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.

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 considerably 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.