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A woman accused of leaving two children unattended inside a hot car in October was arrested Tuesday, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrest report states that the woman was shopping at a strip mall in the 6500 block of Lantana Road in Lake Worth on Oct. 29. She apparently went into a store to make arrangements for a child’s birthday party, leaving two children, ages 2 and 4, alone for about 15 minutes in a van that was turned off and had the windows rolled up.

While she was inside the store, a woman who was attending her daughter’s dance class next door heard screaming coming from the van as she walked by. She told police she saw the children sweating profusely and noticed that one of them had vomited.

The woman ran into her daughter’s dance studio and asked the other mothers if anyone had left children in a red van. The dance moms ran out of the studio and tried to get into the car. One woman called 911 and the others ran inside the various stores at the strip mall to try and track down the driver.

When the driver was located she used her key remote from inside the store to open the rear hatch. Three of the dance moms went inside the vehicle to help the two children.

3144127895_bddb2e631b_zA responding sheriff’s deputy asked the woman whether the children were all right, but did not immediately arrest her.

Deputies said in the report that the outside temperature at the time was about 82 degrees.

The woman is now charged with child neglect.

A car interior can reach 109 degrees after sitting for just 10 minutes on a sunny 90-degree day. For every 10 minutes a vehicle sits in the sun, another 10 degrees is added. If your vehicle is sitting in a parking lot on a warm 90-degree Florida day for just an hour while you shop, the the interior of your car can actually reach 133 degrees in one hour.

With that said, the interior of your parked car is clearly not an ideal place for any living things, especially children and pets. Children and pets should never be left alone in a parked vehicle when the weather is hot. When children and pets are left in hot vehicles, they are at risk for heatstroke or even death. If you see a child or pet left in a closed car without an adult present, call 911 immediately. Even if children or pets are left in the car for just a few minutes, the car can still heat up to deadly temperatures very quickly!

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Graco Children’s Products has agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims that it failed to recall about four million child car seats with a defective buckle that could make it difficult to free a child in an emergency, according to federal regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Graco would pay a $3 million fine and spend $7 million developing safety programs.

Recently, Graco had insisted that the only problem with the buckles was caused by children spilling food or drinks on them. However, parents told federal regulators that they had to cut the straps to free a child, and regulators dismissed the contamination explanation, saying such a problem was foreseeable.

In January 2014, the NHTSA demanded a recall. Graco originally refused, but relented about a month later.

Federal regulators opened an investigation in December into whether the company should have recalled the seats earlier than it did. That investigation started due to a review of Graco documents that showed that parents complained to Graco about the buckles in 2009.

In 2012, the company was telling parents how to clean the buckles and arguing that there was no safety issue.

Federal regulations require that once a manufacturer is aware of a safety problem, it has five business days to inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of its plan for a recall or the company will face a civil fine. The maximum penalty is $35 million.

6485505171_e6b1200fc1_zIn a statement issued on Friday, Graco said the company had “evaluated the issue in a timely manner.” Graco acknowledged that “it did not provide the required notice to N.H.T.S.A.” They additionally stated, “we fell short of N.H.T.S.A.’s expectations for data collection and reporting procedures.”

Graco will be required to submit an independent audit showing how it spends the $7 million, which is to be used on programs like “identifying potential safety trends affecting car seats industry wide and launching a child safety awareness campaign.”

If you believe your child’s injury may have been caused by a defective or flawed child safety seat, our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help. Car seats are supposed to keep children secure in the event of a traffic accident, which means the device must work properly and be free of any defects or malfunctions that could prevent it from doing its job. While the safety seat should keep a baby or young child secure during a collision, it should also be easy to remove the child from seat without much delay.

Manufacturers can be held liable under Florida products liability if their defective product caused injury or death. If a negligent driver played a role in causing the crash that led to injury or fatality, there may also be reason for a Florida auto accident lawsuit.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a press release last week about the U.S. Department of Transportation’s first-ever National Tween Seat Belt Safety Advertising campaign. The campaign urges parents to “Never Give Up Until They Buckle Up.”

The NHTSA is utilizing this campaign to show the importance of targeting this age group and their parents about seat belt safety. It is absolutely vital for tweens to use their seatbelts any time they are riding in cars because these are formative years that immediately precede driving privileges for teenagers.

Unrestrained Tween Facts: Did You Know?

  • Within the past five years, 1,552 children between the ages of 8 and 14 died in car, SUV or Van collisions.
  • Around half of those children killed were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.
  • The percentage of child passengers who die while riding unbelted tends to increase with age. This more pronounced among 13 and 14-year-olds, regardless of seating position.

2732924156_617c53d3df_zThe campaign targets the parents of children between the ages of 8 and 14 years old. Why? This is a very important time to instill the habit in children of always buckling up, for every trip. Tweens are just a few short years away from being in the driver’s seat, which makes this campaign all the more important.

Parents are encouraged to lead by example. No matter how short the trip, any time you get behind the wheel you should fasten your seatbelt before heading anywhere.

