Bicycling: Choose the Best Protective Gear for Your Child

As our children begin to grow over the years, most of us feel an inner conflict over wanting to protect them as well as letting them gain the necessary independence they need to mature and experience the world. What ifs abound though as we let them venture away from us, sometimes just ever so slightly. Along with all the worries about strangers and worldly dangers, there are countless anxieties regarding physical safety. And while bicycle riding is one of the greatest adventures kids can have, we can’t fool ourselves into thinking it is always safe—especially due to the threats posed by traffic and motorists who may not be paying full attention to the road.

The first step in allowing your child to enter the realm of bicycling is to make sure they have something safe to cruise on. If they don’t know how to ride on two wheels yet, training wheels should be level and secure. Protective gear is still important but becomes much more crucial when they are riding on two wheels and the potential is there for having an accident—on any level. Here are some good tips regarding gear to keep your child safe:

  • The helmet is a requirement by the state of Florida for kids under the age of 16, and it must meet federal safety standards. The helmet should fit snugly, with easy-to-use straps adjusted accordingly. Without a helmet, children (or adults) run a much greater risk of concussion or traumatic brain injury in the case of an accident. Such injuries can have long-lasting repercussions and should be avoided at all cost. You can find out more about helmets from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI).
  • Elbow and knee pads cushion other vulnerable areas of the body in the case of a bicycle accident, along with preventing nasty cuts, scrapes, and road rash. Such protection may eliminate the need for stitches after a fall. Protective gloves for the hands are helpful too.
  • Protective clothing and especially in bright or neon colors to promote visibility is recommended. Long-sleeved shirts and pants help protect the skin from trauma in the case of a fall, and sturdy shoes (not flip flops) are always recommended.

Whether on vacation, riding around the neighborhood, or going to and from school, your child should be well-educated on traffic rules. The bicycle should have a working bell and/or horn, along with functional lights should they be riding in the very early morning or at dusk. Being alert is extremely important while riding near traffic and this includes being able to hear—so encourage your child to refrain from using earbuds while riding.

If you or your child 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.

Improper Pool Maintenance Can Lead to Serious Injuries

Hanging out by the pool is one of the greatest ways to enjoy the outdoors in Florida. You may need some therapeutic quiet time to lounge away, read a book, and take a relaxing dip in the cool water when the heat gets to you—or perhaps you enjoy swimming as one of the greatest forms of low-impact, low-stress exercise, doing laps in the evening after work or on the weekends. The pool is also a great area for get togethers, whether you are hosting a kid’s birthday party, or a family get together of all ages.

Safety and swimming should always be synonymous though, as the presence of water means the potential for injury or fatalities due to drowning. Smaller children and those with little swimming experience are extremely vulnerable, and if you are planning to have a lot of activity in the pool over the summer, be sure to have at least one major safety feature installed and functioning as required by Florida law; for example, you may install a barrier such as a fence, or doors and windows fitted with alarms alerting you to anyone entering or exiting the pool area. Safety covers are always recommended too.

Pool maintenance is strongly connected to safety for your swimmers too, whether in a residential or public pool, and the following should be considered:

Use of chemicals – just as recreational water illnesses can be caused by a lack of proper chemicals, an overabundance or negligence in mixing can lead to serious irritation or harm to the eyes as well as respiratory problems, injuries to the skin, and poisoning.

Attention to deck and poolside areas – no matter how many times you remind kids not to run around the pool, chances are it is going to happen anyway. Because of this, make sure there are not areas where standing water collects, making the potential even greater for accidents due to slipping and falling. These areas should also be in good order otherwise, without cracks or signs of disrepair. Any trash or broken glass should be removed immediately too.

Functionality of pumps and drains – these areas have the potential for catastrophic injury or death if not maintained properly, as swimmers’ hair, or even limbs, can become caught and trap them underwater.

Faulty electrical systems – any problems with wiring or electricity in connection with the pool should be attended to immediately due to the potential for electrocution and serious injury or death.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a swimming pool accident, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation 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.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Symptoms Are Wide-Ranging & Unpredictable

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a condition that affects around 200,000 people in the US today. Unless you or a family member have been affected by it, you may have never heard of CRPS, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), which is the previously medical term for Type 1. The majority of CRPS cases are Type 1, with symptoms appearing after something like a sprain or a break due to a trauma such as a car accident. Type 2 is rare and usually emerges after a trauma directly affecting and damaging the nerves.

