E-Cig Explosions

A young girl has recently suffered burns as a result of an electronic cigarette or “e-cig” exploding while on a ride at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. According to police, a man’s e-cig exploded during the ride and shot what was described as a “fireball” at the teenage girl behind him. She sustained burns to her face, arm, and leg and was taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention.

This is not the first instance of these cigarette substitutes harming individuals. This alternative to traditional cigarettes has caused multiple incidents similar to this explosion. The incidents are thought to be caused by overheating of the battery, normally while the device is being charged. The U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA, estimates that around 80% of the explosions occur during charging.  With boil and auto-ignition points getting as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it is easy to see how the traditional e-cig that most closely resembles a tobacco cigarette, with its weak ends, could have flames or objects propelled in the event of an explosion.

So What is an Electronic Cigarette?

So what comprises an e-cig? Generally speaking, electronic cigarettes consist of a cartridge that contains the liquid nicotine, an atomizer, and a battery.  Using a different charger than what was supplied at the time of purchase is what researchers believe is causing many of the explosions; however, this does not explain the explosions that take place while the device is in the users pocket or during use. FEMA speculates that the lithium batteries may play a role in these types of malfunctions. Many other products such as phones use these same lithium batteries and have experienced similar malfunctions.  When combined with a serious heating element, like an e-cig’s atomizer, fires involving lithium batteries become a much larger threat.






(Photo courtesy of IEC)

Despite generating billions of dollars each year, the e-cig industry has yet to create a solution to this problem. There are, however, versions of e-cigarettes that may be of lower risk. An electronic cigarette researcher, IEC, believes that devices with detachable batteries are much less prone to overheating or exploding than those that charge with an atomizer still attached. This is because a detachable battery must be unscrewed from the atomizer and then plugged in to charge. Devices that charge while the atomizer, where the heating element is located, is still attached to the battery have been found to create the majority of malfunctions.

If an E-Cig Explosion Causes Burns or Injuries, We Can Help!

The attorneys at Heintz & Becker work hard to provide our readers with useful information you can use in your everyday life. Concerning the use of electronic cigarettes, and any other battery powered devices, we would encourage you to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use. If you or a loved one suffered an injury as a result of an e-cig malfunction or other lithium battery malfunction, call the office today at 941-748-2916 for a free consultation with one of our board certified civil trial lawyers.

6 Questions To Ask A Lawyer [Infographic]

We don’t have to tell you that there are plenty of law firms in the Bradenton and Sarasota areas that want you to be their client.  That’s why we’ve listed some  important questions you should ask and tips on choosing the best attorney for you.

We’ve compiled 6 more questions you should ask a lawyer before hiring them for your personal injury or car accident claim. Feel free to download and share this infographic. And if you have questions, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. Continue reading

U.S. Government Issues Regulations for Self-Driving Vehicles

We have previously talked about the new autopilot technology being developed by many car manufacturers. Massive companies such as Google, Tesla, and Uber are all in the process of perfecting the first self-driving or “autonomous vehicle.” Although fatal accidents have occurred due to the still developing technology, it may have a very promising future. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued guidelines for companies racing to put their self-driving vehicles on the road.

Every year thousands of people are killed in car accidents and the NHTSA has recognized this as a growing problem. The idea of autonomous cars has developed into a practical solution to reduce the number of fatalities and injury on the road. Obviously, there is risk associated with putting lives in the hands of a developing technology; however, down the road this technology could save numerous lives and money once all flaws are worked out. According to the NHTSA, approximately 94% of crashes are the result of human error. With that being said, a car capable of avoiding those errors would be hugely beneficial to society.

The new guidelines issued by NHTSA encompass four specific sections and aim to minimize the risks of using self-driving vehicles and regulating their production. The first section addresses a 15-point safety inspection. This aspect sets standards  for companies to consider their autonomous vehicle safe for use. For example, how the vehicle responds in life threatening situations as well as crash precautions. The other 3 sections address the power the government will have over companies manufacturing these vehicles and how the federal regulations will work with the varying state laws regarding autonomous driving.

