Boating Passengers: Avoid Doing These Five Things While on the Water

Boating in Florida can be an enjoyable venture year-round for many outdoorsy water enthusiasts. There are opportunities to catch fish of all kinds, check out wildlife, and enjoy a wide range of activities—including overnight trips and journeys along the Intracoastal Waterway. With all that fun, however, comes a list of safety measures that must be followed to make sure everyone comes back from boating in one piece.

No matter how much experience you may have on the water as a captain or a passenger, avoiding doing these five things while out boating:

  1. Drinking alcohol – although it may be tempting to get out on the water and party, alcohol and the sun are a dangerous mix, not to mention the safety hazards that may arise after judgment is impaired. Carrying a boatful of passengers who have been drinking is a bad idea—and if you are operating the vessel, be aware that it is illegal to drink alcohol while doing so. Too many boating accidents today—and fatalities—include issues with alcohol use.
  2. Overloading the boat – a boat brimming full of passengers is often a recipe for disaster, especially in a smaller boat which may be more susceptible to capsizing due to weather or an unexpected, large wake. Know the boat’s weight capacity and aim to stay under the limit.
  3. Riding in precarious areas of the boat – passengers should be safely seated while the boat is in operation. And although it may be tempting to ride on the bow or near the gunwales, enjoying the breeze—falling overboard and even possibly drowning is not worth it. All it takes is one sudden stop for the boat to hit an obstacle—or a large wake—and passengers may find themselves injured or in the water suddenly.
  4. Going without a life jacket – if you are a weak swimmer or do not know how to swim at all, putting on a life jacket at the dock and keeping it on until you hit shore is an extremely smart idea. By Florida law, children six and under must wear life jackets while on any boat under 26 feet.
  5. Failing to listen to the captain of the boat – many passengers are inexperienced, which makes this safety rule even more important. The captain may need passengers to go to the cabin if there is a storm or may need to issue other instructions depending on the area and conditions. The captain may also need help performing routine tasks or taking safety precautions while underway.

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


Traffic Accidents: Motorists Must Get Better About Sharing the Road

If you travel major roads or highways daily, it can be hard to get to work or home without driving by a car accident—whether it is a fender bender or a major crash. Of course, the situation becomes much more personal if you or a loved one are involved in a car accident due to the negligence of others, with the possibility of broken bones, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, or other serious issues. All too often, fatalities are an unfortunate result of traffic accidents too—along with instances of injury and death for motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Traffic fatalities have been at unfortunate highs for years now, and as infrastructure experts scramble to figure out why this is the case despite evolution in safety features for cars and so much more public knowledge, they usually come down to the same conclusions—and distracted drivers top the list. The temptation of looking at the smartphone while driving seems to have taken over the roads, along with a growing number of other distractions, from the GPS and the stereo to more typical no-no’s like grooming and applying lipstick or mascara while driving. Distracted driving, along with drowsy driving, drunk driving, speeding, and other reckless behaviors are responsible for thousands of crashes every day, along with causing fatalities to those traveling on two wheels and or on foot.

Not sharing the road patiently—or enthusiastically—is another major issue for motorists; for example, they may feel resentful about the bicyclist traveling in front of them in a traffic lane when they are in a hurry. Or they simply may not understand that it is completely legal for bicyclists to be on the road too, as technically they are just another vehicle. Sometimes an adversarial relationship may develop on the road very quickly between those biking and those driving, leading to dangerous consequences resulting from aggressive driving or complete road rage. Bicyclists or pedestrians barely stand a chance against a 4,000-pound car, and there have been common instances where motorists have yelled at them in frustration over being slowed down or have even thrown items at them from car windows.

No matter your mode of travel, it is critical to give the roads your full attention while on the move—along with practicing tolerance and patience for everyone else who has a legal right to be there.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, pedestrian accident or car wreck 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.

 


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in Children

Complex regional pain syndrome lives up to every word in its name. Not only is it unusually complicated, but it is rare and hard to diagnose, and leads many to wonder how a condition often so severe could develop out of something which seemed so minor initially. Type 1 is the form of CRPS affecting 90 percent of patients after some sort of trauma, while Type 2 is rarer and develops from a direct nerve injury.

The condition only affects around 200,000 people in the US to begin with, with women more often having CRPS. So far, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are no children documented with CRPS under the age of five—and few under the age of ten. There tends to be a ‘peak age’ of 40, but for children who are suffering from CRPS, they tend to have complications due to missing school, missing activities, and feeling alone. There may also be a significant gap between the time that they start feeling symptoms from CRPS and the time that it is diagnosed, due to a lack of specific tests for the condition.

