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According to projections from AAA, there will be nearly 4 million more people travelling on U.S. roadways this Thanksgiving (2021) compared to last year. This means that if you are planning a road trip that you should expect to see a lot more vehicles sharing the roads and a surge in traffic.

Experts believe that open U.S. borders combined with more people being vaccinated from COVID19 and the long holiday weekend means more people hitting the roads this year. A November AAA report predicts that there will be 48.3 million people making a road trip this Thanksgiving.

While you should anticipate more congestion on the roads this year, you can best prepare yourself for a smooth Thanksgiving journey by leaving early. You can expect delays, so it is best to leave in the morning. The best time to depart is after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, but before 11 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and before noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Car accidents are a big concern this time of year, especially with so many travelers on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warns all motorists to eliminate any risky driving behaviors that have become more common since the pandemic began, such as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol or without wearing a seat belt.

The NHTSA has estimated that 20,160 people have died in car accidents for the first half of 2021, which is an increase of 18% from 2020.

On a similar note, Thanksgiving weekend has shown a trend of more motor drunk driving motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. The NHTSA shows that around 800 deaths were caused by drunk drivers over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend from 2015-2019.

Wherever you are this holiday weekend, our Florida Car Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you to stay safe and get to your destinations safely. Not all traffic is equal, so here is a list of the cities with the worst traffic on the day before Thanksgiving and the worst times to travel:

Atlanta: The worst time to travel is between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. and Interstate 85 South from Clairmont Road to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is anticipated to have the most congestion.

car-g7a9a9e4de_1920-300x200Boston: Steer clear of Interstate 93 North from Quincy Market to Massachusetts Route 28 between 1 and 3 p.m.

Chicago: Avoid Interstate 290 West from Morgan Street to Wolfe Road from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.

Detroit: The worst travel times are from 2-4 p.m. on Interstate 96 West from 6 Mile Road to Walled Lake.

Houston: Avoid Interstate 10 West from Sjolander Road to Texas State Highway 330 from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m.

Los Angeles: Stay away from Interstate 5 South from Colorado Street to Florence Avenue between 3:45 and 5:45 p.m.

New York: Keep away from Interstate 495 East from Borden Avenue to Little Neck Parkway from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

San Francisco: From 4-6 p.m. Interstate 80 East from Interstate 580 to San Pablo Dam Road is expected to be heavily congested.

Seattle: From 4-6 p.m. Interstate 5 South from Washington State Route 18 to Washington State Route 7 is expected to be heavily congested.

Washington, D.C.: From 2-4 p.m. avoid Interstate 95 South from Interstate 395 to Virginia State Route 123.
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A biker was killed in a fatal wreck involving a large truck on Interstate 4 in Polk County on Monday night around 7:30 p.m.

Reports indicate that the 52-year-old motorcyclist was riding his 2015 Harley Davidson heading west in I-4 when a trooper who was assisting a construction crew crashed into him. The biker was thrown from his Harley Davidson motorcycle and landed in the path of a big rig, which ran him over.

The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene, according to troopers.

The trooper and the driver of the tractor trailer were not harmed in the crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has compiled data involving collisions with large trucks for the latest year available – 2018. They have recorded approximately 499,000 large truck accidents for 2018, with 4,415 fatalities and 107,000 injuries. Most fatal accidents involving semi-trucks occur on Interstates and at night between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. For 2018, the majority of fatal truck accidents (82%) did not involve any occupants of the large truck.

Truck transport is growing by the day in the United States, and 70% of all products reach their destination by some type of delivery truck. With so many trucks on the roadways, we have seen a surge in accidents and injuries caused by these enormous vehicles carrying all sorts of cargo. Due to their size and weight, large trucks can cause very serious injuries when a crash occurs, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord damage, broken bones, internal bleeding, head and neck injuries, and more. If a person is lucky enough to survive a crash with a big rig, then they are most likely looking at immediate medical attention and numerous surgeries, which can become quite costly rather quickly.

