For many, the winter holidays are a time of joy, celebration and tradition. Decorating your home, yard or office is a fun, festive way to celebrate the season. A little planning can help you enjoy your display all season long. Following are some tips to help keep your family and friends safe around your decorative displays.

Planning your Holiday Display

  • Plan your display according to the number and location of available outlets, and avoid overloading electrical outlets.
  • Use lights that have been tested for safety – look for a certification mark from UL, CSA, ETL or other nationally-recognized laboratories. Consider using LED lights when possible – they run cooler, use less energy and last longer than incandescent lights.
  • Never exceed the maximum number of strings or devices that may be linked together, as indicated on decoration packaging.
  • Carefully inspect all lights and decorations for cracks, damaged sockets and loose or bare wires prior to use – these defects can cause a serious fire or shock.

Decorating Safely

  • When decorating the outside of your home, keep yourself, your decorations and equipment at least 10 feet from power lines. Make sure decorations are well-ventilated, protected from weather and a safe distance away from flammable items.
  • Use wooden or fiberglass ladders when putting up electrical décor and lights outside as metal ladders conduct electricity.
  • Unplug electric lights, devices and decorations before installing or replacing bulbs, changing parts or attempting other repairs.
  • Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to reduce the risk of electric shock. Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
  • Secure lights, decorations and cords to prevent wind damage. Never staple, nail through or fasten electrical wires or extensions cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation. This could cause electrical shock or fire.

During the Holidays 

  • Turn off all lights and electrical decorations before leaving your home or office, or going to bed.
  • If possible, use battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles to avoid the hazards of an open flame. If you choose to light candles, place them away from flammable or combustible materials, including other decorations, fabrics, plastic or paper products.
  • Do not put candles in places where they might be easily knocked over, and never leave a lit candle unattended.
  • Extinguish all candles before leaving a room or going to bed.

Packing and Storage

  • Inspect and discard damaged decorations prior to packing and storing them.
  • Store decorations in a dry location that is out of the reach of children and pets, as well as heat sources and open flames.
  • Stack boxes in a corner or other stable location, and never higher than eye level to avoid injury or damage from toppling.

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”— Sophocles, Antigone”

In an article written by Shefali Luthra on November 9, 2015 in the Washington Post, she tells the story of Charles Thompson of Greenville, S.C.

Mr. Thompson checked into the hospital one July morning in 2011, expecting a standard colonoscopy. He never anticipated how wrong things would go.

Partway through, a doctor emerged from the operating room to tell Thompson’s wife, Ann, that there had been complications: His colon may have been punctured. He needed emergency surgery.

Thompson, now 61, almost died on the operating table after experiencing cardiac distress. His right coronary artery required multiple stents. He also relies on a pacemaker.

“He’s not the same as before,” said Ann Thompson, 62. “Our whole lifestyle changed — now all we do is sit at home and go to church. And that’s because he’s scared of dying.”

When things like this happen, questions arise: Who’s responsible? If treatment makes things worse — meaning that a patient needs more care than expected — who pays?

It depends.

Despite provisions in the 2010 health law that put added emphasis on quality of care, entering the hospital still carries risk. Whether because of mistakes, infections or plain bad luck, those who go in don’t always come out better.

More than 400,000 Americans die annually in part because of avoidable medical errors, according to a 2013 estimate published in the Journal of Patient Safety. In 2008, the most recent year studied, medical errors cost the country $19.5 billion, most of which was spent on extra care and medication, according to another report.

If a problem such as Thompson’s stemmed from negligence, a malpractice lawsuit may be an option. But lawyers who collect only when there’s a settlement or a victory may not take on a case unless it’s exceptionally clear that the doctor or hospital was at fault.

That creates a Catch-22, said John Goldberg, a Professor at Harvard Law School and an expert in tort law. “We’ll never know if something has happened because of malpractice,” he said, “because it’s not financially viable to bring a lawsuit.” That leaves the patient responsible for extra costs.

Ann and Charles Thompson maintain that he experienced an avoidable error. The hospital denied wrongdoing, she said, but the physician’s notes indicated they had been advised of the risks of the procedure, including injury to the colon. The Thompsons tried pursuing a lawsuit but couldn’t find a lawyer who would take the case. The hospital and the doctor declined to comment, with the hospital citing patient privacy laws.

