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How do you feel about driving roundabouts?  I know there was a lot of initial opposition to the new roundabouts on Fort King here in Ocala a while ago, but after a bit a research on the subject, I found out a few things that I didn’t know about them and thought you might also find it interesting.

Did you know that roundabouts are a safer alternative to traffic signals and stop signs? The tight circle of a roundabout forces drivers to slow down, and makes the most severe types of intersection crashes — right-angle, left-turn and head-on collisions — unlikely. At traditional intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, these types of collisions can be severe because vehicles may be traveling through the intersection at high speeds. With roundabouts, these types of potentially serious crashes essentially are eliminated because vehicles travel in the same direction and at low speeds —generally less than 20 mph in urban areas and less than 30-35 mph in rural areas. The vehicle-to-vehicle conflicts that do occur at roundabouts generally involve a vehicle merging into the circular roadway or in the case of multi-lane roundabouts, conflicts also occur as vehicles exit.

Did you know roundabouts improve traffic flow and are better for the environment? Research shows that traffic flow improves following conversion of traditional intersections to roundabouts. Less idling reduces vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

Did you know roundabouts generally are safer for pedestrians? Pedestrians walk on sidewalks around the perimeter and cross only one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing distances are relatively short and traffic speeds are lower than at traditional intersections.

Before you play roundabout roulette, check out this great graphic explaining how to drive in a roundabout at http://www.districtgov.org/community/Roundabout-02-08-12.pdf.

Now that I know more, I’m all for roundabouts!  Anything that helps to keep us safe out there is a good thing!

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Heading out to get in some last vacation time with the family before school starts back up?  Getting away from the homestead and staying in a hotel where someone else does the cleaning and changes the sheets is one of the top perks of traveling for me.

When you stay at a hotel, motel, resort, inn, or bed and breakfast, you are expecting to have a fun, relaxing time away from home. However, if hotel or motel property owners do not sufficiently take care of their building and the surrounding area, it could lead to serious guest injuries.

The establishment has a general duty to exercise reasonable care in operating its business and protecting its guests.  A guest is considered an “invitee” under Florida premises liability law and each guest is legally entitled to protection.  A Florida establishment must inspect the grounds and maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition free from any hazards or dangerous conditions.

Florida Duties

The premises include the establishment’s shuttle bus, the parking lot and inside the establishment itself. This includes all common areas, meeting and banquet halls, swimming pools, guest rooms, and other areas where guests are free to move about.  According to Florida Statutes, the duties it must fulfill on behalf of guests include:

  • Maintain adequate lighting
  • Keep steps dry and unobstructed
  • Repair defects and maintain furniture
  • Control insect infestation (bed bugs)
  • Maintain proper security to avoid theft and assaults on guests
  • Exercise reasonable care in hiring hotel staff
  • Train hotel pool staff to prevent injuries to guests
  • Maintain elevators
  • Maintain locks on guest rooms
  • Prevent criminal activity or theft

If you have been injured while on the premises of a hotel, motel, resort, inn or bed and breakfast and that injury could have been prevented, you may not be responsible for your medical bills, your lost wages or your pain and suffering. Give me a call to discuss what happened to you and remember, I never a charge for the consultation!

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Florida is in the middle of daily monsoons and driving is difficult when you can hardly see two feet in front of you.  We do not always drive in ideal conditions. Heavy rains, thunderstorms, and flood conditions make for difficult driving, and drivers must develop special skills for handling these conditions. Here is some great advice from the web when approaching any of these adverse conditions:

  1. Unlike the 2-or-more-seconds rule used in good road conditions, in any inclement weather situation the driver should increase following distance to at least 4 seconds or more. It takes longer to stop in adverse conditions.
  2. Don’t use cruise controlwhen driving in inclement weather. If a car begins to hydroplane, for example, the car will shoot forward at an erratic speed. Inclement weather situations call for driver control, not automated systems.
  3. Do nothing abruptly. Start, stop, turn and change lanes more slowly than normal.
  4. Be more meticulous about signaling so other drivers will know your intentions. Because your brakes may be less effective, increase your following distance.
  5. Apply the brakes earlier and with less force than normal to increase the stopping distance ahead of you and let those behind you know you’re slowing down.
  6. If possible, drive in the center lanes or stay in the middle of the road to avoid standing water. Most roads in the USA are “crowned” (slightly higher in the center than on the sides) so water will collect at the edges before it drains away.
  7. Avoid driving through pools of water in the road by driving around it or choosing a different route if at all possible. It could be just water, but it could also be hiding debris or a pothole.
  8. Don’t attempt to cross running water. If the force of the water is greater than the weight of your vehicle, your car could become buoyant and actually float off of the road. After you drive through standing water, tap on your brake pedal lightly to dry off some of the water on your rotors.
  9. Turn on your headlights even when there’s a light sprinkle to help you see the road and other drivers see you. But don’t blast your high beams in rain or fog because the light may be reflected back at you.
  10. Watch out for pedestrians. The rain will create more distractions and deaden sounds, so they’ll be less able to watch out for you.
  11. Never drive through a rain so heavy that you can’t see the road. If it’s raining that hard, pull over and wait it out. If your vehicle stalls in deep water, leave it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