semi-truck-g97fb2408f_1920-300x200A large truck is classified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as any vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds. The vast majority of truck accidents are not caused by drugs or alcohol, but rather mechanical defects, driver’s switching to new routes, and truck driver fatigue. Issues with tires, wheels, steering wheel defects, brakes, and the weight of the truck are all top contributors of crashes. Large trucks weigh much more than a normal vehicle, and sometimes large trucks surpass 40 tons where a regular passenger vehicle weighs approximately 2.5 tons. Because of the weight of their cargo, large trucks require a greater stopping distance than a traditional passenger vehicle, especially when cargo Is not loaded properly and evenly. While a passenger vehicle may only need 300 feet to come to a complete stop after hitting the brake, a large truck usually needs double that length – around 525 feet – in order to completely stop.

Big rigs injure or kill a person every 15 minutes in the U.S. This adds up to a great deal of accidents, injuries, and deaths. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash with a large truck, you may be wondering what you can do to hold the at-fault driver accountable for your suffering. Our Florida Truck Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help guide you through the recovery process. We can be the ally you need during this difficult time, not just your legal advocate. We understand how devastating these accidents are and will listen to your side of the story and take the stress of these situations off your shoulders so that you can focus on what is truly important: getting better.

Truck accidents are quite different from traditional car accidents. When you are involved in a crash with another driver, it is usually that driver that you file a suit against. Trucking accidents can have multiple parties that are responsible, such as the truck driver, the truck company, the loading company responsible for the cargo, the manufacturer of the truck parts, and the maintenance crews responsible for safety inspections. Truck accidents can also involve both state and federal laws, further complicating these matters. You need an attorney who knows trucking regulations and laws and has the resources needed to fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. Continue reading

Those who suffer from sleep apnea may be prescribed to used mechanical ventilator devices so that they continue to breathe while sleeping and avoid being woken up multiple times throughout the night.

Sadly, in June of 2021, the main manufacturer of CPAP and BiPAP machines, Philips Respironics, recalled 4 million of its devices because they have been found to cause cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung injury.

These affected devices use sound abatement foam liners that are made from polyester-based polyurethane, which can break down into smaller particles that can be inhaled or ingested quite easily. The foam has been found off-gas toxic chemicals that can cause nausea, vomiting, stroke, liver and kidney disease, cancer, serious respiratory issues, as well as myocardial infarction.

The VA has distributed around 600,000 of these recalled CPAP/BiPAP machines to veterans across the country. If you have used one of these mechanical ventilator devices and have suffered from any of the above-mentioned injuries/illness, then you may be eligible to recover financial compensation. We strongly urge you to call our Phillips CPAP/BiPAP/ASV Device Recall Lawyers at Whittel & Melton today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free consultation so that you can find out more about whether or not you have a claim for compensation.

What Machines Have Been Recalled?

  • DreamStation ASV
  • DreamStation ST, AVAPS
  • SystemOne ASV4
  • C Series ASV, S/T, AVAPS
  • OmniLab Advanced Plus In-Lab Titration Device
  • SystemOne Q series
  • DreamStation CPAP, Auto CPAP, BiPAP
  • DreamStation Go CPAP, APAP
  • Dorma 400, 500 CPAP
  • REMStar SE AutoCPAP

What Should I Do If I Have Used/Using One of These Devices?

Many military veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and obesity, which are two leading causes for sleep apnea. For years, many vets have used CPAP or BiPAP machines to help them breathe while sleeping, and now the recall has made these products defective. If you have used a sleep apnea machine, then you may be wondering what to do next. There are several things you can do right now, the first being to sign an online petition for the VA to improve their quality control measures. Second, register with Philips Respironics so that you can be eligible for a replacement device when they are available (this could take up to a year). And perhaps the most important step to take is to contact our Phillips CPAP/BiPAP/ASV Device Recall Lawyers at Whittel & Melton today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online so that we can begin helping you formulate a strategy for building a claim for damages.

While most recalls advise patients to stop using the defective product or drug, this recall is different. If you are currently using one of the machines listed above, then you should contact your doctor about whether or not it is in your best interest to stop using the machine.

What About My Disability Benefits?

