Articles Posted in Citrus County

I think we can all agree that our homes and personal property are important assets. Most Floridians are aware of the risk of living in an area that is susceptible to hurricanes and storm damage, which is why they do all they can to  protect their property before a storm and purchase property insurance to cover any potential damage. You have little control over the damage that is done by a storm, despite what insurance adjusters may try and argue.

The following is a list of things you should do to protect your assets in the event a hurricane or storm damages your property:

  • Take pictures or videos of your house and personal belongings to show to adjusters so there is evidence of the before and after effects.
  • Keep your receipts for expensive items and for anything without a receipt, keep an inventory list. It is helpful to include the model, make, year of purchase and cost. The more organized you are, the better.
  • Save all pertinent information in a safe place where it cannot be destroyed by storm damage. It is best to have an electronic copy of this information. Consider emailing it to a friend or family as backup.

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A new report on bicyclist deaths by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths of any state in the nation — 0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate of 0.23 per 100,000.

While other states have found ways to cut bicycle deaths during two periods measured over the last three decades, Florida has only reduced the number less than 10 percent.

Nationwide, safety seems to be improving for bicyclists, with the number of deaths per 100,000 people declining 44 percent from 0.41 to 0.23 during the periods measured — the five years from 1975 to 1979 and the five years from 2008 to 2012, according to the new CDC report titled “Bicyclist Deaths Associated with Motor Vehicle Traffic — United States, 1975–2012.”

The steepest decline measured was among children younger than 15.

According to the report, bicyclists are killed on U.S. roads at a rate double that of vehicle occupants, even though bicycle travel accounts for only about 1 percent of trips across all modes of transportation.

Because of the year-round warm climate in Florida, cycling is a popular mode of transportation and exercise activity during most months of the year. However, Florida roadways also pose serious risks to bicyclists, from distracted automobile drivers to improper bike lanes. If you or someone you love has suffered a serious injury or was killed in a bike accident, it is very important to discuss your case with a Florida Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton.

Unfortunately, what could start out as a leisurely bike ride can quickly turn into a fatal accident. At Whittel & Melton, we believe that the responsible party should be held responsible for damages. Filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim for a bike accident can be complex, but we can provide you with the experienced representation you need.

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Fireworks are definitely dangerous, but they are not the only dangers to avoid this Fourth of July weekend. The roadways are especially hazardous during the summer holidays. When you are traveling to or from an Independence Day party this year, please remember to be on the look out for reckless drivers.

Here are a few dangers to try and avoid this Fourth of July:

  • Drunk drivers. Think about it, almost every Florida Independence Day celebration will have alcohol. Partygoers who are drinking at parties and such should not get behind the wheel of a car. If you see a car weaving or dodging in and out of traffic, keep your distance. If you have a passenger with you, consider notifying authorities.
  • 4428561177_831c2f9269_zDrowsy Drivers. Many holiday drivers are travelling lengthy distances to get to their final destination. Those who have been driving for hours may be feeling fatigued. Drowsy driving is often as dangerous as drunk drivers, so stay alert.
  • Distracted Drivers. Keep in mind that many travelers on Florida roadways are from out of town and have never been to the area before. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds to look at a navigation device can have devastating results. Avoid being a distracted driver by staying off your cell phone and having other passengers check your GPS or phone for you.
  • Speeding Drivers. People that are anxious to get where they are going may decide to speed or drive recklessly. Make sure you obey the posted speed limits and monitor your speed if there is heavy traffic.

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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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A new report on bicycle fatalities due to car accidents on U.S. roads shows that the bulk of these fatal accidents occur in just a handful of states.

The report, released Monday by the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association, concluded that biking accident deaths rose 16 percent nationwide between 2010 and 2012, while motor vehicle accident fatalities increased by just 1 percent.

4920222422_e160c0f228_zAccording to 2012 figures, the top 10 states that saw the highest number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents are listed below:

  1. California – 123 bicyclist fatalities in motor vehicle accidents in 2012
  2. Florida – 120 bicyclist fatalities in 2012
  3. Texas – 56
  4. New York – 45
  5. Illinois – 29
  6. North Carolina – 27
  7. Michigan – 19
  8. Ohio AND Arizona – 18
  9. Georgia – 17

Moreover, the report also noted that more than half, or 54 percent, of U.S. bicycle fatalities over the period of 2010 to 2012 happened in just six states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared this week, October 19-25, as National Teen Driver Safety Week. Due to the sad reality that motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for teens ages 14 to 18, the NHTSA has made this issue a top priority. The NHTSA’s “5 to Drive” rules are designed to raise awareness about the five biggest issues teen drivers face today.

