Parents: Brush Up on Traffic Laws to Teach Your Children Bicycle Safety

Bicycling: what could be better than enjoying the fresh air together as a family? Heading out to get some exercise on two wheels is usually a highly recommended activity whether as a solitary venture, or whether you branch out into a group or travel with your partner and children. Although you probably often see families on the road—and even parents biking with babies being towed behind in little buggies—do not be fooled. There has usually been great thought and attention to safety ahead of time.

Florida has also been noted (unfortunately) for increased fatalities, to the point of being referred to as a ‘killing field’ for bicyclists in recent years. On the flip side, in the right environment, bicycling can be phenomenal for your health, helping to build muscle and bone, promoting better heart and lung health, and burning enormous amounts of calories. For the younger riders, though there is usually a period of time before the training wheels come off, and they must be duly educated regarding traffic rules; in fact, one of the interesting parts of learning to bicycle is that you must know as much about riding in traffic as an experienced adult driver. You may find your child asking questions about some signs and rules that you don’t think about much—and it may even be helpful to get a book or video about understanding what it means to become the operator of a ‘vehicle,’ which you technically are when you ride a bike.

If your child is going to be biking to school unsupervised, there are specific details that should be covered such as dealing with directions, and the possibility of taking that big ‘step’ in crossing the highway. In more recreational situations, while your children should understand how to follow all traffic rules, they must also understand and be prepared with basic safety measures.

Your child’s bicycle should be properly maintained so they have a good foundation to start. Tires should be full and holding air, the chain properly greased, and the brakes working like a charm. The bike should be equipped with a bell or horn, and if there is a possibility that your child will be riding at dusk, they should have functional lights. And while it is not recommended for a younger child to be riding in the dark, if your older child might be—or if that is the case for you—make sure you have as much lighting as possible, and reflectors. These can be applied to the bicycle, as well as your helmet and even clothing and shoes (another great tip for pedestrians to keep in mind too, minus the helmet). While explaining traffic laws to your child, you may want to brush up on the rules, signs, and signals here.

If you or a loved one 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.

Please Be Careful as a Pedestrian at Night—Dark Clothing is a Bad Idea

While any mode of travel has undeniable dangers, you probably don’t worry too much about traveling on foot; after all, you are getting great exercise—building muscle, working your heart, and burning calories—and there is the perception that you can control your participation in and proximity to traffic. Unfortunately, fatalities continue to rise for those on foot. Florida is considered to be the most deadly state for pedestrians, meaning you must be extremely careful when walking—whether making that short commute through traffic, exercising, window shopping, or enjoying any type of pedestrian activities.

The most important step you can take is to stay visible. While you may not be considering safety when you make your fashion choice for heading outside, keep in mind that if you are walking at night, wearing dark clothing is a very bad choice. Without any type of bright colors or reflectors, you may be completely invisible to a car or a large truck.

Other tips:

  • When walking at night, seek out brightly lit areas. Many fatalities occur in rural pedestrian areas that have insufficient illumination.
  • Always walk with a flashlight at night. This is not only a great way to see your path, but also to be seen.
  • Be very careful at crosswalks. Even cars that travel these areas every day may forget to slow down, causing fatal accidents or severe injuries. Assume they are not watching out for you.
  • Make eye contact with vehicles before you cross or turn. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you are indeed being seen.
  • Remember that you also are beholden to traffic rules, even when on foot.

Recent news coverage shows data stating that pedestrian deaths increased by a staggering 35.7 percent between 2008 and 2017—with over 49,000 people dying.

“It’s the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of people dying every single month,” the report says, noting that if 5,000 Americans per year died in plane crashes, air traffic would come to a halt until safety solutions were implemented. “Unlike traffic fatalities for motor vehicle occupants, which decreased 6.1 percent between 2008 and 2017, pedestrian deaths have been steadily increasing since 2009.”

If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian 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.

Truck Accidents: Rear-endings Can Be Catastrophic

While we must all share the road equally, the reality is that larger vehicles on the road can do much more harm to the smaller ones. Other motorists, motorcyclists, and travelers are often responsible for accidents too and may have been negligent due to distracted driving, drunk driving, being drowsy, or just in a hurry, but when a truck driver is at fault, the results can be catastrophic—and that is why they must never forget the incredible responsibility they have to practice extreme diligence on the roads and watch out for others. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and it begins with the trucking company.

