Insta-Pot Cookers Are Handy – But Are They Dangerous to You and Your Family?

As the holidays and all the gifts and exchanges associated with the season end, you may still be figuring out some of the new gadgets you either received or gifted yourself and your whole family with. Instant pressure cookers are one of the latest electronic gadgets taking kitchens by storm around the US—but for some that may be all too literal in the case of safety hazards posed by specific items like the Insta-pot.

Pressure cookers have come a long way since the ones your parents and grandparents enjoyed (or the first ones invented hundreds of years ago). Today, whether you are hoping to cook tasty black beans in less than an hour, make a lovely no-fat, vanilla yogurt, brew up some red wine, or brown and prepare meat along with making a tasty broth on the side, you can do it all in one small countertop source. Some products even tout the ability for consumers to be able to cook an entire holiday meal. It is no secret, however, that electric pressure cookers can pose significant dangers due not only to extreme heat, but also the potential for explosion. This is also the case with stovetop pressure cookers and any other similar appliances operating via a sealed apparatus and lots of exceptionally hot steam building inside.

Locking mechanisms on Insta-pots and similar machines may be defective, seals may not work properly, a machine’s design may be defective and cause hazardous overheating (resulting in previous or eventual recalls), or instructions for use may be unclear, leaving consumers to discover the riskier side of pressure cooking on their own, which could be even more dangerous if small children are in the kitchen when a problem occurs.

Scalding ingredients spraying from an Insta-pot or exploding in the kitchen can lead to major harm from defective products, and especially from ingredients like hot liquids if you are making a home-made soup or chili. First, second, or third-degree burns may occur and require a long-term healing process, hospitalization, and even skin grafts and other types of complex procedures. Emotional trauma can be severe for those affected by pressure cooker malfunctions too, leaving them fearful of being in the kitchen or even the home where the explosion and resulting injuries happened.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to a defective Insta-pot or another product, 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.

6 Questions To Ask A Lawyer

If you’ve been injured, there are plenty of law firms in the Bradenton and Sarasota areas that would be happy to represent your injury claim. But how do you know if an attorney is a good fit for you and your accident?

Previously, we’ve listed some important questions you should ask and tips on choosing the best attorney.

Below, we’ve listed six more questions you should ask a lawyer. Of course, if you have other questions, don’t hesitate to contact our law firm. Continue reading

Bicyclists Riding Against Traffic More Likely to Be Severely Injured or Killed

Bicyclists abound around the US, but as the population in Florida continues to grow, so do outdoor enthusiasts. Traveling on two wheels is not confined just to enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the natural landscape, however. Commuting on bicycles is becoming more popular—and especially in cities. If you are physically active, or working on being so, bicycling to work often means less time traveling as you can circumvent traffic bottlenecks, accidents, and the inconveniences of rush-hour traffic. It is also much more economical, with absolutely no need for fuel other than your own leg power. Maintenance generally requires little expense, and the start-up cost in purchasing a bike can usually fit any budget.

Whether you are traveling alone or with your family or in a group of friends, however, safety should always come first—and unfortunately, the greatest threat is motorists. Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of deaths each year (and hundreds of thousands of injuries), whether this means bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or other motorists. Defensive ‘traveling’ is necessary no matter your mode of transportation. If you are riding a bike, it is vital to be seen. Wear bright clothing, ride a brightly colored bike, and apply reflective devices wherever possible. When riding at night, make sure you have proper lighting, as well as devices to make you heard such as a bell or horn.

And although you may have heard conflicting views on traveling against traffic while bicycling (or walking), it is not only illegal in Florida but also considerably more unsafe. A recent study by the Florida Department of Transportation shows that bicyclists traveling on the roads against traffic were involved in more severe crashes, as well as more fatalities. Additional data shows that the following contributed to many bicycle crashes:

  • Poor lighting in city areas
  • Unusual intersection patterns
  • Reckless driving
  • Bicyclists hitting parked cars or opening doors

“Engineering countermeasures, including signal optimization, turn restrictions, and sign and pavement marking improvements, could improve the overall safety situation for bicyclists. Agency-wide education campaigns on the laws pertaining to bicyclists and extensive driver education campaigns that focus on driver compliance with bicyclist right-of-way laws and stricter enforcement could improve bicycle safety,” state FDOT researchers.

