Traffic Dangers: Know Where Most Accidents Occur

Have you ever gone to the store and back, or perhaps back and forth to school to pick up your kids, and realized upon getting home you hardly remembered the ride at all? Many of us are set on auto-pilot for those errands we tend to complete over and over; however, those drives are the ones you should be most careful about as so many accidents can happen very close to home—often with 15 miles or less—and keep in mind how often you may have seen or heard about neighbors having accidents backing out of their own driveways! The key is to always be vigilant when you are behind the wheel, but to also be cognizant of areas that require special attention, such as:

  • Work zones – Those signs are posted everywhere in bright orange for a reason. Be cautious, and reduce your speed. You may find yourself driving through areas that are much more constricted than usual as well as lanes that are uneven due to re-paving. For 2015, the S. Department of Transportation reported almost 100,000 crashes in work zones, and unfortunately, these numbers just seem to be increasing.
  • Four-way intersections – if you live in a city with lots of four-way stops, you may feel lucky to escape an accident each time. Many drivers are not aware of—or have forgotten—the rules, which are simple enough: yield to whoever arrives at the intersection first. If it is a ‘tie,’ then the person on the left yields to the one on the right. Because there is often confusion at intersections, your best bet is to travel slowly when arriving and departing from one, as well as remaining patient with other drivers who may be tentative or even aggressive.
  • Stoplights – Although it should seem easy and safe enough to approach a red light, many drivers are going too fast and have trouble stopping—and may just blatantly run them. This is always an area to practice great caution in as you are in the thick of traffic and there are far too many distracted and speeding drivers.
  • Rural areas – Ironically, out of the way areas can be the scene of dangerous accidents as the lack of traffic causes drivers who are familiar with the area to become almost too comfortable driving. Rural areas may have rougher areas of pavement, as well as dirt roads—plus, wildlife crossing at unpredictable times can cause an issue, along with debris in or on the sides of the road.
  • Shopping centers – While they may present danger, shopping center parking lots are the scene for many different accidents as drivers often cut corners with lanes, go the wrong direction, are highly distracted and more.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, please call Heintz & Becker for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Drunk Driving: Educating Teens About the Perils

Educating your kids about the dangers of drunk driving begins at home. Proper role modeling can be instilled from a very early age as kids see that their parents never drive under the influence. This can be as simple as having one parent drive if the other is having a glass or two of wine, or simply making a point not to imbibe at all if driving is involved. While the word is out there about drunk driving—and kids continue to study about it and hear about the dangers in school—when they see their parents and friends practicing good driving habits they have valuable real-world models to learn from. Even so, they may still be significantly affected if someone they know is injured or killed by a drunk driver.

As your teenagers begin learning to drive by themselves, you may feel great trepidation about their new independence. Most parents will agree, it can be stressful worrying about teenagers out on the road, no matter how responsible they are; however, this is a crucial age to make sure they understand about the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse. While detrimental in any setting, behind the wheel such a mix can be deadly. It is imperative that our young drivers understand they should never drink and drive, but even more so they should understand how to drive defensively—and know what to do if they encounter another driver on the road who seems to be inebriated.

Over 10,000 people are killed each year in drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And while that is a substantial improvement in recent decades, these accidents still leave far too many loved ones missing their husbands, wives, sons and daughters, other family members, and close friends. Drunk driving accidents also end up costing over $52 billion annually.

Begin communicating with your kids as soon as they are old enough to understand about the dangers of drugs and alcohol mixed with driving, and make sure that your teenage drivers understand the consequences many have faced if they drink and drive, from getting a DUI and facing steep penalties to the possibility of hurting or killing someone—something they can never take back.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a drunk driver, contact ­­­­Heintz & Becker now. Our experienced attorneys will fight to recover compensation on your behalf. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Florida Doctor’s “License to Kill”

According to an analysis by Diederich Healthcare, nearly $4 billion was paid out to victims of medical malpractice throughout the U.S. in 2016. This number is likely shocking to most, considering the everyday advances and improvements in the medical field. Unfortunately, the amount of money paid to victims of medical malpractice does not accurately reflect the true amount of victims that suffer due to a doctor’s negligence…..especially in Florida.

