Articles Posted in Personal Injury Attorney

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

July Fourth weekend is upon us and there may be no better way to spend the summer holiday than surrounded by your family and friends taking in fireworks, grilling, swimming, or even boating in one of Florida’s abundant waterways. As most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, this year’s Fourth of July festivities will be in full swing. As you and your family/friends prepare for a fun-filled weekend, our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to also think about your safety and plan accordingly. Here are some tips for staying safe this holiday weekend: 

#1: Fireworks Should Be Left to Professionals

Sparklers and other common fireworks can be quite dangerous when used incorrectly. Sparklers are usually thought to be harmless, but did you know that these handheld fireworks can reach smoldering temps of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit? Such high temps can easily lead to severe burn injuries, especially for children handling these without supervision. We want you and your loved ones to remain safe this Fourth of July, so please take in a professional fireworks show instead of attempting to light your own fireworks. 

The sad truth is that some accident victims do not make it through to see their legal suit finished. This often happens when their injuries were so severe that they could not make it through the legal process to make a recovery. So, what happens if an injury victim passes away from their injuries in an accident before their case is finished? Can a family member take over their case? 

Florida law does have rules for what to do in these cases, and having a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer on your side can prove beneficial in these scenarios. If you have questions about the claims process and how to proceed, we strongly urge you to call our Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free case review. It will cost you no money to meet with us and discuss your potential case, and if we agree to take on your case, then you will pay zero fees while we work on your case. 

contract-945619_1920-300x199File a Wrongful Death Claim

If an injury victim has passed away during the course of their lawsuit, then the case will become a wrongful death suit. In Florida, personal injury claims cannot continue if the victim dies from their accident injuries. 

A wrongful death claim will allow surviving family members to pursue financial compensation for the deceased victim. This may include children, parents, spouses, etc. The personal representative for the accident victim’s estate will need to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the surviving family members so that they can collect financial damages. 

What Damages Can Be Recovered? 

  • Medical bills and medical expenses that pertain to the death 
  • Funeral or burial costs
  • Loss of income 
  • Loss of benefits, which includes the deceased’s retirement 
  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental anguish and emotional pain from the loss of a loved one 

Any costs incurred as a result of the responsible party’s negligence can be a potential source for compensation. Our Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you prove negligence when it comes to taking legal action for wrongful death. If your claim has merit then we will build the strongest possible claim for you and fight to recover all legal damages that you may be entitled to under law. 

How to Pursue a Survival Action

Sometimes injury victims can pass for completely unrelated reasons to their previous injury, like another type of accident. Florida law allows for a cause of action to survive the victim’s death, which will continue the injury claim that is unrelated to the death of the deceased. This just means that the initial injury claim will move forward as a survival action which is meant to compensate surviving family members for the damages incurred by the victim prior to their death.

Just like a wrongful death suit, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file for a survival action to recover all financial damages the victim would have been eligible for had they lived. These damages may include:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Lost wages

Who Can Sue the At-Fault Party?

In a wrongful death or survival action suit, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can exercise legal action. They must prove that a negligent party is responsible for the death and that the at-fault party failed to uphold their duty of care to the victim. 

If the victim did not name a personal representative, often called an executor or administrator before their death, then the court will appoint one.

 

Why You Need Legal Representation

Claims involving the passing of a loved one can be complicated. The insurance companies involved only want to protect their bottom line, which means paying out as little as possible, which is not in the best interest of your family. With proper legal representation on your side, you stand a much better chance of securing full and fair compensation for all of your losses. Your wrongful death lawyer will be there to support you through this trying time. 

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A Florida woman has filed a lawsuit after having her gall bladder and parts of her stomach removed after a waiter put liquid nitrogen in her drink. 

The woman recently filed a lawsuit against The Don CeSar Hotel in St Pete Beach, Florida after a birthday meal last year. 

The woman said she went to dinner at the Maritana Grille, on the hotel premises, with one of her best friends on November 11, 2018.

They had just finished their dinner when the woman said she saw a waiter pour a liquid on another customer’s dessert that caused it to “smoke.” After her friend told the waiter that it looked cool, she said he poured the liquid nitrogen into the two women’s glasses of water.

In her lawsuit, the woman says that she became seriously ill “within seconds” of drinking the water with the liquid nitrogen. She never suspected that drinking the water containing the liquid nitrogen was dangerous as “he had just poured it on a dessert.”

An ambulance took the woman to the hospital, where she remained in the intensive care unit for days. She ended up having to have surgery to remove her gallbladder.

According to the lawsuit, the woman also had to have parts of her stomach removed after tissue had been burned by the extremely cold temperature of the liquid nitrogen.

