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covid-19-4908692_640-150x150Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order preventing a wide array of people from visiting nursing homes, assisted living facilities and similar sites in Florida in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus among some of the state’s most vulnerable people.

Anyone who’s traveled internationally, traveled on a cruise ship, is showing symptoms of the coronavirus or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus is temporarily prohibited from visiting those sites, he said.

The order applies to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult family care homes, long-term care facilities and adult group homes across the state.

“These are important efforts to mitigate the risk to our most vulnerable population to COVID-19,” DeSantis said.

The order required facilities to prevent the following groups of people from visiting:

▪ Anyone infected with COVID-19 who hasn’t had two consecutive negative test results cannot visit the facilities.

▪ Anyone showing signs of a respiratory infection cannot visit.

▪ Any person who has or been in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19 who has not tested negative is prohibited from visiting for 14 days.

▪ Any person who has traveled internationally must wait for 14 days from their return to the U.S. before visiting.

▪ Any person who has traveled on a cruise ship must wait 14 days from the date of their return before visiting.

▪ Any person who has been in a community with confirmed “community spread” of the virus must wait 14 days before visiting.

▪ Any person who lives in a community with confirmed community spread is prohibited from visiting.

“No one is exempt from the screening,” Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew said.

People throughout Florida, the United States, and around the world are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, which is officially known as COVID-19. This disease originated in China, where over 100,000 people have been infected and thousands more have died. While the U.S. rate of infection has been relatively low in comparison, the main concern is that the disease may continue to spread, causing serious illnesses and deaths.

A large concern with coronavirus is how it affects the senior citizen population, which raises the question of how residents of nursing homes will be able to fight the spread of the coronavirus, especially since the largest outbreak that has occurred in the United States so far has taken place at the Life Care Center nursing home in the Seattle, Washington area. There have been more than 10 deaths at this facility, and the infection has spread to dozens of people in the surrounding community.

Our Florida Nursing Home Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand the concerns about how coronavirus infections may affect nursing home residents. We are here to help you and your families understand if negligence was a factor when harm is suffered by a loved one. We know the law as it pertains to infections and other forms of nursing home neglect and abuse, and we can work with you to establish liability and help you pursue your legal options. 

The Dangers Of Coronavirus for Nursing Home Residents

It has been determined that COVID-19 is more likely to cause serious harm to the elderly as compared to other age groups. According to researchers who have studied the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the overall fatality rate for those who are infected is around 2%. But, for those over the age of 70, the fatality rate is around 8%, and it increases to nearly 15% for those over the age of 80. Fatalities are also much more likely for patients who have conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, hypertension, or cancer.

Nursing Homes Must Act Responsibly to Control the Spread of Coronavirus

All nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to have plans in place for disease prevention and control, as well as emergency preparedness plans that address how to respond to an outbreak. Staff members are required to follow proper hygiene procedures, which includes thoroughly washing hands and wearing eye protection and facial masks. Commonly-used areas and surfaces should be regularly disinfected. They must also follow the above listed protocols as outlined by the governor’s order. 

Nursing Homes Can Be Liable for Coronavirus Infections

When a nursing home facility fails to follow the proper steps to prevent infections, it may be liable for injuries or wrongful deaths that occurred as a result. If a resident does not receive the proper medical care after contracting an infection, the victim or their family may be able to pursue financial compensation. Claims can also be pursued if the nursing home did not take the proper measures to prevent the spread of infection to visitors to the facility.

Contact Our Florida Nursing Home Coronavirus Infection Lawyers

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harley-davidson-1905281_640-150x150Three people have been killed in a motorcycle crash during Bike Week in Florida, authorities said.

The crash involved three Harley-Davidson motorcycles early Tuesday morning on International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach, according to a police news release. 

A 46-year-old woman and a 47-year-old man from New York state were on one bike and killed, as well as a 65-year-old Missouri man on another bike. 

The rider of the third bike, a 55-year-old Missouri man, told police that he and the other Missouri man were traveling in one lane while the couple was traveling in another lane in the same direction. The couple crossed directly into the path of the older Missouri rider as he tried to change lanes, leading to a crash that knocked all three off their bikes, police said.