The Florida legislature has enacted a law that gives doctors a “license to kill,” just like the James Bond movies. Florida Statute 768.21(8) or “The Wrongful Death Act,” shields health care providers from malpractice claims that result in wrongful death where the victim has no children under 25 or a surviving spouse. For example, if a doctor’s malpractice causes the death of any single or widowed individual with a 26 year old child, that child has no legal remedy for the emotional pain and suffering that is sure to follow the loss of a loved one.

An even scarier scenario: An elderly patient, whom doctors know has no spouse or children, comes to a Florida hospital in need of treatment for his or her dementia. If doctors and nurses know that no consequences will follow from poor and negligent health care, what incentive do they have to give the patient the necessary treatment and care that any human deserves? Hospital staff may easily become annoyed with the high level of attentive care a patient’s condition requires and simply neglect them until a preventable death occurs.

The Wrongful Death Act opens the door for Florida health care providers to essentially discriminate against patients that fall into this category. With Florida being a haven for retirees, hospitals are undoubtedly full of patients without a spouse or children under 25 and their doctors have been given immunity from any legal consequences of a wrongful death. It seems paradoxical that a doctor’s “expert opinion” and knowledge is held to the highest standard in a courtroom while their negligence can be held to the lowest standard due to The Wrongful Death Act.

So how could this murderous legislation have even been considered, let alone enacted? Look no further than the lobbyist groups and corporations that benefit from this license to kill. The medical and insurance industries have enormous amounts of money that they “donate” in order to further their financial interests at the public’s expense. While lobbyists and legislatures will claim this is a legal recourse to avoid frivolous lawsuits, it leaves the victims of truly negligent medical treatment helpless where The Wrongful Death Act applies. The fact that Florida hospitals are already regularly criticized for being understaffed and overworking nurses makes it egregious for lawmakers to protect them from their own negligence under this law.

Even if you think you do not have a claim or have been told you do not because of this law, contact an attorney. There are many circumstances where the Wrongful Death Act can be wrongfully applied and a legitimate claim can be made.

Written by Tanner Heintz

Steps to Take When Your Child is Injured at School

It is hard to imagine anything more alarming than receiving that much-dreaded call from the school saying your child has been injured, but it is important to know what steps to take afterward. When we put our kids on the bus in the morning or drop them off in the car line and watch them head to their classrooms, we are putting our trust in the many other adults who work at school. That can be a worrisome prospect, and especially in public school districts that may  be on overload, with so many children assigned to each teacher that they have a hard time keeping track of everyone.

Unexpected Accidents Could Occur Anywhere on School Grounds

When large groups of children congregate, there is always the chance for an injury to happen—and especially if they are relaxed and in goofing off mode on the playground, at recess, or in line waiting for the school bus to take them home. Injuries can happen anywhere on school premises though, with unexpected accidents even occurring in the classroom, cafeteria, or other locations on campus where children are in the middle of structured activities.

Slip & Fall, Product Defect Injuries, Food Poisoning & More May Occur at School

Although encapsulated within the school environment, children may experience many of the same injuries common to the outside world such as slipping and falling due to the negligence of others, or being hurt by a defective product such as a helmet or piece of playground equipment. Students may become ill after eating breakfast, lunch, or snacks at school. Injuries are also very common during sports practice and games, as well as violence due to bullying and more.

Keep Thorough Documentation of the Incident

If your child has been injured on school premises, making sure they are able to receive the best medical care possible is priority. If possible, take pictures of the injuries and document everything associated with the accident at school, from your communication with teachers and the administration, to the child’s account of what happened. You will also need to contact an experienced injury law firm like ­­­­Heintz & Becker right away. If the school was indeed negligent, proving liability is possible but these cases can be complex and you will need a skilled child injury attorney on your side.

