Four Questions to Ask After a Truck Accident

Little can prepare drivers for the aftermath of a traffic accident, especially when that accident causes serious injury or major property damage. Large trucks (i.e., tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, buses, etc.) or commercial motor vehicles (CMV) pose extra danger because of their size and strength.

In Florida, especially, large truck accidents are over represented compared to the total number of CMVs on Florida roadways.

In 2014, for example, there were 179 fatal truck crashes in Florida, which equals 5.1 percent of total vehicle crashes in the state. Following Texas (532) and California (281), Florida had the third highest count of fatal truck crashes.

When and if you’re ever in such a crash, it’s critical to gather information that could be relevant should the accident result in questions about fault, fair compensation, or other legal dispute.

Here are four questions you should quickly find answers to following a truck accident in Florida: Continue reading

Drunk Driving: Jury Still Out on Whether Uber Helps

The days of calling a cab or waiting to hail one outside are diminishing with the mobile ease of ordering up an Uber or Lyft. In a world of disruptive new businesses and technology that allow consumers to take more control of the process, these new transportation startups are both a cultural phenomenon as well as a popular social trend with millennials who may just eschew buying cars and driving altogether. Not only are the humans traveling together able to rate each other, but they also seem to be able to connect more easily than in the taxicab situation, making the experience more attractive for many, and especially the younger generations.

Most taxicab drivers will relay countless stories of drunk patrons they have driven from point A to point B. As companies like Uber and Lyft are even easier to contact and pay for, those who are under the influence may call them first today if they have the good judgment to do so. That if can be a big problem with intoxicated people holding the keys to their own car though, as it presents a free ride—often causing them to take the risk in weaving their way home, fare-free.

It is obvious that there is little reason for drunk drivers to continue to plague our society today. Amidst overwhelming education about the dangers as well as dire consequences put in place by each state, drunk drivers also have every outlet to avoid driving themselves home, and often cab companies will even take them for free—especially during holidays. A recent news article, however, points out that companies like Uber and Lyft may not be lowering drunk driving statistics at all; in fact, in a study performed by Noli Brazil and David S. Kirk, outlined in ‘Uber and Metropolitan Traffic Fatalities in the United States,’ the authors make it clear that there is much progress to be made.

“Obviously the rise of Uber and Lyft has been incredible, and we were curious about potential implications,” said David Kirk, from the University of Oxford, who coauthored the study.

In the end, however, there are still not enough Ubers out there to combat the problem of drivers who insist on getting behind the wheel while under the influence, not to mention the resistance of those who are practicing poor judgment after an evening of partying.

“It will be important to revisit the findings in a few years, assuming Uber and Lyft have even greater presence in the U.S. and beyond,” said Kirk. “And if Uber and Lyft can find a way to have greater appeal to drunk drivers (free or reduced priced rides for inebriated passengers), then there is a possibility of bringing fatalities down.”

If as a culture we can change habits and get used to taking Ubers and Lyfts, it is hopeful that those who have had a few too many to drink, or are under the influence of controlled substances can be convinced to do the same.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a drunk driver, contact us now. At Heintz & Becker our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping DUI injury victims claim the compensation they deserve. Our firm has also handled many claims involving catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death. 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.

Spinal Cord Injuries: Understanding the Different Types & Levels

Even if you have just damaged your spinal cord mildly, you may experience great discomfort whether in your neck or other areas of your back. You may have trouble walking, and more. Medical attention should be sought immediately, as that can be the predictor of how well your injury heals in the future. While sports injuries and falls are often the cause of such pain, car accidents are a major reason for these injuries, which can be severe and even life threatening. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of another driver, seek medical help immediately, and then call an experienced Florida auto accident law firm like Heintz & Becker.

Spinal cord trauma is usually rated from minor to severe, and physicians usually begin by stating whether the spinal cord injury is complete (non-functioning below the location of the injury) or incomplete (damage is partial and there is some level of functionality). Damage occurs in these four areas:

  • Cervical spinal cord (C1 to C7)
  • Lumbar spinal cord (L1 to L5)
  • Thoracic spinal cord (T1 to T12)
  • Sacral spinal cord (S1 to S5)

There may also be varying levels of paralysis, from tetraplegia to quadriplegia or paraplegia. The injury is then established according the area affected; for instance, referring to the injury as a C4 injury, and often pointing out levels such as C3 or C4 sensations.

A recent study showed that the lumbosacral area is the area affected most often, and after car accidents, with the car rolling over being ‘the most common mechanism’ of the spinal injury.

