Our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July! The Fourth of July holiday is usually centered around fun, and many of us celebrate the long weekend with friends and family, but like many other holidays, risks of accidents and injuries tend to increase during this time.

To help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe this weekend, we would like for everyone to review the below safety tips:

Firework Safety

Many people around the state of Florida want to light of a few fireworks of their own, regardless of the fact that Florida law prohibits any fireworks that fly through the air or explode — such as Roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars — for recreational use. If you plan to light off your own, remember these important tips:

  • Always follow instructions and never provide fireworks to small children.
  • Use fireworks in a safe area and never throw or point fireworks toward people, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.
  • Do not light multiple fireworks at once and never attempt to relight a “dud” firework that did not go off the first time.

Drunk Driving

Sadly, drunk driving accidents, injuries, and deaths are consistently high during Fourth of July weekend. If you plan on celebrating ‘Merica’s Birthday with a few cocktails, make sure to drink responsibly or plan a safe ride home. Designate a sober driver, or call a cab or transportation service like Uber or Lyft. Remember, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for drunk and/or drugged motorists.

Grilling Safety

Barbecues are always a Fourth of July staple. Did you know that numerous people suffer injuries when barbecuing on charcoal and gas grills? Make sure to never grill indoors,  refrain from adding lighter fluid when charcoal has already been ignited, and always follow instructions.

Water Safety

It’s hot in Florida! Most Floridians and visitors to our state will be by the beach, lake, or enjoying the water at backyard pool parties this weekend. When having fun near or in the water, safety should be your top priority. Adults should always supervise children and you should drink responsibly, as well as have an emergency action plan in case something goes awry.

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Have you ever thought how do people leave their kids in cars and forget about them? The truth is we are all human and capable of making mistakes. In fact, since 1998, 677 kids have died in hot cars. Of those, 54 percent were “accidental,” so it is important to realize that this can happen to anyone!

In most cases where people forgot about kids in their cars, they had switched up their normal daily routine. Maybe they drove the child somewhere on a day they normally do not. Switching up our routines, even just slightly, can cause us to forget things. Sometimes, we are so programmed into these routines that our brains switch to “autopilot” and we just go on with business as usual.

It is important to try and prevent these tragedies from happening. The best way to not forget about a child is to get in the habit of always checking the back seat even when you know a child is not there. Another great tip is to put something important in the backseat, such as a briefcase or purse or maybe even a shoe, so that you have to grab it from the backseat before you go into your destination.

Of those 677 deaths, 29 percent were children playing in an unattended vehicle. How can this be? Children can easily trap themselves inside the cabin or a trunk. Because of this, it is always best to keep your vehicle locked and keep all unlocking devices far away from a child’s reach.

Out of the 677 kids killed since 1998, 11 percent were left behind purposefully. You should never leave a child locked inside a hot vehicle, regardless of how quick you will be. A child can have a heat stroke in just minutes!

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A man was killed earlier this month after he lost control of his motorcycle and tumbled more than 100 feet in Marion County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

At around 10:10 p.m., the Umatilla man was driving his 2016 Kawasaki Ninja on the southbound lane of County Road 25 at a “high rate of speed” as he approached a right hand curve, FHP stated in a report.

The 25-year-old driver failed to handle the curve and drove across the centerline and into the northbound lane and onto the east grass shoulder, the FHP stated.

The man lost control of his motorcycle and fell off of it as it began to overturn. Both he and the motorcycle “tumbled over 100 feet before coming to rest on the shoulder” of the road, the FHP reported.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The FHP has not yet determined if alcohol was a factor in the accident.

The investigation is ongoing.

Riding a motorcycle can be liberating. And while the freedom of the open road is nice, riding a motorcycle can also be dangerous as a result of reckless motorists, minimal protection, hazardous conditions and many other factors.

A motorcycle accident can occur as a result of a rider’s negligence, but a motorcycle accident is not always the fault of the operator. In many cases, these types of accident are caused by:

  • DUI
  • Inattention of other drivers
  • Speeding
  • Failing to obey traffic signals
  • Texting and driving
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Fatigued driving
  • Bad roads
  • Failure to yield

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No one was injured Tuesday morning after a car rammed into the entrance of the Largo Post Office.

Largo Police and Largo Fire both responded to the post office located at 50 8th Ave. S.W. after the sedan crashed into the building.

Postal operations were suspended as officials tended to the logistics associated with the crash.

There were no injuries, according to reports. Operations have returned to normal inside the post office.

