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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Kevin Clark, now 32, who played the drummer in the popular Jack Black film “School of Rock” almost 20 years ago was struck and killed while riding his bicycle at a dangerous intersection on Wednesday, May 26. 

He was struck by a driver operating a Hyundai Sonata at about 1:20 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 2:04 a.m. after being taken to the hospital for his injuries. 

The 20-year-old driver of the Hyundai was issued several citations, according to police reports. 

Riding a bicycle is loads of fun and a great way to get some exercise. Florida has a wonderful climate so that residents can ride pretty much year round, making cycling a passion for many Floridians. Sadly, this hobby can end in tragedy when motorists sharing the roadways fail to take care and watch out for cyclists. The number of bicycle fatalities is climbing across the U.S. In 2019, bicycle accidents increased by 6% according to the National Safety Council (NSC). In the last 10 years bicycle fatalities have grown 10% from 793 in 2010 to 1,089 in 2019 (the latest year data is available.) 

The NSC also points out that starting in June, bicycle fatalities start to rise and continue to stay high through September. For 2019, the most deaths from bicycle fatalities occurred in August – 125 and the fewest occurred in January – 63. 

If you have lost a loved one or have suffered any type of harm in a bicycle accident that was the result of another driver’s negligence, then you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for all of your suffering and related damages. 

Bicyclists are quite vulnerable on Florida’s busy roadways and intersections. When you go out for a ride, you share the road with fast moving cars, large trucks, buses, and other vehicles that can cause severe injuries and even death on impact. For the most part, bicyclists have the same right-of-way as any other motorists travelling on the roads. But despite these laws, most motorists fail to offer bikers the same courtesy as they extend to other vehicles on the road, which is why bike accidents happen so frequently. 

What Are The Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

  • There are many reasons bike accidents can happen, but most often these dangerous accidents happen because of the following:  
  • Cars turning in front of bicyclists and crashing into them at an intersection
  • Motor vehicles turning right and striking bicyclists in the crosswalk
  • Drivers passing cyclists too closely and clipping them 
  • Drivers opening car doors while a biker is passing, also called “dooring.” 
  • Drivers failing to yield to bicyclists

What Should You Do After a Bicycle Accident?

  • If you are harmed in a bike accident, then we recommend taking the following steps: 
  • Call 911 right away – your health is the first and most important priority. You need to get medical care right away. 
  • Make a police report. Never let the at-fault driver talk you out of this very important step as failing to do this can lead to problems later on. 
  • You need to get information from the driver who hit you, like their driver’s license number and insurance information. 
  • If you can, snap some pictures or take some videos of the car that hit you, your injuries, your bike, and the scene of the accident. 
  • If there are any witnesses to the crash, then get their information, too. Police might miss this step, so help yourself by getting their contact information. 
  • Contact an experienced Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton at 866-608-5529 or contact us online. You should reach out to us before you make contact with the other driver’s insurance provider. 

What Can I Do to Protect Myself in a Bicycle Accident?

  • Wear a helmet that fits properly 
  • Wear reflective and bright-colored clothes 
  • Use a bike light and reflectors, or even reflective tape
  • Ride with the flow of traffic 
  • Obey all traffic laws 
  • Always use bike lanes, whenever possible 
  • Perform routine maintenance on your bike to make sure it is good working condition 
  • Make sure you are alert at all times and are not distracted 

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This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made child deaths from hot cars part of 2020’s campaign. This case reminds us all the importance of the NHTSA’s slogan “Park. Look. Lock.” Always ask yourself “where is the baby?” 

An Orlando teacher has been charged with the death of her friend’s 20-month-old son after she left the child inside a hot vehicle for 7.5 hours. 

The 34-year-old woman was charged with neglect and aggravated manslaughter. 

South Dakota’s Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg hit and killed a pedestrian Saturday night while driving. The death was discovered after he told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that he collided with a deer, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

deer-2053106_1280-300x205Ravnsborg told police that he survived the crash involving a deer unscathed. The highway accident occurred at about 10:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, according to the department of public safety. 

The body of the pedestrian he hit, a 55-year-old man, was found on Sunday morning.

It is unknown whether Ravnsborg stopped to check the scene after the collision. 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem held a press conference Sunday morning stating that there will be an investigation conducted by the South Dakota Highway Patrol. The fatal crash will be investigated in the same manner as all other fatal accidents. 

Ravnsborg is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation, according to reports, 

Ravnsborg is a Republican who was elected in 2018 as South Dakota’s attorney general. 

It will certainly be interesting to see how this case pans out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motor vehicle accidents involving deer are responsible for about 1.5 million crashes across the United States. These accidents cause about 150 deaths per year and $1.1 billion in property damage. Most deer-vehicle accidents happen between October and December which is the mating season for deer. The majority of these accidents do happen at night as deer are nocturnal animals who are on the hunt for food during night-time hours. 

Losing a loved one is not an easy thing to accept. This is even harder to do when their death was caused by the negligent actions of another person. Our Florida Pedestrian Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how difficult it can be to deal with the death of a family member or loved one. While there is no dollar amount that any state can place on the value of your loved one’s life, we can help you recover financial compensation to help with bills, supplement lost income, and help you start over with your life following a devastating loss. 