Tweens are constantly learning how to be responsible and make good decisions. It is up to the adult or adults in the car to make sure they are always buckled up. Again, it doesn’t matter if you are driving 2 miles or 2,000, tweens, children and adults need to be buckled up for every ride.

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According to police, a man was stabbed and critically wounded during an altercation outside a St. Petersburg nightclub early Sunday.

Just before 2 a.m., an argument involving several people inside the nightclub located at 2420 Central Avenue, continued outside on the street.

A witness told police they saw a 29-year-old man stab a 32-year-old man twice.

An officer on the scene arrested the man accused of the stabbing and charged him with attempted second-degree murder.

179875756_5ac7eb2447_zThe man that was stabbed was transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg where he underwent surgery. He is listed in critical condition.

Violent crime is a serious problem in and around bars and nightclubs. The Tampa Bay Negligent Security Lawyers at Whittel & Melton routinely represent victims of violent crime and help them to recover financial compensation for injuries, and in many cases, for wrongful death.

Business owners have a legal duty to provide adequate security for customers and visitors in order to prevent foreseeable violent crimes. If there has been criminal activity on or near the premises in the past, then the owner of the property should have known that future criminal activity could take place and taken proper steps to implement adequate security measures. When the proper steps are not taken, then the business or property owner can be held liable in a civil personal injury or wrongful death case based on negligent security and they could be required to pay compensation to the injury victim or the family of the person killed.

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As deadly collisions continue to occur throughout the state of Florida, it is quite fitting that citizens of Florida should want answers. While there is not just one answer for the reason why deadly crashes occur, there is some insightful information available on motor vehicle accident causes across the state.

52824625_f3596d1065_z (1)Top Causes for Crashes

  • Distracted Driving
  • Speeding
  • Road Rage
  • Impaired Driving
  • Fatigue

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of auto accidents in the state of Florida. From texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating or engaging in any other manual, visual and cognitive non-driving tasks while behind the wheel, distracted driving puts Floridians in danger.


Speeding is another top cause of motor vehicle collisions in Florida. Going too fast on the roadways can lead to serious injury as well as death. An increase in speed can lead to an increased risk of causing a serious traffic accident.

Road Rage

Aggressive driving maneuvers like tailgating and cutting off cars is another reason why so many auto accidents occur in Florida. Aggressive driving is a form of road rage, and can also include risky behaviors like improper signaling and swerving in and out of lanes.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also leads to lethal accidents on Florida roadways. While the FHP and local law enforcement agencies have been ramping up their efforts to crackdown on drunk drivers, impaired driving collisions are still happening in Florida.


Fatigue is also a major cause for concern when it comes to car crashes. When a driver is drowsy or sleepy, he or she is not likely to make good decisions behind the wheel. It is vital to be alert when driving any distance. Drowsy driving can easily lead to a serious collision in just the blink of an eye.

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According to Clay County deputies, a motorcyclist who was speeding in a Fleming Island neighborhood when he struck and killed a skateboarder last August, turned himself in Thursday morning.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office claims that the 27-year-old was riding his motorcycle under the influence and going over 70 mph in a 30mph zone early the morning of Aug. 2 when he struck and killed the 23-year-old man on Bald Eagle Road.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The biker was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville, where he recovered.

1164982485_9843d32a30_zAccording to the Florida Highway Patrol, the man’s blood test indicated his blood-alcohol was 0.089 and 0.091, which is above the state limit.

The man’s driving record includes 27 citations, four for speeding, three for careless driving and two for reckless driving. He was also arrested once before for DUI.

The man apparently surrendered to deputies at the Sheriff’s Office on charges of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. He posted $15,006 bond and is currently out of jail.

An impaired motorcyclist is a very dangerous combination. Motorists who operate vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol are at a severe disadvantage as these can hinder one’s ability to perform functions normally. Motorcyclists under the influence of drugs or alcohol have slower reaction times, may experience difficulty focusing on the roads as well as have trouble balancing, all of which can significantly increase the likelihood of a motor vehicle collision.

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According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, General Electric has agreed to pay a $3.5 million civil penalty due to their failure to report an unreasonable risk of serious injury caused by defective ranges and dishwashers.

Reports show that the connector in the range’s wire harness can overheat and cause a fire, which could lead to serious burn injuries. In addition, various models of dishwashers were recalled because of  similar fire hazards. The CPSC said the dishwashers could short circuit when condensation builds up on the control board.

6884568558_06fb98ba6d_zStandard CPSC policy requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to report any findings related to a potential safety hazard or defect to the CPSC immediately. Generally, all information regarding possible risks or dangers should be reported within 24 hours of obtaining the information.

GE and the CPSC announced the recall of 28,000 dual-fuel ranges in April of 2009. The ranges were sold across the United States from June 2002 through December 2005. By the time GE had recalled the product, 13 separate incidents had been reported regarding the harness and wiring overheating in the back of the range. Of these reported incidents, five resulted in a fire.