Call us for Help Now

Has your child been hurt at school due to negligence? Our board-certified civil trial lawyers have decades of experience handling child injury cases. We know the steps that need to be taken to get all the compensation your child needs. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Auto Accidents Can Cause Long-Term Spinal Injuries

Most of us log thousands of hours on the road each year, hopefully without experiencing auto accidents. And if you have ever had to deal with a major car repair forcing you to put your car in the shop for a day or two, then you were probably reminded how hard it can be to function without a vehicle; in fact, without a car, it can be difficult to perform many of the necessary actions we need to survive.

Most of us have a hard time holding down a job unless we have a reliable vehicle to get us back and forth to work. The kids may not be able to get to school on time or keep up with their coursework if we don’t drive them. Groceries must be shopped for, prescriptions must be picked up at the pharmacy, and so much more.

Cars are central to our lifestyles—but they are also the reason that over a million people lose their lives each year. And while remaining extremely alert and driving defensively is your best bet for staying safe on the road, sometimes that still isn’t enough due to the negligence of other drivers who may be distracted, reckless, or under the influence.

You may have already experienced one or more car accidents in your lifetime. If not, most likely you know someone whose health has been impacted by a car crash. A wide range of injuries may be sustained, and unfortunately some may even be fatal. While the typical range of cuts and bruises are to be expected after a wreck, there may be broken ribs, broken bones, head injuries, internal bleeding, and far more. Unfortunately, spinal injuries are all too common too—and can lead to long-term complications.

Whiplash is one of the most well-known injuries associated with car wrecks, due to the sudden and violent wrenching of the head back and forth. There are numerous other injuries possible to the neck, spine, and back however, such as the spinal fracture, disc herniation, sprains, and more. Serious spinal cord injuries may even result in paralysis—with little chance for a full recovery.

There can be other complications that accompany the spinal injury too, such as respiratory issues, heart problems and high blood pressure, problems with the stomach, bowels, and more. After such a trauma, it may be impossible for the patient to go back to work temporarily or permanently. Unfortunately, their lives are often changed forever as they try to adjust to a new and challenging health situation.

If you have experienced a spinal injury after a car crash, you will need the assistance of an attorney experienced in both auto accidents and spinal cord and neck injuries. The attorneys at Heintz & Becker have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses.

Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Passenger Safety: Is it Really a Good Idea to Disable the Airbag?

Car and passenger safety has progressed enormously on the part of manufacturers since most of us were children; in fact, you may be one of those who ‘survived’ riding in the back of the family station wagon, bouncing along and horsing around without a seatbelt while Mom and Dad cruised along without a worry. We may be looking toward a future of self-driving cars eventually, but for now, manufacturers continue to study and test safety for cars, making constant strides; in fact, you may find that your new car is equipped with more airbags than you can keep track of, along with safety features that cause the car to beep, ding, flash, and present warnings that have you scrambling for the owner’s manual.

Most of us are also familiar with the cautions printed on the front-seat visors, regarding airbags. These messages are undeniably attention-getting, usually warning in emboldened capitalization of the potential for death or serious injury if children 12 or under were to be riding in the front seat when the airbag deployed. After viewing this message repeatedly on the visors of your car, it may occur to you that perhaps disabling the airbag is a good idea. While your twelve-year-old may want to sit up front (finally), you may still be concerned about other adults riding in the car who despite their ages, may have small frames or statures. You may have heard horror stories about drivers and passengers being severely injured after being hit in the face or body with an airbag. These stories are frightening, but such instances are rare—and in most cases the airbag provides an excellent safety mechanism.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out, tens of thousands of lives have been saved due to air bags since 1987. They are designed to work with seatbelts though, and can prevent massive injuries from occurring—especially to the head and chest area. Injuries can occur from the airbags themselves though if a passenger is sitting too close. This may be an issue for short or slight drivers, and for some of them, it may indeed be safer to turn the airbag off. The NHTSA only recommends turning off airbags in the following cases:

  • If it is decided that an adult riding in the passenger seat would be safer with the airbag deactivated—due to a health condition.
  • If a passenger under 13 absolutely must sit in the front seat—usually due to a health condition that must be monitored during the entire drive. In this case, the NHTSA points out that only the passenger airbag should be disabled.
  • A baby must be placed in the front seat in a rear-facing car seat due to lack of other seating.