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.

Beware: Bicyclists Love Florida—But Greater Numbers Mean More Accidents

Bicycling is an activity you may have been enjoying as long as you can remember. Most of us start out as kids, doing the initial routine with training wheels, and then graduating to a more mature bike with the inevitable spills, and bumps and bruises along the way. You may prefer biking alone around Florida, taking respite from a busy life, enjoying fresh air on quiet roads and paths that are especially satisfying when the sun is shining (not too warmly!), the birds are singing, and other interesting wildlife make an appearance here and there as you travel on your way. Others still may enjoy bicycling as a family activity, getting all the children outside, and sometimes even including babies being pulled in small ‘trailers.’ Commuting is also becoming more and more popular on bikes and proving to be not only more economical but much faster in some city areas.

Florida is extremely popular for activities like swimming, walking, hiking a multitude of trails, motorcycling, and bicycling. Unfortunately, all this fun can also have its hazards—and bicycling is no exception. The Sunshine State is particularly dangerous for bicyclists, with recent data stating that Florida bicyclist fatalities are startingly higher than that of other states, with California and Texas emerging next in line. Higher numbers for Florida are thought to be due to a larger population of ageing drivers and visitors who may not be familiar with roads. Florida also has a large population overall, meaning statistically more accidents are to be expected—along with the addition of enticingly good weather year-round.

While many bike safety tips may seem like common sense, all too often they are overlooked, with visibility being one of the most important. Remember to wear brightly colored clothing, but it is also helpful to have reflective material anywhere possible – including on your helmet, shoes, and bike. Lights should be in working order too. Protective gear is vital, beginning with the helmet. And although kids may balk, knee and elbow pads certainly come in handy if there is an accident, preventing cuts, contusions, and possible road rash from those commonly vulnerable areas. Ride with traffic, not against it – and know and follow all traffic signs and signals. If you are riding with smaller children, make sure they have a full education on everything a bicyclist needs to know—especially if they are riding to and from school each day.

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.

Defective Toys Could Land Your Child in the ER

Life can be so complicated for the modern family today as both parents often commute back and forth to work, kids need to get to school, afternoon activities commence throughout the week, and vital errands must be run. It can be extremely satisfying to take just a short break or a weekend respite with the kids, and fun shopping for a new toy or two may be in the plans. While it may be difficult to find exactly the right thing to please small children or to occupy them for any length of time, the last thing you may expect is a product defect that is harmful to your daughter, son, grandchild, or other loved one.

Unfortunately, there are far too many products out on the market that have the potential to be harmful. And while it would seem like toys would be a major priority in terms of product testing, far too many of them cause serious injuries (and in some cases even death) to children each year. You may expect or assume that a toy is safe just because everyone is buying it, and they may have been doing so for years, but manufacturers could be facing allegations of injuries or fatalities and are fighting behind the scenes to prevent necessary recalls that may not happen for a long time.

Choking hazards are one of the main sources of injury or death from toys, and especially if you have small children. This usually becomes more of an issue around the holidays too, whether newer toys or some of the tried and true are being heavily marketed, purchased, and used. While small, unattached pieces should be avoided, it is also important to watch for toys with long strings or attachments that could lead to the potential for wrapping around a child’s neck or cut off circulation to a limb or finger. Toy guns and other play shooting devices may cause hazards, along with riding toys or trampolines.

A serious product defect could find you in the ER with your child being treated for a breathing or choking issue, burns, cuts, and more. Fatalities may be caused due to drowning, asphyxiation, trauma, a serious blow to the head, or more. Contact a skilled product defect attorney as soon as possible if your child or a loved one have been hurt or fatally injured by a defective product. It is imperative that a report or complaint is filed regarding the product, so others are not injured too, and you may be due significant damages after such an incident.

If you or your child have been injured by a defective product, 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.

Swimming Pool Liability: Are Your Drains Updated?