The Federal Government appears to be very interested in this technology and is carefully monitoring the progression. The new guidelines, although not officially law, portray the legitimacy and practicality of cars driving themselves. It can be implied that if perfected, autonomous vehicles may revolutionize how we use the roads. Even beyond improving highway safety, this technology could give people that are disabled, or otherwise unable to drive, access to the roadways.


The Wells Fargo Scandal Explained

In one of the most shocking events in the financial world, Wells Fargo was recently fined by multiple regulators for creating fake bank and credit accounts for their customers and charging fees associated with the fraudulent accounts. These fines have amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars and resulted in the termination of thousands of Wells Fargo employees.

It has come to light that the employees of the company were given unrealistic sales quotas and pushed to use highly unethical policies for obtaining them. Whenever an enormous scandal occurs in the financial world the first instinct is that a few high ranking officials were the perpetrators. However, the crimes committed in this instance were by a plethora of lower ranking employees.

The unrealistic quotas were met by the opening of additional accounts for current customers without their consent. Fees were then charged to customers that unknowingly had their funds relocated to the fraudulent accounts. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), these practices were considered “widespread” throughout the company. The bank was charged the biggest fine since the CFPB came into existence, amounting to $185 million dollars. The company is also facing a lawsuit where plaintiffs seek to recover over $2 billion dollars.

The pressure to reach the sales quotas at Wells Fargo appear to be the motivating factor behind the creation of the millions of fake bank and credit card accounts. Low level employees may have been given incentive to resort to these illegal methods for the fear of losing their jobs. Wells Fargo employees indicated that failing to reach quotas or refusing to adopt the unethical tactics normally resulted in being terminated for minute reasons unrelated to sales quotas.

It is terrifying that a company as large as Wells Fargo would condone stealing money from its own customers. The banking and financial worlds are complex and very difficult to fully understand for most. The lesson learned from this scandal is that as a customer of any banking or financial institution, you must be aware of all account activity and question all suspicious charges or fees. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of how your money is handled and avoid being the victim of financial crimes.

Choosing the Best Attorney

Anywhere you turn today, our world appears to be inundated with injury law firm or attorney photos. From billboards to pop-up ads, firms find a way to reach the public from every angle possible. Typically, larger firms with the means to market themselves on a large scale dominate the landscape. Many of these ads can lead people to think they are choosing the best representation, when quite possibly, it is far from meeting their needs. In this culture of mass marketing and billboard law, knowing the reasons for choosing the right lawyer when seeking justice or compensation, particularly in the event of an accident or injury, is critical.

After someone is involved in an accident where another party is at fault, they have a lot to consider. This is especially true when they begin to seek the services of an attorney. Before making a choice based on size or a large marketing campaign, consider these factors:

First is the overall caseload of a firm. This has a direct impact on the ability to communicate with the client. In some instances, a client may never meet or even speak with their attorney throughout the entirety of the claim. This should be unacceptable to the accident victim. Not only should an attorney readily meet with their clients as needed and be able to keep clients informed about their case status, a good firm will have policy in place that keeps lines of communication between the client and the firm open and active. Is this attorney dealing with a large number of cases while working on yours? If so, they may also lack the time necessary to achieve the highest settlement possible. Smaller firms generally have a better ability to meet with the client and to work much more personally and aggressively on each case in the office. What a wonderful advantage when you have suffered due to someone else’s negligence!

Also, the attorney’s willingness and readiness to go to trial is of utmost importance. Do not rely on an advertisement that merely portrays an attorney in a courtroom or shows a single settlement figure. In order to determine if your lawyer is prepared to fight in trial to obtain the best settlement possible, ask if they are a Board Certified Trial Lawyer. If they aren’t, ask why. Many times a case will be settled for much less than it is worth due to scared or lazy representation. A Board Certification is a great indicator of an attorney’s ability and desire to succeed at trial when the opponents refuse to cooperate fairly.

