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Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

The death toll on U.S. highways rose 8.1 percent in the first half of 2015.

According to new figures from the Transportation Department, low fuel prices have contributed to a jump in miles driven by Americans.

The preliminary figures represent a “troubling departure” from a general downward trend over the past decade, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a report released Tuesday.

In 2014, the fatality rate hit an all-time low.

Americans drove about 51.9 billion miles more in the first half of 2015 than the same period last year, which equates to about a 3.5 percent increase, according to the NHTSA. Job growth and low fuel prices also may be factors in the sudden, unexpected surge in highway fatalities, the agency said. There was also more leisure travel and driving by young people, which can contribute to higher fatality rates.

The sad news is that the death rate also increased. Fatalities per million vehicle-miles driven rose in the first half of 2015 was 1.06 percent, or 4.4 percent higher than the same period in 2014.

In final figures for 2014, 32,675 people died in U.S. motor-vehicle crashes, a 0.1 percent decline from 2013. The fatality rate declined to 1.07 deaths per million vehicle-miles traveled, which was a record low for a complete year.

States in the Southeast — Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee — saw a 15 percent increase in fatalities. The second highest increase, 11 percent, was recorded in a group of Western states: Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. California and Arizona saw no increase in fatalities, and the New England region saw an increase of 1 percent.

The biggest factors in traffic fatalities remain the lack of seatbelt use and drunk driving, according to reports. Nearly half of all people killed in road crashes do not wear seat belts, and one-third of all fatalities are in crashes involve intoxicated drivers.

Distracted driving accounted for 3,179 deaths in 2014, about 10 percent of the total. Drowsy driving was involved in 2.6 percent of the fatalities.

States without mandatory motorcycle helmet laws saw a “far higher” number of fatalities than states with mandatory helmet laws, according to reports. There were 1,565 motorcycle deaths in 2014.

Bicyclist deaths declined by 2.3 percent, but pedestrian deaths rose by 3.1 percent from the previous year. In 2014, there were 726 cyclists and 4,884 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes.

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An 82-year-old Hawthorne man was killed last week when he was crushed while his tractor towed another tractor in a pasture in Putnam County.

Just before 1 p.m., the man was using a Masse tractor to tow a Ford tractor from a field at 125 McMeekin Lake Lane for repair. The man and another person were moving the Ford from a pasture and the inoperable machine failed to stop when the man stopped his machine, according to a release by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Emergency crews were called to the location about six miles east of Hawthorne, and Putnam County paramedics took the man to UF Health Shands Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

No charges will be filed at this time, according to reports.

Thousands of people are injured or killed each year due to tractor accidents. Tractor accidents can happen in a variety of ways, but some of the most common causes of tractor accidents include:

  • Tractor rollovers
  • Road collisions
  • Being crushed or run over by a tractor
  • Injuries caused to a third party by operator error
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Defective parts
  • Manufacturing or design defects

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A federal court has agreed to hear an appeal on whether drivers in Palm Beach County and across Florida should be granted class-action status in their claim that HCA hospitals, including JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, are severely overcharging for services under the state’s car insurance system.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta agreed this week to consider an appeal of a lower-court decision in Florida that drivers could pursue lawsuits individually, but not as a group. The plaintiffs allege that the hospitals are draining Personal Injury Protection benefits by charging up to 65 times what Medicare pays.

4838079960_bea63b1287_zAn HCA statement issues said the case lacks merit and the company intends to defend it vigorously.

Recently, the Florida state legislature has taken steps to reduce the amount of fraud in the insurance system, reduce payment delays and limit use of the court system. The following changes were implemented:

  • In the past, injury victims had an unlimited time frame to make an injury claim, but now injury victims only have 14 days to seek medical treatment that may be covered by PIP.
  • Under the new law, people with minor injuries might be limited on the amount of financial recovery that they will receive from PIP coverage.
  • PIP compensation is limited to 80 percent of your medical costs.

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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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As deadly collisions continue to occur throughout the state of Florida, it is quite fitting that citizens of Florida should want answers. While there is not just one answer for the reason why deadly crashes occur, there is some insightful information available on motor vehicle accident causes across the state.