The woman will have lifelong digestion issues and lost 25 pounds as a result.

Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, clear liquefied form of nitrogen that remains liquid at temperatures of -320 degrees Fahrenheit. It is used as a freezing agent in food preparation and preservation, to process dry herbs and spices and to rapidly chill beverages, as well as for a smoke effect in beverages or foods to “enhance presentation and consumer appeal,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, the FDA has warned that liquid nitrogen can be extremely dangerous if consumed and must not be used in ways that make food unsafe for consumers.

“Both liquid nitrogen and dry ice can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidentally ingested due to the extremely low temperatures they can maintain,” according to the FDA. “As such, liquid nitrogen and dry ice should not be directly consumed or allowed to directly contact exposed skin.”

In August last year, the FDA issued an advisory warning consumers and retailers of the potential for serious injury from eating, drinking, or handling food products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption.

This is because the liquid nitrogen “may not completely evaporate before reaching the consumer or may leave the product at an extremely low temperature, posing a significant risk of injury.”

Dining out at a restaurant has the potential to be disastrous when it comes to dangerous ingredients and potential allergens. Even what seems like minor mistakes can have big consequences.

While the circumstances of this case involving liquid nitrogen might be rare, serious injuries and illnesses can and do occur at restaurants. Other issues that can turn your dining experience into a nightmare include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Undeclared allergens
  • Foreign materials in food, like plastic or glass
  • Burns
  • Choking and improper CPR efforts

The above issues can be quite traumatic and result in serious injuries that can lead to hefty medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. Let’s say someone has a peanut allergy and orders a dessert that they are told does not contain nuts. If they are served the wrong dessert they could suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction, leading to hospitalization. Restaurant owners invite guests onto their premises. Therefore, they are responsible for any foreseeable injuries or damages. In order to hold them legally accountable for any injuries, the damage must have been predictable or preventable. If a server knowingly serves a beverage at a scalding hot temperature, the injury to a patron might be foreseeable. However, if a patron spills their water and another person slips and falls within a few minutes, they restaurant may not be liable as the event was unforeseeable, and the staff just did not have enough time to prevent the mishap. 

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There are 200 new laws that were passed during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Some take effect July 1. Other laws will go into effect Oct. 1 and Jan. 1.

Here is what takes effect July 1, 2019: 

HB 7065 – AOB Reform

This reform provides for substantial changes in the way insurance benefits may be assigned to third parties. Defines “assignment agreement” and establishes requirements for the execution, validity, and effect of such an agreement; Transfers certain pre-lawsuit duties under the insurance contract to the assignee and shifts the burden to the assignee to prove that any failure to carry out such duties has not limited the insurer’s ability to perform under the contract; Requires each insurer to report specified data on claims paid in the prior year under assignment agreements by Jan. 30, 2022, and each year thereafter; allows an insurer to make available a policy prohibiting assignment, in whole or in part, under certain conditions; Revises the state’s one-way attorney fee statute to incorporate an attorney fee structure in determining the fee amount awarded in suits by an assignee against an insurer; requires service providers to give an insurer and the consumer prior written notice of at least 10 business days before filing suit on a claim. 

HB 301 – Insurance “Omnibus” bill

Allows insurers to provide multi-policy discounts when homeowners and auto policies are purchased through the same agent; increases the reimbursement from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund for loss adjustment expenses from 5 percent to 10 percent of reimbursed losses beginning with contracts issued after June 1, 2019; provides that workers’ compensation insurance applicants and their agents are not required to have their sworn statements notarized. Also enacts several updates for the Florida Surplus Lines industry, including eliminating a prescriptive cap on surplus lines agent policy fees (currently $35) and replacing it with a requirement that the fee be “reasonable” and separately disclosed to the customer. In addition, the residential dwelling replacement cost has been decreased to $700,000 from $1 million as it relates to “diligent effort” procedures. Makes changes to civil remedy notices and the appraisal process.

HB 617 – Flood Insurance Disclosure

Revises circumstances under which insurers issuing homeowners insurance policies must include a specified statement relating to flood insurance with policy documents at initial issuance and renewals. Fixes an oversight in previous legislation that required property insurance policies to prominently display that they don’t provide flood or other coverages, which didn’t contemplate “endorsement” of coverages onto property insurance policies. This bill requires the flood insurance portion of the notice only when the policy does not include flood coverage.

HB 107 – Hands Free Driving Requirement

Prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or work zone; authorizes a law enforcement officer during a specified period to stop motor vehicles to issue warnings to people who are driving while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or work zone; requires all law enforcement agencies to maintain such information and report it to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in a form and manner determined by the department, etc. 