No matter their age, as Type 1 develops, the affected individual may be confused and surprised to find out they have CRPS. It can be hard to understand how an injury that healed fairly easily already has re-emerged as a chronic and very painful condition. Car accidents or motorcycle crashes that caused broken bones or sprains are often a trigger, as well as surgeries or even a mild stroke or other health issue.

Symptoms may transform the skin, leading to a wide array of issues such as overwhelming sensitivity and pain, discoloration at the site, and strange and uncomfortable ranges of temperature from hot, to cold, to clammy. Muscle spasms may occur, and those with CRPS sometimes have challenges with mobility overall, as well as issues with dystonia—where fingers or toes become fixed in an unnatural position. The pain associated with CRPS may be so severe at times that patients become afraid to move and trigger an episode.

A variety of medications may be prescribed for CRPS, to include pain relievers, corticosteroids—as well as prescriptive therapies.

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.

 


Aggressive Drivers Are Added Safety Threat to Motorcyclists

Traveling the roads to get from one destination to another is usually just a minor detail in our day. That can change all too quickly, however, in the case of an accident—and especially a serious one. Traffic accidents continue to rise, and this means that smaller vehicles on the road like motorcycles are at even more risk each time they venture out. One of the greatest safety threats to motorcyclists is other motorists on the road, and especially aggressive drivers.

Unfortunately, road rage and aggressive behaviors exhibited on the road are all too common. Drivers may be in a hurry to get to work, having an overall bad day, or suffering in the summer heat and lashing out. Road rage is often triggered in those who may have anger issues to begin with, and they feel comfortable acting belligerently from the protective confines of their own cars. This is problematic when one motorist begins raging on another—but when a motorcycle is involved, the consequences could be deadly.

Aggressive drivers may yell or gesture from within their cars and honk the horn initially; in fact, many motorists may consider this type of adversarial behavior to be completely normal, almost as if it is part of their driving persona. When the situation escalates to driving erratically to punish or chase another driver, the safety of a motorcyclist could be deeply threatened as they are pushed off the road, into guardrails, or into oncoming traffic.

The average car weighs over 4,000 pounds in comparison to a motorcycle weighing 400 to 500 pounds on average. A lot of damage can be done—and especially in an accident carried out deliberately by an enraged driver. In a motorcycle crash, the motorcyclists are prone to much more serious harm to include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (hopefully prevented by a helmet)
  • Spinal cord and neck injuries and even paralysis
  • Broken bones (especially broken legs due to bikes falling on the motorcyclists)
  • Road rash and other burns and contusions
  • Facial fractures
  • Fatality

These types of incidents can be particularly dangerous for more inexperienced motorcyclists too, as they may have trouble maneuvering in normal situations, much less handling an aggressive situation. Everyone on the road must remember to drive as defensively as possible, keeping in mind that all vehicles have a right to be there.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, pedestrian accident or car wreck 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.


Motorcycle Fatalities: Is Florida’s Year-Round Good Weather to Blame?

Overall, Florida has so much going for it as a state—evidenced by the millions of tourists who flock to the south for a wide range of different attractions, as well as so many who decide to retire there–but it is also becoming infamous for traffic problems and motorcycle fatalities. We’ve got some of the most famous amusement parks in the world, along with the best boating, fishing, and access to protected areas like the Everglades. Great restaurants, shopping, and world-class beaches abound.

Along with the continual influx of people visiting comes high volumes of traffic, which means increased accidents—and fatalities—whether they are car accidents, motorcycle crashes, or pedestrian or bicycle accidents. Unfortunately, such incidents just continue to rise in all areas, meaning that drivers must be more careful than ever on the roads. Motorcyclists must be incredibly defensive while traveling, no matter where they are, but with accidents (and deaths) continuing to trend upward, they must be even more diligent about watching out for what can be their greatest threat on the roads today: motorists.

The motorcyclist is much more vulnerable in traffic, traveling on what is usually a fairly lightweight vehicle in comparison to the average car. After a collision, broken legs and trauma to other limbs are common, along with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and more. In an effort to curb accidents and deaths, experts continue to investigate why there would be an increase—especially with better safety devices in cars today and so much more public knowledge about the dangers of distracted and drunken driving, speeding, and other reckless behaviors.

And while all those behaviors still continue to top the list for the reasons why accidents continue to occur and increase, other more difficult-to-curb factors may be to blame. As the population of Florida continues to grow, there are more motorists on the road and that leads to more problems; however, the outdoorsy nature of Florida’s residents and visitors—combined with the famously good weather of the Sunshine State—means there is more time to be spent on the roads during the day and night. Even if it may not be sunny all the time, the subtropical climate is enticing to those who enjoy motorcycling and other outdoor activities.