Vehicles crashing into buildings happen more frequently than you might think. In fact, every day in the U.S., there are 50-60 serious storefront accidents involving an automobile plowing into a restaurant, store, or other type of business and severely injuring customers and employees.

Sadly, these crashes can result in serious injuries and even death to business patrons or employees. Fortunately, no one suffered any harm in this post office crash.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Storefront Safety Council, the following storefront accident statistics have been recorded:

  • There are 20,000 vehicle-into-building crashes every year in the United States, which breaks down to 50 to 60 accidents every day.
  • Every day in the U.S., more than 20 convenience stores are hit by vehicles, which equates to more than 7,300 convenience store crash incidents each year.
  • Why do these crashes occur? 41 percent of all vehicle-into-building crashes are caused by driver confusion or “pedal error.”

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A 2-year-old boy was snatched off the beach by an alligator on Wednesday at a Disney World Resort.

His body was recovered around 3:30 today. The body was taken to Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office. It is believed that the gator drowned the boy.

The 7- to 8-foot reptile grabbed the boy late Tuesday as he was playing in about a foot of water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Hotel. His father, who quickly rushed to the boy’s aid, could not fend off the alligator and received minor injuries to his hand.

The boy’s mother also rushed into the water, but when the couple was unable to save their son, they alerted a nearby lifeguard who called 911.

Some 50 wildlife specialists, including trained alligator trappers, shifted early Wednesday from a search and rescue effort to a recovery operation, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

A tragedy like this is not something we read about often in the news, but sadly, things like this can happen in Florida.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission numbers, as of April there has been just one other incident where a person was bitten by an alligator in Florida in 2016. There were nine 2015, one of which was fatal, and 10 in 2014, none of which were fatal. Since 2006, there have been five reported fatalities due to alligator attacks, and since 1948, when the agency began keeping track, there have been 23.

Any body of water of any size in Florida can potentially have alligators in them. Most hotels and resorts near bodies of water are pretty vigilant about relocating dangerous animals out of areas where the public would be nearby. In Florida, you have to be very careful as alligators can be anywhere, including golf courses and even backyards.

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A Tavares man was killed after being crushed by pallets of dirt and mushrooms at a Zellwood processing plant.

The 45-year-old man was moving pallets with a forklift late Monday night — some weighing between 800 to 1,000 pounds — at Monterey Mushrooms on Sadler Road when the stack of trays started shaking, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office report.

The man jumped off the forklift and tried to run, but the pallets fell on him, according to a witness.

He was taken to Florida Hospital Apopka, where he was pronounced dead.

Deputies and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

Monterey Mushrooms has not released a statement.

The aftermath of a crush injury can be devastating. Sadly, crushing accidents are one of the top killers when it comes to workplace accidents. Because of the serious nature of these injuries, employers have an obligation to make sure that their workers are protected from crush injuries at all times.

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A woman was seriously injured Tuesday afternoon after a hang glider crashed into a tree in Sumter County.

At about 4:45 p.m., Sumter Fire and EMS and an ambulance responded to a reported hang glider crash in Center Hill, near County Road 569.

Once units arrived, they found that a hang glider had hit a tree and crashed, according to Sumter Fire and EMS.

A female, who was seriously injured, was declared a trauma alert and flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Her condition is unknown at this time.

When a hang gliding accident does take place, the results are often tragic. While these are not accidents we read about regularly in the news, these types of accidents often result in catastrophic personal injuries and even wrongful death. Crashes can be caused by numerous different factors, but generally aviation and hang gliding incidents involve the following elements – manufacturing design defects, poorly maintained aircrafts and safety standards violations.

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Detectives in the Upper Keys are investigating three reports involving hidden cameras found in women’s restrooms.

In all three incidents, miniature cameras hidden in coat hooks were found mounted on the walls in the women’s restrooms.

The coat hooks mounted in all three locations are identical to devices available for purchase on line, sold by various companies as “home security devices.” Detectives have notified Monroe County Public Works and Islamorada Public Works and asked them to check all the bathrooms at county and city facilities; Sheriff Rick Ramsay wants to let everyone know so they also can be on the lookout.

All of the devices found so far look like simple white coat hooks with the camera mounted behind it and utilizing a very small hole in the top portion of the coat hook for the lens of the camera. They use motion detection cameras inside to take video.

If you ever see one of these coat hooks in your hotel bathroom or elsewhere, leave immediately and call 911.

Hotels and the owners of other properties have a certain duty to tenants, visitors, and customers to keep the area safe and secure. When they fail to provide a safe environment and someone is injured as a result, property owners can be found liable.