Swimming is usually enjoyable for the whole family, and in Florida especially as it is an activity that everyone can enjoy year-round in many cases. Adults usually enjoy swimming for the exercise it affords, offering health benefits to the health and lungs, as well as building muscle strength and burning mega-calories. If you are a parent, you probably also love to center family gatherings around the pool area, reveling in how worn out kids are after taking a long dip.

Unfortunately, fun activities centered around water usually involve the danger of drowning too. That can be hard to believe sometimes, watching everyone have such a wonderful time while eating, drinking, and celebrating togetherness in their off time. Like car accidents in Florida though, drowning incidents just continue to rise too! Children are primarily at risk, along with the elderly, making it vital to follow the safety laws. While enclosures such as fences, alarms, and pool coverings all help prevent drowning, if drains are not newer or have not been retrofitted for safety, swimmers could be trapped when hair or even limbs are sucked in. Newer drains lack the dangerous suction mechanism, and are larger and rounder in shape, as well as more secure when it comes to fastening (always be sure screws are intact and that drains are in good working order, without any cracks). Pumps should only be run using the settings as instructions outline, and the shutoff should be easy to access.

Even with all the proper maintenance in place though, little of that matters if proper safety guidelines are not followed. While there are probably many adults in attendance during birthday pool parties and other celebrations, don’t let your guard down just because kids are used to swimming in the pool or ‘have been around the water forever.’ A tragic swimming pool accident could occur in a matter of moments, which is why there should always be supervision.

If children are going to be growing up in an area where they will be exposed to the water routinely, as well as expected to be in the pool or ocean, enroll them in swimming lessons. Not only are lessons a great way to become skilled at swimming, they can be a fun social activity. All the normal challenges in a swimming area should continue to be overcome as well, as parents and other adults must discourage running, pushing, rough-housing, and any types of swimming games that could cause injury or drowning. Everyone of age should also know CPR.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a swimming pool 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.

Personal Injury Protection: Who is Covered?

Car insurance: it’s very likely you own a policy for at least one car, and so does almost everyone you know. Insurers abound, and there are numerous options and limits and plans to choose from. Even if you have been buying insurance for your cars for decades though, there may be plenty you don’t understand, or like most of us—you may have always left figuring out what you needed to the insurance agent.

Many different types of insurance may be required or recommended in your lifetime, from health and life or disability, to homeowners, different types of commercial insurance, and even a variety of different policies like those meant for travel or other temporary measures. Automobile insurance is extremely common, but it may also be the most important form of protection you ever purchase.

Liability insurance is always recommended for your vehicle and required in some states (like Florida). And although laws are one thing, if you are financing your car, it may be impossible anyway to make a purchase without verification of both comprehensive and collision coverage. Other protection regarding payments for injuries is extremely important too, and especially when you consider the increase in traffic incidents in Florida due to careless drivers, leaving the unfortunate potential for serious injury or even fatalities wide open.

You may be in a hurry at the time you are purchasing car insurance. Perhaps you are just rolling off the dealer’s lot—or maybe it is just one more thing to check off your ‘to do’ list, but make sure you understand what you are purchasing in terms of medical payments (often referred to as medpay) and personal injury protection (often referred to as PIP). While medical payment coverage pays for the obvious in terms of any treatment necessary, PIP can even cover the injured party for lost wages and other expenses like funeral costs. This part of your insurance kicks in no matter who was at fault and covers you, your children, and other passengers who may be in the car but do not own personal injury protection on their own.

“People riding in your vehicle who carry PIP will receive coverage under their own PIP for their injuries, and certain licensed drivers who drive your vehicle with your permission. PIP also covers your child if he or she suffers an injury while riding on a school bus. PIP coverage protects you while in someone else’s vehicle, as a pedestrian, or bicyclist if you suffer an injury in a crash involving a motor vehicle. The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, requires all owner/registrants of a motor vehicle with four wheels or more to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) if you own a motor vehicle in Florida. Florida law requires you to maintain PIP/PDL insurance continuously throughout the licensing and registration period,” states the official Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.