Because of his heart problem, which led to the loss of his specialized driver’s license, Thompson lost his truck-driving job. He lost the health insurance he had through his job, depriving him of help in paying for follow-up care. The couple paid close to $600,000 out of pocket, depleting their life savings. They struggled to pay other bills until Thompson was awarded disability benefits, his wife said.

“You would expect if [health-care providers] make the mistake, they would make you whole,” said Leah Binder, President of the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that grades hospitals on their record of preventing errors, injuries, accidents and infections. “But that is not what happens. In health care, you pay and you pay and you pay.”

There’s no single rule for how hospitals handle the cost of care when patients have bad outcomes and fault is disputed, said Nancy Foster, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety at the American Hospital Association.

Some hospitals have rules requiring that a patient be told right away if something happened that shouldn’t have and, to the best of the institution’s knowledge, why. Typically, those rules stipulate that if the hospital finds that it erred, the necessary follow-up care is free. Hospitals may not have an obvious financial interest in admitting guilt, though research suggests that patients are less likely to sue when hospitals are transparent about medical mishaps.

“If the [need for further] care was preventable, we’re waiving bills,” said David Mayer, Vice President of Quality and Safety for MedStar Health, which operates 10 hospitals in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Virginia’s Inova Health System has a similar policy, said spokeswoman Tracy Connell.

Most hospitals don’t have such rules, said Julia Hallisy, a Patient Safety Advocate from California. That may change: A number of professional and safety groups are urging more hospitals to adopt them. Supporters include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, Leapfrog, the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission, which accredits many health-care organizations. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is also on board.

As an accident and injury attorney, I know that the negligent acts of others can devastate victim’s lives and the lives of their families.  I see this on a daily basis.  Can you imagine a world where people took responsibility for the harm they caused another?  I, and all other personal injury attorney’s, would be out of a job, and frankly, that would be fine with me.

It is encouraging to see some medical facilities “owning up” to their mistakes and trying to do all they can to heal their patients/victims.  Unfortunately, it is often the liability insurance companies that make the decisions of whether they will take responsibility for the actions of their insureds and “do the right thing” by paying a claim.  I like to think that I give every opportunity to the insurance companies to do the right thing, often with the encouragement of their own insureds.  However, the ultimate decision to resolve a claim or not lies with the insurance companies and their defense attorneys, who make more money the longer a case is drawn out.  What’s the solution?  While I am encouraged at the “do the right thing” movement, unfortunately for a lot of my clients, they have to go through the time and expense of litigation to achieve justice.

Stay safe out there!

YOUR accident and injury attorney,

Marianne Howanitz





The good news is tomorrow is National Love Your Lawyer Day!! The first Friday of every November is a day to show love, appreciation and thanks to lawyers and judges everywhere.  It’s a day to shower your favorite legal eagle with sincere affection, a phone call or card.  The bad news is that also means no lawyer jokes and no lawyer bashing on that day!!

National Love Your Lawyer Day started out as National I Love My Lawyer Day in 2001. Attorney and marketer Nader Anise founded the American Lawyers Public Image Association in 2000, to create the “day” and to further four goals:

  1. Get the public used to hearing the words “Love” and “Lawyer” together;
  2. Get lawyers to give back to the public through pro bono work and charity;
  3. Raise awareness that not all lawyer jokes are funny; and
  4. Get media to cover why lawyers should be celebrated.

The other good news is this is Thursday, so we’re going to publish our “Friday Funny Lawyer” joke today!

A group of terrorists burst into the conference room at the Hilton Hotel where the American Bar Association was holding its Annual Convention. More than a hundred lawyers were taken as hostages.

The terrorist leader announced that, unless their demands were met, they would release one lawyer every hour.

OK, now that was funny and I’m a lawyer!


Halloween is a magical time when you are a child.  Getting to stay outside after dark, dressing up, the prospect of candy and scary (but not too scary) trick-or-treaters you might run into, all make for some high excitement.  Children aren’t very safety aware at the best of times, on Halloween they are even more distracted.  Protect the many little ghosts and goblins coming to your house, and yourself from potential lawsuits, with these easy safety tips tomorrow.