Collisions are more likely to happen in the rain, so remember, if you or someone you love is in a collision, get medical help immediately and call me for your free consultation.  We are available 24/7 to help you.  Marianne Howanitz PA, where we put the Passion in Compassion.

Stay safe out there friends, Marianne

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In the last week, I have received calls from three different people who have been involved in accidents with uninsured motorists. This means that I cannot help them recover all their medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. I feel so badly for them and wanted to let you all know what you could do to help protect yourself.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 4 drivers in Florida are not insured? And nationally, the rate is about 1 in 7. A partial answer to this horrifying statistic is that I would highly recommend everyone carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It is relatively cheap to purchase when renewing your auto insurance and a real-life saver should you be involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is basically what the name suggests, a driver and vehicle without an auto insurance policy. But, what does it mean to be underinsured? Let’s say you’re involved in a crash in which the other driver is at fault. You find out the other driver only has $10,000 in bodily injury liability coverage and that amount is not enough to cover your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. In this case, the other driver would be considered under-insured—meaning that they have an auto policy but it’s not enough to cover all of your damages.
This is something you’ll need to think about, as the limits for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can range from $10,000 to over $1 million. Some people choose a limit equal to their bodily injury liability limit, but that’s not always a requirement. For help deciding, you may want to consider a number of factors, including what kind of health insurance you have and whether you have access to short- and long-term disability through your employer to ensure you don’t lose out on wages if you’re too injured to work.
What does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage typically cover? With this added coverage, your insurance company basically steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver, therefore, it covers the same damages as bodily injury liability insurance: past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages and, if you are permanently injured, past and future non-economic damages like pain, suffering, scarring, disfigurement and loss of the ability to enjoy life.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides coverage to the driver and all passengers in the insured vehicle. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage also follows the insured. For example, if you are a passenger in your friend’s car and an uninsured/underinsured motorist injures you when he crashes into your friend’s car, your policy will cover your damages not covered by the at-fault driver to the limits of your own underinsured/underinsured motorist policy.
Should you be involved in an accident, be sure to get medical help immediately and if you have questions about the accident, please give me a call for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to help you.

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I see the tents popping up all around town to sell fireworks.  Are you planning to buy some?  Fireworks are synonymous with our celebration of Independence Day and I fondly remember being a child and the thrill of setting off sparklers and bottle rockets. Yet, the thrill of fireworks can also bring injury and pain.  On average, 230 people go the emergency room every day with fireworks related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.

I am always surprised at how powerful the fireworks that my neighbors shoot off each year are.  Manufacturers, and those that sell their products, have a responsibility to meet certain standards of health and safety, to include proper instructions and warnings on a product, and to remove potentially dangerous products from the market.  If a person is injured due to a defective product or inadequate warnings, they may make a claim against the manufacturer or those in the chain of distribution of the fireworks.

When people carelessly use fireworks or don’t follow the instructions, innocent people may pay the price. When this happens, the injured party has the right to file a claim for damages against those that injure them.  Many times homeowner’s insurance will cover such claims.  It takes an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to successfully pursue justice in such cases.

Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of defective fireworks, inadequate warnings or someone’s negligent use of fireworks? It is important that you contact legal counsel as soon as possible.  The preservation of evidence needed to prove your claim is of utmost importance and may be lost or destroyed if not preserved immediately.

We wish all a happy and festive Independence Day and remember to stay safe out there.

YOUR #accident/injuryattorney Marianne

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Getting ready for that long-awaited road trip to a great vacation?  Along with finding that perfect bathing suit and downloading the perfect playlist, you should also be preparing your car for the trip.  Tires are an important part of your car’s safety and tire blowout season begins in the middle of May and runs through early October.  The reason for this is simple.  It is during this time frame that the temperatures outside are the hottest and motorists are taking longer road trips in heavily loaded vehicles.  It is this combination that can push a damaged or neglected tire past its breaking point.  Even if you have been lucky enough to avoid tire problems, you have likely seen “road gators” (treads of blown out tires) littering the highways throughout this time frame.  Though blowouts are most common during these months, they can happen any time of year, especially in warmer climates like Florida.

