Relaxed Marijuana Laws—and Drivers–May Lead to More Accidents

Driving while high on marijuana comes with all the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug. And although it may be difficult to detect, law enforcement officials are becoming much more well-trained in methods for dealing with stoned drivers. It may now be legal for medical marijuana users to ingest cannabis if they suffer from debilitating illnesses, but it is not okay for them to drive while high under any circumstances.

The public perception—and this is growing around the US—is that marijuana in all its many forms is becoming more acceptable to use daily. This may lead more drivers who are users to hop in their cars and drive while high than ever before as they are led to believe, erroneously, that they have more control than they would if they had been imbibing in alcohol. They may have been drinking too, which makes the situation even worse. States like Colorado have established state laws for legal amounts of THC in the blood, but law enforcement officials overall are simply having to become much more adept at recognizing the signs as they pull drivers over, often for other offenses too other than the typical weaving in lanes.

While drivers who are high may not be three sheets to the wind (or appear so, anyway), after smoking marijuana in comparison to drinking, their reflexes may be impaired, and they may be inclined to take dangerous risks that they would not ordinarily take, endangering everyone’s lives on the roads. In recent news, David Harkey of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute points out that there are definitely risks in operating a vehicle after smoking marijuana, and there are even greater concerns without a simple way to test for THC in the blood.

“It’s certainly early in the game,” Harkey told NBC News. But in a recent interview he also warned, “We’re seeing a trend in the wrong direction.”

Recent studies by the IIHS have demonstrated that states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington with legalized recreational marijuana are showing an increase of car crashes up to six percent.

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.

 


Road Construction Areas Can Lead to Serious Auto Accidents & Injuries

As a resident or visitor to Florida—along with many other states—you may be so used to driving through road construction that you barely even notice it anymore. Still, however, following the reduced speed signs and warnings, and slowing to navigate through areas with guard rails and orange cones is vital to your safety, along with that of road construction workers, and other motorists. It may be a major inconvenience and you may not even see the need for it in some cases, but it is happening, so you must follow the rules regardless.

Significant road construction projects are gearing up all over Florida, leaving many motorists both frustrated, bored, tired, and angry; no one wants to sit on the highway endlessly stuck in traffic, and we all have places to be, but these areas are prone to more peril for motorists than others. Traffic is usually heavy in these areas, and even with a multitude of slow-moving traffic jams, accidents are frequently caused due to carelessness of other drivers, along with infrastructure issues such as temporary guarding rails or traffic cones that are built or placed improperly, or with lanes poorly painted.

Causing motorists to come to a sudden stop in road construction areas, forgetting to put up appropriate signage, or forcing drivers into unreasonably narrow lanes can lead to accidents from moderate to severe. Construction equipment may be left jutting out into traffic too, making it difficult to navigate through such areas—made exponentially worse by bad weather. Most importantly though, government workers or those contracted to work on the roads are responsible for your safety and must be vigilant while on the roads, as motorists should be too.

Traffic incidents leading to injuries and even deaths can affect motorists, truck drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Serious concussions, traumatic brain and spinal injuries, sprains and breaks, internal bleeding, and more may be the result of any type of traffic accident, also leading to the inability to work whether for a short time or forever. Unfortunately, Florida is already one of the leading states for car accidents, and especially bicycling and pedestrian incidents—including fatalities.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident due to the negligence of a truck 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


Were You in a Car Crash Involving a Semi?

Any type of car accident can be devastating, leading to catastrophic injuries and even death as heavy vehicles have the potential to spin out of control. This is even more disastrous in the case of an accident between a car and a large truck known as a semi, or semitruck—dubbed so as they are usually pulling a semi-trailer but can also go without (as you have probably seen before on the highway as they travel down the road looking rather stubby without a truck). The average car weighs around 4,000 pounds, while a semi-truck is about 80,000 pounds.

With such a staggering difference in weight, it may surprise you that anyone gets out alive when such vehicles collide—and especially considering the damage that can be done in a typical accident between two similarly-sized cars. Accidents can occur for numerous reasons, but often, truck drivers may be exhausted after days or even weeks of traveling the country. Some may not have been driving for long and inexperience may have resulted in a serious accident, along with a host of other typical issues such as distracted driving (texting or talking while at the wheel), speeding, driving under the influence, ignoring traffic signals, and more.