  • Replace burned out lights to welcome trick-or-treaters with your porch lights and any exterior lights on.
  • Tidy up your yard. Make sure you remove things trick-or-treaters could trip over such as garden hoses, bikes and lawn decorations. Clear the sidewalks to avoid slip and falls or trip and falls.
  • Most likely, the number of people in costumes will frighten your pet(s). Keep your pets away from the door and take no chances they might bite a child.
  • If you are driving on Halloween, be sure to observe the streets for foot traffic. Be on the alert for excited youngsters, whose vision may be obscured by masks, darting out into traffic. Pedestrian accidents are always traumatic for all involved, not just the pedestrian.  Hitting a child is certainly one of the worst nightmares of drivers.

Remember to be safe out there!

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than one fifth of the people killed on the world’s roads each year are not travelling in a car, on a motorcycle or even on a bicycle – they are pedestrians. Pedestrian deaths and injuries are often preventable, and proven interventions1413390724112_Image_galleryImage_Music_Album_Abbey_Road_by exist, yet in many locations pedestrian safety does not attract the attention it merits

Florida comes in at the 3rd highest rate for pedestrian fatalities in the US with Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people: 2.46. Total pedestrian fatalities were 476 (3rd highest) and total traffic fatalities: 2,424 (3rd highest).  Pedestrian fatalities fell by 4.3% between 2011 and 2012 to 2.46 deaths per 100,000 residents, one of only two states on this list where the death rate declined over that period. This improvement may be due to Florida’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, which provides resources to improve local infrastructures. With one of the highest shares of the population in the country commuting more than 30 minutes per day — most of which will travel by car — Florida has a lot to gain from ensuring pedestrian safety. Florida’s high pedestrian death rate may be due in part to its large elderly population, which accounts for 18.2% of the state’s total residents and is the highest proportion in the country. According to one recent study by 24/7 Wall St., residents over 65 years old account for a relatively large proportion of pedestrian deaths, and are more likely than other groups to be involved in accidents.

Everyone is a pedestrian* at some time, and most know to keep their distance from moving traffic. Despite that, pedestrians were among the few categories of road users where deaths rose, accounting for 14% of total traffic fatalities in 2011, up 3% from 2010. If the proportions remain the same, we can expect that one pedestrian will be injured every 8 minutes and one will die every 2 hours in a traffic crash this year.

Nearly 3 out of 4 pedestrian deaths occur in urban environments (73%), at non-intersections (70%), during the nighttime (70%), and many involve alcohol. More than a third (37%) of the pedestrians killed, and 1 in 8 (13%) of the drivers in pedestrian fatalities, had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 g/dL or higher in 2011, the illegal limit in every State. Either the driver or pedestrian, or both, had some alcohol in 47% of all fatal pedestrian crashes.

What we know is that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently and many often use cell phones and music players while walking or driving. Only 60% of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of-way (Review of Studies on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety, 1991-2007).

*NHTSA defines a pedestrian as any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, in a wheelchair, sitting, or lying down. Crashes that occurred exclusively on private> property, including parking lots and driveways, are not included in NHTSA’s FARS and GES databases but are gathered in NHTSA’s Not-In-Traffic Surveillance System (, and


Have you ever slipped and fallen before…I mean really busted your bum.  It’s EMBARASSING right?  All you want to do is get up and make sure that no one saw you.  However, you can get seriously injured if you slip and fall or trip and fall…and if it’s due to someone else’s negligence, you have a legal right to be compensated from the person or business that caused that dangerous condition.

Keep in mind, after the mess has been cleared, these cases are extremely hard to prove.  First, any evidence that the business owner repaired the dangerous condition is generally NOT admissible in court to prove that it existed.  This is because the public policy for promoting people to correct dangerous conditions outweighs an injured party’s right to use that fact against the owner.

Second, when considering liability exposure for a premises owner, the general rule in Florida, as related to invitees (i.e., people present for the benefit of themselves and the owner), is that a property owner owes two duties:

(1) the duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition (i.e., free of hazards); and

(2) the duty to warn of latent or concealed dangers which are or should be known to the owner and which are unknown to the invitee, and cannot be discovered through the exercise of due care.

However, changes in Florida law now places the burden of proof completely upon the injured party, improving the defense’s ability to get the case dismissed before ever going before a jury.  The statute requires that the plaintiff must “prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”

Generally, actual notice is difficult for plaintiffs to prove in most slip and fall matters. Therefore, proof of constructive knowledge is generally argued by plaintiffs to prove their cases. However, this, too, was contemplated by Florida Statue § 768.0755, which explains that constructive knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence showing that:

(1) The dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or

(2) The condition occurred with regularity and was, therefore, foreseeable.

