Tipping Hazards Result in Product Recalls

Approximately a year ago, IKEA was involved in a massive product recall as a result of millions of chests and dressers not having adequate “anchoring.” The anchoring is used to secure the furniture to a wall and deter it from toppling over. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stated that unanchored or improperly anchored chests and dressers posed a large risk to  young children. IKEA’s recalled furniture was even linked to the deaths of six children and other non-fatal injuries. Recently, South Shore Furniture and Homestar North America have collectively recalled nearly 70,000 chests due to issues with anchoring the furniture to walls. The CPSC is again reporting that these recalled chests are likely to pose a serious risk to young children, resulting in injury or death.

South Shore Furniture’s recall involves roughly 68,300 “Summer Breeze Style” 5-drawer chests sold on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Wayfair.com for roughly $160. The CPSC attributes the recall to a serious tip-over and entrapment hazard. Like IKEA’s recall, these chests are unstable if not securely anchored to a wall. The CPSC determined that South Shore’s chests do not meet the performance requirements of the U.S. Voluntary Industry Standards. Specifically, consumers need to be on the lookout for the “royal cherry,” “blueberry,” “chocolate,” and “white” colored chests, as these are the models being recalled. These chests are by no means light and weigh in at 88 pounds. Per the CPSC, owners of these chests should immediately stop all use and relocate it to an area inaccessible to children.

On a smaller scale, Homestar North America has recalled approximately 1,470 “Stockholm three-drawer TV chests.” These chests also present the same risks as South Shore’s and do not comply with the performance requirements of the U.S. Voluntary Industry Standards.  However, Homestar’s chests were sold exclusively on Target.com.

The recalled chests manufactured by South Shore include: 3746035A, 3294035A, 3210035A, and 3219035A. For Homestar North America, recalled chests include the model numbers: 249-09-2740, 249-09-0041, 249-09-2739, or 249-09-3429; the model number is located on the back panel of each unit. Both companies are offering to remedy the recall via refunds and free, one-time in-home installations of the anchoring kits.

Fortunately, these products have no reported incidents or injuries to date. However, as we have seen with IKEA, furniture which is prone to tipping without a proper wall anchor is certainly capable of tragedy. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of furniture tipping over, call the offices of Heintz & Becker at (941) 748-2916 or visit online.

Written by Tanner Heintz

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.

‘Arbitration Clause’ Controversy

Arbitration is a common procedure to resolve disputes between “parties” to a contract.  Most contracts existing today have an “arbitration clause” contained in the fine print of the document.  They can be non-binding (voluntary) or binding (mandatory).

Recently, arbitration clauses have come under increased scrutiny.  If an average consumer chooses to fight for his right after being subjected to an unfair business practice, he/she will most likely lose to the larger corporation.  This is likely due to the big business atmosphere of big money, big power, big executives and lots of fine print.  The following sentence is an example of this problem and is contained in the American Express credit card contract:  “[You] may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration…”  That clause makes it very improbable for “Joe Schmoe” to fight a corporation for any wrong doing it may have done to one individual or thousands of individuals.

On May 5, 2016, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau intervened in the arbitration clause controversy when it proposed a regulation that would eliminate mandatory clauses in financial sectors.  These clauses specify that a company or a consumer may require disputes that arise between them must be resolved by chosen arbitrators, “except for cases brought in small claims court.”  These clauses generally prohibit average consumers from joining class-action or group claims through the arbitration method, thereby, forcing each individual to solely wrestle with the company that may have caused the harm or unfair practice to them; even though collectively, the group cannot jointly fight together via class-action lawsuits.

In 2014, a US District Court in California disagreed with Samsung’s contractual tactics and ruled for the plaintiff in Norcia vs. Samsung.  The Court held that the case could not move forward with its intended arbitration clause attempt; and suggested that Samsung’s ‘warranty booklet’ was sufficient in supplying customers the opting-out of the contract.  The holding was appealed and on March 3, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed the District Court’s decision by denying Samsung’s motion “to compel arbitration of a class action complaint.”  The plaintiff in the case, Daniel Norcia, bought a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, signed a receipt stating the agreement of the arbitration clause, but the customer, Norcia, exited the store without the cellphone box which contained the warranty booklet, containing the fine print clause.