“The chance of sustaining serious spine and associated multiple injuries in car accidents is quite high in our today’s society,” stated the researchers.

Those who are not paralyzed or who are only partially paralyzed may have a much better chance of getting back to normal eventually, but it cannot be stressed enough how important good medical attention is, and immediately so. Internal bleeding must be assessed and remedied as quickly as possible, along with swelling. Doctors may treat with corticosteroids, or surgery may be required to move vertebrae back into place, eliminate fluid or fragments, or fuse parts of the spine.

Spinal cord injuries affect over 10,000 people each year, often requiring patients to be hospitalized and then undergo physical therapy and seek aftercare which must be long-term in some cases. This is especially debilitating for those who are unable to go back to work either temporarily or permanently.

Have you suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of others? If so, contact the experienced spinal cord and neck injury attorneys at Heintz & Becker. Our attorneys 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, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

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.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Affect Many in the US

While complex regional pain syndrome is known as a rare condition, at least 200,000 people suffer from it annually in the US. Characterized by deep pain in the limbs which may even feel cold or as if burning, CRPS is often caused by a trauma or injury. If you are suffering from this condition after an accident that was due to the negligence of others, consult with an experienced injury law firm like Heintz & Becker as soon as possible.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, CRPS is a chronic illness that is often triggered by a trauma of some kind. Damage to the nervous system causes CRPS to manifest itself usually in one limb, with pain and swelling accompanied by variations in temperature and even skin tones like red or blue, or a combination of blotches. Tingling in the one limb is a common symptom, along with pain that radiates along the arm or leg. This may happen even if only a small portion of the limb was hurt initially. CRPS may also cause skin to appear glossy or extra thin, and nails and hair may be affected on hands and feet and limbs. Movement may be affected, and in some cases, is stiff, spastic, or fixed.

CRPS-1 usually refers to those without diagnosis of nerve issues, while CRPS-II relates to patients who have been diagnosed with damaged nerves. Cases range from minor to severe, and may sometimes result in permanent disability. It is crucial to seek treatment for CRPS as soon as you realize something is wrong. The Mayo Clinic states that if the condition is left unchecked you could find yourself facing serious issues such as atrophy of the affected limb, as the muscles and surrounding area begin to grow weaker and weaker over time. Contracture of the muscles is a possible consequence also if treatment is not sought, with hands and feet becoming so stiffened that they are basically stuck or ‘fixed’ in one position.

This condition is usually diagnosed with X-Rays and/or an MRI, as well as bone scans and a variety of tests which evaluate the nervous system for erratic symptoms such as temperature fluctuations, blood flow, and more. CRPS does not affect everyone; for instance, many who have been in car or truck accidents may have other injuries but do not go on to develop CRPS while some do.

If you have been affected by an injury caused by the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled CRPS lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys 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, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

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.

Ignition Interlock Devices Keep Drunk Drivers off the Roads

With so much education available in schools and society today, along with alternate modes of transportation, no one should have to die or be seriously injured due to the poor judgment of a drunk driver. Alcohol is a very dangerous drug when abused, and it can cause the individual to think they can handle driving when they cannot, as well as thinking that the alcohol has left their system—when it has not.

And while some with a history of drunk driving do get their licenses back and drive again, they may find themselves having to blow into an ignition interlock device mechanism routinely to get the car started. Acting as a breathalyzer, the IID allows the vehicle to start if the potential driver tests below a certain level, but if not, they must wait—and are not allowed to start the car for longer periods of time if they keep failing. The system, allowing first-time offenders to regain driving privileges, is meant to be foolproof against drinking while in the car as well, letting out intermittent beeps that mean the driver must blow into the device while driving in what is called a ‘rolling re-test.’ If indeed they have a high alcohol blood level, the ignition interlock device will begin honking and give them time to pull over before shutting off. All this data is forwarded to the DMV or court as well.

Because the devices can be expensive, sometimes costing more than $1,000 each year, many DUI offenders may not be able to afford them. They may also have difficulty breathing into the IID’s if they suffer from any breathing issues like asthma; otherwise, issues involving deception seem difficult to pull off as yes, the driver could have someone sober breathe into the device and get the car started, but then they must be along for the whole ride breathing into it intermittently.

MADD has put their full support behind the devices over the years, and even published a report recently which contends that 1.77 million drivers have been unable to start their cars while under the influence. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, if the driver has a breath sample above .025, they will not be able to start the car. Data is transferred to the court with access available continually.