The law is even more difficult to overcome by an injured business patron if they slip on a “foreign transitory substance”, i.e. the grape on the floor, the water leaking from the freezer.  But that’s a topic for another blog.

It is often helpful to a plaintiff’s case to investigate the “mode of operation” of the business or the knowledge of former employees of the business to shed light on exactly how long this dangerous condition existed and how long they knew about it.

The single most important thing to remember if you slip and fall or  trip and fall at a place of business is to IMMEDIATELY TAKE PICTURES OF THE DANGEROUS CONDITION…the water on the floor, the uneven flooring or misplaced rugs, rotten wood, exposed nails…..with those pictures your case goes from a FIGHT to MAKING IT RIGHT. 

So please let your loved ones know that if they fall, remember to STOP, DROP AND SHOOT (photos, that is)!

Stay safe out there! YOUR accident and injury attorney, Marianne Howanitz

sheeps clothing
sheeps clothing

Yesterday on the way to work, while sitting at a red light, you were rear-ended by a car that didn’t stop, or even slow down. The next day the adjuster for the insurance company of the person who hit you calls on the telephone. All he needs before he can pay you (he says) is a brief recorded statement to understand exactly what happened. He’s very nice and you have nothing to hide, do you? So what could be wrong with answering his questions on tape? It turns out, a lot!

You should never give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the person who hit you. It will only be used against you. And you have the right to say NO to this adjuster unless they get a court order (which is extremely rare).

As a general rule, you should not give a recorded statement concerning a motor vehicle accident to anyone without the advice of an attorney. You shouldn’t give an oral statement either. To reduce claims paid, the insurance company must deny claims made. To do this, company employees will look for reasons to deny your claim. They may use your recorded statement for this purpose. How?

Insurance company employees will compare the statement you gave them with other statements you have made including statements you gave an investigating police officer or statements you made during your deposition in a lawsuit arising from the accident. Where they find inconsistencies in your multiple statements, and this is not unusual when someone tells the story of his accident more than once, sometimes weeks or months apart, the company will claim you lied. The company may deny your claim as a result.

In a lawsuit, defense counsel can use your recorded statement to cross-examine you at trial or during your deposition. You may not remember exactly what you said in your statement. As a result, you may contradict yourself in some way. Although you think the discrepancy is inconsequential, the defendant’s lawyer will stress the importance of your misstatement to a jury and use it to convince the jury that your testimony is not believable.

The bottom line is that you should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company representative without the advice and guidance of an attorney. When you turn down the representative’s request, be courteous but firm. No matter how garrulous and personable they may be when they’re talking to you, always keep in mind that they are employees of the insurance company and represent only its interests – not yours.

Questions about your rights?  Give me a call at 352-512-0444.

YOUR accident and injury attorney,

Marianne Howanitz

Posted Under: news


Kudos to the Marion County School Board for proactively making school buses safer for our kids!  The School Board has recognized the dangerous effects that Sleep Apnea has on their school bus drivers by instituting screening and treatment for their at risk drivers.

Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. According to the National Institute for Health untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
  • Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
  • Make arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, more likely
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

Raw data suggest that sleep apnea raises the risk that a person will be involved in a motor vehicle accident. New data not only confirm this finding, but show that sleep apnea patients are at very high risk of serious, life-threatening car wrecks.

Alan Mulgrew, MD, and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, compared the claims and accident records of 800 patients with confirmed sleep apnea with those of 800 people who did not have sleep apnea. Over the three years before their diagnosis, the sleep apnea patients were nearly five times more likely to have serious car crashes than were other drivers. Serious car crashes were defined as those with injury or head-on crashes. New evidence adds to the already compelling case that driving a car while not properly rested produces similar risks as driving drunk. The recent study was published in the journal Sleep and found people with obstructive sleep apnea were 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in an accident than people without the sleep disorder.

Insufficient sleep has been officially classified as a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as nearly 40 percent of people report unintentionally falling asleep at least once in the past month. On their own, the dangers of sleep deprivation include a suppressed immune system and moderate cognitive impairment. But the risks increase even further when those setbacks are applied to a complex activity, like driving a car. In 2010, a study found 20 to 25 hours of sleep loss resulted in the same levels of depleted brainpower as a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10.