Wrongful death claims are usually filed after the untimely death of a loved one by their family members, such as children, spouses, parents, and even siblings. Wrongful death cases must be filed in a certain amount of time and aim to recover a financial award for medical bills and/or funeral costs, loss of benefits, pain and suffering by survivors, and loss of companionship. 

A wrongful death claim can be made when a person’s death is the direct result of another person’s reckless or negligent actions. There are various types of wrongful death cases, including pedestrian-car accidents, and these claims all seek financial compensation in civil court rather than criminal court. While criminal court is designed to punish a person for breaking the law, civil court is designed to help injured victims or surviving family members recover financial compensation for their loss. 

Florida has its own set of rules and regulations on when and how certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. set restrictions on when and how a certain family member can file a wrongful death claim. Florida statutes (section 678.18) state that surviving family members can proceed with a wrongful death claim when their loss resulted from one of the following: 

  • Breach of contract (default) 
  • Negligence 
  • Wrongful act

In Florida, as well as other states, there is also a statute of limitations set in place for wrongful death suits. This is a time constraint placed that outlines how long surviving family members have to file a claim in civil court. In Florida, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the death. However, there are special conditions that may allow for an extension for the claim. 

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wrong-way-167535_1280-300x200The Florida Highway Patrol has confirmed that a man was killed in a wrong way collision early Saturday morning. 

The scene of the accident was along E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. 

The incident report documented that the 28-year-old Davenport man was driving a sedan heading west in the eastbound lanes of U.S. 192 near Crabgrass Road at approximately 3:20 a.m. His vehicle smashed into another car that was heading east, according to reports. 

The man identified as the wrong way driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The other motorist, a 21-year-old man, and his male passenger, 23, both suffered serious injuries. 

Another driver sharing the road at the same time of the crash said she had to swerve off the road to avoid hitting the two men who were climbing out of the car. 

A truck driver stopped to help pull the men from the wreckage. 

The report did mention that all three of the men were wearing seatbelts, but no further information on the crash is available. 

Wrong Way Driving Statistics 

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration estimates that wrong way collisions result in 300 to 400 deaths annually across the U.S. This number only represents 1 percent of traffic fatalities every year, but the fact that most of these accidents result in head-on collisions at very fast speeds, they are usually more severe than other types of car crashes. 

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) 2020 Crash Dashboard (which is considered preliminary data), Florida has already seen 176,317 motor vehicle crashes from 1/1/20-7/28/20. Of these collisions, 1,672 fatalities have been reported and another 109,328 people have suffered injuries. The month of January saw the highest number of traffic accidents with 32,548 total crashes and April had the lowest number of crashes with 16,416. 

Facts About Wrong Way Auto Accidents 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) did a study where they compiled all the data from wrong way driving crashes to identify trends in these deadly crashes. The following highlight their discoveries: 

  • Motorists over 70 years old account for a large portion of wrong way driving accidents. While this high number may seem unusual for this age group, their involvement may be attributed to poor vision and not seeing the wrong way signs posted on highways and roads. 
  • The majority of wrong way driving crashes involve a car that is entering an exit ramp on a highway. This can usually be attributed to signs not being clear, driver’s not being familiar with the area, or drivers being intoxicated. 
  • The NTSB found that 78% of the total number of wrong way crashes happen from 6 p.m. – 6 a.m. Drunk drivers, low visibility, and drivers who are fatigued all contribute to more wrong way driving crashes at night and early morning.
  • Keeping in tune with the above facts, the NTSB also found that most wrong way collisions happen on weekends. This could be because more people are out drinking and partying on the weekends as opposed to weekdays. 
  • The NTSB also determined that 7 out of 9 wrong way collisions take place in the lane closest to the median. 
  • Lastly, the NTSB concluded that more than half of all wrong way driving accidents are the fault of an intoxicated driver. Their report further shows that most drivers causing wrong way crashes have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or above .15. When your BAC is .08 or higher, you are considered legally drunk. 

Wrong Way Driving Accident Claims

If you have survived a wrong way driving crash, then our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. Our goal is to make sure you receive the medical attention you need for your injuries and recover the full and fair compensation to which you are owed for your pain and suffering. 

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On Wednesday, six workers were taken to the hospital for injuries related to a rebar mishap at a construction site at 830 Brickell in Miami, according to officials.

construction-3390318_1280-300x200Miami Fire Rescue officials said the crane was lifting bundles of rebar when it collapsed on the six workers. It is unknown why the rebar suddenly malfunctioned. 

Rebar is a steel reinforcing bar that adds stability to buildings that are under construction. 

The workers became trapped in the debris, and the rebar impaled two of the six workers. One worker was able to climb out of the rubble on his own, and three others were pulled out by a rescue team. 

All six workers were taken to the hospital with serious and critical injuries. 

G&E Florida Contractors is building the structure and all six workers are employed by the company. 

The crane operator is employed by a subcontractor, Morrow Equipment. 