Most individuals suffering from CRPS have one symptom in common: pain. Usually originating around the limb initially affected (that may have already healed), CRPS symptoms are often much more severe, causing both surprise and distress to the patient. Changes in the skin are typical of CRPS, centered around sensitivity; in fact, just the lightest touch or even a breeze could cause pain in the skin area. The texture and appearance of the skin may change too, pointing toward a CRPS diagnosis. The arm or leg affected may suddenly have a glossy or paper-like texture, and the skin may also change colors—from very pale to light red or blue.

Swelling and stiffness of the joints is a common symptom. If you have CRPS, you may have trouble moving—and in some cases the hands or feet may become paralyzed or fixed in one position. Atrophy is possible too as muscles are not being used—and in many cases, the individual becomes anxious about mobility altogether due to the fear of intense pain and frustrating lack of coordination. Body temperature in the affected area may be erratic, along with pulsating pain and a burning sensation.

Medical professionals usually employ a variety of scans and tests to rule out other conditions. Upon diagnosis of CRPS they may recommend a range of physical therapy along with medications such as simple pain relievers, steroids, nerve blockers, opioids, and more. Because of such drastic lifestyle changes forced by CRPS, individuals suffering from the condition may become depressed as they try to adapt. Antidepressants and access to a counselor may be suggested on a regular basis. Symptoms may come and go, while some worsen and are permanent.

Were you in an accident due to the negligence of others that triggered CRPS? If so, please call Heintz & Becker today to consult with a skilled CRPS lawyer. 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.

Motorcycle Training Courses Can Be Extremely Effective for Novices

If you have just splurged on your first motorcycle, chances are you are ready to get out on the road and be part of a new and adventurous lifestyle, enjoying far more than making a boring commute. This mode of travel includes a full-body workout nearly every time you ride. There’s the whole spiritual, meditative, Zen angle as well—along with appreciating a fellowship amongst so many other likeminded souls.

All that enjoyment can end abruptly without the proper training though. If you are a novice, the first step is to choose a bike that you can handle. That means researching a variety of bikes that work well for beginners, taking into consideration what you will be using it for and how often, along with how much power is needed and what you can handle at first, weight and engine size of the bike, and of course—your budget. Once you have made your purchase, it is time to get to know your bike, and know it well.

In Florida, requirements for getting licensed to ride a motorcycle involve education beforehand:

“New motorcyclists must take and pass the Basic RiderCourse (BRC) or Basic RiderCourse updated (BRCu) through a FRTP authorized Sponsor before they can have the motorcycle endorsement added to their license, per section 322.12(5)(a), Florida Statutes.”

Along with that information, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) points out that Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses offered by their division offer knowledge valuable to novices regarding operating a motorcycle and making good judgments while on the road. They also help strengthen driving abilities and techniques with a focus on ‘crash avoidance skills.’

“Learning these skills are important as Florida and other crash studies show that rider course graduates have far less injury and fatality rates as untrained riders, clearly depicting the need for rider education,” states the DHSMV.

As fatalities rates for motorcyclists in the state reach an all-time high—and place the state at the top for such crashes—practicing safety and giving 100 percent of attention to the roads while operating any vehicle is critical. Distracted motorists are the leading cause of traffic accidents, meaning that everyone else, including motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, must pick up the slack and do double duty in making eye contact with motorists when turning at intersections, avoiding blind spots, and practicing defensive driving and traveling in every way.

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.

Helmet Laws: How Effective Are They on Florida’s Roads?

The motorcycling lifestyle entices many in the US—beckoning them to enjoy fresh air and the outdoor landscape passing by, numerous health benefits, financial savings, and lack of environmental impact on our surroundings. Safety is always a concern though, and especially as Florida makes the headlines time and time again, leading in the nation for motorcycle crashes.