GE was apparently aware of this hazard dating all the way back to 2004. GE also failed to report the fire hazards that were found in Profile and Monogram Dishwashers that were sold between July 2003 and October 2010. GE recalled 174,000 units in 2010, but knew of several incidents reports dating back to 2007.

In addition to the payment of $3.5 million, GE has also agreed to a compliance program as part of the settlement.  The compliance program will be set up to ensure that the Consumer Product Safety Act is being met as well as various protocols, including:

  • Proper procedures for recording, processing and reporting information regarding possible safety issues
  • Written standards and policies
  • Confidential employee reporting of compliance concerns to a senior manager
  • Senior management responsibility for, and general board oversight of compliance
  • Requirements for record retention

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GM’s ignition-switch recall compensation fund is no longer accepting claims because the January 31 deadline has passed. However, this does not mean that consumers have no legal recourse if they were injured in a recalled vehicle.

Headlines were rampant in 2014 regarding the series of recalls issued by GM after an ignition-switch defect in about 2.6 million vehicles was linked to dozens of injuries and deaths. Federal investigations began and GM set up a victim compensation fund in order to settle death and injury claims.

In a regulatory filing released Wednesday, GM disclosed details regarding those claims. Here is what we know:

GM’s victim compensation fund started accepting claims August 1, 2014. During the six-month claims period that ended January 31:

  • A grand total of 4,180 claims were filed, including more than 1,100 in the final week
  • As of now, 482 claims have been rejected
  • 455 claims involved a death. Officially, 51 deaths have now been linked to the GM ignition-switch defect.

GM has made 93 settlement offers to date, and none have yet been rejected, according to reports. It could take another six months to review all of the remaining claims.

While GM is standing by its January 31 cutoff date for compensation fund claims, anyone injured in a recalled GM vehicle may still be able to pursue a claim. All of these recalls have different scenarios, and a Florida Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can review your claim and guide you on how to proceed.

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The Super Bowl is a major event each year that can lead to drunk driving accidents that result in severe injury or death. Super Bowl parties start mid-afternoon and run into Sunday night, which means there are a large amount of intoxicated drivers on the roads afterwards. According to reports, approximately 40 percent of deadly car accidents on Super Bowl Sunday involve drunk driving. Last year, alcohol was a factor in a fatal car accident every 52 minutes.

Drunk Driving Legal Liability

Bars and restaurants usually have what is called Dram Shop insurance, meaning they are trained on how to responsibly serve and stop serving drinks. But, if you are hosting a viewing party at your house, you could be held liable if someone you serve ends up in a drunk driving collision. Dram shop laws were set in place to hold bars and restaurants liable for not practicing responsible alcohol service, but these laws have since been applied to party hosts.

16165977478_fa0a3fc559_zIf you are serving liquor at your Super Bowl party, the best thing to do is to stop serving at the end of the third quarter. Provide taxicab numbers for your guests so that they can get home safely. Understand that liability is determined based on if the one serving knew or should have known the person’s level of intoxication would likely lead to a crash.

Drunk Driving Accident Attorney in Florida

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A motorcyclist who collided with an SUV on U.S. 441 and was ejected into a ditch by the impact of the crash passed away at a local hospital Wednesday.

The 65-year-old Ocala biker was transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center by ambulance following the crash. He was riding a 2011 Harley Davidson and was wearing a helmet, according to Ocala police.

The afternoon crash blocked traffic heading northbound on the busy thoroughfare at Northwest 20th Street for a little more than an hour as traffic homicide investigators from the Ocala Police Department conducted their investigation.

5849701613_6dd93a4d64_zAccording to officials with OPD, a 2002 Ford Escape sport utility vehicle crossed U.S. 441 from the west, at Northwest 22nd Street, crossed through the southbound lanes and traveled through a median break. The vehicle then drove into the path of the motorcycle, which was heading north on 441 in the outside lane.

The man and his motorcycle were thrown into a ditch at Northwest 22nd Street. Police said one of the man’s legs was severed in the crash.

Officers first received a call regarding the accident at 1:29 p.m.

The SUV driver, a 21-year-old Ocala man stopped not far from the crash scene. He was not injured in the crash. The front bumper was ripped from the vehicle, officials said.

It’s unknown if speed was a factor in the collision. At this point, no charges have been filed, and the investigation is continuing.

This death is the first of 2015 for the city, which had four traffic deaths in 2014. None of those deaths involved a motorcycle, according to officials.

Regardless of how much safety gear a person is wearing while riding a motorcycle, including a helmet, many motorcycle accidents result in death. These sudden, unexpected deaths often leave family members and other loved ones angry, confused and lost as far as what to do next.

In many cases, family members of lost loved ones find themselves struggling to make ends meet. A wrongful death lawsuit can help survivors recover financial compensation to help make all necessary payments and keep the household running. At a time like this, our Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to helping you obtain the compensation you need so you are not left worrying about your financial future.

Financial compensation may include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of companionship

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle crash, our Florida Motorcycle Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help. Call us locally at 352-369-5334 or toll-free at 866-608-5529 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with us or contact us online.