The NHTSA estimates that 8,000+ car accidents every year can be attributed to tire blowouts.

These are the most common causes of tire blowouts, and how you can prevent them according to Virginia Tire Service in Arizona:

  1. This is the number one tire killer and something so easy to remedy. Air is what allows the tire to carry the weight of your vehicle and all of its cargo. The internal parts of the tire:  fabric, rubber, composites and steel flex beyond their limits when the tire is improperly inflated. They will weaken, over-flex and eventually fail, which results in a blowout.  The recommended tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door jamb.  Most vehicles manufactured in 2007 and newer are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), however, you shouldn’t rely solely on the system. The system issues an alert only when a tire is significantly underinflated.  Regardless of what your TPMS says, you should check your tire pressure at least once a month, maybe twice from May through October.
  2. Worn tires.  The heat of the roads in the summer will easily rip away at the remaining tread resulting in a blown tire. Today’s tires almost always have a wear bar built into the grooves.  If the wear bar is even with the tread of your tires, they need to be replaced.  Another way to tell is the penny test.  Basically, you place a penny head down between the tread.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then the tread is dangerously low and you need a new tire.
  3. Too much weight. Overloading your vehicle and applying too much weight to the tires can also critically damage them.  When hauling a heavy load, you may need to reconsider the number of passengers along for the ride or if you need to carry a lot of passengers you may need to limit the amount of cargo you bring on board.  You can find your vehicle’s Gross Vehicular Weight Rating in the same places as the recommended tire pressure.  The maximum recommended weight your tires can carry is based on tires that are properly inflated.  If they are underinflated, the number would drop significantly.
  4. Potholes and other road hazards. Slamming into a pothole, driveway lip or other road hazards are another way to injure your tire leaving it prone to a blowout.  These impacts can pinch the internals of the tire between the wheel and the object.  If the impact is hard enough, it can even fray or cut the tires internals.  Sometimes, the damage is immediately apparent and other times, it could take days, weeks, or even months for the damage to become apparent.  Which leads us to the next potential cause of a blowout.
  5. Slow death. It is not uncommon for a tire to suffer damage that causes its demise long before it fails.  Often motorists neglect to check their tire pressure or fail to realize they have a slow leak.  When summer vacation comes along they will load their family into the car and head off for a fun-filled vacation.  The combination of the heavy vehicle load, the high summer temperature and highway speeds add stress to the already failing tire and it blows. Monthly or bimonthly tire checks can prevent such a situation.

When a vehicle has a defective tire, this may significantly compromise a driver’s ability to maneuver the vehicle.  This may lead to a single-vehicle or multi-vehicle collision that leaves drivers, passengers and even nearby pedestrians or bicyclists seriously injured.  Should this happen to you, make sure that you call an experienced dangerous and defective products attorney to help you get compensated for your medical bills, lost wages and ruined vacation.

And as always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne

 

 

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Did you know that one person is injured or killed in a truck accident every 16 minutes? 

The United States Department of Transportation estimates that over 500,000 truck accidents occur every year. More than 75% of truck driving accidents are due to the driver of the passenger vehicle.

Did you know that typically the injuries to the victims are severe and often fatal?

Large trucks account for only about 3% of auto accidents, yet because of their sheer size and weight, a semi-truck or 18-wheeler can cause incredible damage to the other vehicles involved and their passengers.

Do you know what to do if you are injured in an accident involving a commercial truck?

Seek medical help immediately, make sure everything is documented, make sure that law enforcement has responded to the accident and made a report.  Never take any calls from insurance companies without consulting with an attorney that specializes in trucking accident collisions first.  Often these accidents are the result of trucking safety or driving law violations. State and federal regulations often come into play in a truck collision. Truck accident cases can be complicated because the truck, trailer and contents can be owned by different companies and operated by yet other independent companies. For this reason, it’s imperative that you work with a Florida truck accident attorney who is skilled in this area of litigation.

Do you know what to do if someone loses their life in a trucking accident?

Once again, it is important that you speak with a skilled truck accident attorney.  There are many processes that the families of the deceased must go through and it can be very overwhelming given the grief and stress they are already enduring.  Having the right attorney and her staff helping them through the process can provide a lot of relief at that time.

Did you know that Marianne Howanitz is a nationally recognized truck accident attorney?

I am always available to answer any other questions or concerns you might have about a truck accident. And, as always, there is no charge to you at any time until or unless a settlement is reached.  You may reach me at 352-512-0444 or through my website: www.ocalaaccidentlaw.com.

Did you know this fun fact?

