Articles Posted in Personal Injury Claim


Decorating for the Christmas season is something millions of people partake in every year, and your Christmas tree is a holiday staple. Getting into the Christmas spirit by decorating is great fun, but you may be unaware that Christmas trees can be huge dangers to your home. However, if you know the risks associated with Christmas trees, then you can be prepared in the event of an accident.

Our Florida Personal Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We want your holiday season to be happy and bright, so here are 4 Christmas tree hazards you should familiarize yourself with:

  1. Both Real and Artificial Christmas Trees Can Catch Fire

Many people are unaware that real or artificial trees can catch fire and cause serious burn injuries or home fires. You can prevent burns and fires from happening by:

  • Christmas-Tree-Safety-101-4-Dangers-of-Christmas-Trees-You-Should-Know-200x300Selecting a fresh Christmas tree if you are opting for a real one. Look for green needles that do not shed easily.
  • Keep an eye on your tree’s water level daily and make sure that it does not dry out.
  • If you are going with an artificial tree, check the labels before you purchase it to make sure that it is flame-retardant.
  • Keep your real or artificial tree at least three feet away from heat sources, like candles, fireplaces, radiators, heat vents, lamps, and space heaters.
  • Turn your Christmas tree lights off anytime you are away from home or when going to bed.
  • If your real tree starts showing signs that it is drying out, then it is time to dispose of your tree. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that 37% of Christmas tree fires start in January, so keep checking on your tree after Christmas.
  1. Christmas Lights Can Be Hazardous

Many people opt for string lights when decorating their trees, mantles, etc., but if not used properly, these lights can lead to electrocution injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says 20% of holiday decoration injuries that are treated in emergency rooms in the U.S. are related to Christmas tree lights. Here are some Christmas light tips to keep in mind when decorating:

  • Check that the lights you plan to use are designed for indoor use.
  • Do not use lights that have frayed or punctured cables, broken bulbs, or other signs that they are defective.
  • Do not overload your outlets – use an extension cord and do not connect more than three standard-size sets of Christmas lights to one extension cord.
  • If you have a real tree, then keep extension cords away from the tree’s water source.
  • Never place cords under rugs as they could overheat.
  • Never try to squeeze cords behind furniture where they can pinch – this can lead to fraying and cause the cords to short.
  1. Be Mindful of Slip and Fall Accidents When You Are Decorating

For bigger trees, you may require a ladder to help you reach the top. It is easy to fall off a ladder when decorating, so proceed with caution when decorating.

  • Do not use a chair to reach the top of your tree – ladders or step stools are much better options. Chairs are not designed for people standing on them, making them more susceptible to toppling over.
  • Have someone else nearby who can spot you and hand you ornaments and other décor that you may need. The less you must move around while using a ladder or step stool, the better.
  • Keep any cords out of walkways so that no one will trip and fall.
  1. Decorate Safely for Children and Pets

Small children and pets will be very interested in your holiday décor, so keep these tips in mind so that you can prevent children and pet injuries during the holidays:

  • Extension cords need to be out of sight and out of reach. Kids can get tangled in them and pets may chew on them.
  • Ensure that your tree is secure in its base, as kids or pets that push or pull on the tree could cause it to tip over, resulting in injuries.
  • Watch that pets and kids do not drink from your real tree’s waters. Any fertilizers or bacteria present could upset your child or pet’s stomach.
  • The best thing you can do with kids and pets around is to not leave them unattended around your tree.

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ZEPHYRHILLS, FL – Two people were hospitalized today after a vehicle they were working under fell on top of them, reports WFLA.

The incident happened on Windknob Court at an unspecified time on April 18. Pasco County Fire Rescue designated the men as trauma alerts and scrambled two medical helicopters to the area.

Little else is known about the incident at this time. We will provide updates as possible.


Hyundai and Kia have issued a warning to vehicle owners of 484,577 cars and SUVs across the United States to keep using their vehicles, but keep them parked outside and away from any structures as they could contain a defect that could cause the vehicles to burst into flames unexpectedly, even if the car is turned off.