There have been victories by companies in their quest to uphold opting-out clauses.  Case in point is the Uber Technologies, Inc. vs Suarez (May 4, 2016) case.  In a federal court, Uber and the arbitration clause ‘won’ their case based upon a double check/agreement system that gave the drivers two reasonable chances/options to ‘opt-out’ of the clause and then additionally gave the drivers 30 extra days to ‘think about it.’  The federal court determined that the arbitration clause was ‘not unconscionable.’

Arbitration is generally faster and more efficient than court room settings where legal proceedings to their credit, are totally public and transparent.  Arbitration can be very costly.  The average cost is $9,000 to start the process for an $80,000 dispute.  In addition, there are many national arbitrator groups that actually offer their services to companies, creating a ‘biased’ position at the bargaining table.  Arbitration disputes are located in private settings, and thus may be tainted and unfair. The arbitrators themselves may have been specifically chosen for their expertise to represent a company unbeknownst to the smaller individual consumer; whereas a court judge may not be familiar with the subject or the particulars of the disputed case.  An advantage of a court ruling in a dispute is the fact that it can be appealed to a higher court whereas an arbitration case can only be removed to a court after its final judgment.

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

Written by Tanner Heintz

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 Made Worse by Stress

Complex regional pain syndrome is a challenging condition that is not only unknown to many, but also misunderstood. It can persist for years, and while treatment is available, a cure is not. Usually presenting itself after an injury or a trauma, CRPS is characterized by a surprising amount of pain and discomfort in comparison to the event that caused it.

If you have been in a car accident recently, you may have received other injuries but did not realize at first that you were also experiencing CRPS. It is important to report any symptoms to your doctor as soon as possible because treatment is much more effective for CRPS if it is caught in the initial stages. Symptoms generally include pain and burning, along with:

  • Swelling
  • Stiffness of joints
  • Limited mobility in the affected area, as well as the possibility of atrophy
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Changes to skin, not only in temperature but also color and texture

Experts at the Mayo Clinic state that there are two different types of CRPS. Type one may also be referred to as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD). This is the most common type, affecting most who suffer from CRPS, and occurring after a trauma or sickness that was not centered in the symptomatic limb or area. Type two is usually due to direct damage to the nerve.

Without medical help, CRPS can continue to escalate in severity. Treatments (which must be specific to the individual) range from anticonvulsants and steroids to different types of therapy. The condition can be exaggerated further though if you are under stress—and that is to be expected if your initial trauma was a car accident caused by the negligence of others. Normal activities may not be possible, or may be constricted, and you may be worried about how to adjust your life to CRPS.

Living in pain and discomfort can cause enormous stress alone, but you may be experiencing emotional stress and anxiety caused by a disturbance in your finances as you are unable to go back to work either temporarily or even permanently. Medical bills can pile up quickly, and you may feel like you have nowhere to turn. If your condition has been caused by an accident due to the negligence of others, consult with an experienced CRPS attorney as soon as possible to see that you receive the compensation you are owed.

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.

Construction Zones are Perilous to All

Driving is probably one of the most normal things you do every day, but unfortunately it can also involve enormous peril. Defensive driving is a requirement for staying safe, and if you live in a city, there may be some days where you feel as if you are dodging an obstacle course on the road, while so many other motorists seem to be focused on doing everything but driving.

A decade ago most of us were concerned about too many drunk drivers on the road or those talking on cell phones, but that has been eclipsed by a world of communication and access offered by the smartphone. And that is not always a good thing, evidenced by disturbing statistics on accidents and fatalities caused by distracted drivers. We must also worry about motorists who are reckless, drive at excessive speeds, refuse to follow traffic rules, and are a hazard on the roads otherwise. Road conditions and weather must be considered too.

While getting from one place to another should be easy enough, that is often not the case—and changes in infrastructure can play a part too; in fact, there may be times when you feel like your entire path of travel is a construction zone, depending on what projects are happening city and statewide. The slowdowns may seem like a hassle, but often the repairs are necessary to help with traffic congestion and other issues. No matter the reason for the construction, it is imperative to practice extreme caution in these areas as roads are narrowed and there may be unexpected curves. Those warning signs, orange cones, barrels, and other devices are laid out very carefully to prevent accidents from happening to motorists and those working on the roads too.

