Summer Activities with the Kids: Five Fun and Free Ideas

No matter what ages your children are, summer can be the best of times for families. It can also be a hectic time for you as a parent trying to entertain everyone, tiring out the little ones so they will sleep well at night (and allow you to also). While Florida is renowned for Disney World, and the steep price tag that goes with it, the Sunshine State is also chock full of free activities to do all summer, and year-round too, thanks to the ongoing tropical weather. And while you may start to feel a bit overwhelmed at times, especially after the words ‘I’m bored’ are ringing in your ears for a few weeks, keep these simple activities in mind when you begin planning out activities for the day:

  1. Go to the beach! This is one of the most enjoyable activities in Florida, for many; in fact, you could have a mellow day at home with the little ones and then head out in the late afternoon when the weather is cooling down, have a light supper on the beach, and watch a glorious sunset. If you are really feeling ambitious, you could also hit the pool on the way back to cool off further and get in another cool swim. No matter what age children are involved, however, be mindful of swimming capabilities to avoid accidents.
  2. Camp out – while there could be some expenses involved in getting together supplies if you don’t already have them, this is a great way to enjoy family time away from the hustle and bustle of regular life. Another fun idea is to camp right in your backyard—set up the tent, grill dinner, make s’mores for dessert, and practice for the real thing later. No matter the location, you can enjoy stargazing, and maybe even throw in some basic astronomy or information about constellations for the kids to focus on.
  3. Fishing and boating – heading out on to the water for the day allows for an excellent family day, with younger kids learning how to reel in the catch of the day, along with being mindful of boating safety. Make sure flotation devices are available for everyone, and that a comprehensive checklist is followed before you take off—including a float plan given to someone on land so they know where you were planning to go.
  4. Make things – create fun popsicle, smoothie, or milkshake recipes. Draw murals with outside chalk in the driveway. Build a birdhouse.
  5. Set up an outdoor stand – sell lemonade, snacks, or crafts. Have a yard sale so that kids can clear out toys or items they no longer use, along with household items you may need to divest yourself of.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a boating accident due to the negligence of another operator, 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.

Bicycling Safety: Prevent Your Child from Riding at Night

Kids and bicycles go together like peanut butter and jelly, as we all know. And for many adults too, their bicycle is a constant attachment and sometimes even an extremely economical form of transportation. Healthy exercises like bicycling are often passed down from parents to their children, encouraging the enjoyment of family time or solo exercise in the fresh air and the outdoors—as opposed to sitting inside staring at a tablet, the TV, or phone screen—along with building strong muscle and bone, and completing a good cardio and core work out every time.

Of course, most children are not concerned about the safety or health aspects of riding a bike. They usually have some place to go! And whether that is to school or a friend’s house, they may not be considering elements like time of day, weather, or other logistics that could make it dangerous to travel. It is highly recommended that you do not allow your child to ride their bicycle at night, but the true issue is in not allowing them to ride in the dark, which could apply to early rides to school also. This harkens back to the most important safety issue, which is visibility for motorists and others, and if it is dark, obviously your child is not going to be seen very easily (despite possible reflective gear and lights). Even during the day, bright clothing should be worn whenever possible—along with a bicycle helmet and recommended elbow and knee pads too.

Because bicycling offers so many health benefits, most of us are willing to overlook many safety issues that must be considered, and especially in Florida where bicyclist deaths continue to increase. Recent news shows that Florida is a dangerous place to ride:

“Each year about 2 percent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists. Although child bicyclist deaths have declined over the years, deaths among bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975,” states AAA data. “Florida leads the nation in bicycle fatalities. The latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows 783 bicyclists were killed in the U.S. in 2017; 125 (16%) were in Florida.”

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

 

Older Kids and Boating: When Are They Ready to Take the Helm?

Operating a boat in Florida is frequently an activity (and a skill) that is handed from parents to children, and a process that may be seamless for many kids and young adults as they have been on the water since they were babies. This is often the case around the coasts and waterways of the United States—and the world—as boats are very common and sometimes considered a more casual form of transportation; after all, in some cases (enviable to many) it is very easy to head down to the dock, hop into the boat, and take off. It is, however, critical to understand the laws in your state before allowing your child to do so. In Florida, kids must be at least 14 before they can drive a boat. If they are ages 14 to 16, they may operate a vessel alone if they have completed an approved boating course or if they are traveling with an adult over the age of 18. If traveling alone, they should carry a copy of their ID card/certification on board.

While it is important for all ages to take safety measures into account first and foremost, younger boaters may not be as acclimated, depending on the vessel they are operating, And they should always know where lifejackets and flotation devices are stowed, along with instructions on how to operate a radio, and other lifesaving devices like the airhorn and flares. If heading out alone, they should always create a float plan to leave behind with a friend or family member who is staying on land that day. Younger boaters should create or be provided with a safety/supply checklist to use every time before going out, reminding them to check the following:

  • Fuel and oil levels
  • Anchor
  • Battery
  • Bilge pump
  • Fire extinguisher, air horn, EPIRB
  • Water supply
  • Tool and first-aid kits
  • Life vests

New boaters, as well as captains of all ages, should always be in the habit of checking the weather before going out and should be skilled in handling choppy waves in the case of a squall popping up—especially in Florida, where that is a common occurrence. Younger boaters should also be extremely aware of the dangers involved in boating while under the influence, along with realizing that there can be legal repercussions just like driving while impaired.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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.