That sense of freedom is part of what entices millions of consumers in the US to purchase and ride motorcycles though. There is also great appeal for many in knowing that they can jump on their bikes and take off at a moment’s notice without worrying about a helmet or other protective gear. It is all about choice—but what about the health consequences? Helmet laws tend to be controversial, and often change. Florida reverted in 2000, easing helmet laws on motorcyclists 21 and over, provided they are carrying the required insurance of $10,000 for medical benefits.

Studies have shown that there tends to be a significant rise in injuries and fatalities in states where helmet laws have been repealed, and other data compiled not long after the law was repealed in Florida showed that ‘the change in Florida’s helmet law increased motorcycle rider deaths.’ Restrictions still in place apply to younger riders, but the numbers still showed increases in injuries for those under 21—with too many still not wearing helmets. The FHSMV also reported that since 2000, fatalities for motorcycle operators age 45 and older have increased 174 percent.

The MSF is very clear about their views on the need for protective head gear in ‘What You Should Know About Motorcycle Helmets’:

“Most sport-type activities have their own suitable protective gear and equipment. Motorcycling is no exception. Every rider and passenger should wear over-the-ankle footwear, long pants, a long-sleeved jacket, full-fingered motorcycle gloves, and a helmet manufactured to comply with DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) standards. Helmets work. Helmet effectiveness has been confirmed by scientific studies, while helmet myths – ‘helmets break necks, block vision and impair hearing’ – have been consistently disproved.”

And while helmets can be very effective for protecting the head from injury, they may do little in the event of a serious accident where so much else can go wrong. Motorcyclists are at a much greater risk for traumatic brain injury though, causing long-lasting repercussions or even cause death. Find out more about TBIs in our recent blog, ‘Motorcycle Accidents: Traumatic Brain Injuries All Too Common.’

If you or a loved one 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.

Why Are Pedestrian Deaths Rising?

Walking is supposed to be good for you. Most of us are aware of the positive health benefits of this low-impact aerobic exercise, from promoting strong heart health to helping manage other issues such as weight, diabetes, and blood pressure. It’s hard to beat a peaceful stroll around the neighborhood in the evening—or a nice walk on the beach or a nature trail. Some of us walk to do short errands on our lunch hour or use our feet and bodies as the fuel to get us to work nearby every day when the weather permits.

Walking is one of the most positive modes of transportation, is free, and has little to no environmental impact. It also fits in with guidelines the Mayo Clinic points to for necessary weekly exercise:

  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise
  • 75 minutes of more strenuous aerobics
  • Combination of both

As pedestrian fatality rates rise at an alarming rate in Florida (and other states) though, the health benefits may be in question near high-traffic areas. How can walking be such a deadly endeavor, and why is the problem just increasing? Almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the US last year, showing 303 deaths occurring in Florida for the first half of 2017, with seniors and children being the most vulnerable. In line with that data, the top five states for pedestrian deaths are responsible for 43 percent of pedestrian fatalities overall, and include Arizona, California, Texas and New York too.

Recent news shows Florida is serious about instituting stronger safety measures such as more education about the issue, improved training for first responders treating pedestrians, and better illumination in areas where there have been pedestrian accidents—especially since they tend to happen more at night.

“Two consecutive years of 6,000 pedestrian deaths is a red flag for all of us in the traffic safety community. These high levels are no longer a blip but unfortunately a sustained trend,” said Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “We can’t afford to let this be the new normal.”

A strong economy and lower gas prices allow for more cars on the road, but unfortunately, that also leads to more traffic accidents. Distracted drivers may also be to blame for more pedestrian deaths, along with the usual reasons like speeding and reckless driving and operating a vehicle while impaired.

If you are a pedestrian, practice defensive measures more than ever! Avoid electronic distractions and be alert to your surroundings, making eye contact with motorists if you are about to cross the road. Seek well-illuminated areas and make yourself as visible as possible with brightly colored clothing or even a reflective vest if walking in the evening. Follow traffic rules (keeping in mind that intersections tend to be most dangerous) and use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible.

Have you or a loved one been injured in a pedestrian accident due to the negligence of others? Call our office 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.

Boating Accidents: The Three Main Causes in Florida

We are drawn to the water for so many reasons—and in so many different places. In Florida alone, there are a multitude of places to go swimming, water skiing, boogie boarding, surfing, fishing, and more.