Contact an experienced attorney from a firm like Heintz & Becker as soon as possible if you have lost a loved one in an accident with a semi or if you have sustained injuries due to the negligence of a truck driver. While injuries may cause you to lose income either temporarily or permanently, you may also be left suffering and adjusting from debilitating pain due to spinal injuries, neck injuries, head and brain injuries, burns, broken limbs, sprains, and more.

Over 100,000 individuals in the US are injured because of truck accidents, with over 6,000 of them occurring in Florida, states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fighting the insurance companies on your own is not a good idea in any case, but especially when it comes to these types of cases as records may be tampered with and they may do everything possible to get out of paying a substantial claim.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident due to the negligence of a truck 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.


Does Your Motorcycle Helmet Pass Muster?

Motorcycles offer a range of benefits to their owners, beginning with the cool factor that has been associated with the biker culture for decades. Revving up the engine and heading out onto the highway on two wheels has been associated with good physical health due to core strengthening, added arm and leg strength, increased use of brain power in constant navigating, as well as enhanced emotional health while enjoying the outdoors, traveling with friends and likeminded souls, and feeling positive about spending less money overall for a trip or that daily commute.

The euphoria that may accompany motorcycling can have a major downside, however, and especially in in the face of a traffic incident—with over 5,000 motorcycle fatalities in the US yearly and a 28 percent greater chance of a motorcyclist fatality in a wreck over someone driving a car. It is vital that safety is on the mind foremost when operating a motorcycle, or any other vehicle (this also goes for pedestrians who must be vigilant, and bicyclists too!), putting aside distractions like the smartphone since issues like texting while driving are the number one cause of accidents today.

Protective gear plays a crucial role in the safety of motorcyclists, as always, beginning with the helmet. And although it is always a controversial topic and helmet laws continue to change—as well as vary from state to state—in Florida, you do not have to wear a helmet over the age of 21 if you are carrying $10,000 of medical payment insurance. This is an integral part of protecting the body though, and highly recommended, along with the proper protective clothing, eye-gear, and boots.

There may not be much point in wearing a helmet unless it is approved by the Department of Transportation (according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218) and sturdy enough to protect your head in the case of a crash. The shell-built helmet is recommended, but it must fit your head properly! Along with the full helmet, there are other popular styles too such as the half shell, modular, or open-face helmets, which should be replaced every few years.

A good helmet is often heavier and should possess a quality liner along with a sturdy chin liner. While motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable in the event of a crash, a helmet may prevent serious issues such as facial fractures and traumatic brain injury, which could even cause coma or death.

If you were in a motorcycle accident, you may not only find yourself having to get used to dealing with minor or major physical and emotional injuries, but you may not be able to go back to work either temporarily or even permanently. This can be devastating to your finances, and you may be owed substantial compensation if you were hurt 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.


Should I Accept a Settlement or Sue?

At Heintz & Becker, our attorneys have decades of experience representing personal injury clients.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in helping clients decide whether to accept or reject a settlement claim.

There are several factors that influence a settlement decision. Below, the legal team at Heintz & Becker explains some factors in more detail so you can make the best possible decision for yourself and your family. Continue reading


Drinking and Bicycling Can Have Fatal Results

Millions of enthusiasts around the US enjoy riding bicycles, whether taking the healthy route for a daily commute, not to mention one that is more affordable, plus better for the environment in avoiding the use of any fuel except for that of human exertion. Bicycling is an activity that can be immensely appreciated whether riding solo or in a group with family and friends, contributing to good heart and lung health as well as burning enormous amounts of calories—all while building stronger bones and muscles.

We have produced numerous blogs about the priority that should be placed on safety for kids on bicycles, whether traveling in a group or on their way to school, but as an adult bicyclist, remember that you have the same responsibilities in traffic that other adult motorists do. This includes refraining from riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And while doing so is generally illegal and dangerous, because bicyclists are so much more vulnerable in traffic, alcohol can not only be the cause of bicycle accidents but allow for results that are further catastrophic—even resulting in fatality.