The younger Missouri man’s bike went down after being clipped by one of the other bikes, police said. He was treated at the scene for minor injuries and declined transport to a hospital.

The road was closed for several hours while investigators processed the scene.

Police said no charges were immediately pending.

Riding a motorcycle is about as American as you can get. However, collisions involving motorcycles can be especially risky because bikes are not equipped with the same safety features that most cars have. Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than cars and because of this, motorcyclists are much more likely to suffer severe injuries in a crash.

If you or someone you love has been harmed in a motorcycle accident, it is absolutely necessary to seek out the legal counsel of an attorney who handles these types of cases regularly. If your accident was caused by the careless or reckless actions of another motorcyclist or the driver of a car, you may be entitled to compensation to help ease the financial burdens associated with the accident, including past and future hospital and medical bills, physical therapy costs, lost wages, past and future economic losses, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. Our Florida Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton serves clients who have been injured in motorcycle accidents in cities such as Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Brooksville, Inverness, Ocala, and Gainesville.

Due to the fact that there is no buffer between a motorcyclist and the force of the concrete of the road, catastrophic injuries often occur when a crash happens, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, complex fractures, amputations, and even death. To recover financial damages for injuries in a motorcycle accident, you need to show the at-fault driver exercised negligence. Our Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you demonstrate that the other driver or drivers involved acted recklessly when causing the crash, and because of this you suffered damages.

If a loved one died in a motorcycle accident in Florida, you may be able to recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. We may be able to help you recover financial compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, and the mental anguish of losing a family member. Relatives who can recover damages in a wrongful death suit in Florida include a surviving spouse, a minor child, an adult child if there is no surviving spouse, a parent of a minor child, and a parent of an adult child when there are no other survivors specified under the statute.

There are many reasons motorcycle crashes occur, but some are more common than others. Here are the top ten reasons for motorcycle crashes:

  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Car doors opening
  • Inexperienced drivers
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A sudden stop
  • Left turn accidents
  • Speeding
  • Lane splitting
  • Head-on collisions
  • Road hazards

As a motorcyclist, you know that there are preventative measures you can take to eliminate the possibility of a crash. You should wear a helmet, wear bright clothing, and invest in reflectors that shine brighter when illuminated by headlights. The state of Florida requires every motorcycle rider under the age of 21 to wear a helmet. However, riders over the age of 21 have the choice of whether or not to wear a helmet if they can prove they are covered by a $10,000 medical insurance policy to cover any injuries that may arise as a result of a crash. It is important to also note that you should not share lanes. Even though motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, you must follow the laws and never ride in between lanes of traffic or share a lane with another vehicle.

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connection-4884862_640-150x150Across the country from Miami to Seattle, nursing homes and other facilities for the elderly are stockpiling masks and thermometers, preparing for staff shortages and screening visitors to protect a particularly vulnerable population from the coronavirus.

The outbreak began in China where the disease has been substantially deadlier for the elderly. In Italy, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Europe, the more than 100 people who died were either elderly, sick with other complications, or both.

Of the 19 deaths across the U.S. as of Saturday, at least 14 had been linked to a Seattle-area nursing home, along with many other infections among residents, staff and family members. The Seattle Times reported that a second nursing home and a retirement community in the area had each reported one case of the virus.

That has put other facilities in the U.S. on high alert, especially in states with large populations of older residents, such as Florida and California. About 2.5 million people live in long-term care facilities in the United States.

“For people over the age of 80 … the mortality rate could be as high as 15 percent,” said Mark Parkinson, president of the nursing home trade group American Health Care Association.

The federal government is now focusing all nursing home inspections on infection control, singling out facilities in cities with confirmed cases and those previously cited for not following protocol.

Federal rules already require the homes to have an infection prevention specialist on staff, and many have long had measures in place to deal with seasonal flus and other ailments that pose a higher risk to the elderly.

In Florida, where about 160,000 seniors live in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, mandatory visitor screening is not in place ‘because we’re not at that stage,’ said Kristen Knapp, a spokeswoman for the Florida Health Care Association.