Large corporations are usually responsible for hiring well-trained, experienced truck drivers, but still some individuals may slip through the cracks with poor driving records, or they may have bent the rules and drove too long and became drowsy, or they may simply have failed to pay attention, causing a rear end collision (this is the most common reason). Most of us would like to think that truckers and the companies who hire them are looking out for everyone else on the road, but sadly there are many cases where they falsify records so that drivers can stay on the road longer (and illegally), or out of desperation when the workload is heavy, they may hire drivers who have inferior records and may have even caused serious accidents before.

While one motorist hitting another from behind could result in a car crash and serious injury, there is much greater chance of the incident resulting in a mild fender bender; in fact, there may be no damage at all, and a police report may not be filed since there is nothing to discuss further. In a truck accident, however, there is the potential for extreme property damage and extreme physical harm. Injuries such as whiplash and general cuts and contusions are expected in a minor car accident, but with a truck accident the motorist or even everyone involved could be killed. More serious injuries may include traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, paralysis, amputations of arms or legs, multiple fractures, and other serious issues that could be long term.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver or trucking company, 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.

 

Product Liability: What You Don’t Know May Hurt You

There have been a number of high-dollar verdicts in product liability lawsuits recently, including:

Roundup (Monsanto)

The popular weed killer made by Monsanto has been the subject of a number of lawsuits alleging the product’s main ingredient — glyphosate — causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Earlier this month, a California jury awarded a couple more than $2 billion for their Roundup claim.  In March 2019, another California jury awarded $80 million to a Sonoma County man who blamed the herbicide for his cancer, and in August 2018, a California groundskeeper was awarded $289 million (since reduced to $78 million by a judge).  There are currently more than 13,000 lawsuits pending against Monsanto.

Talcum Powder (Johnson & Johnson)

Currently, there are more than 14,200 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of talc-based products Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower Body Powder. Research over the past 50 years has shown a potential link between talc and the development of ovarian cancer in women.  Recent news reports have indicated that J&J also knew of the presence of asbestos in their talc products, which has also been linked to diagnoses of mesothelioma.

There have been several verdicts to date against J&J, including a July 2018 award of $4.69 billion to 22 women with ovarian cancer ($213.2 million per victim) in a Missouri trial.  Five other verdicts for plaintiffs have totaled more than $724 million.

IVC filter (Cook Medical Inc., C.R. Bard, Inc.)

Surgically implanted into the inferior vena cava vein of the heart, IVC filters are used to prevent blood clots from reaching a patient’s heart or lungs.  Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by patients claiming their IVC filters failed, causing organ damage, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and additional complications.

Grounds for Product Liability Claims

Product liability laws exist to protect consumers, and require manufacturers to pay for injuries caused by a defective or hazardous product.  A product liability lawsuit can be based on:

Negligence.  If a manufacturer does not exercise reasonable care in the design, manufacture, or distribution of a product, they could be held liable.

Breach of Warranty.  When product warranties are breached, an injured party may be able to recover damages that occurred as a result of the breach.

Strict Products Liability.  With a strict liability claim, you must prove that the product was defective, that the defect existed before the product was released, and that the defect caused you harm or injury.  Cases that fall into this category are usually due to design defects, manufacturing defects or failure to warn.

Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit in Florida

In order to prevail in a product liability claim, you must show:

  • You suffered an injury or incurred monetary losses.
  • The product that caused your injury was defective, either in the manufacture or design of the product or because of a failure to warn of potentially serious side effects.
  • The product defect was responsible for your injury or loss.
  • You used the product as specified by the manufacturer.

What is Your Case Worth?

This can be difficult to answer since every case is different and there is no guarantee as to how any individual case will resolve.  Generally, personal injury plaintiffs are entitled to recover damages for:

  • Medical expenses and lost wages
  • Future medical care or required home care
  • Lost earning potential (if you are disabled)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Inability to function as a whole person
  • Disfigurement, deformity and permanency of injury

If you think you may have a cause of action for a product liability lawsuit, we can inform you of your options.  We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their injuries. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

2019 Heintz and Becker Seafood Festival Raised Money for Charity

Everyone enjoyed sharing food, fun, and family time at the annual Heintz & Becker De Soto Seafood Fest, held from April 5-7, 2019 on 6th Street in Palmetto this year. The event is sponsored by our firm every year—and is considered one of Florida’s finest festivals, with thousands attending at Sutton Park in downtown Palmetto.