If you are a motorcyclist, no matter the state, always be sure that you are visible to others on the road. Shift in lanes appropriately so you avoid getting into blind spots and make eye contact with motorists making left turns at intersections whenever possible. Always be alert, and wary of other drivers.

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.


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Causes

Unless you know someone suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or have it yourself, chances are you may be unaware that the condition even exists. Characterized by a wide range of unusual symptoms, Type 1 (also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome or RSD) is often a condition that takes the patient by surprise. They may have been in a car crash, motorcycle accident, or another incident, and experienced a sprain or broken bone that already healed by the time CRPS symptoms arose. They may have also had a major surgery like an amputation or even just a minor procedure in a doctor’s office that triggered Type 1.

Type 2 CRPS (also known as causalgia) is usually brought on by direct nerve damage. Although the symptoms may be the same for both types, this form usually stays within the area that was affected at the time of nerve damage. Both Type 1 and Type 2 can be managed better for most patients if medical professionals are able to make a rapid diagnosis, but unfortunately that is not always so easy. There aren’t any specific tests for CRPS, but medical professionals may use a combination of tools to rule out the condition. They may examine an MRI or CT scan first, along with bone scans, looking for tissue changes. Doctors may also perform nerve system tests meant to gauge temperature and blood flow.

Symptoms often include changes to the skin, including discoloration and transformation in texture. Swelling and sensitivity are common, along with ongoing temperature changes from hot to cold to clammy or sweaty. Muscle spasms, weakness, issues with coordination, and more may occur, but the main symptom almost all patients have in common is pain. Depending on severity, it may be treated with something as simple as over-the-counter pain relievers. If something stronger is necessary, doctors may prescribe opioids, along with other medications to alleviate symptoms such as anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, nerve blockers, and more.

There are also numerous therapies available for CRPS. Physical therapy is often prescribed, along with heat therapy and other alternative forms such as mirror therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, biofeedback, and more.

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.

 


Motorcyclist Licensing: Understand the Requirements in Florida

While Florida may top the list in the country for accidents, to include cars, motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and boats too, the beauty of the state itself and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors continues to draw a growing population; in fact, Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the country today, with cities such as Tampa and Orlando exhibiting massive gains in new residents. More people means more traffic (and also, unfortunately, more accidents)—along with an influx of drivers looking into new licensing and registration.

For motorcyclists entering Florida or for residents just purchasing a bike, know what you will need in terms of pre-licensing education, licenses, and more. If you have just moved into the state, most likely you can look forward to skipping another driver’s course or having to take a test; however, that only applies if you come into Florida with a license/endorsement that is still valid. All you will need is your old license, and documents proving you are now a resident.

If you are a Florida driver with a FL Class E license (this is the basic non-commercial drivers license) adding a motorcycle onto your license as an endorsement, you are required by the State of Florida to complete an MSF Basic Rider Course. If you are over 18 and want a Motorcycle Only driver’s license, you must either already have a valid driver’s license or proceed to take the written knowledge exams, an MSF Basic Rider Course, and vision test. If you are a motorcyclist under 18 (with 16 being the youngest age you can apply), the State of Florida requires you to have a driver’s license for a minimum of one year with no moving violations.

Once you are out on the roads enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, remember that it is more important than ever to drive defensively, always watching for other motorists. Be visible by wearing bright colors and shifting in lanes when necessary, along with taking extra precautions at intersections by revving the engine, making sure your lights are on, and making eye contact with other drivers before turning.

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.


Hit and Run Accidents Continue to Increase

It is all too easy to forget about traffic dangers when we set out confidently to work each day (or sometimes just on autopilot), commuting back and forth—often in heavy traffic—and then driving to numerous destinations later in the day, whether to pick up children from activities, hit the grocery store, or swing by the pharmacy and pick up prescriptions. Statistics show traffic fatalities hitting staggering new highs though, and this includes pedestrian and bicyclist accidents and deaths too. When you get behind the wheel, you should always be wary of other drivers—and especially those who may be so distracted that they cannot keep their eyes on the road.

One small smartphone in the hands of a distracted driver can be the catalyst for a catastrophic accident; in fact, data from the CDC states that every day, around 9 drivers are killed in the US due to distracted driving—and over 1,000 are injured in car crashes. Although some may escape with minor injuries, car crashes can leave those involved suffering from traumatic brain injuries, serious spinal injuries, and sprains or broken bones that may even be responsible for triggering CRPS later.

Recent news shows that hit and run accidents are continuing to increase in the US too, showing a staggering 62 percent increase from 2009-2016, with 2049 people killed by hit and run in 2016.

“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Information from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study also showed that 65 percent of the hit and run accidents involved those who were traveling on foot or bicycle. New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida were the states responsible for the most deaths, and most hit and run accidents were shown to happen during late/early hours: from midnight to 4 a.m. (The study also showed that the least amount of hit and run accidents occurred in the states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota.)