But elder care centers are posting signs urging visitors to stay away if they have symptoms, and are looking into alternate ways for families to connect, such as through video chats, Knapp said.

Concierges in the 14 Florida nursing homes run by the Palm Gardens corporation are now giving all visitors a short questionnaire asking about symptoms, recent travel and contact with others, said company Vice President Luke Neumann.

Neumann said the nursing homes also have purchased extra thermometers in case they need to check visitors’ temperatures and stockpiled preventive supplies, including medical masks, protective eyewear and gowns. In the laundry rooms, they are making sure to use enough bleach and heat to kill any lingering virus germs, he said.

Many facilities across the country have said they were having trouble getting medical masks and gowns because of shortages.

Facilities are stressing basic precautions, including hand washing and coughing etiquette.

Centers throughout the country are also trying to prepare their staff for the worst.

Late Friday night, the DOH announced two Florida seniors who had traveled abroad have become the state’s first residents to die from the coronavirus plus additional presumptive positive cases in Broward and Lee counties.

Both died following international trips.

The World Health Organization has stopped calling the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak an epidemic, but the disease is causing serious problems all over the world, including Florida. Treating the illness is at the top of everyone’s priority list, but there are still lingering questions that remain to be answered, including those about negligence and liability. Could a nursing home be held liable for virus-related deaths of its patients? The answer may not be that simple.  

What Is Coronavirus? 

Coronaviruses are part of a larger family of viruses that cause illnesses in humans and animals. In rare cases, coronaviruses that infect animals make the jump to humans. This is believed to have been the case with the specific virus responsible for COVID-19. COVID-19 presents as a respiratory illness, and symptoms include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. For those whose immune systems are compromised, the virus can cause serious problems and can even be deadly. The symptoms are quite similar to those associated with the common cold or the flu, which means that a person might be infected with COVID-19 and not even realize it. This is why these cases can be such a huge problem in nursing homes. 

Can Nursing Homes Be Liable for Coronavirus Deaths? 

A nursing home can be held liable for injuries and deaths to patients if they failed to provide a standard duty of care. This would mean that they did not offer the level of care mandated by local, state, and federal guidelines. In extraordinary situations, as is the case of coronavirus, nursing home facilities are expected to take extra precautions. If they fail to do so, then they very well could be liable for patient injuries or death.

CDC Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in nursing home facilities. To prevent further patients being introduced to the virus, facilities are expected to post signs instructing visitors to stay out if they have symptoms of a respiratory illness. Facilities are also expected to have sick leave policies that allow staff members to stay home if they have similar symptoms.

Furthermore, proper hygiene, such as hand washing and disinfecting procedures, should be used at all times. Residents who are suspected to be infected should be kept away from other residents, and facemasks should be used if they need to leave their rooms for required procedures. Limitations on visitors and outside interactions should also be implemented if and when an infection is suspected.  

Potential Lawsuits

There are certain scenarios where the family of a coronavirus victim could be eligible for compensation from a nursing home. If the facility’s sick leave policy encouraged an infected employee to come to work despite being sick, and a resident was infected as a result, the facility could certainly be held liable. On a side note, the employee that came to work even though they knew they were positively diagnosed with COVID-19 but came to work anyway could also be liable.

A victim’s family can also file a personal injury or wrongful death claim if the nursing home facility failed to take proper steps to quarantine patients who were known or suspected to be infected. Nursing homes must follow the CDC guidelines.

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bike-week-1200213_640-150x150For motorcycle enthusiasts in the state of Florida and around the world, it’s time to start your bikes and rev those engines because Daytona Beach’s 79th annual Bike Week is coming to town.

The 10-day event will take place from March 6 to March 15 and will be packed with several concerts, shows and races.

With so many things to keep track of, here is a general list of everything you need to know before Bike Week gets revved up.

General Information

This monumental event has been drawing motorists since 1937. You can start your day off at the welcome center located at One Daytona, right across from the Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Regional Chamber ambassadors will be around to answer any questions you have and will hand out the official pocket guide.

