Boating Safety Series Part 4: Protecting Florida’s Beloved Manatees

Manatees are the State of Florida’s official marine mammal and can live for over 60 years. Tragically, only about half of the wild manatees that reach adulthood survive into their twenties.  Being hit by passing boats or personal watercraft is a major threat to manatees and the number one cause of human-related manatee deaths.  Manatees can be injured or killed by being run over by boats and watercraft and being gashed by boat propellers.

In fact, the majority of the manatees you will see have noticeable scars on their backs or tails caused by boat propellers.  Manatees can also get into serious trouble and even die if they become entangled in discarded plastics, monofilament line, rope, and other fishing gear.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Boater’s Guide to Living with Florida Manatees offers the following tips for boaters to help protect manatees:

  • Observe speed limits at all times.
  • Keep a look out for manatees and give them plenty of room.  Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare and help you see manatees under the water.
  • Look for the circular wave patterns known as “manatee footprints” that are made on the surface of the water by the manatee’s tail.
  • Don’t get between a mother manatee and her calf.
  • Manatees are curious and often approach boats – look but don’t feed them.
  • Discard unwanted plastics, monofilament line, rope, and other fishing gear properly in trash or recycle bins – never toss them into the water.
  • Call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) #FWC or *FWC on cell phone, or text if you accidently collide with a manatee, see an entangled,  distressed or dead manatee, or see what may be an orphaned baby manatee.  If possible, stay with the manatee until a FWC biologist.  Do not try to rescue a manatee that is in trouble by yourself as you could inadvertently cause further injury.

If you want to become involved in efforts to protect the Florida manatee, you may be interested in joining the Save the Manatee Club, an award-winning national nonprofit organization established in 1981 by renowned singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, and former U.S. Senator, Bob Graham.  You can also support manatee research and conservation by purchasing “Save the Manatee” license plates for your vehicles.  The attorneys at Heintz & Becker are posting this information on how boaters can protect our beloved manatees as a public service and ask all boaters to do their part to protect their safety.

Source(s): Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “A boater’s guide to living with Florida Manatees”

Heintz & Becker Brain Injury Series Part 2: DTI Technology

Car accident victims often suffer forceful blows to the head that result in temporary unconsciousness and concussions or what doctors call “minor traumatic brain injury”.  While many victims seemingly recover with no lasting effects, there are also many who do not.  These victims may report experiencing problems with their concentration, memory, reading comprehension and verbal comprehension long after their accidents took place.  The lives of people who have had such brain injuries can be significantly impacted and forever changed.

Unfortunately, most traditional medical tests, like the MRI, would come back with “normal” results and leave these victims without a means to prove their injuries and obtain adequate treatment and compensation.  In fact, research shows that MRI tests come back with normal results in 43% to 68% of all minor traumatic brain injury victims.

Thankfully, newer technology called Diffusion Tensor Imaging or DTI is giving doctors a real breakthrough and allowing them to see and document brain injuries that cannot be seen with an MRI.  This is because DTI is able to reveal problems with the brain’s neurons that are undetectable by MRI.  This is great news for head injury victims whose injuries were previously unable to be documented through medical testing.

Finally, these victims can prove that they have “real” injuries to the brain that can be seen in actual medical images and which can account for their ongoing cognitive problems.

Since many people have never even heard of DTI, the accident attorneys at Heintz & Becker are working to get the word out to our clients and their doctors.  Now, when an insurance company tries to deny a victim’s claim because their MRI test came out “normal”, our attorneys can not only show that MRI’s are inadequate and cannot be relied on to prove that someone does not have a brain injury, but also present the DTI evidence and the testimony of qualified physicians that will back up our client’s claims with actual medical images and objective findings.

If you want the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Heintz & Becker to represent you and your family, give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.

Source(s): Brain Injury Professional, “Rethinking Brain Injury”, posted in October, 2015 issue; National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Diagnostic confirmation of mild traumatic brain injury by diffusion tensor imaging: a case report”, posted February 16, 2012

CRPS/RSD PART 24: Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Alstott Speaking Out About Painkiller Dangers

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer fullback Mike “The A-Train” Alstott remains an all-time fan favorite for his accomplishments on and off the field.  He played 12 seasons as a fullback, racking up 5,088 yards rushing; 71 touchdowns (a team record); six Pro Bowls; and a 2002 Super Bowl championship.  He was also injured nearly 50 times and was given prescription painkillers to get him through the pain and back on the field.

Fortunately, Alstott, now 41 years old and a head coach for a St. Petersburg high school football team, came through it all without experiencing an overdose or becoming dependent on painkillers, something he credits to having trainers and physicians on his side who helped him understand how to take them safely.

