Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A 31-year-old man downed a double shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky at 11 a.m. Thursday and thirteen minutes later struck a pedestrian on Bayshore Boulevard, turning one of Tampa’s most scenic stretches into a crime scene.

The impact flung the pedestrian into Hillsborough Bay and tore off chunks of Bayshore’s balustrade, exposing bare rebar.

Witnesses later recalled how they had seen the man’s white Ford F-150 ⁠— a Pinch A Penny pool supply truck ⁠— swerving in and out of traffic on Bayshore before the crash, according to an arrest report. They estimated that he was going 60 or 70 mph in a 35-mph zone.

The driver struck the man near the intersection of Bayshore and W Julia Street at about 11:13 a.m., police said. Passersby jumped into the water to try to save the man, but he was later pronounced dead.

The deceased, a 70-year-old retired financial trust officer, had been out for a walk near his home on a breezy day.

The driver told officers he smoked marijuana at about 7 a.m., then drank the whiskey later that morning, according to his arrest report. Investigators said he had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.234, or almost three times the level at which Florida law presumes impairment, 0.08. His blood was drawn at the hospital on Thursday. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on Friday.

A police mugshot of the driver showed his face was bloodied after the crash. He currently has a valid driver’s license, records show, but he also has a history of minor traffic infractions.

In 2007, he was cited in two different cases, once for permitting an unauthorized person to drive and later for driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition. Records show he paid both fines.

The next year, he was cited for failure to obey a traffic sign and later paid that fine.

In 2013, he was pulled over while driving a Mercury sedan near N MacDill Avenue and W North A Street. An officer cited him for driving with an expired tag and driving with a suspended license. The man later pleaded no contest to the license charge while the expired tag charge was dismissed, records show. His state driving history indicates the suspension stemmed from failing to pay a fine or fee in court.

He pleaded guilty in 2016 to a felony charge of providing false information on a pawnbroker form and was sentenced to a year of probation. 

This is not the first pedestrian killed on Bayshore Boulevard. The road is a hot spot for speeding, which has resulted in a series of tragic, deadly crashes. 

A 39-year-old mother was killed in 2004 as she prepared for a jog, struck by a Navy petty officer driving 80 mph on a motorcycle.

In May 2018, another mother, 24, was pushing her 21-month-old daughter in a stroller through a Bayshore crosswalk when a Ford Mustang hit them. Mother and daughter both died. The car was going 102 mph six seconds before impact, police said. Two teens face charges of vehicular homicide in that case, accused of racing before the crash.

After that incident, the city made several changes, including lowering the speed limit to 35 mph, narrowing lanes and installing flashing signs at crosswalks.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, the city’s former police chief, released this statement: “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim in this horrific tragedy. As a city, we’re committed to Vision Zero and have made and will continue to make a number of safety upgrades to Bayshore Boulevard and many other Tampa roadways.” Vision Zero is a worldwide push to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.

Pedestrian accidents can be incredibly complex. Injury victims or family members who have lost loved ones must deal with insurance companies and possibly even legal teams that do not want to make a large settlement payout. Our Tampa Bay Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can make sure you are treated fairly throughout the entire process. We will start by obtaining all of the evidence from the accident. This can include police reports, video surveillance, photographs from the scene, eyewitness accounts, and more. If you are injured, we will make sure you are evaluated by a trusted medical professional who can attest to the cause and severity of your injuries. From there we will work to calculate your total economic losses by obtaining your medical bills, proof of lost income, necessary home and vehicle modification bills, and more. Once this is done we will calculate your total non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and mental anguish damages. The final step will be negotiating with all parties involved in order to reach a fair settlement. If one cannot be reached we will go to trial to secure the financial compensation you truly deserve.  

Sadly, driver negligence causes a large percentage of pedestrian accidents. All motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care when behind the wheel of a vehicle, and failure to do so is negligence. The most common ways in which negligent drivers cause collisions with pedestrians include:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to obey traffic signals and signs
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to signal when turning
  • Disregarding traffic or weather conditions

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Investigators are on the lookout for a hit-and-run driver who they say struck and killed a skateboarder early Wednesday. 

The accident happened near the intersection of Upper Manatee River Road and Waterlefe Boulevard just before 3 a.m. The roadway and nearby Fort Hamer Bridge were shut down for nearly five hours during the morning commute. 

The victim is a 15-year-old boy. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, EMS workers first noticed the skateboarder around 2:15 a.m. as they were transporting a patient to the hospital. They say he was traveling on the north side of Upper Manatee River Road with no lights or reflectors. 

Roughly 30 minutes later, after dropping off the patient, the same ambulance traveled back on Upper Manatee River Road and discovered the skateboard laying in the roadway. That’s when they located debris from a vehicle scattered across the roadway and the victim deceased by the side of the road. 

“There is no way this driver does not know they hit someone or something,” said Trooper Kenn Watson with the Florida Highway Patrol. “The bottom line is, they should have stayed on scene. With the amount of damage that vehicle sustained, they’ve got to know they hit someone.” 

Investigators are looking for a 2012-2015 silver Toyota Tacoma with extensive front end damage. 

Anyone with information about the driver or vehicle is asked to dial *347.

On July 1, 2014, the penalties for hit and run drivers changed when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes) was signed into Florida law. The statute is named after Aaron Cohen, a 31-year-old father of two that was fatally struck by a drunk driver that fled the crash site in February 2012 in central Florida. The hit and run driver was sentenced to two years in prison, which is a lesser sentence than what the driver would have served had he been sentenced on a DUI manslaughter charge. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act imposes a mandatory minimum of 4 years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in a fatality.