If you’re feeling lucky, a $50 donation will enter you in the official motorcycle drawing for a chance to win a custom Harley Dyna Glide. Only 4,500 tickets will be printed and the drawing will be held at approximately 12 p.m. on March 14. 

Traffic and Safety

With so many people attending the big event, the Daytona Beach Police Department put out a traffic warning for visitors to highlight possible congestion areas, road closures and detours.

Expect the biggest crowds to be centered around the Daytona International Speedway, Main Street, Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard and North Beach Street, especially at night.

Side street traffic heading north and south between Auditorium Boulevard and Harvey Street may be restricted during events. Affected roadways include Oleander Avenue, Wild Olive Street, Grandview Avenue and Hollywood Avenue.

Atlantic Avenue/State Road A1A

  • Northbound: Turn left (west) on International Speedway Boulevard and then right (north) on Peninsula Drive. Please avoid trying to turn left (west) onto Main Street from Atlantic Avenue.
  • Southbound: Go to the right lane. Upon reaching Main Street, you may be able to turn right (west), depending on the amount of traffic. If not, continue south and turn right (west) on International Speedway Boulevard, then turn right (north) on Peninsula Drive

Peninsula Drive

  • Northbound: Remain on Peninsula Drive until you get to Main Street, then turn right (east).
  • Southbound: Turn left (east) on Oakridge Boulevard to Atlantic Avenue, then turn right (south) and head to Main Street.

North Beach Street

  • There will be motorcycle-only parking on selected areas of North Beach Street. These areas will be clearly marked by signage.
  • Expect heavy traffic around Indian Motorcycle Company.

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard

  • Public parking areas may be restricted to assist with pedestrian safety and vehicle areas may be restricted to assist with pedestrian safety and vehicle movement during event.

Events

March 6-15: Daytona’s 42nd Annual World’s Largest Swapmeet at the Daytona Beach Flea Market. Held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. 1425 Tomoka Farm Road, Daytona Beach.

March 6-13: Michael Austin’s Live Music Bike Week Party In The Pavilion a daily concert series inside the Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson. 1637 North U.S. Highway 1, Ormond Beach.

March 6: The Ultimate Tribute to Van Halen from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Space Coast Harley-Davidson. 1440 Sportsman Lane NE, Palm Bay.

March 7: Daytona Supercross at the Daytona International Speedway. 1801 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.

March 8: Southern Fried Moto Show – Vintage Bikes 1999 and earlier from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson. 1637 North U.S. Highway 1, Ormond Beach.

March 9: 1st Annual Space Coast Harley-Davidson Bike Show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Space Coast Harley-Davidson. 1440 Sportsman Lane NE, Palm Bay.

March 12: Leather and Lace MC Annual Motorcycle Rodeo from noon to 6 p.m. at Leather & Lace MC Clubhouse. 574 West Ariel Road, Edgewater.

March 12: Ruff Ride for the Animals from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Halifax Humane Society. 2364 LPGA Blvd, Daytona Beach.

March 13: World’s Largest V8 Parade from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Indian Motorcycle Daytona Beach. 290 North Beach Street, Daytona Beach.

March 14: Daytona 200/Daytona TT at the Daytona International Speedway. 1801 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.

Our Florida Motorcycle Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know that motorcyclists are the most vulnerable on the road. Motorcyclists are at an increased risk of injury because they lack the protection of seat-belts, airbags, and the steel frame of a car. For these reasons, we have compiled a list of safety tips for you to follow so that you can stay safe when riding around the streets of Daytona, or wherever your travels take you: 

  • Steer clear of “No-Zones.” Avoid being in a truck’s blind spot or No-Zone. Trucks have large No-Zones on both sides, the front and behind the truck. Truck drivers cannot see you when you ride in these blind spots, which only increases the chances of a crash. The front blind spot is especially dangerous if you need to stop quickly. 
  • Wear a helmet. The state of Florida requires every motorcycle rider under the age of 21 to wear a helmet. Riders over the age of 21 can ride a motorcycle without a helmet if they can prove they are covered by a $10,000 medical insurance policy to cover any injuries that may arise as a result of a crash. Helmets are the most important piece of equipment you can wear while riding a motorcycle. This will be your only source of protection in a serious crash.
  • Do not share lanes. While motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, you must adhere to the laws of the road. Never ride in between lanes of traffic or share a lane with another vehicle.
  • Inspect your bike before you ride. Proper maintenance will help reduce your chance of a crash.
  • Wear protective clothing. In addition to your helmet, wearing protective clothing including gloves, boots and a jacket will reduce the risk of severe injury if you are involved in a crash.
  • Obey posted speed limits. Motorcycles accelerate the fastest, so watch your speed, particularly in bad weather or at night. 