Mike Alstott knows first-hand how opioids, when used correctly, can play an important role in managing pain and helping people to function, but he is also keenly aware of the growing crisis of opioid misuse and overdose.  More American adults are dying from misusing prescription narcotics than ever before.  An estimated 35 people die every day in the U.S. from accidental prescription painkiller overdoses resulting from things like not taking a medication as directed or not understanding how multiple drugs can interact.  “So we need an educated conversation about this,” Alstott explains. “We need to be upfront, and truthful, and help people be able to start the conversation with their doctors, so they can find out what they need to know.”

One of the things Alstott is doing to spread opioid safety awareness is through his taking part in the “America Starts Talking” campaign.  The America Starts Talking website offers factual information and tips on how to safely use opioids, quizzes, videos and discussion tools.  In addition, the website provides potentially lifesaving information on how to respond to an opioid-related emergency.  The pharmaceutical company Kaleo, maker of the Evzio auto-injector that’s used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is sponsoring the campaign in partnership with the American Academy of Pain Management, the American Chronic Pain Association, The Pain Community, and the U.S. Pain Foundation.  Click here to learn more from

The attorneys at Heintz & Becker are grateful to Mike Alstott and America Starts Talking for promoting opioid safety and educating people about what to do in an emergency.  Our personal injury attorneys represent many serious accident victims who are suffering in pain from their injuries and, in addition to helping them receive the financial compensation they deserve, we can help our clients find medical professionals who specialize in safe and effective pain treatment and management.  If you need a personal injury attorney, call us today for a free consultation.

Source(s):, “Former professional football player tackles dangers of opioids”, posted October 27, 2015;, “Ex-NFL star helps spread the word on risks posed by painkillers”, posted October 30, 2015

Motorcycle Safety Series Part 21: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Riders

Dr. Mike Tuccelli, a former University of Florida professor of American Sign Language has been profoundly deaf since birth, but his lack of hearing has not stopped him from being an active motorcycle rider.

For the past 14 years, Dr. Tuccelli has organized an annual Florida/Alaska motorcycle trip raising money for the SKI-HI Institute, which provides much needed assistance to parents of deaf and blind children.  He’s currently working on plans for his upcoming 2016 trip, which will begin in St. Augustine, Florida around July 2, 2016 and arrive in Alaska around July 10, 2016.

Dr. Tuccelli is just one of a large group of deaf motorcycle riders in the United States.  To make motorcycle safety education for deaf and hard of hearing riders available, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation will provide sign-language interpreters upon request.

To help with the costs of hiring the interpreters, the National Motorcycle Safety Fund (NMSF), has set aside a pool of $15,000 in special grant funds for the next 12 months.  For more information or to enroll in an MSF safety course, visit or call (800)446-9227.

The motorcycle attorneys at Heintz & Becker support motorcycle safety initiatives for everyone and believe that deaf and hard of hearing riders are just as entitled to use the road as anybody else.  We hope that this information will give encouragement to the deaf and hard of hearing and their families that they too can experience the fun and freedom of motorcycling.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and need an experienced motorcycle attorney, call us anytime.  There is no fee or cost until we make a recovery.

Source(s): Motorcycle Safety Foundation, “National Motorcycle Safety Fund Launches Initiative to Help Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Take MSF’s Signature Motorcyclist Safety Training Course”, posted October 21, 2015;; SKI-HI Institute

Heintz & Becker Brain Injury Series Part 1: The Silent Epidemic

By Steve Heintz of Heintz & Becker

We decided to launch our newest series of blogs on the subject of brain injury for three main reasons.  First, the most common causes of traumatic brain injury in the general population are motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents.

Second, we now know for a fact that there is really no such thing as a “minor” brain injury – all brain injuries are serious and can have long-term effects.  And third, advances in medical tools and scientific knowledge are giving doctors greater abilities to document and diagnose brain injuries than ever existed before.

Traumatic brain injury is caused by some kind of sudden trauma to the head, and its symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe. Common symptoms include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurry vision, energy loss, sleep changes, changes in behavior, and memory or cognition impairment.

Traumatic brain injury is often called the silent epidemic because its long-term complications are often undiagnosed and untreated.  Recent advancements in understanding brain injuries are shedding light on the differences between brain injuries and other injuries, like broken bones.  Most broken bones will heal and completely return to their normal function.

In contrast, it is now a known fact even a “mild” concussion of the brain can result in long term damage and trigger progressive neurological deterioration over time.  Returning to normal after a brain injury may take months or years, and even then, “normal” may never be what it was before.

While insurance companies have historically been successful in under-compensating brain injury victims, new levels of understanding and medical advancements are leveling the playing field and giving a voice to victims of the silent epidemic.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, the injury attorneys at Heintz & Becker are familiar with the latest advancements in proving the full extent of the damages and long-term consequences that can result after a brain injury.  Contact us to learn more about how we may be able to help you and your family members receive full compensation for your claims.

Source(s): Brain Injury Professional, “Rethinking Brain Injury”, posted in October, 2015 issue; National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Diagnostic confirmation of mild traumatic brain injury by diffusion tensor imaging: a case report”, posted February 16, 2012