Lastly, communication and credentials matter, but does your attorney consider what is best for you? Many times on the surface, a case seems cut and dry. Elements of personal injury law can be muddled, but when concepts like liability and damages are in your favor, the work seems to do itself. Easy settlements happen daily but is an easy settlement the best settlement? A wise attorney will explore all potential avenues of recovery and fully discuss settlement options with you. Your concerns should be heard and taken into account before settlement is reached.

In conclusion, remember to ask questions before hiring a lawyer. Communication, credentials and consideration are three very important factors to consider before you hire an attorney. The best representation will be capable of taking on any defendant in trial, no matter how big. They will also have the time to personally meet and talk with their clients as needed. To get a good idea of the services you may employ, do not forget to ask if your lawyer is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer. Don’t make a decision based on mass marketing and legal advertisements alone; know if you are choosing an attorney who is prepared to take every measure needed to get the compensation to which you are entitled.

Surfing… in The Gulf of Mexico?

When most people think of the Gulf of Mexico, surfing probably never crosses their mind. However, the gulf is more than capable of producing quality surf. The gulf waves are influenced by tropical weather, such as hurricanes and cold fronts, often producing much higher quality surf that most would expect.

Hurricanes and Cold Fronts – A Gulf Coast Surfer’s Best Friends

For those in the know, it is during hurricane season that gulf coast surfers have the highest hope for quality surf. Most named storms tend to track up the eastern coast of the United States, leaving Gulf residents in the clear. While the thought of a hurricane is certainly bittersweet, many local surfers are willing to risk the potential dangers if it means they can hit the waves. Prior to this week’s Hurricane and Tropical Storm watches and warnings, 2013 was the last time we saw enough activity to warrant weather alerts and it was Hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008 that created the last serious swell in the Gulf.

The most consistent time of year for surfing in the Gulf is winter. The storms brought about by cold fronts can produce great surf. Despite cooler air and water temperatures, you can see many surfers along the gulf beaches when a cold front arrives. These winter swells generally begin with strong south winds and choppy surf.  As the cold front moves across the state, the winds will switch to a west or north-west direction that can lead to some great waves and cold weather. Make no mistake, surfers in the gulf take advantage of any opportunity to catch a wave. This year, surfers benefited greatly from the El Nino weather pattern. Many days of favorable surf were enjoyed. Just a small disclaimer, if you’re a true Floridian the gulf temperatures can get cold! Take along a wetsuit if you want to give surfing a cold front a shot.

It Really Is a Possibility

If you are a local gulf coast resident or just simply vacationing, know that surfing is a definite possibility in the Gulf of Mexico. Although fickle, the gulf can offer some fun waves along the entire coast whether you are just earning or are an experienced surfer. There are multiple websites that offer daily updated surf reports such as Gulfster.com and Aurasurf.com. These are great resources to use for checking the surf forecast. Check out the photo below for a glimpse of what the Gulf of Mexico can offer for anyone wanting to catch some waves.

rolling surf

Heintz & Becker Boating Safety Series Part 12: Anna Maria Island Sail & Power Squadron Promotes Safety and Education

There’s a wonderful non-profit community organization in northwest Bradenton that has an active social network and is dedicated to providing boating safety and educational services to local boaters.  It’s called the Anna Maria Island Sail & Power Squadron and it’s located at 1200 71st St NW, Bradenton, FL 34209.  The Anna Maria Squadron is just one of 17 other Squadrons in West Central Florida that are affiliated with the United States Powers Squadrons. If you are a Manatee County boater, you’ll definitely want to check out their page on Facebook to see all that they have to offer.

Boating Safety Education

The Anna Maria squadron provides America’s Boating Course, which is a basic boating safety and Florida boating law class, as well as a variety of advanced and specialized classes.  Their next America’s Boating Course will be held in 5 evening sessions (Mon. & Wed.) from October 24 to November 7, 2016.  They will also be hosting a Nautical Charts Seminar on November 9 and a Using GPS Seminar on November 14.  Go to the Squadron’s webpage for detailed course descriptions and more information.

power squadron logoThe Squadron also provides free Vessel Safety Checks by appointment as a community service.  Among the things that are covered in these free Vessel Safety Checks are correct display of registration numbers, review of registration documentation, personal flotation devices-life jacket check, Type IV throw-able personal flotation device check, visual and audible distress signal (flare whistle, horn, siren, etc.) check, fire extinguisher check, ventilation check, and bilge, electrical and fuel system check.  To schedule a Vessel Safety Check to see that your boat is in compliance with applicable safety standards call 941-792-0394.

