Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Continue to Rise Every Year

Hicks and Motto attorneys for motorcycle accident injuries

 

 

In what we find to be unsurprising news, deaths from motorcycle accidents increased dramatically when tracked over a 10-year period – in fact, the statistics show that from 1994 to 2014, nationwide fatalities increased EVERY YEAR.

Sadly, Florida’s statistics follow the same trend. The most recent data show that total motorcycle crashes increased from 8,706 to 9,143, with fatalities increasing from 497 to 531 (source: Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles).

To put this death toll into context, here’s a jarring view – motorcycles account for less than 1% of the national miles driven but account for 15% of traffic deaths. So, with close to 5,000 people dying every year while riding a motorcycle, it makes this form of transportation 26 times more deadly than driving a car.

There are many reasons for this high rate of fatalities and injury accidents involving motorcycles; the most commonly reported being that the motorist didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late.

If you are a motorcycle rider, what can you do to stay safer on Florida’s congested and dangerous roadways?

  • WEAR A HELMET, even though you are no longer required to by Florida Statutes Section 316.211. It reduces your probability of head injury by as much as 70%.
  • BE CONSPICUOUS; wear bright colors and always be sure your headlamp is on even in daylight.
  • AT NIGHT, wear reflective gear and in addition to your headlamp, use your running lights (if your bike is equipped with them).
  • EXCESSIVE SPEED is involved in a significant number of accidents, so obey posted speed limits.
  • ALCOHOL INTAKE impairs reaction time. You do not have to meet legal standards of intoxication to be a few seconds too slow – and on a motorcycle, that is the difference between life and death.

Motorcycle riders are at an overall higher risk on the road – the stats bear it out – and are at a much higher risk of serious injury or death. Motorcycles have the same rights as cars to be on the roadways, regardless of some people’s opinions to the contrary. If a motorcycle rider is injured or killed through no fault of their own, they or their family are entitled to the same compensation as those injured or killed in an auto accident.

If you or a loved one need a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer with the experience to negotiate adequate compensation, or take your case to trial, contact Hicks & Motto at 561.683.2300.

Florida Ranks Number One in U.S. Boating Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries

Florida ranks number 1 in boating accidents Hicks and Motto Attorneys

 

 

With the warm sun, sandy beaches, and ocean just steps away, Floridians have always enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle.  Boating is a favorite activity for many South Florida outdoor enthusiasts; however, it is extremely important to know how to stay safe when out on the water.

Florida’s boating facts are astounding.  According to 2018 United States Coast Guard statistics, Florida had the highest number of fatal injury, non-fatal injury, and property damage accidents compared to any other state.

Here are some other key findings from the report:

  • In known causes of boating deaths, 77% were from drowning
  • In known drowning victims, 84% were not wearing life jackets
  • In fatal boating accidents, alcohol is the leading contributing factor
  • In fatal boating accidents, lack of operator boating safety education is a major factor
  • In boating accidents, operator inexperience or inattention are among the top five contributing causes, along with improper lookout, speed, and machinery failure.

These statistics indicate that responsible boating can prevent injury and save lives.  To prevent accidents and injury:

  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Never boat under the influence
  • Take a boating safety course
  • Know navigational rules

Both federal and state laws can apply to boating accidents on Florida’s waterways.  Depending on the circumstances, the operator of a boat may be liable.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, you may be able to recover from the responsible party.

Please stay safe and boat responsibly.

Hurricane Property Damage – What to Do

 

property damage

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, our thoughts are with you, your families, and friends. And with more severe weather on the horizon, there are things you need to know.

After a natural disaster, it can be stressful and completely overwhelming to try assessing your property damage. While you are doing so, we urge you to please be careful – that damage may have made things unstable and even dangerous.

Here are some helpful guidelines:

DOCUMENT THE DAMAGE
Create a thorough list of every damaged item. Include its description, manufacturer name, brand name, model number (if applicable), as well as the location of purchase, date of purchase, and purchase price. Include photographs and videos.

PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE
Do what you can to prevent further damage. Cover exposed areas like broken windows and damaged roofs to keep the rain out. Avoid hiring anyone to make permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster reviews the damage in person. And be very wary of anyone who comes to your door telling you they’re “working in the neighborhood.” It may be true, but take no chances. There’s a reason the State of Florida has a scam hotline — 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.

FILE YOUR CLAIM QUICKLY
Insurance companies typically handle claims in the order in which they are received. Therefore, it’s important to file your claim as quickly as possible. Contact your insurance company, let them know the extent of your damages, and that you have an inventory. An insurance adjuster will assess the damage and determine the damage amount.