At Whittel & Melton, our staff of attorneys share the love of motorcycles. We are part of the National Academy of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers and are sponsoring an online giveaway where you could win a Harley! You can enter by clicking here to win a 2020 FXDR 114 Motorcycle or the motorcycle of your choice, up to $20,000.

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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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A South Florida appeals court has made a decision regarding arguments that the state improperly revoked the license of a Broward County nursing home where residents died after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal last week rejected the appeal by The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. The one-page order did not explain the court’s reasons.

Lawyers for the nursing home asked the court to find that an administrative law judge made a series of errors in recommending that the facility lose its license.

Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning, with authorities attributing as many as 12 resident deaths to sweltering conditions in the building. But attorneys for the Agency for Health Care Administration contended in a brief that the nursing home’s “abject failure to meet its obligations as a licensed facility and the tragic consequences justify AHCA’ s decision to revoke its license.”

Hurricane Irma made landfall Sept. 10, 2017, in Monroe and Collier counties and caused damage through much of the state. The nursing home lost power to its air-conditioning system, which was out until Sept. 13, when residents were evacuated.

The deaths drew national attention and led the state to move quickly to shut down the facility and, ultimately, revoke its license. Four staff members were charged with manslaughter. Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy in 2018 issued a recommended order supporting the revocation.

While authorities have attributed as many as 12 deaths to conditions at the facility, Creasy wrote that “clear and convincing evidence” was presented during the case that nine of the 12 residents “suffered greatly from the exposure to unsafe heat in the facility.” Following Creasy’s recommendation, the Agency for Health Care Administration in January 2019 issued a final order to revoke the license.

Florida’s current nursing home generator law requires assisted living and nursing home facilities to acquire generators and fuel as a direct result of the Hurricane Irma tragedy. The equipment that they have must allow them to keep the temperature at their facility at 81 degrees or below even if they suffer a loss of power. Small facilities must be able to provide air conditioning for 48 hours and larger facilities must provide power for up to 96 hours after a power loss. 

There are additional requirements, such as facilities must create and report an emergency plan to the Department of Elder Affairs, which must be a comprehensive emergency management plan. Additionally, they must also pass an inspection by the Florida Fire Marshall. The Fire Marshall performs an inspection to ensure that the generator and fuel that the facility acquires is adequate to comply with the law.

Just like all other states, Florida’s nursing home laws are set in place to provide patients with specific standards of treatment and basic rights. These laws protect the safety, comfort, and health of nursing home patients. 

Nursing home patients are also entitled to certain services such as social interaction and mental health counseling. If you are a nursing home patient or a family member and you feel you or your loved one’s rights have been violated, you should seek the assistance of our Tampa Bay Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton.

Florida laws state that nursing homes and assisted living residents are entitled to a certain set of rights when living at a long-term care facility. These laws ensure that  residents are provided a comfortable, safe, clean, and homelike environment. Facilities are required to provide their patients with bedding, clean clothes, and comfortable living quarters. Residents should have access to hot water, clean drinking water, comfortable temperatures, and adequate lighting. Likewise, facilities must be equipped with rails, ramps, and other safety features. These facilities must also provide their residents with nutritious meals, daily exercise, medication, social activities, emergency care, and a living space free from abuse.

In Florida, nursing home abuse and neglect is defined as a caregiver’s failure to meet or provide an individual’s basic needs for things like food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and medical care. When these basic needs are forgotten, patients are at an increased risk of developing an infection, illness, deterioration, and compromised safety.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are also required to provide their patients with a safe environment that is functional, safe, comfortable, and sanitary. When facilities fail to live up to these standards, neglect can happen and result in terrible consequences like the deaths that were seen after Hurricane Irma.