Safety Issues Facing Teen Drivers

The NHTSA has listed out the top five safety concerns for teen drivers by analyzing data and statistics from auto accidents involving teen drivers across the United States. From driving impaired to having too many passengers in the car, there are numerous issues that can greatly increase a teen driver’s risk for being involved in an accident that could result in serious injuries or death.

Top Five Safety Concerns for Teens

  1. Alcohol
  2. Seat belts
  3. Texting
  4. Speeding
  5. Passengers

7838235550_2205537def_zFive to Drive

By addressing these safety concerns with teen drivers, parents can make a huge impact on the safety of their teen when behind the wheel. Even though teens are not legally allowed to consume alcohol, they are at a greater risk than drivers in any other age group of being involved in an alcohol-related crash. It should also be noted that extra passengers can increase a teen drivers risk of being involved in a collision, so it is best to limited teens to no more than one passenger in their car at any time.

Even what can seem like minor details can have a great impact on inexperienced drivers. As a parent, it is smart to have regular conversations with your teen driver about these five key issues and lead by example. When you are driving, make sure to follow all safety rules, including wearing your seatbelt, and limit the distractions around you. Teens are quite perceptive, and if you are a safe driver, then the odds are your teen will pick up on your safe practices and put them into action when they are behind the wheel.

What to do After a Crash

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October 8 is International Walk to School Day, a day when thousands of schools in the U.S. and in 40 countries strive to raise awareness about walking and bicycling to school. This day expresses the need for walkable communities throughout the world and encourages more children to walk to school.

This day urges the need to educate the public about pedestrian safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, car accidents resulted in the death of a pedestrian every two hours and an injury every seven minutes. In this same year, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and approximately 76,000 were injured in car accidents.

6220732639_8e5aa04c06_mThe NHTSA defines a pedestrian as “a person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down who is involved in a motor vehicle traffic crash.” With that said, every single person is a pedestrian on a regular basis, whether it is a young child walking to school or an adult walking across a shopping mall parking lot. Our Florida Car Accident Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton work with families every day who have had their lives turned upside down because of a negligent driver who failed to pay attention to a biker or pedestrian sharing the roadway. Injuries to pedestrians struck by cars can vary from cuts, bruises and scrapes to broken bones, spinal cord trauma and death.

Children under the age of 16 accounted for 6 percent of pedestrian deaths and 18 percent of pedestrian injuries caused by car accidents in 2012. In that same time period, pedestrians age 65 and older made up 20 percent of pedestrian deaths and 9 percent of pedestrian injuries as a result of auto accidents.

Motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians can be truly devastating. The NHTSA urges everyone to follow the below safety tips when walking or driving.

Pedestrians should always:

  • Walk on sidewalks when possible.
  • Make sure that electronic devices do not interfere with sight or sound.
  • Attempt to make eye contact with drivers as they approach, or make sure they are visible to drivers.
  • Cross streets at intersections and crosswalks and walk facing traffic as drivers expect pedestrians to do these things.
  • If there are no crosswalks, cross streets where there is good visibility so that you can be seen clearly by other drivers.
  • Stay away from places where pedestrians are prohibited, like freeways and restricted-access highways.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing at night.
  • Avoid walking while intoxicated at any time.

Drivers should always:

  • Keep an eye out for pedestrians, even in unexpected places.
  • Be extra cautious when visibility is limited by inclement weather.
  • Be prepared to stop at crosswalks and intersections.
  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Refrain from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Follow the designated speed limit, especially in areas with pedestrians.
  • Observe reduced speed limits near schools, playgrounds and all other areas where children are known to gather.

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The leading cause of death in children between the ages of one and 13 is auto accidents. In an effort to raise awareness about these tragedies and further educate people about keeping children safe in motor vehicles, the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration has announced that Child Passenger Safety Week will take place from September 14 until September 20 and National Seat Check Saturday will be on September 20, 2014 to make sure children are in the correct restraints while riding in a motor vehicle.