For those cases, the NHTSA authorizes an on/off switch to be installed in the vehicle, or they may allow a dealer to deactivate the airbag. While some of the bad press and dire warnings in your car may cause you to consider having airbags deactivated, keep in mind that in most cases they are the primary sources of safety during an impact. Over a million people die in car crashes each year, with thousands injured daily. Make sure all your safety mechanisms are in place, and practice strong defensive driving to avoid being hit by a negligent driver. While this may often be out of our control, it is important to do everything possible to protect ourselves and our loved ones while we are on the road.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car or motorcycle accident due to the negligence of others, please call Heintz & Becker for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Car Seat Safety in Florida: Know the Law

For new parents, the story of the baby and car seat safety usually starts well before the child is born. With so many different products to choose from, car-seat shopping often turns into something akin to a full-time hobby—not to mention seeking out the best stroller, crib, highchair, and so much more, from baby-wipe warmers to bibs and bouncy seats.

Put Safety First When Purchasing a Car Seat

Car seats are big business in the US today, but whether you end up buying one that costs $50 or $950, the priority is on safety. And this goes for infant car seats, forward-facing seats, toddler seats, and booster seats. Of course, you will also face the ultimate test as a parent when you try to install such an apparatus for the first time, and then detach it. Not only should you be certain that you know how to put the seat in correctly and take it out, but be sure it is the right size for your child and that no parts are missing. This is important to consider especially if you are using a secondhand seat.

Learn How to Install the Car Seat Properly

The laws regarding babies traveling in cars are easy enough to understand. When you take the baby home from the hospital, it must be in an infant carrier that connects to a base in the car—or you can use a convertible car seat which does not detach, meaning that you put the baby directly into it in the car. Convenience is certainly an enormous factor with the infant seat that detaches and can also go into a matching stroller, but with the convertible car seat, you should not have to buy another even as your child grows. The convertible car seat ‘converts’ from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one, and can accommodate your child into toddlerhood and beyond.

Follow Florida Law Regarding Seating & Age

Although we love to see our children progress (as well as face forward), and some begin chomping at the bit to sit in ‘big kid seats’ or no car seat at all, laws are in place to keep everyone as safe as possible in the case of a car crash. While your baby should be placed in a safe, federally approved, rear-facing seat at least until they exceed the specified weight and height outlined by the manufacturer, you may want to take extra precautions and continue with that position until they are well into toddlerhood.

Beyond that, Florida law outlines the following regarding babies and children riding in cars:

  • Ages three or younger must use a separately purchased car seat, or the one built into the vehicle.
  • Children four to five must sit in ‘either a separate car seat, a built-in child seat or a seat belt, depending on the child’s height and weight.’
  • Any child not in the previous age categories, under 18, must be wearing a seatbelt.
  • Children 12 years old or under should not ride in the front seat due to danger from airbags.

While everyone should practice good safety habits while riding in the car, this is particularly important for children. In the case of a wreck they may be prone to head, chest, and lung injuries as well as broken limbs, serious contusions, and more; in fact, car crashes are the leading cause of accidental fatalities in children.

Contact Us for Help

If you or your child have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, please call Heintz & Becker for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Defective Products May Cause Serious Burns

Most Americans place great faith in manufacturers from around the world not to sell us defective products; after all, it is easy (and much more comforting) to assume that if a food or product is being sold in a store, surely it has been inspected up and down and duly tested for all potential dangers to our health. Consider this though: there are millions upon millions of products being sold in the US today. Some are brand new and may not have all the ‘kinks’ worked out, while others are very common and have been on the market seemingly forever like familiar electronics, toys, household products—and larger items like vehicles and home appliances. Unfortunately, defects are more common than we would like to imagine and can on occasion be very harmful to the consumer.

Defective products may arrive in the form of everything from toys presenting choking hazards for children to small appliances with faulty wiring that may cause electric shock. Most of us have also heard horror stories about smartphones or hoverboards catching on fire unexpectedly while in use. Even if a product has been ‘thoroughly’ tested, there is still the chance it could contain defects capable not only of hurting or traumatizing a consumer and loved ones, but also seriously burning them.