Along with enjoying great seafood and other local fare from some of the best restaurants and vendors in the area, spectacular live music was available to all – especially from country music star Craig Morgan rocking the stage as the headliner, and our very own Attorney David Becker’s band, Klick, that followed the next day, along with an awesome lineup of other musical choices.

Admission was free all weekend, and there was also a Kid’s Zone available for the younger set, thanks to our amazing sponsor, NEXTGEN family magazine. Most importantly, we were able to continue raising money for charity—and look forward to doing so again in 2020. See you then!

 

~ Thank you ~

Motorcyclists Have the Same Rights as Motorists: Practice Courtesy on the Road

Motorcyclists have the best of all worlds—and the worst—while traveling on today’s highways. Whether you ride a motorcycle or not, some of the benefits are obvious; for instance, while protective gear is meant to be exactly that, it also lends a certain air of cool to those riding the roads and highways on two wheels—not to mention the willingness to eschew the conventional car and all the comforts it has to offer. Riding a motorcycle also offers a wide range of health benefits. This type of activity is not for the weak though, and every workout makes the motorcyclist stronger, working the entire core and the rest of the body too.

Unfortunately, motorcycling isn’t always just about fresh air and a friendly atmosphere out on the road. Drivers are often stressed about getting to their destination on time, and some may be irritable in general. This can lead to an accepted attitude of quasi-belligerence on the road, rather than the opposite, and what is much needed: courtesy. When traveling the roads today, it is critical not only that you follow road signs and signals, but also treat everyone with the same amount of respect. Cars may rule the roads in terms of numbers, but everyone has the right to be there.

As much as motorcyclists may be admired for their seemingly carefree demeanor, they also receive equal amounts of stereotyping and negative behavior toward them while riding with the masses of conventional cars and trucks. Practice common sense and basic good manners on the road to keep everyone safe, and when motorcycles are in your midst, follow these tips:

Always doublecheck your blind spots – while this is always important, motorcyclists can be difficult to see as they are smaller and may shift in their lanes.

  • Watch those lane changes – always use your signal, check your blind spots, and be careful to avoid colliding with a motorcyclist.
  • Be extra careful when turning – this is when many accidents occur, and travelers who are in a hurry or used to traveling the same path every day may not look closely and notice a smaller vehicle. This goes for pedestrians and bicyclists too, as fatalities are on the increase for those groups in traffic as well.
  • Practice caution at intersections – those left turns are known to be the most dangerous for travelers like motorcyclists. While they should work to be as visible as possible, remember that this is one of the hotspots for accidents and extremely defensive driving should be exercised by all.

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.

When the Insurance Adjuster Asks You for a Tape-Recorded Interview

If you have had to file an insurance claim recently, chances are you have been through a difficult, and possibly traumatic, experience. While some cases are cut and dry and claims may be paid out easily, others involve the need for skilled legal help and may end up in a settlement or the courtroom. Car wrecks are a good example of what can go right—or wrong—when there is a significant claim. If you were struck by a negligent driver, you may have been seriously injured, forced even to spend time in the hospital, undergo physical therapy, and experience a long period of recuperation.

Some cases may result in absolutely nothing from the insurance company—no calls, no requests for records—while others may cause such an immediate flurry of calls that you are startled and a bit confused regarding what to say about the ordeal. You may be tired and in pain, and certainly not be in the mood to speak with an adjuster, and that is just fine, because if you were injured due to the negligence of another and there is a possible case, you should be referring the adjuster to your car accident attorney for all communications.

Car accidents may result in a wide range of injuries, from traumatic brain injury to paralysis, to fractured limbs, and so much more. You could be debilitated temporarily or permanently, and unable to work. Your finances may be substantially affected, and you may be owed a large settlement to compensate you for property damage and physical injury. Keep in mind that the insurance adjuster is calling to collect information and then undoubtedly, pay out as little to you as possible!