Schools buses are commercial motor vehicles. Fatigued driving has been and remains the #1 safety hazard in the commercial motor vehicle driving statistics for decades. Understanding of the importance of recognition of sleepiness as a risk factor for safe driving and to encourage interventions to reduce risk involved in drowsy driving Congress unanimously approved a bill two years ago that required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish rules that require drivers in the transportation industry to be screened for sleep apnea.

So, once again, hats off to the School Board of Marion County for working hard to keep our students safer!

Remember-be safe out there!!

Your accident and injury attorney, Marianne


Posted Under: news


Motorcycles are fun and fuel efficient. That’s not news to anyone who’s ridden one. But neither is the fact that they’re also way more dangerous than a car. The cold reality is that motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). And nearly half of all motorcycle deaths are the result of single-vehicle crashes.

The numbers are even scarier for older riders, who are increasingly taking up or returning to motorcycling after many years. Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones.

Still, many enthusiasts enjoy a lifetime of riding without injury. The key to optimizing your odds is to be prepared and avoid risks. Keep in mind that 48 percent of fatalities in 2010 involved speeding, according to the IIHS, and alcohol was a factor in 42 percent. Eliminate those factors and you’ve dramatically reduced your risk.

Below are 10 Motorcycle Safety Tips for New Riders and Expert Advice for Returning Riders published in Consumer Reports.

  • Don’t buy more bike than you can handle.If you’ve been off of motorcycles for a while, you may be surprised by the performance of today’s bikes. Even models with small-displacement engines are notably faster and more powerful than they were 10 or 20 years ago.When shopping for a bike, start with one that fits you. When seated, you should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground without having to be on tiptoes. Handlebars and controls should be within easy reach. Choose a model that’s easy for you to get on and off the center stand; if it feels too heavy, it probably is. A smaller model with a 250- to 300-cc engine can make a great starter or commuter bike. If you plan on doing a lot of highway riding, you might want one with an engine in the 500- to 750-cc range so you can easily keep up with traffic.
  • Invest in antilock brakes. Now available on a wide array of models, antilock brakes are a proven lifesaver. IIHS data shows that motorcycles equipped with ABS brakes were 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without it. “No matter what kind of rider you are, ABS can brake better than you,” says Bruce Biondo of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Motorcycle Safety Program. The reason is simple: Locking up the brakes in a panic stop robs the rider of any steering control. That can easily lead to a skid and crash, which can result in serious injury. ABS helps you retain steering control during an emergency stop, and it can be especially valuable in slippery conditions. This critical feature is now standard on many high-end models and adds only a few hundred dollars to the price of more basic bikes. You may be able to offset some of the cost with an insurance discount. Either way, we think it’s a worthwhile investment in your safety.
  • Hone your skills. As Honda’s Jon Seidel puts it, “There is nothing we could say or advise more than to go find a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course in your area. That’s critical, absolutely critical.” An MSF course or similar class can teach you the basics, as well as advanced techniques, such as how to perform evasive emergency maneuvers. The cost ranges from free to about $350. An approved safety course may make you eligible for an insurance discount and, in some states, to skip the road-test and/or the written test part of the licensing process. Some motorcycle manufacturers offer a credit toward the cost of a new motorcycle or training if a rider signs up for an MSF course. The MSF website lists about 2,700 locations for such courses around the United States.
  • Use your head.Yes, helmets are an emotional topic for some riders. But the facts show the risk. Riders without a helmet are 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash and are three times more likely to suffer brain injuries, than those with helmets, according to government studies. When Texas and Arkansas repealed their helmet laws, they saw a 31- and 21-percent increase in motorcycle fatalities, respectively. “It is absolute insanity to repeal helmet laws,” says Orly Avitzur, M.D., a neurologist and a Consumer Reports medical adviser. “Because helmets do save lives, it is insanity to expose the skull and the brain to potential trauma that could be prevented or at least mitigated.” A full-face helmet that’s approved by the Department of Transportation is the best choice. (Look for a DOT certification sticker on the helmet.) Modern helmets are strong, light weight, and comfortable, and they cut down on wind noise and fatigue. Keep in mind that helmets deteriorate over time, and may not be safe even if they look fine. The Snell Memorial Foundation, an independent helmet testing and standards-setting organization, recommends replacing a helmet every five years or sooner if it’s been damaged or has been in a crash. Beyond potential deterioration due to aging and exposure to hair oils and chemicals, Snell points out that there is often a notable improvement over that time in helmet design and materials.
  • Wear the right gear. Jeans, a T-shirt, and sandals are recipes for a painful disaster on a bike. Instead, you want gear that will protect you from wind chill, flying bugs and debris, and, yes, lots of road rash if you should slide out. For maximum protection, go for a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants, and over-the-ankle footwear, even in summer. Specially designed jackets with rugged padding and breathable mesh material provide protection as well as ventilation for riding in warm weather. You’ll also want effective eye protection; don’t rely on eyeglasses or a bike’s windscreen. Use a helmet visor or goggles. And keep in mind that car drivers who have hit a motorcycle rider often say they just didn’t see them, so choose gear in bright colors.
  • Be defensive. A recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car, car drivers were at fault 60 percent of the time. So, you need to be extra alert, especially in this age of epidemic phone use and texting behind the wheel. Keep an eye out for cars suddenly changing lanes or pulling out from side streets. And don’t tailgate; keeping a safe following distance is critical, both to ensure you have enough stopping distance and so you have time to react to obstacles in the road. An object that a car might easily straddle could be a serious hazard when on a bike.
  • Avoid bad weather. Slippery conditions reduce your margin for error. Rain not only cuts your visibility but reduces your tires’ grip on the road, which can make cornering tricky. If you need to ride in the rain, remember that the most dangerous time is right after precipitation begins, as the water can cause oil residue to rise to the top. And avoid making sudden maneuvers. Be especially gentle with the brakes, throttle, and steering to avoid sliding. When riding in strong side winds, be proactive in anticipating the potential push from the side by moving to the side of the lane the wind is coming from. This will give you some leeway in the lane, should a gust nudge you.
  • Watch for road hazards. A motorcycle has less contact with the pavement than a car. Sand, wet leaves, or pebbles can cause a bike to slide unexpectedly, easily resulting in a spill. Bumps and potholes that you might barely notice in a car can pose serious danger when on a bike. If you can’t avoid them, slow down as much as possible before encountering them, with minimal steering input. Railroad tracks and other hazards should be approached as close to a right angle as possible, to reduce the chances of a skid.
  • Be ready to roll.Before each ride, do a quick walk-around to make sure your lights, horn, and directional signals are working properly. Check the chain, belt, or shaft and the brakes. And inspect the tires for wear and make sure they’re set at the proper pressure. Motorcycle mechanics we’ve spoken with say they routinely see worn-out brakes and improperly inflated tires that greatly increase safety risks. When tires are under-inflated, “handling gets really hard, steering gets hard, and the bike doesn’t want to lean,” says Mike Franklin, owner of Mike’s Garage in Los Angles.