If your property was impacted, here is a list of helpful agencies:

If your home was damaged by Hurricane Dorian and you have any questions about what to do next, please call us 561.683.2300. We’re here to help.

Be Safe!

 

Safe Cycling in Unsafe Times

bicycle accident-hicks and motto

With school back in session, the number of bicycles sharing the road with automobiles dramatically increases, and we’re reminded to be extra careful. Soon, South Florida’s weather may actually grow cooler, and even more cyclists will be hitting the road.

The United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there were 783 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017 (its most recent data). No surprise – a car vs. bicycle crash almost always leaves the cyclist injured.

The most troubling part of that statistic is that Florida leads the country in the number of fatal bicycle crashes, accounting for 125 of those 783.

There are two main types of crashes: the most common — falls, and the most serious – those involving cars.

There are things you can do to decrease the risk of a crash.

  • Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Bicyclist deaths were 8 times higher for males than females in 2017.
  • Alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2017.
  • Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%) in 2017.
  • Ride responsibly and remember: All states require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists.

 

Here’s a quick list of what to do in case of a bicycle accident:

  1. Check yourself – do a cursory and visual search of your person to determine if you have sustained any injuries that need immediate attention. If necessary, call an ambulance. Do not be a hero!
  2. Assist the injured – check with each person involved in the accident to see if they have been hurt. If necessary, call an ambulance.
  3. Call the police!
  4. Gather as much information as you can – take pictures of the scene; document the make, model, and license plate of the offending vehicle; gather the vehicle’s driver information including name, address, phone number, license number, and insurance information.
  5. Do not admit fault – your comments made in the tension and excitement of the moment may not be accurate! Wait for all the facts, and consult an attorney before admitting to responsibility, especially if you received a traffic ticket.
  6. Obtain witness information – write down the names and addresses of all the witnesses or involved parties to your accident. Don’t forget any passengers from the vehicles. Ask the witnesses what they observed.
  7. See a doctor – serious injuries do not always show immediate symptoms. It is smart to have your doctor, or an emergency room doctor, examine you as soon as possible. PIP laws require you to see a Medical Doctor within the first 14 days after your accident.
  8. Bicycle Repair – take your bicycle to a reputable shop with skilled mechanics to evaluate the damage.
  9. Tickets – don’t admit fault even if you are given a citation. The police officer is only giving his or her opinion of what happened. The ticket itself may not affect your case.
  10. CALL HICKS & MOTTO at (561) 683-2300 – Be sure after your accident you contact your law firm right away. A lawyer can give you advice and help you through the process whether you are at fault or not.

Summer is Ending — Watch for School Buses!

Palm Beach County Schools are back in session starting Monday, August 12. Here’s what you need to know about the laws so you, your fellow travelers, and the students can stay safe.

Florida law says signs must be posted around each school zone telling drivers how fast they can go and when the school zone is in effect. Some signs feature flashing lights rather than a list of times — so don’t assume that because there aren’t lights flashing, you aren’t in a school zone.

If a driver goes over the posted school zone speed — which in Florida could be as low as 15 mph, but no higher than 20 mph — that driver could see a whopping fine. If the set school zone speed limit is 20 mph and you’re caught going 40, your fine usually would be $175 — and that’s aside from any other citations an officer may write. But that speed in an active school zone would net you a ticket of $350.

If a school bus stops to pick up or drop off children, there’s only one situation where it’s legal for drivers to pass: if there is a five-foot barrier or unpaved median between the side of the road you’re on and the side of the road the bus is on.

Bottom line — these are kids going to and from school. Err on the side of caution, avoid a moving violation — and keep our children safe.

Remember, if you are involved in a motor vehicle crash or slip and fall, call Hicks & Motto.

Put Down That Phone, Drivers

put down the phone drivers

You already know texting and driving is dangerous.

Beginning today, Florida drivers will be ticketed if caught, so it will be expensive, too.

When Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 107, it made texting and driving a primary offense. That means an officer who sees you doing it can pull you over and write you a citation.

There are enforcement issues – but do you want to take that chance?

In order to prove you were texting while driving, the officer needs to look at your phone. But the officer must inform you of your right to refuse to hand your phone over before that.

Here’s the exact text of the statute: “A law enforcement officer who stops a motor vehicle for a violation of paragraph (a) must inform the motor vehicle operator of his or her right to decline a search of his or her wireless communications device and may not access the wireless communications device without a warrant.”

There are also exceptions — you can use your phone for GPS or call 911 or other emergency services. You can also use your phone hands-free. The other exception is that you can text if your car is stopped, such as at a stop sign or red light.

