Articles Posted in Levy County

A school bus accident in Williston sent 13 students to Regional General Hospital with minor injuries Wednesday.  

According to reports, Levy County school bus 0409 was stopped at a railroad crossing in the 800 block of East Noble Avenue shortly after 7:30 a.m. when the driver of a 2006 Dodge truck struck the bus from behind.

The driver of the Dodge truck was cited for following too closely, according to reports. The students on the bus attend Joyce Bullock Elementary and Williston Elementary schools.

As a parent, there is nothing scarier than finding out your child has been injured while getting to and/or from school on a school bus. When you send your children on a school bus, you trust that they will arrive at their intended destination safely. Even though school buses are widely considered to be the safest form of transportation for school children, the reality is that injuries on school buses can and do happen. If your child suffers an injury on a school bus, you may be entitled to financial compensation for any medical bills or other damages endured. After an accident like this, you should always contact a Levy County Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible to discuss a potential legal claim.

There are many complicated issues surrounding school bus accident cases and it is important to make sure you receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your child’s losses. Losses/damages can include:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disabilities
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

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Residents of Cedar Key, Bronson, Chiefland, Williston, Inglis and Yankeetown may receive services from their insurance company that could qualify for an insurance bad faith claim. Policyholders should keep in mind that Florida law provides that victims of bad faith conduct could be entitled to punitive damages in addition to any other compensation due to them through their policy.

Below are a few examples of bad faith practices used by the insurance company after you file a hurricane or storm damage claim:

Failure to investigate a claim.

Insurance companies that do not conduct a proper investigation or preemptively decide they will deny a claim, are acting in bad faith. Insurance companies have a duty to fully investigate a claim as outlined in their policy. Why would an insurance company avoid investigating a claim? There are many reasons, actually, including:

  • They don’t think policyholders are aware of Florida laws surrounding the claims process.
  • They think the investigation will end with them paying more than they would like to the policyholder.
  • They are trying to cut costs by avoiding the investigation altogether.

Refusing to reimburse you for all of your losses.

Insurance companies must provide what they promise as outlined in their policies. Many policyholders are unaware of what they are rightfully owed and will accept lowball payouts because they do not realize they can re-file a claim or appeal an offered settlement.

Illegal denial of a claim that should have been paid.

Some insurance companies hope their policyholders do not know their rights. They rely on the fact that most will not file an appeal or complaint.

Extended delay in making payments to the policyholder.

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The U.S. announced Thursday the first fatality in a wreck involving a car in self-driving mode. The government said it is investigating the design and performance of the system aboard the Tesla Model S sedan.

The Canton, Ohio man died in the accident May 7 in Williston, Florida, when his car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to government records.

The 62-year-old driver of the truck, said the Tesla driver was “playing Harry Potter on the TV screen” at the time of the crash and driving so quickly that “he went so fast through my trailer I didn’t see him.”

“It was still playing when he died and snapped a telephone pole a quarter mile down the road,” the man told The Associated Press. He acknowledged he couldn’t see the movie, only heard it.

Tesla Motors Inc. said it is not possible to watch videos on the Model S touch screen. There was no reference to the movie in initial police reports.

Tesla stressed the uncertainty about its new system, noting that drivers must manually enable it: “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

The company said this was the first known death in over 130 million miles of Autopilot operation. It said the NHTSA investigation is a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the system worked as expected.

Tesla says that before Autopilot can be used, drivers have to acknowledge that the system is an “assist feature” that requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Drivers are told they need to “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” while using the system, and they have to be prepared to take over at any time, the statement said.

Autopilot makes frequent checks, making sure the driver’s hands are on the wheel, and it gives visual and audible alerts if hands aren’t detected, and it gradually slows the car until a driver responds, the statement said.

The Autopilot mode allows the Model S sedan and Model X SUV to steer itself within a lane, change lanes and speed up or slow down based on surrounding traffic or the driver’s set speed. It can automatically apply brakes and slow the vehicle. It can also scan for parking spaces and parallel park on command.

As new technology comes on the market for the public to use, the legal field must adapt to these changes. Many car manufacturers, not just Tesla, are working on automated systems that can warn drivers about collisions, recognize the rules of the road, and even take over the steering and braking systems.The goal is this: to keep drivers and passengers safe by automating the processes that they are not quick enough to catch. However, this theory can be flawed as there are hundreds of millions of cars on the road every day, so automakers will always struggle to keep up with software malfunctions, user errors, and any other issues.

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A 34-year-old Bronson woman was killed in a traffic crash in Levy County Wednesday morning.

A 15-year-old female passenger, also from Bronson, was seriously injured in the accident, which occurred around 6:43 a.m. on U.S. 27.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the woman was driving a 2002 Ford Explorer west in the outside lane and lost control of the sport utility vehicle. It veered onto the shoulder for about 120 feet before hitting a tree.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

If you have been seriously injured, or if you have had a loved one killed in an accident in Florida where the vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree, pole, barrier, house, parked car or other fixed object, you are probably seeking answers to your legal questions. A Levy County Auto Accident Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you get the answers you are looking for during this difficult time.

Auto accidents in which a car, truck or SUV exits the roadway and hits a tree, utility pole, building, traffic barrier or some other fixed object are some of the most deadly types of motor vehicle accidents. Auto accidents involving a vehicle that left the street, roadway or highway and struck a fixed object are responsible for 20 percent of deaths across the country each year.

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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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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a press release Monday urging owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. The message expresses the need for urgency when responding to this issue, especially for owners of vehicles affected by the regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

128859908_5717d96b9a_zConsumers who are unaware whether or not their vehicle is impacted by the Takata recalls, or any other recall, can check on www.safercar.gov/vinlookup. Once on the site, you can search by your vehicle identification number in order to confirm whether your vehicle has an open recall that needs to be addressed. Additionally, consumers can sign-up for NHTSA recall alerts, which go out before recall letters are mailed by the manufacturers to the affected owners.

Affected Vehicles Involving Takata Airbags:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2002 – 2004 Lexus SC

2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla

2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix

2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia

2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra

2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)

2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)

2001 – 2005 Honda Civic

2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V

2003 – 2011 Honda Element

2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey

2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot

2006 – Honda Ridgeline

2003 – 2006 Acura MDX

2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima

2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder

2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra

2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35

2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4

2003 – Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2003 – 2004 Mazda6

2004 – Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles

2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan

2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe

2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon

2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible

2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe

2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles

2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre

2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous

2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture

2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy

2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL

2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora

2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada

2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette

2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville

2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

As of now, four deaths have been attributed to defective components found in Takata airbags, which were predominantly used in vehicles from every major automaker from 2000 through 2007. The deaths have occurred in Virginia, Oklahoma, California and Florida. Additionally, 139 injuries have also been reported that were caused by the Takata airbags.

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