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.
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.
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:
- 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!
- Assist the injured – check with each person involved in the accident to see if they have been hurt. If necessary, call an ambulance.
- Call the police!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bicycle Repair – take your bicycle to a reputable shop with skilled mechanics to evaluate the damage.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.