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.

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.

 

Amusement Park and Fair Season is Just Around the Corner!

Amusement parks offer guests fun, adrenaline-pumping rides, fantastic sights, and much more. Whether you are visiting a county fair, state fair, carnival, theme park, amusement park, or even a water park, no element of surprise should include injury erupting from reckless behavior. Unfortunately, when carelessness is blended in with excitement, the outcome can be anything but joyous, resulting in serious personal injury and even wrongful death. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, 300 million people go to amusement parks each year. It is estimated that the chance of an injury happening in a theme park setting is 1 in 9 million. After recent fatal events at the Ohio State Fair, Hicks & Motto wanted to inform you about what to do in the event of an injury at an amusement park, fair, or carnival.

Guest safety in any amusement park setting should always come first and be at the top of the establishment’s list of priorities. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and when careless actions or efforts are carried out by owners or employees, people get hurt. Some common negligence issues that lead to injuries include:

  • Dimly lit areas like parking lots where assaults can take place
  • Unlocked doors or gates that can permit access to dangerous areas
  • Poorly maintained rides or buildings
  • Ride operators under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Defects in rides
  • Slippery surface areas
  • Equipment or other articles that obstruct walkways

Tampa, Orlando, Weeki Wachee, and other parts of Florida have some magnificent theme parks that are famous throughout the country. Popular theme parks like these are required to have routine safety inspections and highly trained employees operating the rides. However, even if these safety precautions are performed regularly and properly, accidents can still happen. Injuries at theme parks can be lethal due to extreme heights and momentous speeds reached within seconds flat.

Many amusement park accidents take place on a more local level, at county or state fairs, and short-term festivals and carnivals. The safety measures for small-scale events like these are not as strict as large and permanent parks. Rides and stations are set up and taken down repeatedly and transported across the country every few days or weeks. Sometimes the storage process of these rides can be inadequate. These rides are usually not maintained properly, overused, and outdated. It is not uncommon for these rides to be improperly set up, which can make them a full-on danger zone for paying customers.

The staff at these local events can also be crookedly constructed. Many times they are not fully aware or trained at handling such intricate structures. When this is the case, serious unfortunate accidents can occur. All it takes is one missing screw or an untrained employee to create a catastrophic injury that can change your life forever.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) used to track the number of deaths due to theme park or carnival rides (52 deaths between 1990 and 2004), but they no longer collect mortality data. They did report that, in 2011, over 37,000 people were sent to emergency rooms. Of those, approximately 36,000 were released and a little over 1,000 were admitted to the hospital. The CPSC regulates portable rides such as the ones that you see at county fairs and carnivals, but they have nothing to do with standard fixed rides such as the ones found at Disney World, Universal Studios, or Busch Gardens.

When a wrongful death or amusement park injury occurs, and that injury occurs on a ride, it will be generally due to improper ride maintenance, inspection, or a failure to warn. A theme-park injury may originate with a ride manufacturer’s product defect – which would give rise to a product-liability claim.

However, plenty of people are injured at theme parks or carnivals, and those injuries have nothing to do with the actual rides. The owner/manager of the park has an obligation to maintain the general premises in a safe condition. Inadequate security, broken stairs or handrails, uneven pavement, or insufficient lighting in the parking lot may also be evidence of general negligence that would give rise to a premises-liability claim.

Most theme park accidents deal with large corporations; sometimes one claim can involve several different companies. At Hicks & Motto, we are prepared to go to bat against major corporations; we will not cower from scare tactics enlisted by these corporations to get you to take a low settlement. It is important to know that swift settlement offers are usually not in your best interest; however, all cases are unique. Generally speaking, companies will try and dissuade you from pursuing your legal matters by convincing you that you will be unsuccessful against them. This is simply an effort to limit their product liability exposure. Whether you, or someone you know, is injured at any fairs, carnivals, or theme parks in Florida, call the injury lawyers at Hicks & Motto, P.A., for a free consultation.

May 21-27 is National Safe Boating Week!