We understand that as a veteran you have fought long and hard for your benefits. You may be concerned that you will lose these benefits if you stop using the device prescribed. However, this recall is unique and your benefits will not be affected if you stop using your CPAP or BiPAP machine. The same is true if you have applied for benefits and have a pending application. Continue reading

Hurricane Ida brought destruction to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, leaving millions without power for what is projected to be weeks, wreaking havoc on homes and business properties, and weakening the societal infrastructure that is needed to keep things running safely and smoothly. This has left many wondering what’s next? It is important to be prepared for what Mother Nature has in store for the coming weeks for the Atlantic and Southeastern states.

Hurricanes are named alphabetically at the start of every hurricane season in June. The names are always predetermined by the National Weather Service. The letter “I,” is the ninth letter of the alphabet and the ninth storm of the season that typically occurs at the end of September. 2021 has been an active storm season, but Hurricane Ida occurred roughly a month ahead of schedule and was one of the most powerful storms the United States has seen. It now joins the ranks of other powerful “I” storms, 2004’s Ivan and 2017’s Irma, which is one that Floridians remember well.

A look back at 2020 shows that this was also an active hurricane season, bringing 30 named storms, 14 hurricanes (7 major hurricanes), 11 named storms hitting the U.S. coastline, and then Greek letters being used for names as the busy hurricane season came to a close.

key-west-86025_1920-300x199Taking a peek back at the previous years of storms shows a disturbing trend: an increase in named storms and an intensity that is ferocious. Hurricane Ida went from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Category 4 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale too quickly for most to develop a plan of action to protect themselves and their property from the storm that intensified from 85 mph to 150 mph in less than 24 hours. With that said, Floridians are urged to not only prepare for more storms, but more storms that are dangerous forced that could end in great destruction.

Storm names remaining for the 2021 season are: 

  • Larry
  • Mindy
  • Nicholas
  • Odette
  • Peter
  • Rose
  • Sam
  • Teresa
  • Victor
  • Wanda

What Do You Do After a Hurricane?

After surviving a powerful storm, don’t be shocked when your own insurance company denies your claim. Your insurance company may have a laundry list of reasons they provide as to why your claim will be delayed or outright denied. Continue reading

A 44-year-old woman is currently in critical condition suffering from a brain injury after she was struck by an “L-shaped” piece of metal that dislodged from a roller coaster at Cedar Point.

The woman was apparently waiting in line for the Top Thrill Dragster when the metal piece that is about the size of an adult male’s hand struck the back of her head.

Bystanders described the metal bracket as a giant Jenga block.

Whittel & Melton is pleased to announce that its founding partner Jason M. Melton has been named to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® again for 2021, an annual listing that highlights the most exceptional attorneys throughout  the country in high value and high stakes litigation matters. Jason Melton has been distinguished among his peers for 2020 and 2021 as America’s America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®. 

logo-150x150-1In order to be considered for the high honor of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®, an attorney must meet specific criteria, including litigating business matters for a plaintiff or defendant with at least two million dollars at stake. Candidates are then screened meticulously through data analysis of their professional experience, litigation experience, their case results, their peer reputation, their high stakes litigation matters, and the impact they have on their community. Once they are ranked accordingly, less than one-half percent (.5%) of active attorneys throughout the country will receive the high honor of being named an exclusive and high level top litigator. To learn more about this great achievement, click here. 

Jason Melton is a skilled personal injury, wrongful death, and criminal trial attorney in the state of Florida. He has battled against large insurance companies and major corporations in the civil arena, which has earned him the honor of being a high stakes litigator. Jason has been a past president and treasurer of the Hernando County Bar Association and is active in many local charities, including two annual college scholarship programs that he founded. Jason has also earned an AV Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell, and has been listed among Florida’s Super Lawyers. He is a founding member of the National Academy of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers and was named Top 20 Motorcycle Injury Lawyer in the United States in 2020. Continue reading

With back to school season here it is important to address the driving challenges this brings, such as more congestion near schools and in neighborhoods, more yellow school buses on the roadways, more kids and parents walking, and just the added need to exercise a bit more caution. New teen drivers hitting the road to drive themselves to school are an additional safety hazard. Motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for teens. The CDC estimates that 2,400 teens in the United States between the ages of 13 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 and another 258,000 needed to be treated for their injuries at the emergency room. 