“It is every driver’s legal and moral responsibility to take necessary precautions to avoid hitting a pedestrian, bicyclist or another vehicle,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA State Relations Director.

Have you or a loved one been injured in a car 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.


The Long-Term Effects of a Car Accident

The long-term effects of a car accident can be far-reaching and profound. In addition to physical challenges, injuries can also result in emotional and physiological trauma.

Below, the Florida car accident attorneys at Heintz & Becker discuss the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of a car accident and what victims can do to ensure long-term relief.

Physical Injuries

While some physical injuries heal over time, it doesn’t mean the body will be the same as it was before the accident. For many crash victims, there are long-term changes in mobility.

Soft tissue injuries, like sprains or tears to ligaments and tendons, can take weeks or months to heal depending on the age and health of the patient.

Whiplash is a common soft tissue injury among car accident victims, but it’s often brushed off as minor when that’s not always the case.

Car accident victims should always seek medical attention, even if the injury doesn’t pose an immediate concern. Without proper treatment, a minor injury can produce significant long-term effects.

Head injuries are another common crash injury that, depending on severity, can take months to heal and still result in long-term challenges for the victim.

For example, crash victims who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be more susceptible to further brain damage in the future (i.e., increased risk of seizure or stroke, advanced brain cell degradation, Alzheimer’s).

The long-term effects of brain injury can include a lengthy list of life-altering symptoms such as:

As you can see, even though many physical injuries heal over time, some will result in long-term challenges that can alter a victim’s enjoyment of life, ability to work, maintain relationships, and so on.

Emotional & Psychological Injuries

Not every injury after a car accident is visible. Emotional and psychological injuries, for example, can’t be seen but can impact a victim’s life in far-reaching ways.

Emotional distress resulting from an accident can have long-term effects on victims, with or without the presence of a significant physical injury.

Emotional injuries following a car accident might include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

Psychological injuries can also result in long-term implications for car accident victims.

Examples of psychological injuries might include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), stress-induced chronic pain, or pathophysiological effects in the brain and central nervous system (typically a result of TBI).

Psychological injuries can create disabilities that impact leisure activities, work performance, and home life. Although these injuries can’t be seen explicitly, they have a significant impact on a victim’s life.

Compensation for Post-Accident Injuries

Florida does not currently have damage caps for standard personal injury cases. In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled financial limits for noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.) were unconstitutional, even in medical malpractice cases.

For victims, this means comprehensive compensation is available to cover damages that result from an accident, including the emotional and psychological injuries that can’t be seen.

Victims should seek legal representation that strives to uncover the true extent of damage before entertaining settlement negotiations. This allows your attorney to get to know you—and not just the injured you, but the person you were before the injury occurred.

If crash injuries prohibit a victim from enjoying leisure activities or the work they once loved, an experienced Florida injury attorney can help secure comprehensive compensation to mitigate the long-term ramifications of the accident or injury. 

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Boating Safety: Know What to Do in the Event of Capsizing

Whether you are a continually returning visitor or a resident, you have probably enjoyed boating in Florida at least once or twice. The beaches, bays, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean are all very alluring—and it can be hard to turn down a day of cruising, along with so many different activities that accompany boating like skiing, wake surfing, fishing, and more. With around 12 million recreational vessels registered in the US—and usually just under one million of those registered to boat owners in Florida—the waterways are busy.

Amidst all the fun to be had in the boat—and in the water—safety hazards abound. And although many issues can be easily warded off with a comprehensive checklist to be followed before each trip, some accidents occur due to conditions on the water or the captain’s error. The most common boating accidents happen due to carelessness (for example, the boat plug—an essential item—may be left out), excessive speeds, alcohol or drug use, weather issues, and large waves or wakes that can cause a boat to capsize.

Capsizing leads to a complete loss of control for those in the boat, and usually means being tossed in the water. Because of that, it is one of the most nightmarish scenarios. To avoid capsizing, there are numerous safety measures you can take:

  • Don’t overload your boat with people.
  • Prohibit passengers from riding on the bow, sides of the boat, on tops of seats, or other areas where they would be situated precariously.
  • Make sure weight is balanced evenly in the boat.
  • Avoiding speeding when making turns.

If you find yourself in such a situation, however, there are several important steps to remember:

  • Once you come up for air, be sure to grab on to something for flotation if you are not already wearing a life vest.
  • Do a headcount and try to account for all passengers, as well as tossing them a flotation device if possible.
  • Try to climb back on board the boat if it is still floating or available enough to hold onto for safety, even if just temporarily.
  • Focus on treading water or floating if you do not have a life jacket and the boat has floated away. Look for anything possible to hold onto.

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


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