52824625_f3596d1065_z (1)Top Causes for Crashes

  • Distracted Driving
  • Speeding
  • Road Rage
  • Impaired Driving
  • Fatigue

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of auto accidents in the state of Florida. From texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating or engaging in any other manual, visual and cognitive non-driving tasks while behind the wheel, distracted driving puts Floridians in danger.

Speeding

Speeding is another top cause of motor vehicle collisions in Florida. Going too fast on the roadways can lead to serious injury as well as death. An increase in speed can lead to an increased risk of causing a serious traffic accident.

Road Rage

Aggressive driving maneuvers like tailgating and cutting off cars is another reason why so many auto accidents occur in Florida. Aggressive driving is a form of road rage, and can also include risky behaviors like improper signaling and swerving in and out of lanes.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also leads to lethal accidents on Florida roadways. While the FHP and local law enforcement agencies have been ramping up their efforts to crackdown on drunk drivers, impaired driving collisions are still happening in Florida.

Fatigue

Fatigue is also a major cause for concern when it comes to car crashes. When a driver is drowsy or sleepy, he or she is not likely to make good decisions behind the wheel. It is vital to be alert when driving any distance. Drowsy driving can easily lead to a serious collision in just the blink of an eye.

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Leesburg City Commissioner Jay Hurley failed to convince a Lake County judge Wednesday morning that he made a wide turn and not an improper lane change that caused a crash that resulted in a biker’s death earlier this year, which lead to his driver’s license being suspended for six months and a $1,000 fine.

The one-hour hearing took place Wednesday morning and included testimony from Hurley, Leesburg police and witnesses as friends and family members of the victim.

The crash happened April 27 in front of Gator Harley-Davidson on U.S. Highway 441 during the last day of Leesburg Bikefest. According to police statements, Hurley was driving his Ford F-150 east on U.S. Highway 441 in the center lane and was preparing to turn into the motorcycle shop, which is on the south side of the highway.

The deceased was riding his 1987 Yamaha behind Hurley, but was in the right lane.

2335156733_3aa396e693_zAccording to police evidence, Hurley made a right turn from the center lane into the dealership and drove into the path of the Yamaha, causing the deceased to crash head first into the truck.

After two weeks in a coma, the deceased passed away at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

After the accident, Hurley received citations for improper window tint and improper lane change resulting in death. The State Attorney’s Office recently cleared Hurley of any criminal charges from the accident.

At the hearing Wednesday morning, Hurley pleaded not guilty and stated that he was in the right lane but, due to the size of his four-door truck, he had to make a wide turn into the center lane in order to turn right into the business.

Leesburg police showed video and pictures of the crash site that displayed the truck at an 80-degree angle at the turn, with the bike pinned underneath. Police argued that it would have been impossible for the truck to have crashed at that angle if it had been turning from the right lane, even if a wide turn was the problem. Police even reconstructed the accident with similar vehicles to prove their case.

The judge found Hurley guilty, despite the fact that Hurley’s defense lawyer pointed out that police found no evidence of the bike braking and asked the judge to ignore the reconstruction video as well as a taped police interview of Hurley.

While no criminal charges will be filed against Hurley, the family of the deceased can still file a civil suit against the man, contending negligence. In these types of cases, financial compensation may be awarded for lost wages and benefits, loss of companionship and any emotional pain and suffering that is caused by the death. In order to recover these damages, it must be shown that specific actions were responsible for the death, and that the death would not have occurred without those actions.

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Most people have gotten behind the wheel of a car a little tired. While it is not uncommon for drowsy drivers to be on the road, it is important to realize that drowsy driving is quickly becoming more dangerous than distracted or even drunk driving. Also, drowsy driving does not mean falling asleep at the wheel. In fact, most accidents involving drowsy drivers are drivers who were awake, just tired.