Becoming an official member of the Anna Maria Squadron offers a number of valuable benefits including boat insurance discounts, access to advanced boating classes, and buying discounts with national companies.  However, it would seem that the number one benefit is becoming part of an active social and community oriented group of people.  The Squadron has one business meeting each month and frequent social events, including their popular “Cruise and Rendezvous” luncheons.  All of this is aptly summed up in their motto: “Come for the Boating Education…Stay for the Friends.”

Thank you!

Heintz & Becker extends its thanks to the Anna Maria Island Sail & Power Squadron and its dedicated members for all that they do to promote boating safety and education in our community.  We hope that our sharing this information will help more people discover the Anna Maria Squadron and become involved in its good works.  We can work to make boating safer and hold careless and impaired boaters responsible for their actions.  Call us if you or a member if your family has been a victim of a boating accident caused by a careless or impaired boater.

Related Posts: Heintz & Becker Boating Safety Series Part 7: Small Craft Advisories, Heintz & Becker Boating Safety Series Part 6: Tips for Stocking Your Boat’s First Aid Kit, Heintz & Becker Boating Safety Series Part 5: Wear It! Florida Campaign Provides a Great Holiday Gift Idea

Source(s):  Anna Maria Island Sail & Power Squadron

Heintz & Becker Motorcycle Safety Series Part 23: Helmet and Accessory Recalls

We dealt with the important issue of motorcycle recalls in our most recent motorcycle safety post, but those are not the only type of recall that motorcycle owners need to be aware of.  Recall notices can also be issued for helmets and accessories.  That means your super cool helmet, your killer handle bars or some other accessory may be unsafe.  Helmet and accessory recalls are serious.  Helmets are subject to recalls if they fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.  These helmets may not adequately protect a user in the event of a head impact during a crash.  Recalled accessories may have parts that can fail or come loose, or present some other serious safety issue.  False, missing or incomplete labeling information can also result in a helmet or accessory being recalled.

motorcycle helmetSo, how is someone supposed to find out if a particular helmet or accessory has been recalled?  While, just like for motorcycles, there is a searchable recall database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety at www.safercar.gov, it’s unrealistic to expect owners to be diligent in watching the database for helmet and accessory recall notices.  Helmet owners and prospective purchasers can check the HelmetCheck.org website for helmet recall notice information.  Developed by the Motorcycle Industry Council’s (MIC) Helmet Task Force, HelmetCheck.org is a voluntary website that provides information on DOT-compliant helmets from participating manufacturers and is a good source of a variety of helmet-related information, research and public service announcements.  Motorcycle newsletters and magazines do provide information about helmet and accessory recalls, but coverage is limited and hit and miss.  Practically, speaking, the best thing you can do is buy only top-quality products and take the time to register your personal information with the manufacturer at the time you purchase a helmet or accessory.  Keep this information in a file and send in an address change update if you move.  Finally, this is just one more reason that purchasing items second hand is not recommended as there is only the slightest chance that you’ll find out if the item was recalled.

The motorcycle attorneys at Heintz & Becker hope that this information will serve as a reminder to motorcycle owners that product safety concerns apply to all aspects of motorcycling.  A recalled helmet or accessory is just as serious an issue as a recalled motorcycle.  If you are unsure about the safety of a helmet or accessory, don’t take chances – make safety your number one priority and get a quality replacement that meets federal safety standards.  The experienced attorneys at Heintz & Becker want motorcycle helmet and accessory manufacturers to be held responsible for the safety of their products.  If you or a member of your family has been injured by a defective product of any kind, we invite you to call us to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