I hope these tips have been useful to you.  But, if you or someone you know is injured while riding their motorcycles, give me a call.  And, as always, be safe out there!

Marianne Howanitz, your accident and injury attorney.



The #1 Cause of Injury to children in car accidents is head injuries.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, children over the age of one were more likely to have cuts, bruises, and fractures of the head, while children under the age of one usually sustained concussions. These types of injuries have particularly serious impacts on children because of their skeletal development, and can cause effects ranging from reading disabilities and developmental delay to paralysis and psychological disorders. Children who suffer traumatic brain injuries can experience lasting or late-appearing neuropsychological problems, highlighting the need for careful monitoring of children as they grow older. For this reason, head injuries are of particular concern when studying children injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In children, some neurological deficits after head trauma may not manifest for many years. Frontal lobe functions, for example, develop relatively late in a child’s growth, so that injury to the frontal lobes may not become apparent until the child reaches adolescence when higher level reasoning develops. Since the frontal lobes control social interactions and interpersonal skills, early childhood brain damage may not manifest until such frontal lobe skills are called into play later in development. Likewise, injury to reading and writing centers in the brain may not become apparent until the child reaches school age and shows signs of delayed reading and writing skills.

Infants and young children with brain injuries may lack the communication skills to report headaches, sensory problems, confusion and similar symptoms. In a child with traumatic brain injury, you may observe:

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disorient
  • Change in eating or nursing habits/ Nausea or vomiting
  • Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
  • Unusual or easy irritability
  • Change in ability to pay attention
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities

Always see your doctor if you or your child has received a blow to the head or body that concerns you or causes behavioral changes. Seek emergency medical care following an accident in which children are in the vehicle.

Be safe out there!!  Marianne Howanitz