Larger products like automobiles are manufactured with so many different moving parts that there is much more opportunity for defects that cause mechanical failure and even fire—especially considering the proximity to flammable chemicals like oil and gasoline. Defects in cars are especially serious too as we rely on them for total safety, and may be traveling with the whole family when something major goes wrong. A car defect can be problematic, but a car fire can be catastrophic.

Defects in small electronics and appliances present the potential for fire and injury too, whether you are trying out that snazzy new toaster oven that lets you cook everything from pineapple-baked chicken to chocolate-chip cookies, or perhaps you are trying out a new hair straightener, blow dryer, or set of power tools. Large appliances may be problematic also, whether affected by an electrical construction defect in your home or arriving from the factory with an issue. Items like a stove or oven that indicate a possible defect should be checked out immediately due to the potential for a fire in the home.

While some burns from defective products allow for an easy recovery, others are extremely serious, even affecting the body internally and/or causing complications that can be fatal. Such wounds can be extremely painful, and usually cause large medical bills too. On top of that, if you have been burned due to a product defect, you may be unable to go back to work for a long time, or even permanently. Your health, income, and quality of life could be seriously affected due to the negligence of others. The reasons for dangerous defects vary, and negligence could lie with the original designer of the product, the manufacturer, or the company responsible for marketing.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a product defect, contact ­­­­Heintz & Becker now. Our experienced product liability lawyers will fight to recover compensation on your behalf. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Common Questions About Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injury research is optimistic and ongoing around the world. Today, some victims can utilize improved treatment and rehabilitation technique to lead highly productive and independent lives.

In some cases, however, the spinal cord injury is so severe that advanced science is not yet effective and life-long care is required.

Before you file a personal injury suit in Florida, here are some common questions about spinal cord injuries to review: Continue reading

Road Safety: Five Ways to Avoid Collisions with Motorcycles

Nearly everyone has an opinion about motorcycles, whether good or bad, but we can all agree that road safety is priority. Hearing that loud rumbling engine approaching may fill you with a sense of excitement and even admiration—especially if you are an aficionado. If you are a parent, you may see one motorcycle or a group of them and instantly begin spouting accident statistics and warning your kids about road rash. No matter how you feel about motorcycles though, like everyone else—you should take extra precautions to avoid an accident with one.

Most of us are out on the roads for the same reason. We want to get from point A to point B safely, and on time. This means sharing the road and driving defensively. While motorcyclists should always take extra safety precautions due to their vulnerability on the road, so many more accidents could be prevented with further education about sharing the road safely. Thousands still die in motorcycle accidents each year, with the greatest danger being other motorists.

Here are five important tips to make the roads safer for motorcycles:

  1. Always be very aware when turning left, and especially if you see that a motorcycle is approaching from the other direction. While turning left can sometimes be a risky move (without a green arrow directing drivers to proceed), it is even more so when a car is turning but completely fails to see a motorcycle driving straight ahead.
  2. Don’t fall into the trap of only noticing other cars and trucks on the road. Lack of visibility is one of the most common reasons cited for accidents with motorcycles. Be aware of everyone on the road, as well as checking your blind spots. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians may all be easy to miss, whether on a side street or busy highway, because they are smaller in size.
  3. Slow it down. While most of us are aware that speed kills on the road, there may be times when you are in a hurry or forget to monitor your speed. Follow speed limits and traffic rules, and avoid others (including motorcycles) who are driving recklessly.
  4. Be particularly aware of how closely you are following a motorcycle, as well as keeping an eye on any that may be following behind you. Give more than sufficient time for braking.
  5. Take even further precautions in bad weather, remembering that not only is the motorcyclist perhaps getting rained on or fighting wind while riding, but they are also exponentially more vulnerable should they have an accident. If it is stormy and/or the roads are slick, give the motorcyclist a wide berth, as well as more notice regarding a turn or a stop. It is important to do the same in other areas like construction zones too.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.