In the state of Florida, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries penalties of up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine. Leaving the scene of a crash where injuries have resulted is a second or third-degree felony carrying consequences of up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine and a revoked license for 3 years. Leaving the scene of a crash with a fatality is a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison or up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine as well as a revoked license for 3 years. 

There are a great number of reasons drivers choose to flee the scene of a crash site in Florida. Some drivers are drunk or under the influence of drugs and they fear being charged with a DUI, especially if they have been charged with a DUI before. They might also be scared of being charged with other vehicle crimes associated with causing injury or death while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Some drivers may be so intoxicated that they do not even realize that they have caused an accident, and drive away without even knowing the devastation they have caused. Other drivers leave the scene because they are driving without a license, driving without registration, or driving without insurance. Some may be driving a stolen vehicle, or they may be wanted by police for another crime, like an outstanding warrant. Others are just afraid of what they have done and too scared to face the consequences of their actions. 

It is absolutely vital that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after a hit-and-run accident. As time goes on, important evidence can be lost or destroyed, and witnesses may forget important information, or you may not be able to find them. 

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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 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 driverless bus for tourist pickups on Clearwater Beach is in the planning for testing on Mandalay Avenue, according to the city.

The City Council agreed during a recent work session to write a letter of support for the demonstration of a 12-passenger, self-driving vehicle along Mandalay. The letter will be included in an application for a federal grant to run the project.

The federal government in December announced $60 million in grants to entities that test the “safe integration of automated driving systems” into the nation’s road systems.

The proposed test, a collaboration between the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, engineering firm Stantec and the city, would run between October and January, before the height of the winter tourist season kicks in.

The proposed one-mile test route would run a loop from the Pier 60 area north on Mandalay to Juanita Way. A technologist monitoring the onboard systems can grab the wheel to go around stopped delivery vehicles and avoid other mishaps.

Onboard cameras will constantly record surrounding traffic and all incidents.

The Clearwater police and fire departments are on it on the project, too and have discussed using a lot adjacent to Fire Station 46 at 534 Mandalay Ave. to serve as a staging area for the vehicle, which resembles a small, square bus.

The location provides electricity to recharge the vehicle at night and access to wireless Internet, which lets researchers download data collected by the vehicle’s systems during the day.

Wifi is vital to the driverless vehicle trials on public roadways. Two competing systems are being tested in the country: One would have driverless vehicles depending on sensors along the route to guide them; the other system constantly downloads data into the vehicle to avoid collisions and make such decisions as where to turn and where to stop.

There are limits to the vehicle’s abilities, however.

It runs about 12 mph, and to ensure it runs all day without a recharge, the route it follows can’t be longer than a mile and it also can’t negotiate the traffic circle on Clearwater Beach.

The buses can still get in accidents. That’s what happened on the first day the Navya bus was tested in Las Vegas, according to city officials.

A delivery truck driven by a human driver backed into the shuttle just a few hours after a city ceremony launching the test in November 2017.

According to extensive media reporting on the incident, no one on the bus or in the truck was injured. Las Vegas Metro Police cited the delivery truck driver, and said the French-built, self-driving vehicle was not at fault. City officials wrote that the “shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that its sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident.”

Driverless cars or autonomous driving vehicles are no longer a thing of the future. They were designed with  cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence and algorithms to replace human drivers and eliminate human error, which is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, car accidents and bus accidents. However, like everything else, nothing is perfect and these driverless cars can be involved in collisions. Because driverless car accident lawsuits are relatively new, these claims involve thorough investigation to determine liability and a tenacity to initiate a new venture when it comes to pursuing justice for accident victims.

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An 82-year-old Winter Haven man is in the hospital while Florida Highway Patrol troopers search for the driver who caused him to wreck his motorcycle.

On April 13 at around 5 p.m., the man was on his red Harley Davidson motorcycle, traveling south on U.S. 17 in Wauchula, Florida.

At the same time, FHP says the driver of a pickup truck was leaving the Wauchula Supermarket parking lot. Troopers say the driver crossed through the southbound lanes, toward the median, violating the motorcycle’s right of way. This caused the man to crash his motorcycle into the left side of the truck.

A man who sells fruit by the road witnessed it all. There were other witnesses as well.

Troopers hope with so many witnesses, they will find the driver quickly.

FHP says the driver of the truck took off, traveling north on U.S. 17.

The motorcyclist was rushed to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with critical injuries. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at 239-938-1800 or Crime Stoppers.

While it may seem unimaginable that someone would hit another human being with their vehicle and simply drive away, without stopping to see if the individual needs help, it happens every day across the state of Florida. Negligent or careless drivers usually flee the scene of an accident they caused in a state of panic because they don’t have a valid driver’s license or insurance, they were driving intoxicated, or they simply don’t want to face the consequences of their actions.

Fleeing the scene of an accident is a very serious offense, especially when another person suffers injuries. Drivers who hit a motorcyclist and then leave the scene without exchanging identifying information or rendering aid are subject to ticketing, fines, and possible jail time.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a hit and run motorcycle accident in the Tampa Bay area, our Tampa Bay Motorcycle Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. Even if you have no idea who hit you, we can put our resources to work for you and investigate your claim and work to identify the at-fault party. Your consultation is free and offered on a contingency basis, so there is no fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf.

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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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