While you’re getting used to the texting/driving ban, get ready for the October 1 portion of the same law to go into effect. It bans handheld phone use in school zones and active work zones. You’ll get a warning from October 1 through the end of the year, and starting January 1, 2020, you’ll get a ticket.

Our advice? Don’t text and drive. Distracted driving results in injury and death on the roads. If you or a loved one are injured due to another’s negligence contact Hicks & Motto at 561.683.2300.

 

Don’t Let the 4th of July Ruin Your Summer – or Your Life

They’re already on every available corner – those fireworks tents selling the biggest, best, most amazing explosives you can buy. But the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) says that, on average, 280 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the 4th of July holiday.

If that’s not enough to make you EXTREMELY careful, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) says that, “explosive devices commonly referred to as M-80s; M-100s, M-250s; M-1000s, and cherry bombs exceed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s explosive weight limits for consumer fireworks and are therefore classified as illegal by ATF and many other law enforcement agencies.”

So many people set off fireworks that the risk of serious harm doesn’t seem likely – not true. So, here are some of the CPSC’s safety tips to keep you and your family safe, especially your children. Kids under the age of five are the second-highest percentage of victims in the ER because of firework-related injuries.

  • Never allow young children to play with or light fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper; it’s often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays, posing serious danger to you.
  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activities – kids can suffer really serious injuries from sparklers, which burn at about 2,000 degrees.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over fireworks when lighting the fuse, so immediately back up to a safe distance.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that didn’t fully ignite.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy.
  • Light fireworks one at a time and move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks are done burning, douse them with plenty of water before you throw them away to prevent a trash fire.

The consumer fireworks specifically prohibited by Florida law are firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, daygo bombs, and any fireworks containing explosive or flammable compounds.

If you or a loved one are injured due to another’s negligence or by a prohibited firework sold to you illegally, contact Hicks & Motto at 561.683.2300. Your first consultation is always free.

 

Car Insurance: Get the Right Coverage!

auto accident

If you own a motor vehicle which is registered in the State of Florida, you are required to have certain types of coverage, namely Property Damage and Personal Injury Protection. If you have only these two types of coverage, you have what is mandated by the State. You do not have “full coverage.” Many people mistakenly assume that if they carry the required coverage, that is all they need – nothing could be further from the truth!

At Hicks & Motto, we can’t begin to tell you how many injured people have come into our office in the last 25 years after having been in an automobile accident and thinking they have “full coverage,” since they have the coverage which the State requires all automobile owners to have. It is heartbreaking to tell them that they actually have no insurance coverage which will pay them in the event they need to be off work for an extended period of time, or that will pay their medical bills for extended hospitalization or surgeries.

There are two additional types of coverage which are, in my opinion, extremely important to purchase. The first of these is called Bodily Injury Liability (“BI”) coverage. That coverage is designed to protect your personal assets in the event you cause or contribute to an automobile accident. For example, if you are involved in an automobile accident which is totally or partially your fault, and anyone is injured, the injured party or parties can sue you. This is the case if you are driving the automobile or if you own the automobile which is involved in the accident.

If you don’t have BI coverage and the injured person or persons obtain a judgment against you for damages they sustained on account of your negligence, your personal assets can be in serious jeopardy. Further, you will either have to defend yourself in court or hire an attorney at your own expense to do so. If, on the other hand, you had purchased Bodily Injury Liability coverage, your insurance company will not only provide an attorney on your behalf, but they will also pay the injured parties’ damages up to the limits of your coverage.

If the driver who caused the accident does not carry BI coverage and you are seriously injured, you may have no recourse against that driver, unless they have sufficient personal assets against which you can collect a judgment. So, how do you protect yourself in that situation? Uninsured (or underinsured) Motorist coverage, called “UM” for short, is the answer. If you have UM coverage, your own insurance company will pay you for your damages if the at-fault driver either doesn’t have Bodily Injury Liability coverage, or doesn’t have sufficient coverage to adequately pay all of your damages. UM is very valuable coverage to have – IT PROTECTS YOU.

In addition to discussing Bodily Injury Liability and UM coverage with your insurance agent, be sure to also ask them to review your current policy to be sure you are carrying adequate Property Damage coverage. In this day and age, when many vehicles on the road are worth $50,000 or more, you need to be sure you have enough Property Damage insurance. Also, carefully look at your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and Medical Payments coverage. In my experience, for just pennies a month, you can increase your Medical Payments coverage to the maximum allowed by law. Make sure you understand what it means if you have a deductible on your PIP and ask how much it would cost to remove that deductible.

If you are involved in an auto accident, call Hicks & Motto, P.A. for a free consultation.

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