Articles Posted in Florida

Florida’s new distracted driving law, or texting while driving, goes into effect July 1, and law enforcement agencies across the state are preparing for how they will enforce it.

As far as enforcing the rule, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokesperson said it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

The Sheriff’s Office said texting violations will be treated like any other primary offense traffic violation.

Deputies expect challenges from drivers trying to find loopholes around getting a citation, because they exist.

According to officials, drivers can still use their GPS, look at weather or traffic alerts, or call in an emergency.

Traffic judges might see more work as a result.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said their enforcement will go through an education period. They’ll give out a warning the first time.

But drivers better make changes, because getting pulled over multiple times for texting while driving will end up in a ticket.

A hands-free requirement while driving in school and work zones goes into effect in October.

Citations will not be handed out for this violation until January 1, 2020.

This new law that makes texting while driving a primary offense as opposed to a secondary offense is meant to curb dangerous and deadly behavior while behind the wheel. Distracted driving accounts for more teen deaths than drunk driving, and kills 9 people of all ages every day across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Car crashes in Florida rose by 11 percent from 2013 to 2016, but collisions caused by problems stemming from distracted driving, like drifting out of a lane, sideswiping another car or simply blowing through a stop sign, increased by 40-50 percent.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate your crash thoroughly and determine if the other driver involved in your accident was using their cellphone or otherwise driving while distracted. We will use this evidence to establish that the other driver was indeed at fault, which may result in a more favorable outcome when pursuing financial compensation.

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The parents of a 2-year-old boy who drowned in a Baker County retention pond in April are suing the owner of the property, claiming he failed to install fencing that might have protected their son.

The toddler was found in the pond April 23 after he wandered away from the apartment where he was being watched by his 18-year-old sister while their parents were at work. A neighbor tried to revive the little boy with CPR, but he died at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny.

The boy died days before his 3rd birthday.

According to court documents, the property owner did not have proper fencing as required by building permits.

The property owner applied Jan. 13, 2016, to the St. Johns River Water Management District for a permit for construction of the retention pond to be used for stormwater treatment, court documents show.

The plans for the retention pond were part of a nearly four-acre storage facility.

Plans submitted to the district detailed the construction of a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate. A permit for construction was issued two weeks later on Jan. 27, 2016.

The man subsequently built the retention pond, which was completed in March 2017. However, the property owner did not install the fence as detailed in the construction plans, according to reports.

Children are attracted to water placing them at a greater risk of being involved in a drowning or near-drowning incident. Due to this, the law recognizes additional duties that owners of ponds, pools, hot tubs, and other bodies of water must take to protect children. Private property owners as well as public entities that do not take these precautions can be liable for a child’s injuries or death that occur on the property.

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A Florida woman hacked into a man’s social media accounts and then “maliciously posted” nude photos of him, according to officials.

The 24-year-old was arrested Saturday in Port Richey after she demanded the unidentified give her money to take down the X-rated content, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.

Using the man’s old phone, the woman shared the nudes to his own social media profiles and changed his passwords, preventing him from deactivating the accounts, according to reports.

The woman allegedly sent the man a screenshot of a post she had not yet made public and then demanded the man give her money to “stop her actions,” officials said.

When someone posts unauthorized and non-consensual intimate images of you with the intent to embarrass, defame, ridicule or harass you, they are committing the act of revenge porn or sextortion. These malicious actions are a brutal means by which another person attempts to manipulate, humiliate, degrade, defame and destroy you. Our Florida Sextortion Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to know that you have done nothing wrong. You do not deserve to be tormented online and we can help you through this difficult time.

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A 25-year-old Jacksonville man died late Tuesday night in an ATV crash in Clay County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the man and a 21-year-old Middleburg man were riding an ATV south on Beecher Lane in Orange Park when the vehicle flipped at Crossing Boulevard.

Both men were thrown from the ATV, and the 25-year-old died at the scene from his injuries, troopers said.