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The Pinellas County School Board is in talks of joining a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, one of the most popular e-cigarette brands. 

The decision comes as a way to prevent youth vaping.  Vaping has become a big issue with teens across the country and in Pinellas County alone, school leaders say there’s been a 738 percent increase in just the last couple of years in the number of students using tobacco products at school, something they attribute directly to vaping. 

The district has also partnered with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to launch the tobacco clinic.  Students who are caught vaping at school will have to go through a two-night course to avoid being suspended.  The district is also in the process of adding vaping to the student code of conduct. 

School board members will be having a second discussion about potential litigation against JUUL Labs.  Right now, school leaders say the district is in the information gathering stage regarding the lawsuit, but that they’re open to anything that would help keep students safe. 

“If there are things that we can do to alleviate or eliminate or even reduce the amount of usage, that’s what we want to do, because not only do we want to keep them safe from all the other issues out there this is a huge health issue,” Pinellas County School Board Chairman Carol Cook said. 

The board will not be making any decision today on whether to join in on the suit, but Cook said they are looking at the potential costs and ramifications. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of February 4, 2020, a total of 2,758 hospitalized e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) cases or deaths have been reported from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands). A total of 64 deaths have been confirmed in 28 states and the District of Columbia.  

Smoke from regular cigarettes contains a cancer-causing mix of 7,000 chemicals. While e-cigarette aerosol typically has fewer toxic chemicals, it is still dangerous. The CDC warns that e-cigarette aerosol can contain:

  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical that has been linked to a serious lung disease
  • Cancer-causing chemicals
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead
  • Nicotine, which has been shown to have serious health effects

The CDC reports the following: “It is difficult for consumers to know what e-cigarette products contain. For example, some e-cigarettes marketed as containing zero percent nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.” 

For children and teens especially, vaping and exposure to e-cigarettes can be life threatening. The CDC has also said that acute nicotine exposure can be toxic, and swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid can be poisonous for both children and adults.

JUUL came on the market in 2015 and has been the fastest growing vape company in the US (sales increased by more than 780% between 2017 and 2018). However, recent lawsuits and bans on vaping have hurt JUUL as a whole as the fight against JUUL revolves around the company’s role in the youth vaping “epidemic.” More kids are vaping now than ever, and the blame is being placed on JUUL’s accessibility, concealability, the high levels of nicotine found in JUULpods, and the marketing campaign aimed at teens. 

As of February 13, 2020, the newest lawsuit against JUUL lawsuit accuses the company of paying NickJr.com and CartoonNetwork.com to stream advertisements for their vaping product. The argument is that these websites are obviously intended for a young audience, and the advertisements featured youthful and “cool” models that would likely appeal to teenagers. The lawsuit also accuses JUUL of emailing young teens about how they can purchase nicotine products as an underage person.

The lawsuit also accused JUUL of trying to recruit social media celebrities who have a young following to advertise their product. One of the celebrities mentioned is pop-star Miley Cyrus.

The Risks of Juuling – Juul Side Effects:

  • Severe addiction
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heart attack or heart problems
  • Lung or respiratory failure
  • Mental health or behavior issues
  • Nicotine poisoning
  • Pregnancy complication or birth defects
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Stroke
  • Other complications

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Florida has been ranked as one of the nation’s worst states for safety laws and enforcement, according to a new report from a watchdog group.

Florida is one of 12 states that fall “dangerously behind” laws recommended by Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety.

Among the problems the group found in Florida: Inadequate primary rear seat belt laws, which mean law enforcement cannot stop a vehicle simply because a seatbelt is unbuckled. The state does have a primary front seat belt law.

Nationwide, 47% of the 22,697 people killed in passenger vehicle riders were not wearing seat belts.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,099 lives were saved in Florida in 2017 because of seat belt use. Had others been buckled in, though, it said 181 more lives could have been saved.