What is the problem? Possible “foreign contaminants” in the anti-lock brake computer control module can short circuit and cause the engine compartment to potentially catch fire.

Hyundai is recalling 357,830 automobiles, including the following vehicles:

  • 2014 Tucson SUVs
  • 2015 Tucson SUVs
  • 2016 Santa Fe SUVs
  • 2017 Santa Fe SUVs
  • 2018 Santa Fe SUVs
  • 2017 Santa Fe Sport SUVs
  • 2018 Santa Fe Sport SUVs
  • 2019 Santa Fe XL models

Kia has recalled 126,747, including the following:

  • 2014 Sportage SUVs
  • 2015 Sportage SUVs
  • 2016 Sportage SUVs
  • 2016 K900 sedans
  • 2017 K900 sedans
  • 2018 K900 sedans

fire-g6834a84ab_1920-300x169According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Kia said they know of three vehicles that have caught fire. Kia did say that vehicle owners can continue driving their recalled vehicles, but should not park near any structures or buildings.

If you are a Kia or Hyundai vehicle driver, then you can check the status of your vehicle by contacting the company’s customer service department or by checking the NHTSA’s auto safety website.

Dealers are starting to replace the recalled vehicles’ anti-lock braking control module, which is a small computer system that controls the vehicle’s emergency anti-lock braking system at no cost to owners. They will also replace a fuse that controls the electric current to the anti-lock braking control unit that will reduce the amount of power entering the module.

Seeking Compensation for Vehicle Fires

If you have been the victim of a vehicle fire, then we encourage you to speak with our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton about filing a personal injury claim for financial compensation. We can help you understand what you need to do to pursue a financial award for property damage, physical injuries, and all other damages related to the dangerous vehicle. Continue reading


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its preliminary data for January-September (the first nine months of the year) for 2021.

Their projections estimate that 31,720 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes for the first nine months of 2021, which is about a 12% increase from the first nine months of 2020.

This projection is not just higher than 2020 or even 2019. It is actually the highest number of fatalities during the first nine months of any year since 2006 AND the largest percentage jump during the first nine months in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.


Using a rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft following a party or big night out at the bar or club on New Year’s Eve is a responsible thing for someone to do after they have been drinking. NYE is a busy time and Uber and Lyft drivers are placed at a disadvantage when it comes to maneuvering roads shared with drunk drivers.

If you drive for Uber or Lyft, then our Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to stay alert for drunk drivers on the roadways. We know this is a popular time to work and make some good money, the tradeoff is that there are risks of running into drunk drivers and other negligent drivers on the roads.

app-gbfc8a35b4_1920-300x200Every rider you pick up and drop off means one less drunk driver on the roads, which is great, but not everyone will make the responsible decision to get a sober ride home, so we encourage you to stay alert and brush up on some safety tips, especially if you are not accustom to driving late night/early morning hours.


The tradition of a real Christmas tree may be something your family enjoys partaking in every year. Loading everybody up in the car and heading to the tree farm to select your perfect tree, chop it down, and bring it home to decorate might be what Christmas means to you. Fresh trees smell great and can be quite charming, but you may not realize that real trees can be very hazardous when they are dry. A dry tree combined with fireplaces, hot Christmas lights, and any other sources of heat can be a recipe for real disaster. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association has said that dry Christmas trees can quickly turn into a rapidly spreading fire that burns even faster than paper. If your version of Christmas involves a live tree, then you need to know how to prevent a tree fire from ruining your holiday.

How Do Dry Trees Lead to a Fire?

Take a look at this video published by the National Fire Protection Association to see just how hazardous an unwatered Christmas tree can really be.

What starts as a small flame quickly demolishes the tree in just a few seconds. At 30 seconds, the entire room is engulfed in a blaze. This is how Christmas tree fires happen every year and devastate families holiday traditions.

How to Prevent Christmas Tree Fires

Perhaps the most logical answer for this is to just water your live tree. Trees that are hydrated are much less likely to start a blaze.

Live Christmas trees must be watered daily. Many people do not realize that their live tree needs water every single day. Research indicates that 70% of people with live trees are unaware that their tree needs water daily. Only 45% of people with live trees actually water them daily, so there is a huge risk of fires happening in households all across Florida and the rest of the U.S.