Even if you drove through such an area the day before, the route may have changed, and reduced speed limits should still be followed. Watch for road workers slowing down traffic and gesturing for one lane to stop or start moving. Such activity may be a hindrance in your day, but their safety is the priority for all involved. These areas are responsible for hundreds of motorists’ deaths every year, according to the CDC, along with those of workers.

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.

 

Is My Car Crash Serious Enough to File a Personal Injury Claim in Florida?

In no-fault states like Florida, knowing when to file a personal injury claim can be tricky. Below, the Florida car accident lawyers from Heintz & Becker shed some light on this confusing question: how serious does a car accident have to be to file a personal injury claim in Florida?  

Florida’s No-Fault System Explained

Florida’s no-fault system makes it easy for accident victims to obtain relief through mandatory coverage called Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

PIP allows drivers to collect damages from their own insurance provider, but it prohibits victims from suing other drivers—even if the other driver caused the accident. In theory, this helps reduce the state’s judicial caseload and speeds along recovery.

In Florida, minimum PIP coverage is $10,000; in the event a driver doesn’t have medical insurance, this coverage will function similarly to cover lost wages and other injury-related expenses.

To step outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury claim, there are specific criteria an injury must meet. The medical thresholds outlined in Florida’s statutes.

To file a personal injury claim, an injury must meet one of four broad categorizations:

  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • The permanent injury is within a reasonable degree of medical probability

Minor injuries such as sprains, bumps, and bruises typically won’t meet the medical threshold; however, broken bones generally qualify. To simplify, any injury that seriously impairs an important function (e.g., walking, typing, lifting) generally meets the medical threshold. Pain or discomfort, however, generally does not.

Medical thresholds can be applied differently to the same injury. For example, a person recovering from a recent surgery will likely suffer an accident differently than a healthy driver. It’s best to consider the injury on a case-by-case basis.

If you have questions about an injury, call Heintz & Becker at 941-748-2916.

Personal Injury Claim VS. Personal Injury Protection

You might wonder why any driver would file a personal injury claim if they can collect damages directly from their insurance company.

PIP covers economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.), but it does not extend to noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, etc.

Victims unable to work a preferred profession or enjoy activities they once loved may benefit from additional financial compensation. This is when a victim may file an injury claim.

In the event of death, surviving family members might struggle to compensate a lifetime of lost wages. Families may also need time away from work to grieve or prepare a funeral.

These things matter to victims and their families and are why personal injury claims exist.

At Heintz & Becker, we’ve been providing compassionate, ethical, and effective legal representation for more than 30 years. If you’ve got questions about a personal injury claim, we’ve got the answers.

For more answers to frequently asked questions about personal injury in Florida, follow Heintz & Becker on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

Motorcycle Knowledge: Get Used to Your New Bike Before Heading Onto the Highway

Riding—and owning—a motorcycle may have been a dream of yours for years. And while there are many reasons to do so, one thing is certain: as a motorcycle enthusiast, you join an ever-expanding population of likeminded souls who enjoy a sense of brotherhood and community around the world. Benefits include affordability all around, from your purchase to gas and maintenance. For some, the opportunity to take off on road trips and enjoy fresh air and nature is a draw, while others may enjoy riding in city areas, cutting off time on the commute to work as they are able to travel through traffic quickly. Some even believe that riding a motorcycle is good for your health, offering meditative properties (with that Zen factor many of us have heard so much about) and stress relief—qualities we rarely hear associated with driving a car.