Special attention this time of year is very necessary to prevent simple and avoidable accidents. Here are a few safety reminders from our Florida Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton to keep you and your loved ones get safely back to school. 

School Buses

The driver of a girls home van involved in an Alabama interstate crash that killed eight children has filed a lawsuit against trucking companies in California and Georgia as well as another driver, according to reports. 

The federal lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of money and involves the director of the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch who was trying to help free the victims involved in the fiery crash. Two of the women’s children and two of her nephews were killed in the collision. 

The woman was pulled from the van by others nearby and rushed around trying to free anyone else she could, but was unable to because of the flames and damage.

The suit said that all of the children were killed by the fiery crash. In total, eight children ranging in age from 3 to 17 died in the van. 

The woman driver of the van that was rescued from the crash suffered bruises, burns, and severe emotional and mental distress. 

In a separate crash, a Tennessee man and his daughter also died on Interstate 65. 

The lawsuit names the California-based Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport and Asmat Express of Clarkston, Ga., which both were identified by the National Transportation Safety Board as being involved in the crash. The suit also named an Asmat driver. 

None of the companies involved have made a comment. 

truck-602567_1920-300x200The woman was driving the van on the left lane of Interstate 65 heading north when the Hansen & Adkins truck failed to stop in traffic, struck an SUV and swerved into her lane. The van was then struck from behind by the Asmat Express truck, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit alleges that the crash should not have ever happened. The trucks were not equipped with anti-crash safety technology and the drivers were going too fast, distracted or following too closely. 

A preliminary report by the NTSB recounted the crash similarly to the lawsuit, but did not place blame on a certain party or say what exactly caused the wreck. 

You can be the safest driver on the road, but when another driver on the road acts carelessly or negligently, then all bets are off. While any car accident can result in severe injuries, semi truck collisions can result in even more severe injuries or as this case shows, wrongful death. If you have had a loved one pass away as a result of a tragic accident with a semi truck driver, then our Florida Truck Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you take the appropriate steps to help you recover compensation for your suffering. While nothing we do can bring your loved one(s) back, it can hold the at-fault party responsible for their recklessness and prevent them from ever repeating their actions. It can also reward you with the financial compensation you need to move forward with your life as best as you can. 

The sad truth is that when a truck accident happens, the truck driver usually walks away unscathed while the other parties involved are not so lucky. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has studies that show 87% of all trucking accidents are caused by driver negligence. Negligence can include the following behaviors: 

  • Driver Fatigue
  • Speeding 
  • Distracted Driving 
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and/or Alcohol
  • Inadequate Training 
  • Travelling Too Fast for Road Conditions
  • Unfamiliar with the Roads
  • Cargo Shift 
  • Wide Turns

As legal experts in the field of commercial truck accidents, our Florida Truck Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will thoroughly investigate every truck accident that is brought to us in order to determine exactly what caused the collision. We will start by investigating whether the truck companies involved in the crash and the driver violated any state and federal regulations. We will do this by using the following tools: 

  • Reviewing Truck Log Books
  • Reviewing Truck Maintenance Logs 
  • Drug and Alcohol Tests
  • Looking into Weight Restriction Compliance 
  • Making sure the Company Fulfilled Safety Inspection Requirements 
  • Making sure the Company was in Compliance with Loading Procedures

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Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 91, has been accused of sexually assaulting a teen boy in Massachusetts in June of 1974, making him the highest ranking church official to face charges of this nature. 

He was charged Wednesday with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child over the age of 14 in Dedham District Court by the Wellesley Police Department. This is his first criminal charge since he has been accused of abusing seminary students in New Jersey years ago. 

The charges stem from an incident at a wedding in June 1974 in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

According to records, the accuser was 16 at the time of the incident and was also abused at other locations in Massachusetts and in other states, including New Jersey.

McCarrick ranked among powerful officials in the Catholic Church for decades until he was removed from ministry in 2018 after the church found abuse allegations against him to hold merit. He was defrocked a year later following accusations that he abused children and adult seminary students.