Have you or a loved one been injured because of a drunk driver? If so, please contact Heintz & Becker now so one of our experienced attorneys can review your case and help you with any legal needs and getting compensation that you may be owed. 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.

Dangerous Driving Habits You Should Eliminate Now

Defensive driving is something most of us learn about as teenagers, studying for our drivers’ licenses and just getting behind the wheel. We must watch out for other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and try to keep ourselves and our passengers safe from those who may be careless while on the road. But as you consider how many hours you log on the road each day, month, and year, you can probably think of ways that you can improve your driving habits also, by avoiding the following:

  • Driving after drinking or taking medication – While most of us are very aware of the dangers of driving while under a controlled substance, many of us may underestimate the power of a cold medication, painkiller, or yes, a couple glasses of wine—and depending on your tolerance and size, this could cause you to be a serious hazard on the road. If you routinely drive while on medication or even just while sleepy, keep in mind that you have been lucky so far, and discontinue such habits immediately.
  • Driving while distracted – This is a major issue on the roads today, and is the number one reason for car accidents. Thousands of fatalities are caused each year on the roads by distracted drivers. Consider what a terrible burden that would be to bear as you wonder if you should just take a second to answer that text or look up a movie time on the internet while driving. Cell phone usage is an enormous safety issue on the roads today, whether you are talking or texting. Avoid other distractions such as eating and drinking, grooming, engaging with passengers, worrying over the radio or music selections, and more.
  • Speeding – While you may just be ‘going with the flow of traffic,’ that doesn’t mean everyone else has perfect judgment. Many are injured and killed each year simply because others were not following the speed limit.
  • Tailgating – This is an extremely dangerous habit, and is often associated with road rage. If the person whose bumper you are riding is forced to stop abruptly, you could cause a serious accident. Remember to follow behind the car in front of you one car length for every ten miles per hour that you are driving; meaning if you are going 55 mph, you should be five or six car lengths behind the driver in front of you. Conversely, you should also remember to consider the cars behind you when stopping.
  • Being unaware of other drivers – Make sure to adjust mirrors accordingly, and always remember to account for blind spots. Many accidents are caused when drivers are changing lanes and do not see the car right next to them.

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.

Pool Chemicals May Lead to Health Hazards for Swimmers When Used Improperly

The wonderful thing about having a pool in Florida, or making use of one, is that you have a respite from the heat which can be overpowering at times, to say the least. At one time or another, most of us really look forward to taking a swim in temperate waters, cooling off, relaxing, and getting some exercise in too. The pool also offers a continual opportunity for the family to get together in the fresh air, spending time connecting, and away from all the electronics that so often consume our lives.

It can be a terrible letdown to jump in, however, and discover that the pool chemicals are ‘off.’ This can go several ways too. You and your family may be enjoying swimming only to notice that your eyes and skin become extremely irritated from an imbalance of chemicals. On exiting the pool, you may notice what almost seems like a film or haze over your eyes, making it difficult to see for a while. This type of chemical conjunctivitis is caused by an excess of chlorine in the pool. And while it is usually temporary and can also be avoided by wearing goggles while you swim, it is important to make sure the correct levels are being mixed for the pool.

Alkalinity and pH levels should be maintained properly for many reasons, but the top priority is to prevent swimmers from becoming ill. Referred to as ‘recreational water illnesses’ by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such problems occur when harmful germs and chemicals take over in the pool. Sickness can also occur when chemicals become overwhelming at indoor pool areas. Swimmers may fall prey to eye, ear, and lung infections, and more, but the most common symptom is diarrhea. When the water is not maintained correctly, germs such as E. coli, cryptosporidium, giardia, and more may be present in the water. Healthy swimmers may have only mild complications from such germs and chemical issues, but the young, old and others with suppressed immune systems could develop worse complications after becoming ill with gastrointestinal problems.

Swimming pools are not the only places you can become ill from germs in the water either. Beware of the jacuzzi, field trips to the water parks that are so popular today, and even the beach, river, or lake.

If you or your child have become ill or injured in a swimming pool 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.

Motorcyclists: Is the System Prejudiced Against Them?

If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, you may be well familiarized with a certain amount of prejudice on the road—and you may have even learned to embrace it; after all, motorcycles do have a certain air of counter culture about them, as well as being associated with a love for accelerated speeds, leather jackets, and an independent spirit. Thousands of car enthusiasts could be portrayed the same way though—and on the flip side, there are many individuals out there enjoying motorcycles who are conservative, but enjoy fresh air, the feel of a nice bike, and even adventurous cross-country trips around the US.