Source(s): www.safercar.gov; HelmetCheck.org

Motorcycle Safety Series Part 22: Important Recall Reminder

While newspapers, television and online news services frequently provide up to the minute recall advisories for cars and trucks, that same level of coverage is just not provided when it comes to motorcycles.  For example, there was little coverage given to Yamaha’s recent announcement that it is recalling certain model year 2015-2016 YZF-R3 F/G motorcycles manufactured Jan. 1, 2015 to April 15, 2016 for a serious problem that could prevent riders from being able to disengage the clutch, cause them to be unable to stop and create a dangerous crash risk (Yamaha Recall No. 990105).  While Yamaha will send notification to owners of record, some bikes may have been sold and some owners may have moved, meaning that some owners may have no idea that their bike may have a serious safety issue.

bw motorcycleThere are resources

With the minimal, if any, mainstream news coverage that is given to motorcycle recalls, motorcycle owners need to be proactive in keeping themselves informed of any recalls that may be issued for their motorcycles.  The number one comprehensive source for motorcycle recall advisory information is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or online at www.safercar.gov.  In addition, motorcycle manufacturer hotlines and websites will be a source for recall information for that manufacturer’s models.  Make sure to register your personal information with your motorcycle’s manufacturer, and send in address change updates, so they’ll have your current contact details in case a recall notice is issued.  Another way to keep informed about recalls and other safety-related news is to be involved with a motorcycle club for owners of the same kind of bike that you own, and by subscribing to motorcycle owner newsletters and magazines.

Be responsible

Remember, you are not only responsible for your own safety, but you are also responsible for the safety of others around you.  Failing to keep current on recall information puts you and others at risk.  In addition, knowing that your motorcycle has a safety issue and failing to have recall-related or other needed safety repairs made could subject you to major liability if you end up causing harm to someone else.  Because this is such an important safety issue, the motorcycle attorneys at Heintz & Becker are publishing this reminder to all motorcycle owners to regularly check posted recalls and to get repairs made as quickly as possible after learning of a recall or other safety concern.  If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else and need an experienced motorcycle attorney, call us anytime for a free no-obligation appointment to discuss your claim.

Source(s): Powersports Business, “Yamaha issues motorcycle recall”, posted July 26, 2016

Related Posts: Heintz & Becker Motorcycle Safety Series Part 17: Airbag Protection Being Developed for Motorcycle Riders, One Person, One Accident, One Life Forever Changed, Will Emergency Workers Know to Call You if One of Your Loved Ones has been in an Accident?

Beware the Yard Sale: Are You Getting Recalled Products?

“Yard-saling,” the oft well-planned and strategized hobby of traveling to other’s yards looking to uncover treasures untold, is an American passion. A quick Google search even gets a frequent search topic of “yard saling tips.” However, underlying dangers lurk; and even the most astute salers are often unaware. Due to the frequency of manufacturer recalls, that treasure you just unearthed could be the next worst thing you own. In addition to purchasing potentially dangerous items, you – the seller – could face legal consequences for selling an unrepaired item that has been recalled!

Do you know what you’re buying?

The recent IKEA furniture recall should put into perspective how careful one must be in regard to product recall awareness. With nearly 30 million items on the recall list, it’s easy to see how a yard sale or two might contain a dresser that is on the IKEA recall list. The age of the product line (nearly thirty years old) makes it highly probable that many recalled products have been or could be resold unknowingly. This could result in injuries like those caused in the “tip over” accidents that led to the massive recall.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, made the resale of recalled items illegal. The Act places liability on both companies and individuals reselling the products. The regulations require the sellers to ensure that the sale of their items does not violate federal laws. Obviously, greater concern is with larger online and retail shops such as Craigslist, Ebay, or local consignment shops and policing these is easier than tracking down wayward yard sale sellers, but we believe knowledge is power! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) expects anyone participating in the sale of used items to visit http://www.cpsc.gov and confirm that their items are safe to resell. It’s an easy step that could bring serious peace of mind.

We’re here to help

The attorneys at Heintz & Becker hope that by helping to keep you better informed, you are better able to avoid potentially harmful situations. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a faulty product or someone’s negligent actions, visit www.HeintzLaw.com or call 941-748-2916 to speak to a member of our staff.

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