone in that vehicle. Dump truck drivers tend to walk away from these accidents unscathed unless the truck happens to flip on its side, travel down an embankment or the if the driver opted to forgo a seatbelt.

These massive trucks have bigger blind spots and some, like the semi-trailer dumper, are even more dangerous. These vehicles have a high gravity center on the dumper  and a low weight on the truck’s trailer, so this creates an imbalance which can make the truck more prone to tip over. 

After a dump truck pile up accident, a driver or trucking company can be held responsible for any negligent actions the driver commits while on the job. Such actions include: 

  • Inadequate dump truck training for drivers
  • Not performing regular safety inspections
  • Exceeding legal limit for dump truck weight with cargo
  • Pressuring drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines for hauling cargo
  • Providing trucks that do not meet safety inspection standards
  • Failing to properly maintain the truck in safe and operable condition

Due to the fact that dump trucks are mechanically complicated, there are many ways an accident can occur. Multiple parties could actually be to blame, such as a manufacturer of faulty parts, among others. 

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a dump truck accident, you need to get legal help as soon as possible. Our Tampa Bay Truck Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can fight on your side to make sure your rights are protected. We will get to the scene right away to make sure that no evidence changes or disappears, make sure witness statements are collected, and most importantly, make sure no one tricks you into saying something you did not actually mean. These types of accident investigations can be quite expensive, and the trucking company does not have to release their records to you until after you file a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. 

Keep in mind that the insurance company will do everything in its power to mitigate the cost of your settlement, or to even deny you payment outright. The insurance company may even send an adjuster to your home or hospital to make a settlement offer. Once you accept they will have you sign a release of liability. These early offers are usually a cheap means to get you to settle out of court and do not cover the full scope of your injuries or a loved one’s death. Once you sign a release, you forfeit your right to recover any additional damages from their insurance company or your own company, which is why it is so important to never sign anything until your lawyer has reviewed it and made sure you fully understand what this money means in regards to your pain and suffering and other damages.

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An elementary student was hit and killed while riding his bike to school in Sarasota Monday morning.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the 9-year-old boy was hit at the intersection of Webber Street and Nodosa Drive just before 8 a.m.

Deputies said the boy was riding his bike to Brentwood Elementary School.

As he was following his older sister across the intersection, the driver of a silver Chevy Silverado did not see him and hit him with his truck.

They 9-year-old was transported to Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, where he later died.

Deputies said the driver of the Silverado did stop and is cooperating.

It is quite common for people of all ages to ride their bikes on Florida roadways for fun, exercise or to get to work or school. It is a driver’s responsibility to keep an eye out for bikers and make sure they are operating their vehicles safely. When drivers make a mistake behind the wheel, it is usually the bike rider that suffers the consequences. Due to the lack of structural protection, bikers involved in accidents may suffer from broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, neck and back injuries and even wrongful death.

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A 29-year-old Lakeland man was killed Thursday in a multi-vehicle crash on State Road 60 at the intersection with Grape Hammock Road in Lake Wales.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the 2:45 p.m. crash involved four vehicles, including two semis, which resulted in significant diesel fuel and oil on the roadway and debris.

Deputies said a silver 2012 Volkswagen car being driven by the man Lakeland was heading westbound on SR 60 just west of Grape Hammock Rd at a high rate of speed when it began to hydroplane, as it was raining heavily at the time.

The VW went into the eastbound lane and bounced off of a 2019 red Kia Sorento. The VW rotated and was then struck by an eastbound 1986 Kenworth semi truck pulling a trailer, causing significant damage and killing the Lakeland man.

The semi exited the roadway and came to a rest in a ditch, with the trailer still in the eastbound lane.

Another semi heading westbound struck some debris from the crash and came to a controlled stop.

None of the other drivers were injured.

Hydroplaning happens when road conditions are wet and the surface of the asphalt becomes slippery. The combination of moisture and oil residue on roadways can result in a very slippery surface. For drivers experiencing this, the tires of their vehicle can become separated from the road surface by a thin layer of water, and they can experience a loss of steering, as well as a loss of braking ability and vehicle control. A hydroplane crash can be catastrophic, as this case shows, and affect multiple vehicles and cause significant injuries and property damage.

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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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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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