3839475522_68d4e14c0b_zThe AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety just released a report on drowsy driving accidents from 2009-2013. The report indicates that 21 percent of fatal car accidents occur because of drowsy drivers. That means that nearly 6,400 fatal car accidents a year – 17 fatal car crashes a day – occur because of drowsy drivers. This number is significantly higher than the government’s official estimate, which claims that drowsy drivers are responsible for just 2.5 percent of fatal car crashes in this country.

When you are drowsy, you are:

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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A Bradford County school bus carrying 15 elementary school students was rear-ended by a big rig Monday afternoon near the intersection of U.S. 301 and State Road 201A in Lawtey.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, there were 10 people transported to area hospitals – the 35-year-old driver of the log-hauling big rig and his female passenger were taken to Shands in Gainesville with critical injuries, and seven children and the bus driver were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities believe the most serious injury among the children was a leg injury.

According to the sheriff’s office, the woman in the semi was not wearing any clothes. Troopers gave her a towel to cover up in front of the children.

5554917910_b21c0bb5db_mWitnesses claim the semi was travelling at 60 mph when it slammed into the bus, which investigators said had its crossing arms out and lights flashing.

The crash happened on U.S. 301 near Northwest 183rd Street at about 2:45 p.m. As the school bus was coming to a stop, it was struck from behind by the semi, which is owned and operated by Mo’s Trucking out of Palatka.

The Sheriff’s Office said the bus driver saw the semi coming in the rear-view mirror and sped up, which possibly minimized the impact. If the bus had been stopped to unload students, the crash could have been tragic.

Witnesses claim the truck driver never hit the brakes, as he plowed into the back of the bus and pushed it more than 50 yards into a ditch.

The FHP said dispatchers received a call about a reckless driver in a tractor-trailer on U.S. 301 before the crash occurred. However, before they could catch up with the vehicle, the state patrol and local Sheriff’s Office received a call about the crash.

FHP said charges are pending. They do not have any indication that alcohol or drugs were a factor, but said speed and/or distracted driving could have played a role.

Records indicate that the driver of the semi has several previous driving citations. He had his license suspended in 2011 when his insurance was canceled, and it was suspended in 2013 for failure to pay a fine.

He was cited with driving with a suspended license in 2007 and in 2011, speeding in 2011, operating motor vehicle in unsafe condition in 2012 and a tag violation in 2013.

Accidents involving school buses can be quite traumatic. While we do not generally hear about these accidents happening frequently, they do occur, and probably more often than you think. There are an estimated 585,000 school buses operating in the United States right now. School bus accidents result in a reported 17,000 visits to emergency rooms every year.

If you have been the victim of a school bus accident that involved a semi truck, there are things you can do to obtain financial compensation for injuries and damages. In many of these accidents, truck drivers are not insured, which can create additional problems for victims, since the person responsible for the accident cannot pay for the damages. When this unfortunate scenario happens to you, you need to contact a Florida Truck Accident Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can help you understand all of your legal options and assist you with pursuing a legal claim against the truck driver and/or trucking company in order to recover damages.

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A semi driver killed Wednesday after he was crushed when his load shifted while yielding to a fire truck near St. Cloud was identified by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office this week.

The 32-year-old Orlando driver stopped his semi abruptly to yield to an Osceola County fire truck turning onto Narcoossee Road with its lights on and sirens blaring, according to Florida Highway Patrol.

Witnesses told troopers the firetruck stopped at a stop sign on Yukon Street just before it turned onto Narcoossee Road.

1350388493_cc153b3574_mThe FHP claims that when the semi driver hit the brakes, the steel beams he was carrying moved and crushed him.

Florida residents who have lost loved ones know the grief that follows immediately after. When death is sudden and unexpected, the pain can be almost unbearable, especially when the death was avoidable, as is usually the case with fatal motor vehicle accidents. Fatal accidents should be investigated to determine the exact cause, so that any party that is found negligent can be held responsible for their actions by either a criminal or civil lawsuit.

Any type of accident that ends in fatality can be extremely difficult to handle. At Whittel & Melton, our Wrongful Death Lawyers understand how much you are hurting right now and are here to help. While we know that adequate compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring your loved one back, it can help you move forward and give you the financial security needed to maintain your lifestyle and provide for you and your loved ones in the future.

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