The number of vessels registered in Florida increased slightly in 2016 — to 931,450 — and the state leads the nation in registered vessels. Additionally, it is estimated that up to one million non-registered vessels actively use Florida’s waters, and this segment of the boating population appears to still be growing. Our waterways show the strains of congestion, as each year brings more residents and visitors together to utilize our abundant water resources and enjoy Florida’s boating lifestyle.

2016 SUMMARY OF BOATING ACCIDENTS

  • Florida leads the nation with a total number of 931,450 registered vessels in 2016.
  • There was a total of 714 reportable boating accidents in 2016.
  • Collison with vessel was the leading type of accident with a total of 181 (25%).
  • Towed watersport activities were involved in 13 accidents, resulting in 13 injuries.
  • Paddlecraft (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards) were involved in 10 accidents resulting in nine fatalities and three injuries.
  • July was the month with the highest number of accidents (96).
  • Monroe County reported the highest number of accidents and injuries (105 total accidents with three fatalities and 52 injuries).

BOATING FATALITIES

  • 56 fatal accidents for 2016 resulting in 67 fatalities.
  • 29% of the fatal accidents were falls overboard (16 accidents). Boaters falling overboard remains the main cause of boating fatalities.
  • The leading cause of death in fatal boating accidents was drowning with 40 fatalities (60%).
  • July was the deadliest month in 2016 with eight fatalities.
  • Alcohol or drug use is reported to have played a role in 24% boating fatalities.
  • 95% (58) of the victims of fatal boating accidents were males.
  • 65% (39) of the 60 operators involved in fatal accidents were age 36 or older.
  • 78% (47) of all vessels involved in fatal accidents in 2016 were 21 feet in length or less.

BOATING INJURIES

  • There were 714 accidents resulting in 421 injuries. The rate of injury was 45 injuries per 100,000 registered vessels.
  • REPORTABLE PERSONAL WATERCRAFT ACCIDENTS
  • Personal watercraft (PWC) accounted for 13% of all registered vessels in Florida.
  • PWCs were involved in 26% (253) of reportable boating accidents.
  • Rented PWCs represented 41% (89) of PWC involved in accidents
  • 42% of PWC accidents involved a collision with another vessel.
  • 45% of PWC accidents occurred in Miami-Dade (32), Monroe (20), and Pinellas (18) counties.
  • 11 fatalities resulted from the 158 PWC accidents.

EDUCATION STATISTICS

  • The Florida Fish & Wildlife Coservation Commission (FWC) issued 47,307 Boating Safety Education ID Cards in 2016.
  • 63% of the cards were issued to persons born on or after January 1, 1988.
  • Of the 47,307 cards issued, 34,654 were issued to males, 12,606 were issued to females. An additional 1,132 cards were printed for lost, damaged, and information changes.
  • 70% of the operators involved in fatal accidents had no formal boater education.

Boating education is critical

Florida’s current boating safety education law only applies to boaters born on or after January 1, 1988, operating a motorized vessel of 10 horsepower or greater. The face-to-face contacts by FWC officers and its partner agencies are a critical part of outreach efforts and education to the boating public. These statistics show us that the boat operator most likely to be involved in a boating accident is a middle-aged or older male who has boating experience, yet has never learned the most important safety considerations by having taken a boating safety course. When officers observe boating violations or perform fresh and saltwater resource enforcement activities, they conduct boating safety inspections aimed at both identifying and preventing violations or accidents. FWC officers make boating safer and ultimately save lives.

Safe boating is a choice

Florida is the leader in promoting boating accident prevention. The FWC, in association with the National Safe Boating Council, Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., West Marine, and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), launched a statewide boating safety campaign as part of a national initiative. The “Wear It Florida” campaign encourages boaters to wear life jackets anytime they are on the water and educates boaters about the ease and convenience of inflatable life jackets. The campaign is designed to reach the public through a variety of methods including media events, exhibits, personal contacts, social media, radio, and televised public service announcements.

For more information, contact Samuel Cohen of Hicks & Motto at scohen@hmelawfirm.com or phone 561.683.2300.

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