The world’s most solitary tree is located at an oasis in the Tenere Desert in Central Africa. There’s not one other standing tree within 31 miles. In 1960, it was smashed into by a truck.

As always, stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #truckaccidentattorney, Marianne

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Summer time and the driving is easy! Getting ready for a road trip this summer?  Check out these timely tips to keep you and your family safe on the road to paradise.

  1. Get your car serviced.

Regular maintenance such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks, and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns. If your vehicle has not been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with your mechanic right away.

  1. Check your tires and replace your wiper blades.

Before a road trip, most people fill up the tank, gather snacks and make sure the kids are set up with movies and games. What about your tires? Even if not prompted by a warning light or unusual sounds, always double check your tires’ air pressure and tread depth before an extended trip, as healthy tires improve gas mileage and save money at the pump.

  1. Keep your eyes on the road.

One of the easiest ways to avoid accidents, wrong turns or other highway mishaps is to stay focused. Cell phones are most often responsible for distracted driving, one-third (33 percent) of Americans regularly take phone calls while on the road, and one in 10 drivers (11 percent) admit to texting while driving. To help put this risk into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports texting while driving on the highway is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of an entire football field.

  1. Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.

That being said, also, never drive too fast for conditions or overdrive your headlights.

 

  1. Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.

Most experts agree that you shouldn’t drive more than 2 hours without stopping for a break.  Also, be aware of any medications that you may be taking, such as antihistamines, that may be impairing your ability to stay alert.

  1. Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.

Leave plenty of room between yourself and other cars.  Be especially careful around semi-trucks, don’t cut in front of them too closely as they require much more room to slow down or stop than cars do.

  1. Who ya gonna call?

Even the most prepared and proactive drivers can end up on the side of the road because of unforeseen driving events. Whether it’s a flat tire, dead battery or overheated engine, have a backup plan for a roadside service such as AAA.

By following these quick tips and guidelines to safety, you can go full steam ahead to wherever your destination this summer may be! And should you or someone you know be injured in an accident, remember me-YOUR #accidentattorney.

Marianne Howanitz

 

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Every car accident claim needs a strong foundation of evidence to establish fault for the crash and show the extent of the damages you or your loved one suffered.
Even though you may be the innocent victim of someone else’s negligence, when it comes to your day in court, YOU have the burden of proving who’s at fault and what your damages are.  The at-fault driver or owner of the car does not have a duty to preserve evidence for you to present your case.

Physical evidence from the accident comes in many forms. First is pictures and video, which have become increasingly easier to gather thanks to camera phones. You or someone at the scene should take photos of the area, any damaged property, the vehicles involved, and your injuries. Also see if there are any nearby buildings with outside surveillance cameras that may have captured the crash.

So…what do you do?  If you or a loved one is injured due to the negligence of another, you need to make sure you get an attorney that will aggressively investigate your claim and lock in all of the evidence at the get go.  That’s our “lock and load” stage.  Whether it’s visiting accident scenes, junk yards, inspecting vehicles, obtaining surveillance videos or tracking down witnesses and getting their statements, we are on it.  Don’t hesitate to call me immediately from the accident scene.  I want to be there when you need me most.  When it comes down to it, you want an attorney that’s not afraid to get “down and dirty” for you!

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I know that I am looking forward to a great vacation with my family this summer, are you?  Even when we don’t go anywhere there are lots of things to do in my neck of the woods here in Ocala, FL.  Or, lots of ways to get injured, if you look at it with my world view as an accident and injury attorney!

In the past we have represented clients with injuries from the following accidents over the summer:

  • Personal watercraft, jet-ski, and water ski accidents.
  • Boating and cruise ship accidents.
  • Scuba diving and parasailing accidents.
  • Swimming pool and spa drowning accidents and slip and fall accidents.
  • Hotels escalator and elevator accidents and slip and fall accidents.
  • Injuries due to violence caused by negligent security or inadequate security.
  • Acts of crime leading to injuries including sexual assaults and assault and battery.
  • Rented vehicle crashes, car accidents, bus and public transportation accidents.
  • Amusement park, theme park ride and attraction equipment failure or maintenance accidents.
  • Negligent hiring and employee training.

Business owners, hotel owners, rental companies, and theme parks owners who cater to vacationers have a responsibility to do more than just open their doors for business. They must provide reasonably safe premises, protection from dangers, and adequate warnings about hazards. Rental equipment and machinery must function properly.

These types of accidents really require a good personal injury attorney to make sure that you recover your health, finances and life back again.  And remember, call one quickly, as evidence is likely to “disappear” while you deal with your injuries!

YOUR #accidentandinjury attorney Marianne