It is important to note that while medical payment coverage can be purchased, PIP coverage is not available for motorcycles. If you own a scooter, PIP is usually not available either. While this type of insurance is excluded for the motorcycle, PIP insurance is simply not required for scooters or mopeds in most cases—and if they are over 50 cc (meaning cubic centimeters of engine displacement), they are considered a motorcycle anyway.

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.

FDOT Study Examines Bicycle Crash Patterns

If you have never been injured in a bicycling accident, then it may seem like one of the most enjoyable and healthy forms of exercise one could enjoy. After all, what could go wrong as you innocently take in the fresh air and the natural landscape, working your heart and lungs, and burning calories like crazy? Unfortunately, plenty. And this is not usually the bicyclist’s fault. As usual—and as in the case of motorcyclist accidents and pedestrian injuries—motorists are your greatest threat. Florida is evidence of this danger too, listed as one of the top states for bicyclist fatalities.

The state has been working to solve the problem, with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) performing an analysis on bike crashes last year. As far back as 2014, Florida was leading in bicyclist fatalities, and the numbers continue to be concerning each year. In their report, researchers explore causes and patterns of such accidents, along with pinpointing ‘hot spots,’ and ways to prevent crashes. They also create crash modification factors for evaluating to ‘assess safety effects of common engineering treatments on bicycle safety.’

In their analysis, the researchers examined 26,036 crashes occurring between 2011 and 2014, finding that age and sex figured into fatalities, with elderly bicyclists and men more likely to be involved in fatal accidents. Fatalities also occurred more frequently for bicyclists riding at night, for bicyclists riding against the flow of traffic, and for those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The analysis also includes many other detailed facts and statistics:

“The majority of bicycle crashes occurred on urban roadways; only 1.2% of all crashes that occurred on state roads occurred in rural areas,” states the report. “In terms of crash severity, 16.9% of all bicycle crashes that occurred on rural facilities resulted in fatalities while only 2.5% of those that occurred on urban facilities resulted in fatalities.”

“The average age of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles was 43 years, while the average age of bicyclists involved in traffic crashes was 33.8 years. Among the different age groups, bicyclists between 45 and 54 years of age experienced the highest fatality rate of 19.76 fatalities per year per million population, and those in 65- to 74-year age group experienced the highest injury rate of 875.43 injuries per year per million population.”

The researchers point out the four main crash types:

  • The driver of a car turns right as a bicyclist is crossing.
  • Cars turn left facing bicyclists.
  • Bicyclists ride out into intersections.
  • Motorists run stop signs.

They also identified other reasons for accidents, to include lack of illumination at night in towns and cities, disregard for traffic laws, U-turns, bicyclists hitting car doors, complex intersections, and more.

As for measures to be taken in preventing further crashes, the team suggests more specific areas for bikes. Along with bike lanes, they suggest bicycle tracks and bicycle boulevards (‘defined as traffic-calmed side streets signed and improved for bicyclists to provide a safer alternative to riding on arterials’). Wider curb lanes, speed humps, lane reductions, and raised medians are suggested, along with more crosswalks and roadway lights.

Citing that bicycle crashes make up 5.6 traffic fatalities but overall only make up 1.9 percent of total accidents, the researchers point out that many bicycling accidents are severe.

“Drivers were found to be at-fault in 45.7% (1,321 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes while bicyclists were at-fault in 30.2% (871 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes. Both bicyclists and drivers were found to be at-fault in very few crashes (0.8%, 22 of 2,888 bicycle crashes),” states the report.

Both drivers and bicyclists tended to be at fault when not yielding right-of-way, ignoring traffic rules, and driving carelessly.

If you or a loved one have 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.

 

What to Do After You’re Injured at a Hotel or Resort

When you’re staying at a hotel or a resort, you should fully enjoy your experience. It may be one of the few times of the year you can decompress and relax without any worries.

But sometimes you have been in an accident during your stay. And if you’re injured on their property, you may not know what to do.

That’s why the injury lawyers at Heintz & Becker have listed a few steps you should do if you find yourself injured from an accident at a hotel or resort.