HB 311 – Autonomous Vehicles

Exempts autonomous vehicles and operators from certain prohibitions; provides that human operator is not required to operate fully autonomous vehicle; authorizes fully autonomous vehicle to operate regardless of the presence of human operator; provides that automated driving system is deemed operator of autonomous vehicle operating with system engaged; provides requirements for insurance and operation of on-demand autonomous vehicle networks; revises registration requirements for autonomous vehicles; provides for uniformity of laws governing autonomous vehicles. 

SB 1024 – Blockchain Technology Task Force

Establishes the Florida Blockchain Task Force within the Florida Department of Financial Services that will develop a specified master plan specifying duties and procedures of the task force, etc. related to blockchain technology. According to CFO Jimmy Patronis, who championed the bill, blockchain technology increases the difficulty of amending transaction records and creates a “vital avenue of transparency for the state.”

HB 1393 – Modifies Areas Regulated by the Florida Department of Financial Services

Amends various licensing statutes administered by the Division of Agent and Agency services, including creating a temporary license for personal lines agents; gives DFS authority to help insurance consumers understand the mediation process; and helps to more easily return unclaimed property to Floridians. Also provides DFS the discretion to deny, suspend, revoke or refuse to continue an insurance agency license on the grounds that another jurisdiction has taken an adverse action against a professional license held by a majority owner, partner, manager, director, officer or other controlling person of the agency.

HB 7091 – Hurricane and Flood Loss Model Trade Secrets

Removes the scheduled repeal date of the public record and public meeting exemptions maintaining that the public record exemption for a trade secret used in designing and constructing a hurricane or flood loss model and provided by a private company to the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology, the Office of Insurance Regulation, or the consumer advocate; removes the public meeting exemption for any portion of a Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology meeting or of a rate proceeding on an insurer’s rate filing at which such confidential and exempt trade secret is discussed; and removes the public record exemption for the recording of an exempt meeting.

SB 426 – Firefighters Cancer Benefits

Makes firefighters who are diagnosed with certain cancers eligible to receive certain disability or death benefits. In lieu of pursuing workers’ compensation coverage, a firefighter is entitled to cancer treatment and a one-time cash payout of $25,000, upon the firefighter’s initial diagnosis of cancer.

HB 1253 – Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

Gives Florida Attorney General access to information in the state’s prescription drug database to track sales of opioids. The move will help the AG’s efforts to sue drug manufacturers and pharmacies for overselling pain pills. Patient information will be protected.

SB 983 – First Responder PTSD

Ratified DFS’ rules related to workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits that are now provided in specified circumstances for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by a first responder, regardless of whether the individual’s PTSD is accompanied by a physical injury requiring medical treatment. Specifies the types of third-party injuries qualifying as grievous bodily harm of a nature that shocks the conscience for the purposes of allowing wage replacement benefits for first responder PTSD.

Our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton help injury victims recover financial compensation after they have been involved in accidents. This monetary compensation is needed to cover expenses associated with medical care, lost wages and all other financial damages incurred. 

Every state has specific laws, and the Sunshine State is no exception. Our Florida Injury Attorneys know every auto accident law, insurance laws, etc. and how they pertain to your case. We can also tell you the proper county and court to file your claim, what you are likely to be awarded and the odds of your case going to trial or settling out of court.

We will provide you with expert legal advice, explain your rights and represent you in court. There are many other things we do for clients, such as file motions, conduct depositions, analyze insurance policies, obtain and review medical records, conduct negotiations with the insurance company, create exhibits for trial, negotiate medical bills, and prepare any witnesses and the client for trial, just to name a few. 

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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 caretaker is facing charges of abuse of a mentally disabled person after police said she hit several residents at a group home with a frying pan.

Darnika Martin is charged with two counts.

According to the arrest report, she struck two mentally ill patients at a group home in Pinellas Park.

The woman was unaware that cameras were rolling when she lunged at one of the residents with a frying pan.

The owner just happen to review his cameras over the weekend.

The woman apparently struck one man several times because he was attempting to get food from a bag.

The woman is out on a $10,000 bond.

People living in group homes are usually there because they cannot take care of themselves on a daily basis. These are some of the most vulnerable people in society, and sadly, neglect and abuse run rampant in these facilities. Even worse, people living in group homes are not able to tell others about what is happening to them.

If you have a loved one who is living in a group home, you may have reason to believe that neglect or abuse is happening. Our Tampa Bay Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you get the answers you need. We know the regulations that govern group home responsibilities, and what these institutions can and cannot do.

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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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