While you want to make sure that your Christmas tree is watered daily, you also want to make sure that you are purchasing a hydrated tree before you get it home. You can do this by only buying a tree that has been freshly chopped. Trees that have been previously cut weeks ago have been losing water and because of their dehydrated state, it can be much more difficult to get them hydrated so that they do not pose risk of catching fire.

In addition to watering your tree, you can also follow these tips to prevent a fire:

  • Make sure all lights do not have loose connections or any frayed cords
  • Just use one extension cord for your tree lights so that nothing gets too tangled
  • Turn the lights off on your tree every day/night before leaving or going to sleep
  • DO NOT place candles near your tree
  • Keep your tree AT LEAST THREE FEET from any heat source
  • By observing the above tips, you can make sure your holiday goes smoothly.

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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. 


On Thursday, a partial collapse of a Champlain Towers South, a condo building in Surfside, Florida, occurred that is currently under investigation. The 12-story building resulted in multiple deaths and at least 150 more people missing. 

First responders and firefighters are conducting a search and rescue mission for all survivors and federal agencies are assisting on the state and local level. 

jsar-2680391_1920-300x225Partial Collapse of Champlain Towers South


disney-world-3412476_640-150x150The Jungle Cruise ride at Walt Disney World had a mishap last Thursday, which resulted in several passengers sinking with the boat. 

According to reports, around midday on Thursday, one of the boats used in the classic Jungle Cruise ride at the Orlando theme park started sinking while filled with passengers.

Witnesses documented the mishap on social media, showing guests still standing inside the boat as the water slowly rose around their legs. All those on board were safely rescued, but later images captured the vessel nearly completely submerged, its canopy roof still visible and what appears to be a lone park employee on board.

The ride, located in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland area, is for all ages and lasts approximately 10 minutes, according to the official Disney World website, which describes it as a “journey that you won’t soon forget.”

A Disney spokesperson said employees immediately engaged the Reedy Creek Fire Department to respond to the event.

Everyone made it off the boat safely, and staff members worked individually with the guests to ensure the rest of their park visit went smoothly, the representative said. The attraction has since reopened.

According to the official description of the ride, visitors can “Board a canopied tramp steamer piloted by your trusty skipper, who will expertly navigate you through some of the world’s most treacherous waters.”

The beloved attraction is best known for its quirky skippers, who entertain guests with jokes throughout the riverboat excursion. Animatronic wildlife can also be seen along the banks.

Jungle Cruise is set to be adapted into Jungle Cruise the movie this summer. It will star Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt and comes to theaters July 24.

When you and your family head to Walt Disney World for a day of fun or an entire week of vacation, you are expecting fun and adventure, not a perilous journey through the parks. Your trip to Walt Disney World can be quickly cut short when a dangerous condition presents itself and your or a loved one suffers an injury. If you have suffered an injury at Walt Disney World or any of its parks, you may be eligible for financial compensation for the suffering you have endured as a result of the accident. When you are injured at a theme park, like Walt Disney World, it is of the utmost importance to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.  

Walt Disney World is comprised of four parks and two water parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach. Walt Disney World is also the home of more than 20 resort hotels as well as a shopping and dining area called Disney Springs. Park staff must be always on the lookout for any dangerous conditions that could arise and harm a guest. Due to the fact that Walt Disney World is such a large venue and so busy, it is easy for visitors and guests to become seriously injured when an accident happens. There are numerous injuries that can occur on Disney property, including the following:

  • Mechanical parts failure on rides
  • Inadequate security
  • Improperly trained ride operators
  • Inadequate maintenance of rides
  • Food poisoning
  • Hotel injuries
  • Swimming pool drowning accidents
  • Animal attacks and bites
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Sexual assault 
  • Bus and monorail accidents
  • Wrongful death 

If you have been injured or harmed at Walt Disney World, our Florida Disney World Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help. Our firm is ready to take on your case and help you recover financial compensation for your injuries. You may be entitled to recover monetary damages for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and more. 