Ongoing data has shown Florida as first in bicyclist fatalities, and while the numbers may simply be higher due to the good weather in the Sunshine State, extreme caution should be exercised while on the streets and highways which are famous for senior drivers, along with many tourists who may not be familiar with the area and are driving erratically.

“You kind of mush it all together, and it helps us explain as best we can what’s going on out there,” said Pam Fischer, author of a recent report for the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Data shows that alcohol use may play an unfortunate role in bicycle accidents and fatalities in Florida, with a significant number of those involved in crashes exhibiting alcohol levels in their blood at the time of the traffic incidents. Distracted driving (especially texting) continues to be the major cause of accidents in terms of motorist negligence as well. Injuries to bicyclists may include concussions or traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries or paralysis, broken bones, sprains, and more.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others 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.


MRI May Be Required in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Diagnosis

Complex regional pain syndrome is complicated, making it all the worse for around 200,000 individuals suffering from this rare condition within the US. Separated into Type 1 (no directly known nerve damage) and Type 2 (more definitive, known nerve damage), CRPS can be difficult to live with, difficult to treat, and even more difficult to diagnose. While doctors are becoming more familiar with the symptoms today, historically CRPS has been challenging to pinpoint because there is no actual test for it and other similar conditions caused by central nervous disorders must be ruled out first.

Patients and medical professionals are usually alerted to the possibility of CRPS due to symptoms like extreme skin sensitivity (just the lightest touch may be intolerable), discoloration, and swelling, as well as issues with the joints, muscles, growing lack of coordination, and mobility. More complex issues may develop also, like muscle atrophy or dystonia, as fingers or toes become fixed in awkward positions.

MRIs and CTs are often used to rule out other conditions, as well as indicating any moderate to severe changes in tissue due to CRPS. Along with this, medical professionals often use X-Rays to demonstrate bone density loss and other tests to indicate problems within the central nervous system. Thermography is also a tried and true method for helping to diagnose CRPS as it allows doctors to examine the nervous system and temperature variations which may indicate abnormalities. Using this technique (in practice since the 1950s) can be especially helpful when a patient may not be suffering from all the classic symptoms, and in fact it may also serve as an indicator regarding spots that CRPS will migrate to later (generally within about six to nine months).

Early diagnosis and treatment lead to the best outcome for CRPS patients who may then undergo a regimen of medication (to include OTC treatment or more stronger ones like opioids) and therapies, from the conventional physical therapies to more alternative techniques like biofeedback. Many patients experience depression and anxiety once CRPS sets in as they may have significant challenges to adapting to lifestyle changes and restrictions. Antidepressants and consultations with a therapist may be necessary to help them with common emotional issues accompanying this condition.

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.


Lower Your Risk of Having a Motorcycle Accident with These Tips

Motorcycles can offer a much more economical way to travel to and from work during that daily commute. While some may choose to purchase lavish, high-speed bikes, if you enjoy the freedom of traveling on two wheels in the fresh air but want to save money too, it can be much more economical to purchase a moderately priced motorcycle in comparison to a car or truck, along with savings on gas and maintenance and insurance too. The benefits abound too, from getting fresh air (when traveling away from smoggy cities!) and enjoying more expedient travel all around, to using core strength and buffing up just a little more every single time you take a ride.

Amidst all the enjoyment of riding a motorcycle, however, comes a priority on continued safety, whether you are taking a shortcut on a back road, enjoying a road trip through beautiful country areas, or navigating through congested traffic. Motorcycle fatalities have continued to be a concern, despite a decrease in 2017.

“Motorcyclist fatality numbers have fluctuated from year to year over the past decade, so while we are cautiously optimistic about this projection, we really need to see a sustained trend downward toward eventually eliminating motorcyclist fatalities altogether,” said Tara Casanova Powell, who authored a new report putting the spotlight on motorcyclist fatalities for 2017.