There are some drawbacks to riding a motorcycle, but there are also numerous benefits too: affordability, a faster commute, the opportunity to get outdoors, and more. There is no denying that motorcyclists are forced to be more vigilant on the roads than ever before. Because other drivers often do not see them due to blind spots or lack of expectation, they must go to much greater lengths to be seen, heard, and to drive defensively.

Aside from being treated like second-hand citizens on the road, motorcyclists may experience prejudice everywhere from being sentenced in the court system after a wreck, to the hospital when they are admitted and suspected to be at fault, perhaps to blame for taking the risk in their choice of vehicles, or some may associate them with motorcycle gangs no matter what. Motorcyclists may often fall victim to profiling, as well as finding themselves prohibited from parking in garages and otherwise unwelcome in numerous venues.

Society may be much to blame for the prejudice those riding motorcycles face, sometimes making the venture even riskier—but the greatest danger to motorcyclists overall is the ever-growing group of motorists who pay no attention to them at all: distracted drivers. This is the greatest danger to everyone on the road today, in fact, with thousands being injured daily. Because motorcyclists are more vulnerable on the road, they are more susceptible to serious injuries or even fatalities on the road. Drivers may cause serious accidents as they are too busy texting, talking on their phones, or otherwise distracted by grooming, eating and drinking, and passenger activity.

Motorcyclists must remain vigilant on the roads, giving distracted drivers a wide berth, attempting to avoid getting into motorists blind spots whenever possible, as well as being especially careful at stoplights and left-hand turns. It is also crucial to avoid engaging in any road-rage activity initiated by other motorists, as that can lead to accidents and even violence.

If you have been injured in a 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.

Poor Pool Maintenance Can Lead to Tragic Consequences

In Florida, it is common for almost every house in the neighborhood to have a pool, as well as a lanai. These extended areas of the home offer a great way to cool off in the heat, and around the pool is the perfect gathering place for friends and family to grill out, have birthday celebrations, adult parties, and more. If your children have grown up in Florida, most likely you started them on swimming lessons early and they feel very comfortable in the pool, ocean, bay, or any body of water suitable for recreation.

And while everyone may be extremely comfortable around the pool, whether it is at your home or that of someone else, there is always the risk of drowning, and safety precautions should always be in place. Swimming is a great way to get exercise, and seems like a carefree way to spend an afternoon for sure—but we’ve all heard the horror stories too. Vigilance around the pool (or any other body of water, especially with children) must always be exercised.

Pool maintenance is a must as well, and as the State of Florida requires all pool owners to have at least one safety feature in place, these are the priority for maintenance. You must have at least one of the following:

  • Approved safety cover – this must be strong enough to hold a child’s weight, and cover the pool properly without areas that sag or are left open.
  • Barrier – many agree that a fence is the best idea for safety around a pool. It must be at least 48 inches high.
  • Alarms – these devices alert you if anyone is heading into the pool area and can lead to a greater sense of security for homeowners with pools and small children around.

Any one of these items that is not in good working order could lead to potential catastrophe for anyone who falls into the pool or enters it without adult supervision. It is not enough just to have any swimming pool cover either. It must be a safety cover that is approved and fully functional, as well as installed and maintained properly. Any barrier must be maintained so that it remains exactly that, without areas where anyone could slip through—including children, but also elderly citizens who could be unaware of their surroundings and fall into a pool and drown. Alarms must be tested regularly and in working order on both doors and windows.

Other very important areas to maintain are:

  • Pool pumps – because these can be extremely hazardous to swimmers if not functioning properly (with the ability to trap children or adults underwater), make sure the pool pump is up to date and equipped with a safety vacuum release system.
  • Pool chemicals – if not measured correctly, they can lead to discomfort for swimmers. They are also meant to sanitize the water properly to alleviate any chance for illness. Such chemicals also take care of your pool itself, preventing corrosion.
  • Debris – make sure any unwanted objects are removed from the pool to prevent hazard to your swimmers.
  • Electrical system – the electrical system and all electrical devices must be tested regularly and functioning properly to avoid any chance for electrocution.
  • Deck areas – these areas must be cleaned and maintained regularly to avoid buildup that cause them to be extra slippery for swimmers and sunbathers.

If you or your child have been injured in or around a swimming pool 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.