Walt Disney, much like Universal and Legoland, are very large corporations who handle risk and liability on a daily basis, not just with injuries and death, but also employment claims, discrimination, fraud, etc. They have all developed a very sophisticated regime for handling claims as any corporation would after decades of monitoring, settling and resolving these disputes. No Florida attraction is perfect and no case is perfect, but with our experience and our preparation, specifically as it relates to Disney World and its other Florida amusement parks, we feel very confident in handling your matter.

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Within the last few months, multiple ranitidine and Zantac manufacturers recalled their products due to concerns that they contain high levels of NDMA, a likely carcinogen.

Zantac is sold by the manufacturer Sanofi, as well as generically under the name ranitidine.

Sanofi, manufacturer of Zantac, said it would be recalling the over-the-counter medication in both the United States and Canada. It has been recalled from major chain pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. This comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration alert to the public that the drug contains low levels of a cancerous contaminant, NMDA.

What Is NDMA? 

NDMA is used in aviation, rocket fuel, and industrial lubricants. It is also a by-product of several industrial processes, including gasoline refining and the treatment of wastewater containing nitrogen.

NDMA has also been used for inducing carcinogenesis in laboratory rats for cancer research. NDMA may also be found in a number of food products, such as cured meats, and is an ingredient in tobacco fumes. Research shows that NDMA does not appear to accumulate in tissues.

Under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), NDMA is classified as “extremely hazardous.” Due to this danger, there are strict reporting requirements for companies and individuals who produce, store, or use the substance in large amounts.

Zantac Class Action Lawsuits

Recently, two class-action lawsuits were filed against Zantac manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis LLC and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, who previously held rights to Zantac, with plaintiffs claiming that the companies knowingly put patient health at risk. Lawsuits filed against the manufacturer maintain that Zantac contains levels of NDMA that are 26,000 times higher than the levels allowed by the FDA. In the recent past, several blood pressure medications that were found to contain the cancer-causing contaminant NDMA were recalled from the market.

According to studies of the contaminant NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine), possible side effects of ingestion are:

  • Bladder Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Intestinal Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer

In addition to being linked to various cancers, NDMA is also a potent hepatotoxin. This means that short-term exposure to NDMA can cause liver damage, like scarring and liver fibrosis. Long-term exposure can increase the risk of liver, kidney, and lung tumors.

Symptoms of overexposure to NDMA may include headaches, fever, nausea, jaundice, vomiting, abdominal cramps, enlarged liver, reduced function of the liver, kidneys and lungs, and dizziness.

Other adverse effects that have been associated with Zantac include:

  • Nervous system disorders
  • Arrhythmia or tachycardia (irregular or rapid heartbeat)
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Hepatitis
  • Liver failure
  • Jaundice
  • Increased risk of pneumonia
  • Low platelet levels in the blood
  • Skin rashes
  • Hair loss

What Should You Do? 

The FDA and other institutions across the country will continue to investigate ranitidine for more information regarding any impurities. As of now, the FDA has not called for people to stop using the medication. With that said, the drug is only supposed to be used for short-term relief. 

If you have been taking ranitidine for a long time, we encourage you to speak with your doctor as soon as possible about whether you should continue taking the drug. Your doctor may recommend that you start taking utilizing different medications, like other drug classes or another H2 blocker.

Based on the studies conducted up to now, there is no proof that NDMA impurities impact other H2 blockers or other heartburn medications. Studies conducted by the FDA found that the following medicines do not contain NDMA:

  • Pepcid (famotidine)
  • Tagamet (cimetidine)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)

While antacids may be effective for heartburn relief, there are other lifestyle changes that can help provide you with some relief. Avoiding certain foods and drinks can help ease heartburn episodes.

Have You Taken Zantac or Other Ranitidine Heartburn Drugs?

Our Florida Zantac Lawsuit Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are investigating claims related to the contamination of Zantac and generic heartburn drugs made from ranitidine. If you have suffered any adverse effects after taking Zantac, filing a claim against the manufacturers of Zantac and generic ranitidine could help you recover financial compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical bills
  • Past lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Permanent or temporary disability
  • Punitive damages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

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