While they may ask for the basics about the accident and win you over with a friendly, charismatic manner, soon they will move on to asking for police reports, medical records—and they may even ask to record your conversation. Regarding all these issues, just keep referring them to your attorney. Going up against an insurer on your own is not a challenge you want to take on under any circumstance. Insurance adjusters may have a much different attitude when speaking with an attorney, and especially in discussing a settlement.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car 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.

Five Safety Rules for Carrying a Passenger on Your Motorcycle

Today, there over 500,000 motorcycles registered in the state of Florida—and it is easy to see why so many enthusiasts would want to ride unfettered from the constrictions of a car or truck, enjoying the fresh air on back roads and by-ways, and in many areas, spectacular landscapes. Next to California, Florida has the second highest number of registered motorcycles, and if you are a native or frequent visitor, then you probably understand why. Unfortunately, greater numbers of motorcycles on the road (and cars, and bicyclists, and pedestrians) means greater chances of having an accident. While the health benefits of motorcycling may be great—from that total core body workout every time you ride, to the spiritual uplift and the sense of camaraderie with so many others—safety must come first.

As a motorcyclist, you must always remember to remain visible, wearing bright clothing when possible (and if you have a brightly painted bike, even better). If you can attach neon reflectors to your helmet, boots, bike, and anywhere else, you will be that much safer when traveling at night, along with adding extra lights. The key is to be seen by motorists, as well as heard, which can be accomplished by revving your engine at stoplights and intersections. Protective gear is vital to avoiding road rash and other injury—especially traumatic brain injuries or facial fractures with the protection of a motorcycle helmet.

Like many motorcyclists, you may want to share the joy with a partner—or just need to give someone a ride from time to time. Added safety measures should be taken such as:

  1. Making sure your motorcycle can handle both your weight and that of a passenger also, especially if you plan to ride together often
  2. Providing protective gear for your passenger, such as a helmet.
  3. Knowing how to balance properly as they get on the bike—this can be trickier than it seems.
  4. Making sure the passenger knows to grip on to you tightly from behind so the two of you are not jostling about when coming to an abrupt stop, going around curves, and more.
  5. Instructing passengers on how to maneuver their weight as you make turns and other maneuvers. This is one of the most important aspects of carrying a passenger, as their natural inclination to lean in the opposite direction as you turn could cause an accident.

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.

Too Many Bicyclists Die in Florida Each Year—and The Problem is Not New

Do you remember your first bike ride? Most of us have a faint shadow of a memory of the training wheels being removed (finally) and a parent running along beside us. Some of us were successful in that first ride—while some of us wiped out fast and usually got a little scraped up. If you ride a bike at any age, chances are you will have more than one spill. Whether you end up in the grass, on the concrete, or flying head-first over the handlebars, the hope is that you will be wearing protective gear and not experience any serious injury. This could be out of your control, however, if you are at the mercy of a motorist who may be distracted by their smartphone, busy eating food and beverages, engaging with passengers, or fiddling with a GPS calling out directions. Reckless motorists could also be extremely unpredictable if they are drowsy or drunk while behind the wheel.

Florida is particularly hazardous for bicyclists, with news reports pointing out that Tampa Bay—and Pinellas County specifically—is the most dangerous area in the nation for bicycling. Just as with so many major issues regarding traffic incidents, experts have not pinpointed one exact reason for this geographical detail affecting residents and visitors to Florida. Bicyclist fatality rates have been rising since 2010 though for Florida, a state that has far outpaced such issues in other states at 56 percent higher than other states like California or Texas. There was a downturn in fatalities last year, and while infrastructure analysts hope that will continue, they must look at the issues causing deaths.

Infrastructure itself may be the issue in many cases as there is not proper illumination at night on roads or crosswalks. Many bicycle and pedestrian accidents occur at night too, on roadsides in rural areas. A larger population of senior drivers may be contributing to these statistics, as well as the considerable number of tourists who are on the roads year-round. Florida, the ‘Sunshine State,’ is also known for great weather and mild seasons, leading more people to bicycle for twelve months out of the year, taking in warmth, fresh air, and hoping to enjoy all the benefits of getting exercise on two wheels. This could result in exactly the opposite effect however, due to negligent drivers.

If you or a loved one 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.