Lower your risk by:

  • Being visible – there are many ways to add to your bike and clothing to make sure you are more readily seen by motorists, from wearing bright clothing to adding neon reflective strips to your helmet, boots, and bike. Purchasing a bike that is brightly painted is a great idea too, although not always possible if the model you have your heart set on is mainly black or gray.
  • Knowing and following all the traffic rules – remember that you are beholden to the same rules as cars and trucks, and defensive driving is even more important for motorcycles.
  • Taking extra precautions at intersections – this is one of the most common places for accidents, and is especially dangerous for motorcyclists, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. If possible, make eye contact with motorists before turning.
  • Wearing protective gear – no matter what the law is, donning a helmet may be the difference between emerging unscathed from a motorcycle crash or having traumatic brain injury or facial fractures. To avoid road rash and other injuries, wear recommended protective clothing as well as eyewear and boots.
  • Getting educated – no matter your skill level, continued education on maneuvering your motorcycle is extremely helpful.

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.


Common Symptoms of CRPS: Understanding Allodynia

Complex regional pain syndrome affects around 200,000 known patients in the US, but it often takes a significant amount of time to diagnose this unique condition centered around central nervous system damage. Unfortunately, symptoms—and the pain—can be chronic and severe, causing those who suffer from CRPS to make substantial adjustments to their lives. Symptoms often begin in a limb that was affected by a previous injury.  In many cases, the CRPS patient may have been in a car accident that caused trauma such as a broken arm or leg, or just a sprain. In more moderate cases, there may have just been bruising. Because so often the original injury has already healed and come and gone, individuals who suddenly find themselves suffering from CRPS are painfully surprised.

There are numerous unique and painful issues which may arise, such as allodynia. This fibromyalgic pain is not just restricted to CRPS; in fact, it may be seen in other conditions such as shingles and chronic fatigue syndrome—all related to central nervous system complications. Nerves become overly sensitive, and this may be so severe in topical areas such as the skin that the patient cannot tolerate any contact at all. To put the pain in perspective for those not familiar with what CRPS feels like, imagine being in severe discomfort just because your arm or leg was exposed to a slight breeze! Allodynia is also commonly caused by touch, as well as friction from clothing that is usually not uncomfortable. Mild temperature changes may also cause pain.

Burning and other issues with the skin may cause initial discomfort with CRPS also, to include discoloration, swelling, and even unusual hair growth. Skin may appear glossy in texture, and sensitivity may be so severe that the patient cannot tolerate any contact of any sort in that area—not even that of a slight breeze. Joints may ache, and using muscles surrounding the area of the affected limb can often be so agonizing that the patient becomes reluctant to use them, resulting in atrophy.

Painkillers that can be applied directly to the skin may be recommended for relief, to include Lidocaine or over-the-counter creams. For other symptoms, doctors may prescribe OTC pain relievers as well as opioids, corticosteroids, nerve-blockers, 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.


Does Your City Have Bike Crash ‘Hot Spots?

It is unfortunate that some of the most enjoyable activities in life can also be dangerous to the point of fatality; for instance, learning to ride your bike as a youngster may be a fond memory, shared with family and marked as a milestone when the training wheels came off and you enjoyed one of your first independent endeavors enjoying the fresh air and the freedom of having your own transportation—even if it was just down the road and eventually perhaps traveling to school and back.

Bicycle safety is a big issue for kids, along with making sure they are donning the correct protective gear no matter where they are riding. For adults traveling in traffic though—and for some who may use their bicycles as economical commuting vehicles—the stakes can be even more dangerous navigating through high-speed traffic or the opposite, with congested traffic that can be even worse in some cases despite slower speeds. Although we have so much more information today about how to stay safe in traffic, and infrastructure is so much more progressive, bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities have continued to rise. Sadly, Florida tops the list for dangerous areas for bicyclists, and you may be surprised to find out that there are actual ‘hot spots,’ often in areas with colleges or more nightlife, and this may be associated with bicyclists traveling in areas lacking illumination. Distractions and alcohol levels on the part of either the bicyclist or motorist cause more accidents, along with busy intersections, areas featuring higher speed limits, and those with multiple lanes.

Bicycle accidents can be harmful enough due to simple errors on the part of the rider, but when combined with negligence on the part of a 4,000-pound plus car or truck (exponentially heavier), the results can be devastating. Injuries may include severe concussions or even traumatic brain injuries which can lead to a host of different and long-term symptoms such as mood disorders, memory loss, coma, and more. Crashes may also lead to spinal injuries and paralysis, road rash, broken bones, contusions, and more—along with emotional distress that can last over the long-term due to the trauma of being involved in such an incident.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a bicycle accident injury caused by the negligence of others 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.