MOTORCYCLE HELMETS AND CHILD SEATS

Florida also received low marks for not requiring motorcycle riders of all ages to wear helmets. It’s one of 31 states without that requirement. The state allows riders over 21 to go without a helmet as long as they have a certain amount of insurance coverage.

The state also scored low in child safety laws. Florida is one of 35 states that does not require infants and toddlers to sit in a rear-facing child restraint system at least through age 2.

The report also said Florida lacks a good law requiring children who have outgrown the height and weight limit of a forward-facing safety to sit in a booster seat until he or she is 8 years old and 57 inches tall. Thirty-four states have such laws.

State law does require children age 5 and under to be “secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device,” and children up to age 3 “must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat,” according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Children under 18 must wear seat belts.

Florida does somewhat better as children get older. In the decade between 2009 and 2018, the Advocates report found. There were 3,533 fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes involving drivers aged 15 to 20. Nationally, the crash rate for teenage drivers is three times the rate of older people.

Florida did receive good ratings for some restrictions on young drivers, but falters in the report because of no nighttime restrictions for such drivers or restrictions on passengers.

The state gets mediocre marks for efforts to discourage distracted driving. While it bans text messaging while driving, the organization finds its efforts to restrict cell phone use as inadequate.

The report aims to promote the idea that as technology improves, so does the potential to prevent crashes that result in injuries and death.

Big challenges still remain for Florida. Catherine Chase, the organization’s president, cited “critical safety issues that must be addressed,” including standards to measure driver assistance technology and autonomous vehicles, further measures to combat drug-impaired driving, better safety for rear seat passengers and more protection for pedestrians and bicycle riders.

This study shows Florida’s “report card” for five different categories: occupant protection, child passenger safety, teen driving, impaired driving, and distracted driving. “Grades” of Green (Good); Yellow (Caution); and Red (Danger) provide an assessment of each state’s efforts. Florida received a “grade” of Red, which equates to “Danger.” It makes sense seeing that tens of thousands of people are killed on our nation’s roads every year. That breaks down to approximately 100 people killed every single day and nearly 7,500 more are injured in motor vehicle crashes. These traffic accidents carry a significant annual economic cost of $242 billion. This results in each person living in the U.S. essentially paying a “crash tax” of $784 every year. 

If you have been in any kind of car accident, then you know just how traumatic the experience can be. Knowing that living in Florida only stacks more odds against you gives you a greater reason to protect yourself. If you are involved in an auto accident, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to provide you with the right legal help.

If you have been in a car accident in Florida, we urge you to speak with one of our personal injury lawyers. We know how overwhelming life can be after a car accident, and we can help you take the next steps towards securing financial compensation for your damages.The last thing you need is the added stress of fighting with insurance companies while the medical bills keep piling in.

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Officials are searching for a driver who they believe fled the scene of a crash involving a stolen truck, a vehicle and a Lynx bus.

The Florida Highway Patrol Orlando said it is investigating a crash involving a Lynx bus.

Troopers said the accident happened Sunday afternoon near Texas Avenue and Honour Road when the driver of a Nissan pulled in front of a pickup truck and a bus along Texas Avenue.

A witness said a driver came toward her and other oncoming traffic to avoid the crash. The driver lost control and slammed into a wall, the witness said.

Officials said the crash was a hit-and-run, as the driver of the pickup truck fled the scene.

Two people from the Nissan and four other people were taken to the hospital for treatment. The severity of their injuries is not yet known.

FHP officials and deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office are working to find the driver who fled the scene.

Many people use public transportation, such as Lynx buses as opposed to their own vehicles for numerous reasons like saving money on gas, convenience, and reduced emissions. Some transit riders simply prefer to relax and do other things rather than focus on driving their own car in traffic.

While it is true that you are more likely to be injured while driving your own vehicle than while riding on a bus or public transit, serious injuries and fatalities can and do happen when accidents occur involving buses, trains, light rail, and hired transport.

What Does Lynx Do after a Bus Accident?

You may be wondering what Lynx does after a bus accident occurs. The first thing Lynx representatives will do is have passengers complete forms. Any information you provide could be used against you during a lawsuit if it’s beneficial to Lynx. On that same note, anything that could help your case and points the blame on Lynx could go undiscovered.