According to reports, all three of the companies involved with the accident have previous violations with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  

An OSHA report shows that just last month, G&E was issued a notice for a similar violation at a different job site in Miami and is facing a nearly $7,000 fine.  

OSHA also shows that Morrow reached a settlement of $8,300 for a fall violation in 2018. 

The incident that happened Wednesday also resulted in a street closure.

The accident is still under investigation.

Construction sites can be the scenes of numerous accidents that result in tragedy. Construction is an inherently dangerous industry, and it makes sense, because workers are literally building their worksite as they go along. This creates a work environment that is constantly changing which can easily result in serious injuries and even death. This is why construction sites must have strict safety rules and protocols in place. 

According to OSHA, the construction industry accounts for one in five worker fatalities. The majority of these deaths and serious injuries can all be traced back to federal and state safety violations that are implemented to keep workers safe. 

There are several types of construction site accidents that are most commonly responsible for worker injuries and deaths, including: 

  • Falls
  • Workers being struck by an object (rebar falling on workers) 
  • Crush injuries 
  • Electrocution
  • Forklift Accidents 
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals 
  • Highway construction accidents 

If you are a construction site worker and you suffered an injury while on the job, you have the right to hold the at-fault party responsible. There may be multiple parties to blame, including your supervisors, company owners, and even property owners. While your job may be dangerous, that does not mean you have no safety precautions available. You have the right to safety during the entire duration of your employment at a construction site. If your employer does not take the appropriate steps to keep you and other workers free from harm, then they can be held liable for their oversights. Our Florida Injury and Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you take appropriate action.

Your employer and its insurer will have lawyers on their side fighting to protect them once a construction accident happens. You need legal representation on your side to represent your best interests. We can help you make sure you are being compensated justly for your suffering. We can review the facts of your case and figure out if your injury merits a workers’ compensation claim, a lawsuit, or possibly both. We can also gather evidence on your behalf to help prove your right to certain benefits and financial compensation. Finally, we can negotiate with all parties involved on your behalf for a favorable settlement agreement, or argue your case in court. 

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the launch of a $3 million public safety campaign at the start of July to educate the entire U.S. about the dangers of leaving children locked in hot vehicles.  

The summer months can be sweltering, so the campaign serves as a reminder to motorists that children should never be left unattended in vehicles and cars should be kept locked so that no child can accidentally get into a car. 

A jury has awarded $700 million to the parents of a Florida man who died after being beaten unconscious and then set on fire while still alive.

The jury reached its verdict earlier this month in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of the deceased, who was killed in June 2012 in Highlands County.

The verdict was against the two men who were convicted of their son’s murder in 2015.

Investigators said the men were at a party when one of the men punched the victim. The other man then beat the victim unconscious. The men set him on fire hours later when the victim was unconscious but still alive.

Collecting the award might be difficult as both men are serving two life sentences each on kidnapping and murder convictions.

While a typical wrongful death claim arises from negligence, or someone else’s failure to exercise appropriate care in a specific situation, it is possible for a claim to arise from an intentional act, such as murder. While the state of Florida will bring criminal charges against a person accused of murder for breaking the law, the victim’s family or a representative of the victim’s estate can file civil charges for wrongful death.

Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, an individual may bring a wrongful death claim if they are related to the deceased as a:

  • spouse
  • child
  • parent
  • dependent blood relatives
  • children born outside of wedlock of the mother or father 

In addition, Florida law mandates when wrongful death lawsuits must be filed by, which is called the statute of limitations. That time in Florida is two years from the date of death. In certain very specific cases, this time can be postponed. After the statute of limitations has expired, a suit can no longer be filed and all legal rights with respect to the filing of a wrongful death suit are extinguished. 

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of the victim, also known as the plaintiff, must prove that the defendant, the person accused of being responsible for the death in the lawsuit, actually caused the death in question through negligence or an intentional act. In this specific case, murder is the intentional act. Murder is defined as the intentional killing of another human being, so it does satisfy the legal definition of an “intentional tort.” The burden of proof for establishing responsibility for a wrongful death is much lower than what is required for proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a murder charge. So it is safe to assume that if a prosecutor successfuly convicts a person of murder, then the plaintiff in a subsequent wrongful death claim will have little to no trouble establishing the burden of proof in a civil wrongful death lawsuit.

The types of losses for which financial compensation is typically sought in a wrongful death lawsuit arising from a murder include loss of companionship, loss of income or support, and loss of consortium. Other types of losses for which compensation is awarded in a wrongful death case stemming from a murder include medical bills as well as funeral and burial expenses. A family member may also be able to obtain monetary compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress from the murder of a family member.

However, if a person is headed to prison, or already behind bars, they may not have the financial means to be able to pay the money owed that results from a wrongful death lawsuit. So, unless they have enough assets before entering prison, a wrongful death suit may not result in the financial compensation you deserve. When it comes to a wrongful death suit after such a heinous act as murder, most families are not as concerned with the money aspect of the ruling, but rather the message it sends to the resposible party (parties). 

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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 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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