And if you still have questions, call our law firm at (941) 748-2916.

Hotel and Resort have responsibilities to their visitors

Hotels and resorts are legally required to provide a reasonably safe environment for their guests.

While they aren’t liable for every accident that could happen, if they are aware of a hazardous situation that could cause harm, they must address the issue or inform their guests of the hazard.

If the hotel or resort fails to do either, they may be found negligent and you may be able to file an injury claim for compensation for your injuries.

What you can sue for

If you have been injured at a hotel or resort and you would like to sue, then it is important to know what you can sue for. Hotels and resorts can be held liable if you are injured on their property if they acted negligently.

A slip and fall accident is one of, if not, the most common accidents that could happen at a hotel or resort. But the situation dictates whether the business is liable.

For example, if one guest spills a soda in a common area and someone immediately slipped, fell, and suffered an injury from the soda spill, then the business would not be liable. The business did not know about the spill or have enough time to address the slipping hazard before someone was injured.

But if a room is cleaned and a slipping hazard was not addressed by the cleaning staff, then the hotel would be liable since they knew the hazard was there and did nothing to address it.

Slip and fall injuries aren’t the only thing guests may file an injury suit for. Hotels and resorts must also control any insect infestations on the property. Bed bugs would be one example.

Bed bug bites can cause infections and scars, so it is very important to document the injury and immediately visit a clinic or hospital. After receiving medical help, you can begin the process of filing and reporting your injury

When hotels and resorts are responsible for your injury

Hotels and resorts are responsible for your injury when your injury occurs on the premises. They can be held liable for your injury if they do not warn visitors of prior hazards throughout their property.

Proving that negligence was involved requires more concrete evidence, but establishing that hotels and resorts are responsible for your injury is a great first step.

Who to contact if you are injured at a hotel or resort

It is important to feel safe at any hotel or resort that you visit. If you are injured at a hotel or resort, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. With attorneys who are experienced in personal injury cases, we can help you if you have been injured at a hotel or resort. We have locations in Bradenton and Sarasota, and we can help you if you want to explore your legal options.

Contact us online, call us today at (941)-748-2916 for a free consultation, or visit one of our offices for more information.

Intersections: All Travelers Must Take Extra Precautions to Avoid Injury

The roads are full of hazards. While you may find yourself driving white-knuckled to work in rain or snow or weaving through road construction zones that sometimes seem like an extremely difficult and unfair road test, there are many, many other dangers that cannot be underestimated—and both sadly and unfortunately, most of these other hazards are presented by humans and could be prevented in many cases.

Distracted driving is one of the greatest dangers to everyone traveling today, and that goes for motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and anyone on the road. With driving and texting being one of the biggest quotients in distracted driving, states such as Florida have made such activity illegal.

Still, however, thousands of lives are claimed each year. And while that may be a host of new problems motorists and law enforcement officials are forced to deal with, most of the other issues still plague the roads too such as drunk driving, speeding, and other reckless behaviors, even including those who may simply be drowsy.

Your greatest weapon as a motorist is in defensive driving! And while this begins as soon as you put on your seatbelt and turn your key in the ignition, there are hotspots that require extra precautions, from following direction at stoplights and stop signs, to ensuring that you are giving other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians right of way as required. Intersections are the one of the most high-risk zones.

Obviously—and especially in larger cities—there is a lot going on at most intersections, and especially during rush hour. You must navigate lanes, stoplights, turning, and all the while there may be other traffic crossing too such as adults and children on bikes or people traveling on foot.

Crashes at intersections tend to be even worse. While motorists making left turns must be cautious, this is even more true for those traveling on two wheels. Motorcyclists or bicyclists in traffic should always doublecheck before turning and even attempt to make eye contact with motorists if possible.

Extreme alertness is required by all parties to avoid any potential for a crash. Motorists who run red lights also put everyone in grave danger, most commonly sideswiping others traveling innocently along. Rear-endings are a common type of accident at intersections too, with any of these crashes leading to the possibility of fatalities or harm such as:

If you have been injured in a car 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.