Negligent security deals with an owner failing to show reasonable care for the safety of others. Lack of reasonable care can range from a robbery at an ATM on site or as this case shows, hidden cameras installed in hotel bathrooms.

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With Tropical Storm Colin creating messy conditions across much of Florida, Governor Rick Scott is urging Floridians and visitors to the state to be prepared.

Governor Scott released the following statement:

We are closely monitoring this tropical system and its potential impacts on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Our most important goal is to protect our families, visitors and communities, and we will take every action to make sure our state is prepared for this weather event,” said Scott. “While Florida’s emergency officials, first responders and National Guard stand ready to respond to any need, it is crucial that Floridians use every resource to make sure their homes and families are immediately and thoroughly prepared.

The National Hurricane Center gives the system a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next five days.

Upper-level winds could be more conducive for development as the system moves northeastward across the Gulf. Regardless whether it becomes a named storm, it’s likely to produce heavy rains in Florida.

Even if this system does not develop into a named storm, it still poses significant risks from flooding, damaging winds and tornadoes, and rip currents.

The potential impacts of this tropical storm include:

  • Rainfall amounts that could reach up to five inches across much of Central and South Florida with isolated totals of eight to ten inches along the I-4 corridor.
  • Severe thunderstorms are possible across North Florida. Additional severe weather is possible through Tuesday across portions of Central and South Florida.
  • Increased wave heights along the Gulf Coast Monday and Tuesday and along the Atlantic Coast on Wednesday will elevate the risk of rip currents and minor coastal erosion.

Part of living in Florida, is dealing with severe weather, such as hurricanes and tropical storms. During hurricane season, it is always a good idea to make sure you stay up to date with the way the storms are categorized, and to know the procedures your family should follow in the event a storm hits.

The American Red Cross has put together a list to help people be prepared in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane. The following is a hurricane safety list, and identifies what you need to do to keep safe in times of severe weather:

  • Get a full tank of gas before the storm. There could be shortages after the storm.
  • Create an evacuation plan with family members.
  • Keep plenty of cash with you.
  • Make sure to have at least three days’ worth of food and water for each person in your household.
  • Gather family and emergency contact information. Make sure all family members have ID.
  • Get all medical prescriptions filled before the storm.
  • Install plywood or hurricane shutters on doors and windows and secure all loose objects outside your home.

If you are evacuated from your home, leave early and make sure to avoid driving on flooded roads and bridges. Even shallow water can be dangerous.

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Belle Isle interim city manager, Apopka consultant and lobbyist Richard Anderson turned himself in to authorities yesterday after he was charged with a hit-and-run case that hospitalized another driver back in April.

The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the Lake County collision and issued an arrest warrant for Anderson Tuesday.

Anderson turned himself in to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office out of convenience Tuesday afternoon. That department held him in the Seminole County jail overnight pending transfer to Lake County.

Anderson also resigned Tuesday from his part-time position as Belle Isle’s interim city manager. Mayor Lydia Pisano said she accepted his resignation.

Anderson worked for the city of Apopka, where he stepped down as full-time city administrator in 2014, after Joe Kilsheimer beat longtime incumbent John Land in the mayoral election. However, Anderson took a two-year contract that paid him $22,000 per month as a consultant with Apopka to continue working on several projects for the city.

The Apopka City Council will be looking into his contract status.

Anderson is charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries from an April 5 automobile crash on State Road 46 near Sorrento. Five charges were filed against him: leaving the scene with serious bodily injury, reckless driving with serious bodily injury, tampering with physical evidence, leaving the scene with property damage and reckless driving with property damage.

According to the FHP, shortly before 1:30 a.m. a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup truck crossed into the opposing lane and slammed head-on into a Toyota Corolla. The driver of the Corolla suffered debilitating injuries and was airlifted to a hospital.

Witnesses told the highway patrol they found the injured driver of the Corolla laying on the ground and another man talking on a cellphone. The second man had left before the FHP arrived. Two of the witnesses later identified Anderson, the owner of the abandoned truck, from photo lineups, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Anderson is the former full-time city administrator of Apopka. He had been with the town for 40 years, starting as a paramedic, working himself up to fire chief, and then becoming the city’s chief administrative officer in late 2004. He retired Sept. 17, 2014, and signed the consulting contract, chiefly to work on the city’s city center project.

He had become interim city manager in Belle Isle after the previous city manager resigned on Jan. 5.

Drivers fleeing the scene of an auto accident are actually quite common occurrences. Sadly, hit-and-run accidents may leave a victim with serious and life-threatening injuries, and in some cases, death. Injury victims and their families are often left wondering what their rights are, especially if the careless driver has not been identified.

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