Safety is always the priority though, and this is especially important for novices. Cars and trucks are one of the greatest dangers on the road to motorcyclists. In driving a car, you are probably aware of the need for defensive driving. As a motorcyclist, you will find that your defensive driving techniques must be taken to a new level though as you work harder to be seen and heard. Congested areas, intersections and turn lanes, doors being flung open on side streets, and more all present hazards. Before you take all that on, consider the following steps to becoming one with your bike, and the road:

  • Learn how to be highway ready – if your bike is used, make sure all proper maintenance has been performed, to include inspecting the condition of the tires. Are the mirrors situated properly? What type of gas mileage can you expect? Be familiar with all the parts of the bike and how they operate.
  • Know what to wear – be prepared to buy more than just a helmet. Because you are without any other protection, you will need a jacket that can withstand the elements, as well as protective pants and sufficient footwear, usually in the form of boots. Your body is incredibly vulnerable in the event of an accident, so this is not an area where you should skimp. Dressing in layers is always recommended, and especially in colder areas.
  • Get schooled – a course in motorcycle riding instruction could save your life. Learn all the basics, and the nuances, of motorcycle riding before you head out on to the highway, and get to know your new bike in the process. You may also be able to receive a discount on your insurance, as well as other benefits.
  • Read the owner’s manual – although this could be one of the easiest exercises, it is also one of the most ignored. Chances are though, you will find this little book chock full of information that will save you a lot of time and guesswork.
  • Know the laws, and those specific to motorcycles – Refresh your memory regarding traffic laws, and get to know what is also expected of you as a motorcyclist, from requirements on protective gear to that of insurance.

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.

Foot Traffic: Cell Phone Distractions Are Not Just a Problem with Drivers

Sometimes you may find it amusing to think back to the days of yore when we left home without smartphones in our pockets (or more likely today, in the palms of our hands). This meant shutting the door and leaving phones and messages behind us until we got to the office or returned home later, often eager to hear what communications had accrued during the day. It is probably not lost on you, either, that without the constant chatter via calls and text, we had more down time—even if that was just on the commute to work.

Constant access to social media and news means that we may have little time off from screens, during the day or night. You may have friends or family who simply cannot ever look away. It may be difficult to get their attention at home, during meals, or even fun events away from home or work. And while that may be a source of frustration during more insulated moments, it becomes dangerous when combined with driving, walking, or even riding a motorcycle or bike in traffic.

Clearly, far too many motorists have an issue with distracted driving, allowing smartphone activities to eclipse responsible driving. They may be engaged in texting, talking, or even surfing the net. And while many consider that to be a safe activity ‘because they were at a red light’ or ‘stopped in traffic,’ it leads to a lack of focus that can be dangerous anytime a motorist is behind the wheel.

What about everyone participating in the flow of traffic though? Today, you may notice crowds of pedestrians walking with their heads down as they check out their phones. The question is no longer whether you can walk and chew gum at the same time, but whether you can walk and type. This behavior often continues for the entire time pedestrians in busy city areas are on crosswalks. You may even notice bicyclists engaged with their phones on and off, as well as motorcyclists. Because defensive behavior is so important in high traffic areas, distracted driving, distracted walking, and distracted riding all pose the potential for catastrophic injuries.

If you or a loved one have been injured 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.

Understand Traffic Flow for Better Bicycle Savvy—and Safety

Riding a bicycle can be one of the most fulfilling exercises, as well as modes of transportation. It is also an extremely affordable way to travel, with no need for gas and very little up-front expense, unless you choose one of the more expensive models. Fuel depends only on you as you pedal, and the benefits abound. Not only are you working out your entire body—and especially your cardiovascular system—but you may lower your chances of being stricken with serious diseases like cancer.

A recent news article outlined many of the different reasons bicycling is good for you, from stimulating the brain to burning calories and helping with weight loss, offering that addicting endorphin high, lifting your spirits—and creating a great opportunity for a way to spend fun time with family and friends. But none of those benefits mean much if safety is not the priority, and especially if you tend to travel in high traffic areas. While extreme caution is of the utmost importance while bicycling, understanding the flow of traffic will add greater efficiency, safety, and enjoyment to all your rides.

This means understanding:

  • The overall infrastructure in your city – take some time to examine the design of the roadways in your area. You may even want to study an old-fashioned roadmap of the area.
  • Varying Speed limits – examine how speed fluctuates on your route, making some pockets of travel less safe than others.
  • Traffic rules – whether you are new to bicycling or a veteran, review not only regular traffic rules but also those that apply to bicycles, including hand signals.
  • Traffic congestion – Avoid continually high-traffic areas and road construction, or study ways to get through them expediently. Bicycles often allow a nimble approach to navigating traffic.
  • Areas designated solely for bicycles – target areas that make it easier for you (and your family) to ride safely.