So many of these activities give us a chance to enjoy saltwater and fresh air, check out wildlife, and take advantage of therapeutic relaxation and fun. Safety is always a priority though around the water, and even more so when boating.

While operating a boat may seem easy enough, there is plenty to know beforehand. You must be fourteen or over to operate such a vessel in Florida, and if you were born after the beginning of 1988, a boating education course is required.

And even if you have been driving a car for years, when you head out on to the water there is a lot to learn. Unfortunately, injuries from boating accidents are all too common in Florida, and in the past few years, fatalities have been on the rise.

With a greater emphasis on safety, it is hoped that this trend can be reversed—and especially as boaters understand the main causes of accidents today:

1. Drinking and boating

Just like drinking and driving, indulging in alcohol while out on the water can lead to tragic consequences, and it is just as illegal if you are over the allowed limit. It is easy to get very relaxed out on the water, and it may sometimes feel like normal life just doesn’t apply as you bask in the sunshine, rocked along in the waves.

However, your body can be strongly affected by alcohol after a long day in the hot and humid weather, affecting your ability to make good judgment calls and arrive home safely.

2. Speeding and ignoring basic boating safety rules

If you are operating the boat, make sure to drive at a speed comfortable for you and your passengers, and slow down at appropriate times like turning. Take extra caution when waves are choppy, or weather conditions are poor or deteriorating. Boating in less than ideal conditions could cause your boat to capsize.

Keep the required number of life jackets on board for the size of your party, with children under six keeping them on when riding in a smaller boat. Even if everyone in your boating party can swim.

3. Ignoring boat maintenance

Along with basic care like changing the engine oil and making sure fuel levels are sufficient, always check the propeller before leaving the dock. Make sure the engine and bilge are in good shape, and check all peripheral items such as the lights, horn, fire extinguisher, anchor, radio, and more.

Getting stranded out on the water can lead to catastrophic results—when issues causing such a problem could have been easily diagnosed or prevented before leaving.

Have you or a loved one been injured in a boating accident due to the negligence of others? Call our office 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.

Floridians: Five Ways to Avoid Bicycle Accidents

People travel from all over the world—all times of the year—to bask in the Florida sunshine and enjoy a wide range of fun outdoor activities. Bicycling offers healthy recreation for the whole family, often including even the youngest family members—from tots riding in attached mini-trailers or mounted seats to school-age children who may have shed the training wheels a while ago. And whether you are on vacation or enjoying an area you have lived in for years (gasp, you might even be one of those rare natives!), it is obvious that many Florida roads can be busy, and even slightly treacherous for crossing.

The scene may look innocuous enough as you head out on a quite Sunday morning, but even with its quiet beauty and distinction for idyllic vacationing and living, Florida has reached an all-time high for bicycle crashes and deaths. Experts theorize that more cars on the roads today are the reason for so many accidents and deaths, to include that of pedestrians also. The bottom line is that you and your loved ones are vulnerable in traffic, riding lightweight bikes amidst countless vehicles that on average weigh over 4,000 pounds.

Here are five ways to avoid injury in a cycling accident:

  1. Wear a helmet! While this is especially important for young children who are prone to even worse repercussions from a concussion or traumatic brain injury, cyclists of all ages should protect themselves from the potential of catastrophic head injuries. Before purchasing a helmet, make sure it is US Department of Transportation approved.
  2. Maintain your equipment properly. Having a blowout with a tire bicycle or chain can be dangerous if you are traveling in traffic. Also, make sure you have working tools including a light, bell, or horn.
  3. No matter what time of day you are riding your bike, always wear brightly colored clothing. And although you may be concerned about what type of fashion statement you are making, safety comes first, and neon vests can be extremely effective if you are sharing the road with cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Motorists are used to looking out for cars and trucks—but may have trouble focusing on motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians. Do everything possible to be visible.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings all the time. This is especially important if you are traveling near or in traffic and approaching areas like intersections. Making eye contact before turning or crossing is helpful. Also, be alert to anything or anyone in your path, whether you are on the road or traveling in a designated side area.
  5. Know the traffic rules and follow them—especially when crossing traffic, making turns, and more. Essentially, you should use the same traffic rules that you do when driving—along with employing the proper hand signals.

If you or your child has been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, 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.