The other man on the ATV was seriously injured and was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, troopers said.

It’s unclear which of the men was driving the ATV at the time or why the vehicle overturned.

Charges could be issued pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the report.

Troopers said neither man was wearing a helmet.

ATV’s can now exceed speeds of 60 mph, so they can be extremely dangerous when not operated carefully or correctly. When racing up steep hills or turning at high speeds, ATVs have a tendency to roll over. These vehicles lack the protection of walls or a roof, so drivers can easily be crushed underneath the rolling vehicle.

If you or your loved one has been involved in an ATV accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Usually, these collisions are the result of poor weather conditions or human error, but sometimes they can happen because of manufacturing flaws.

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A woman was fatally shot in the parking lot of a Home Depot on Sunday around 9:15 p.m.

When deputies arrived they found a woman suffering from a single gunshot wound.

She was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before 7 p.m. Monday.

Investigators believe the shooting was drug-related. No arrests have been made and the Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the shooting to call homicide detectives at (813) 247-8200.

A number of factors can make a property unsafe. A lack of security guards, broken cameras, and poor lighting are just a few things can make a property dangerous and more susceptible to a crime.

If you or a loved one is the victim of a crime on someone else’s property, including parking lots, you may have a negligent security claim, and you may be entitled to financial compensation from the property owner, property management company or security company. When crimes occur in shopping centers, parking lots, apartment complexes, hotels, bars, etc, property managers and security companies can be held accountable if they fail to provide reasonable safety and a guest is attacked or killed.

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A crash involving a golf cart in Brevard County sent an 11-year-old girl to the hospital.

According to troopers, the girl was driving the golf cart along Fox Trail Court and James Road in Cocoa on Sunday afternoon when it overturned as she rounded a corner.

The girl was flown to Arnold Palmer Hospital, where she remains in serious condition.

Officials said there were two adults in the golf cart with the child. They were not injured.

The crash is currently under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

You do not have to be golfing to use a golf cart. These small modes of transportation are used on many large campuses, in communities and at airports. These vehicles can top at speeds of 40 MPH and are used commonly without reasonable safety precautions, placing riders at risk of injury.

Our Florida Golf Cart Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton help those injured in golf cart accidents throughout the state of Florida. While golf carts look like smaller vehicles and are used the same way as cars, they are not regulated like automobiles because they were never intended for road use. Golf carts are not required to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and the American National Standards Institute does not require them to have seatbelts, so this allows these vehicles to be manufactured with low safety standards.

Golf cart accidents are quite common, as they are prone to tip over easily, they lack restraints, and they are open on the sides. Golf cart accidents can result in minor injuries like lacerations and scrapes to much more severe injuries like brain injuries and even fatalities.

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A woman who was driving without a valid license is accused of fatally hitting a 13-year-old girl Wednesday morning as the teen was riding her bike to school.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 25-year-old woman from Argentina who had been staying in the Kissimmee area.

According to deputies, the woman was driving a minivan around 7:50 a.m. Wednesday when she struck the 13-year-old student in the Poinciana/Kissimmee area.

The eighth grader was on her way to Lake Marion Creek Middle School when she was hit. The child was airlifted to Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, where she later died.

The man told deputies she has been in the U.S. on a “visitor pass” since October of 2018. She presented an Argentinian identification card to investigators.

Deputies said condensation covered approximately 80% of the woman’s windshield at the time of the crash, obstructing her view.

She has been charged with operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license causing death, a third-degree felony.

If your son or daughter has been killed in a pedestrian or bike accident, this is a tragic time for your family. It is important that you do not accept an insurance company settlement as compensation for your loss without consulting our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. A sudden death in a family can take its toll not only emotionally, but also financially. Not only are family members grieving an irreparable loss, but they are also struggling to deal with medical expenses and funeral and burial costs, which can add up quickly.

The insurance company does not care about your family’s welfare or your losses. Their goal is to offer you the least amount of financial compensation possible so they can get rid of your claim quickly. During such a challenging time, you need our Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys on your side as we have successfully handled numerous fatal pedestrian accident cases.