While the man has been sued several times by men in New York and New Jersey who claim he abused them as children, the statute of limitations has kept authorities from proceeding with any criminal charges. 

priest-3621038_1920-300x169But now, under Massachusetts law, the statute of limitations would have been suspended when McCarrick, who worked in the New York Archdiocese at the time, left the state after the wedding.

McCarrick was the bishop of Metuchen in the 1980s and the Archbishop of Newark from 1987 to 2000. He was then promoted to be head of the Washington, D.C., Archdiocese even though Pope John Paul II was investigating allegations against McCarrick for abusing adult seminary students at a New Jersey shore home for many years.

A Vatican report issued last year alleged that several New Jersey bishops lied in letters to the pope about what they knew about sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick, which helped him have his promotion approved.

McCarrick is accused of abusing children in other pending lawsuits that were filed in New Jersey under a law that suspended the civil statute of limitations on sex abuse complaints for two years, starting Dec. 1, 2019.

McCarrick is currently residing at the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri, a home for clerics who have committed sexual abuse and other troubled priests, according to reports. Missouri records apparently show that eight registered sex offenders, including two from New York, live at that address.

If you or your son, daughter, stepchild, niece, nephew, or grandchild were sexually abused by a member of the Catholic church, then you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the abuse as well as the Church itself. The diocese has an obligation to keep children and others safe from their employers and should conduct a background check on its employees to make sure that priests and other employees are cleared to be around children. Likewise, any allegations made against priests or other employees should be investigated thoroughly to prevent further sex abuse complaints. If the diocese failed to conduct a background check or knew that a priest had a history of child sex abuse complaints against them or had any other indications that raised any red flags, then they can be held liable for their negligence.  Continue reading

The CEO of UF Health Jacksonville, 56, was pronounced dead Saturday following an accident on a personal watercraft. Reports indicate that the man was flung from the jet ski he was riding in Palm Beach Inlet. 

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the man was found in the water wearing a life jacket and was immediately taken to a hospital, where he passed away from his injuries. 

This is all that is known at the time regarding the man’s death. 

man-5320033_1920-300x200Boating, especially in Florida, is a widely popular activity. While there are inherent risks involved when operating a motorized vessel, no one expects to suffer harm when having fun out on the water. Sadly, the U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that in 2019 there were 4,168 boating accidents that resulted in 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries and $55 million worth of property damage. 

Sales of personal watercraft, also known as Jet Skis, WaveRunners, or Sea-Doos, have really surged within the last decade. The leading manufacturers of PWCs are Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Bombardier. Despite the growing sales of these vessels, any design changes or engineering modifications have been minimal despite the upward tick of accidents involving their products. 

Jet skis are very popular throughout the state of Florida, but also much more dangerous than traditional boats. In 2019, jet skis accounted for 20% of the total number of recreational boating accidents that year, ranking second to motorboat incidents.  

Why Are Jet Skis so Dangerous? 

  • Reckless operation: These personal watercrafts are light, but have powerful jet motors that can reach speeds of 65 mph or higher. Because they are easy to maneuver, many operators get overconfident and tend to behave recklessly when taking them out by jumping large waves or weaving in and out of boat traffic. 
  • How they are designed: Because jet skis are small in stature, they can flip over quite easily. When cruising at high speeds, the risk for flipping is even greater. The way that jet skis are designed prevents anything from stopping riders from falling or being ejected from the vessel at any moment. It is also worth mentioning that the steering column of jet skis can strike riders heads or chests when involved in an accident at even moderate speeds. 
  • Riders that lack training: Personal watercraft vessels are generally easy to operate. In the state of Florida, operators must be at least 14 years old and must have successfully completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course or have passed a course equivalency or temporary certificate examination. When operating a jet ski or any vessel with a motor of ten horsepower or more, Florida riders must have their boating education ID card and a photo ID card on them. 
  • Weather: Jet skis fail to offer riders the same protections that other larger vessels do. That said, when stormy weather approaches, these PWCs can be extremely dangerous to navigate and you can be ejected quite easily. 

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