Along with being savvy about the area you are riding in, make sure you are riding with protective body gear and that you have inspected your bicycle to make sure it is in good working order—to include lights and a bell or horn.

If you have been injured in a bicycle 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.

What Causes Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome is known as a rare condition, although it affects hundreds of thousands in the US, and possibly more. It is a chronic illness, and may last months or years. If you have CRPS, your quality of life may have been significantly affected, and the condition may worsen over time. CRPS is often thought to be caused as the result of another event, usually an injury or trauma; for example, if you were hurt in a car accident, CRPS may be triggered and affect you even worse than the initial injury.

A variety of painful, uncomfortable symptoms signal the onset of this condition, often beginning with burning—or even a sense of coldness or aching in the limbs or skin. One limb may be affected, and eventually both if CRPS continues to worsen. Skin may also change in color as well as texture. Swelling, stiffness, loss of mobility, and even atrophy may occur.

Researchers published a paper recently, updating what is known about CRPS. Surgery seems to be a precursor to CRPS:

“The incidence of CRPS following shoulder, distal radius, carpal tunnel and Dupuytren’s contracture surgery is estimated to be between 0.9 and 11%, 22 to 39%, 2 to 5% and 4.5 to 40%,” state the researchers.

Fractures are known to be one of the most common causes of CRPS, and this correlates with injuries common to accidents such as car crashes.

“In this study, the overall incidence of CRPS type I was 7.0, with 15.2% of cases occurring after ankle fracture, 2.9% following fifth metatarsal fracture and 7.9% after wrist fracture,” state the researchers.

Traumas may also cause inflammation, as well as nerve or tissue damage that cause CRPS in certain patients. The recent research also shows that immune deficiencies, genetic factors, and psychological stress may play a part in causing CRPS as well.

Diagnosis of CRPS usually consists of assessing the symptoms and ruling out other conditions with scans, X-Rays, and MRIs. Currently, there is not a specific test for CRPS—or a cure. Treatments vary, and are most effective if begun at the initial outset. Your doctor may recommend steroids, antidepressants, over-the-counter pain relievers, ketamine, or other medications. Physical therapy may be recommended too.

If you are suffering from this condition after 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.

Motorcycles Continue to Grow in Popularity for Women

Whether you are just a curious motorist or an avid enthusiast, you may be surprised to see growing numbers of women on the road today riding motorcycles—and not always on pretty, pink Harleys either. It would be a mistake to think that female riders are not able to handle the power of a motorcycle. After all, riding is not so much about strength in the long run as it is about being educated about handling the bike. Experience is much more important than size, weight, and intimidating biceps, although being in good shape will make owning a motorcycle more pleasurable as it can require you to use your core, arm, and leg muscles constantly.

A recent news article points out that most women are not purchasing their own motorcycles as fashion statements, but rather for pure enjoyment, and many others may be surprised to find out that they took the plunge and bought them for themselves, rather than just borrowing from their husband or boyfriend. While most motorcycle owners today are still males, in the time span from 1998-2014, female ownership expanded from 8 percent to 14 percent. Women’s bike events have expanded around the US, as well as the inevitable rise of female-oriented merchandise.

“There are massive numbers of women riding,” says Alisa Clickenger, founder of Women’s Motorcycle Tours. “Motorcycling gives them some excitement. Off the bikes we’re just normal-looking people.”

Aside from excitement, women are also seeking all the benefits of motorcycles such as greater affordability for purchasing a vehicle, cheaper operating cost, and often a faster way to commute due to the ability to get through traffic more efficiently.

The safety factor remains, however, as those on motorcyclists are still so much more vulnerable than individuals driving cars. Even as millions eschew the traditional car and embrace the fresh air and open road afforded by motorcycles, they are still the minority and not always as visible. Injuries and even fatalities may be caused by drivers who are distracted, drunk, reckless, and more—but often just because they are not used to seeing the smaller modes of transportation on the road. Education continues to encourage drivers to look more closely—and for motorcyclists to continue to drive as defensively as possible. Negligent automobile drivers can cause catastrophic injuries to motorcyclists, unfortunately, no matter their level of physical strength—or whether they are men or women.

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