After passengers complete these forms, Lynx will then try and get statements on the record from passengers involved in the bus accident. They will use professionals who have been trained to ask questions that could get you to answer in a way that is harmful to your potential case and beneficial to theirs. Because of this, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to refrain from signing any forms or making any statements without an attorney present.

The last thing that Lynx will do after an accident happens is reach out with a settlement offer. Lynx representatives will reach out to the injured passengers or family members of a deceased person and likely give an offer way below what the case is actually worth. Before they disburse your settlement, they will ask you to sign a settlement agreement that waives your right to file suit against them. Again, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton strongly recommend having a lawyer on your side who can advise you on how to proceed with your case for financial compensation. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Lynx bus accident or a crash involving a taxi, Uber, or Lyft driver, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand what steps to take next. We have the experience needed to help victims of transit accidents obtain the financial compensation they deserve for the injuries they have suffered. We help injury victims throughout the state of Florida who were harmed while aboard a hotel shuttle bus, theme park trolley, monorail, limousine, rental car, or any hired vehicle of any kind. 

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A Florida prison guard was charged Saturday with pouring bleach in an inmate’s cup after the two argued.

The 28-year-old prison guard was taken into custody at Lowell Correctional Institution where she worked and charged with poisoning food or water. She has been released from jail. It’s unclear if she retained an attorney who could comment on the charge.

According to an interview with an agent for the Florida Department of Corrections, the woman admitted putting a cleaning agent into a cup, but said she would never hurt anyone on purpose. The state corrections agency said it obtained video showing the woman arguing with the inmate earlier in the shift, telling the prisoner, “I got something for you,” according to the report.

An officer saw the woman spray bleach on an empty cup while preparing breakfast for inmates, according to the report from state corrections officials. She allegedly told an inmate that the tray of food was special and placed the cup to the side.

The report said the woman volunteered to feed the lower cells of the two-story dormitory. The video shows Williams picked up the food tray and walk past other cells before placing it on a door flap at that inmate’s cell.

The report said the woman could be seen at the food cart close to the inmate’s cell door trying to conceal her activity. The inmate said the cup smelled like bleach and alerted another officer, who agreed.

There have been reports that the prison has had multiple problems with officers and employees in recent years. In August, a federal lawsuit alleges an inmate was beaten by four officers and left paralyzed.

Even though prisons and jails are closely monitored every day, 24 hours per day, by guards and surveillance systems, dangerous conditions still exist within these institutions. When a prisoner is injured or killed while serving their time, they could have grounds for a valid personal injury claim. 

Police officers and prison guards are paid with taxpayer money to protect all citizens from harm, and not the other way around.

There are laws in place to protect people who are in prison, jail, or otherwise detained by law enforcement. These rights include: 

  • To live in humane facilities and conditions
  • To be free from rape or sexual assaults
  • Not to be racially segregated or discriminated
  • To express complaints about incarceration conditions
  • To enjoy required care and accessibility in case of disability
  • To receive adequate medical care
  • To receive adequate mental health care
  • Not to be beaten, asphyxiated or subjected to unreasonable force
  • Not to be unnecessarily endangered
  • To receive adequate nourishment
  • Not to be deprived of water
  • To be free from psychological and emotional torture

Cops, prison guards, and other law enforcement officers are there to uphold and protect these rights. When they fail to do so, you could be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim to prevent further abuse and receive financial compensation for physical and emotional damages.

Physical abuse by officers and prison guards have left inmates with severe injuries that required hospitalization. Some of the most common injuries include: 

  • Broken bones
  • Head trauma
  • Broken noses
  • Broken ribs
  • Lacerations
  • Second-degree burns
  • Internal organ damage

When prison guards or jail officials violate inmates’ civil rights or allow other inmates to abuse those rights, they can be held liable for damages. However, proving these violations can be difficult to do. If you or your loved one is suffering abuse in jail or prison or has suffered in the past, we urge you to get in touch with our Florida Inmate Brain Injury and Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. We will do everything we can to help you with your case and fight to ensure you get justice.

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