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A Florida caregiver is accused of abusing a 94-year-old amputee at an assisted living home.

The 64-year-old caregiver was arrested last week after the woman’s son placed a camera inside her room at the facility in Clermont.

An arrest report says the woman told her son the caregiver was being too “rough with her.” The son viewed the video footage and found his mother was being abused by her caregiver.

He reported what he saw to management at Crane’s View Lodge Assisted Living and Memory Care.

The caregiver was suspended and the facility reported the incident to the Department of Children and Families and police. She’s charged with abuse of an elderly person.

Placing a loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home is a tough decision, but oftentimes necessary. You trust that the facility you choose will treat your loved one with the respect and dignity they deserve, but sadly this is not always the case.

Our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are dedicated to protecting the rights of nursing home patients and ending nursing home neglect and abuse. If you suspect a loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse in a Florida nursing home or assisted living center, we have the experience and resources you need to secure justice and recover financial losses.

The first step in protecting your loved one from further harm is reporting suspected neglect or abuse. Contacting our team of attorneys is a great next step as we can help ensure your claim is thoroughly investigated and that critical evidence is preserved. We can also pursue financial compensation for associated damages including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and in the worst cases, wrongful death.

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A Pinellas County woman is suing an Oldsmar Aldi grocery store, alleging negligence led to her fall.

The woman filed a complaint Feb. 11 in Pinellas County Circuit Court against Aldi LLC, doing business as Aldi Inc., alleging the grocery store operator failed to exercise reasonable care for her safety.

According to the complaint, on May 11, 2017, the woman went to shop at the Aldi grocery store in Oldsmar when she fell due to a puddle of liquid on the floor. She sustained bodily injuries, resulting in pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, and the expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment.

The woman says Aldi negligently allowed the puddle of water to remain on the floor and failed to clean up the mess.

Spills happen in grocery stores. In fact, you have probably been shopping and heard something fall or shatter followed by “Clean-up on Aisle 5” over the loudspeaker. When spills do happen, the owner or operator of the grocery store is supposed to get the spill cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time so that customers or employees don’t slip and fall.

A slip and fall in a grocery store can result in serious injuries. When you slip on something like a puddle of liquid on a smooth floor, you gain velocity, which increases the force of your impact. You could easily break an arm, shoulder, kneecap, elbow, or leg, or land on your back and end up with head injuries or spinal cord trauma. A slip and fall can also cause your body to twist in unnatural ways that tears ligaments or cartilage, which can result in painful injuries that require surgery.

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Two people died after a charter bus that departed from from Orlando overturned on Interstate 95 in Virginia.

The Tao’s Travel Inc. bus traveling from Florida to New York had 57 people aboard when it rolled and ran off the left side of an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Prince George County about 5:22 a.m., according to authorities.

One person died at the scene, while another person died a couple of hours later.

The bus driver has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the crash.

The bus departed from Orlando, Florida, and stopped in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to switch drivers, police said. It was headed to New York City when it crashed.

Bus travel is a very popular mode of transportation. However, buses can pose a serious danger to passengers if they are not operated by trained, attentive employees and if the equipment is not properly maintained. If you have been involved in an accident with a charter bus, it is important to contact our Florida Injury & Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible.

Similar to truck drivers, bus drivers must have proper background checks and receive adequate training to provide safe travels for passengers. Many bus accidents are attributed to unsafe driver conditions, such as:

Driver negligence

  • Poor bus security
  • Operating on dangerous roads and interstates
  • Operating during dangerous weather conditions
  • Driving drunk or drugged
  • Fatigued driving
  • Inadequate maintenance of the bus and its equipment

When someone you love is injured or killed in an unexpected bus accident, you may be in shock and unsure of what to do next. You or your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages resulting from the bus accident. When death occurs, the responsible driver may also face criminal charges for wrongful death.

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