There are a many options when it comes to restraining a child in an car – rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, boosters and a traditional seat belt. Age can play a big factor in this decision, but size is the priority. There can be numerous risks for children that are placed in too small of safety seats as well as too large of seats. During Child Passenger Safety Week, communities across Florida will have certified technicians available to educate parents and children about car seat safety.

7174336898_45a7a0e2a8_mInstalling Seats Correctly

First and foremost, before installing a car seat, make sure to always read the instructions. Every seat has slightly different installation directions, however there are some universal key points to keep in mind.

Seat location: Regardless of what kind of restraint you are using, it should always be placed in the back seat of your vehicle. Children should not be allowed to ride in the front seat until they are at least 13 years old.

Securing the seat: When a restraint system is properly installed there should be no side-to-side or front-to-back movement of more than an inch.

Proper Fitting of the Seat: Once the seat is securely installed, it is necessary to make sure you child is fitted into the seat properly. Harness straps should lay flat and never be twisted. In a rear-facing car seat, the straps should loop through the back slot at or below the child’s shoulders. In front-facing seats, the straps should be looped through the slot at or above the shoulders. The harness should be secure enough that excess material cannot be pinched at the shoulder. The chest clip should be at armpit level.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a press release notifying motorists to drive sober for the upcoming Labor Day weekend and all year long. The 2014 campaign is focused on the societal and economic impact of drunk driving as well as the personal costs and human toll of impaired driving.

Across the United States, drunk driving collisions kill more than 10,000 people each year. Over the course of holiday weekends alcohol-related crashes are known to increase. During Labor Day weekend in 2012, 147 people were killed in auto accidents involving drunk drivers. For every DUI crash, one in three results in a fatality. What this means is that one third of all collisions are entirely preventable.

2816552570_c25300d775_mThe economic impacts of driving under the influence cost Americans billions of dollars every single year. Car and motorcycle accidents involving alcohol impaired drivers cost 47 billion in direct economic impacts in 2010. Across the U.S., that averages to about $152 a person. When the overall harm to society due to loss of life and diminished quality of life are tacked on, the numbers skyrocket to $195 billion.

The average cost of a minor injury associated with a DUI-related motor vehicle crash is $22,000, but can total more than $25,000 when losses related to quality of life are added in. Direct economic impacts and additional quality-of-life costs can drastically increase based on the severity of the injury.

Now that we have addressed some of the shocking figures associated with DUIs, our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to make sure you enjoy Labor Day weekend and map out a plan before the party starts. Planning ahead is absolutely necessary to ensure that you have a safe ride home, should you consume any amount of alcohol. Planning ahead can be as simple as programming a taxi cab’s phone number into your phone or downloading a rideshare app onto your smartphone. No matter where you end up or what you are doing, never get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. Ask a friend or bartender to help you find a safe ride home.

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The National Safety Council delegates the months of June and July to focus on fireworks safety, since fireworks injuries are most common between June 1 and July 4 each year.

Eye injuries are a noteworthy concern when it comes to projectile fireworks like bottle rockets and Roman candles. According to Prevent Blindness America, eye injuries are common with fireworks, as are burns and other very serious injuries. Most of those who suffer fireworks-related eye injuries are children under the age of 15 since they do not fully understand the dangers of these hot explosives, but it is important to point out that anyone can be harmed by fireworks.

fireworksLast year there were eight deaths and about 11,400 injuries nationally from fireworks, according to a recent report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. To help protect yourself and those you love from fireworks injuries this summer, please familiarize yourself with the following safety tips:

  • Check the fireworks laws and ordinances where you live. In the state of Florida, consumer fireworks are illegal. However, state lawmakers passed an exception to this rule allowing fireworks to be purchased by farms and fish hatcheries. In order for vendors to sell fireworks to customers, all they have to do is have purchasers sign forms saying they’re buying under an agricultural or other exemption.
  • Never let children play with fireworks. While most people tend to think hand-held fireworks like sparklers are safe enough, know that these can reach temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause serious burn injuries. Do not let your child play with, hold or light off fireworks of any kind.
  • If you are going to light off fireworks, make sure to set up a fire-resistant area. Everyone else should be kept several yards away from this area. Also, have a fire extinguisher or hose handy in case fireworks get out of control.
  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Rather than lighting off your own fireworks at home, head to professional fireworks shows. While you could still possibly be injured at one of these shows, the risk is much lower than if you choose to light your own fireworks off at your house.

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