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Halloween is just around the corner and everyone’s in the mood for scary movies.  Remember the movie Christine?  Pretty scary for the time, right?  Well, this is not about that kind of phantom vehicle, sorry. This is about another scary kind of vehicle-the Phantom Vehicle. (Cue evil laugh)

A phantom vehicle is one that causes injury, death or damage either with or without making physical contact.  For example, if a vehicle runs you off the road and causes you to crash, they are considered a phantom vehicle.  The name refers to the fact that in most such cases, the driver of the phantom vehicle, much like a hit and run driver, leaves the scene, and thus in the subsequent accident investigation, the identity of the phantom vehicle is unknown. Only eye witness testimony, surveillance video or dash cam recordings may assist in identifying the phantom vehicle.  It is also critical to get the name and address of any witnesses who saw the phantom vehicle as they can help you establish your claim.

Most Uninsured Motorist insurance policies will provide coverage to customers who have been injured as a result of a negligent phantom vehicle.  However, many of those policies put restrictions on how phantom vehicle claims can be pursued.  For example, some policies require that a phantom vehicle accident be reported to the insurance company within 24 hours of the crash.  Meanwhile, other policies attempt to require that some physical impact between the vehicles occurred.

Phantom vehicle claims can be really tricky, so a wise consumer might want to consult an experienced Florida accident attorney.  I have handled many such cases and would be honored to help you, too.

The purpose of both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims is to provide compensation to injured individuals and although there are differences between the two, there are also areas of overlap. Workers’ compensation can provide monetary awards to those injured while on the job but there are some instances when injured workers may be able to also bring a personal injury claim. These include:

  • Injuries involving a defective product in which a claim may be brought against the product’s manufacturer
  • Injuries involving a toxic substance in which a toxic tort claim may be brought against the manufacturer of the toxic substance
  • Injuries occurring as a result of an employer’s intentional or egregious conduct
  • Injuries occurring in a workplace in which the employer is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance or is required but has failed to do so
  • Injuries caused by the negligence of a third party, someone other than an employer or a co-worker.

Personal injury claims may be brought by any injured person regardless of where the injury occurred. The key is not where the injury occurred but whether or not it was due to the negligence of another person, product or substance or if it was intentional.

Although workers’ compensation provides monetary and other benefits to an injured worker, the awards can be quite low compared to those allowed in a personal injury claim.  And, workers’ compensation does not provide for compensation for pain and suffering.

Since it doesn’t cost you anything, you should contact a Personal Injury Attorney to review your case to see if you may have both a workers’ compensation claim and personal injury claim arising out of the same incident.

And, as always, I would be happy to assist you with this!

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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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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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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

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Listen to any morning traffic report or talk to any friend and you know — car accidents happen all the time. And everyone’s got their own story. So how do you separate fact from fiction?

Here are five of the most persistent car accident myths compiled by Christopher Coble, and why they’re they are just plain wrong.

If You’re Not Hurt Right Away, You Can’t Sue for Injuries Later.

Some injuries, especially those like whiplash, can take weeks or months to develop noticeable symptoms. As long as you’re within your state’s statute of limitations, you can file an injury claim. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you should probably seek medical attention immediately, just to be safe.

The Other Driver and I Can Work It Out.

One of the biggest mistakes after a car accident is admitting fault. And this can happen easily, even by mistake, if you’re negotiating on your own with the other driver. While a minor fender bender may only require the exchange of insurance information, anything more serious may require legal assistance.

The Police Will Determine Whose Fault It Was.

If your car accident involves significant damage or any injury, you should call the police so they can write an accident report. And while this report may come in handy in court later, the police don’t ultimately decide blame for an accident. It’s possible that insurance companies, lawyers, and the courts could battle over liability, so you should supplement any police report with your own notes, pictures, evidence, and recollections.

Your Insurance Company Will Handle Everything.

While insurance is a great, and a legally required thing to have, your policy may not cover everything, and the company may not be eager to pay out what is covered. You should review any offer your insurance company makes and be especially wary of talking to the other driver’s insurance company or attorneys.

I Don’t Need an Attorney to File My Injury Claim.

It’s possible a minor accident won’t necessitate the advice of an attorney, but if there’s any dispute regarding who was at fault, the damages, or enforcing payment, you might want a good lawyer on your side. This is true even if you’re planning on settling your claim out of court.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself involved in a serious car accident. But if you have been, you may want to consult an attorney regarding your options.

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A black box. Also known as event data recorder it is traditionally associated with airplane accidents because it helps the investigators to determine what went wrong. But the technology is no longer limited to aircrafts. In fact, you most likely have a black box beneath your seat or behind the dashboard in your car. Almost all new cars are already equipped with one of these small devices and if you drive a car that is not older from 5 years, you most likely have one yourself. If you are not sure whether your car is equipped with a car black box or not, you can check the owner manual. The data from the car black box is a reliable record of the driver’s actions few seconds before the accident and is an important piece of evidence when there are no witnesses of the accident or/and the drivers are blaming each other for causing the collision. It records various data depending from one car to another, most often the speed, turning, braking, accelerating, decelerating, etc. about five seconds before the collision. However, those five seconds are usually enough to get the necessary information about the events that led to the accident. Even more, the data from the car black box has been also used as evidence in the courts and had a major influence on the outcome of the trial.

It is vitally important to contact an experienced Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible after your accident in order to preserve as much evidence as possible.

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than three million people are injured each year in vehicle accidents across the country. The different injuries resulting from a car accident can be as varied as the individual circumstances of each collision, but there are some types of injuries that are more common than others.

Some car accident injuries may resolve within a matter of days without any medical treatment at all. More serious injuries might become permanent and result in some level of physical disability.

According to NOLO.com, the type and severity of injuries suffered by drivers and passengers involved in a car accident depend on factors that include:

  • Was the person wearing a seat belt?
  • Did the person’s car get hit from the rear, side or front?
  • Was the occupant facing straight ahead in the seat? Or was the person’s head or body turned in a certain direction?
  • Was it a low-speed collision or a high-speed crash?
  • Did the car have airbags?

There are two broad categories of injuries caused by car accidents: (1) impact injuries, and (2) penetrating injuries. Impact injuries are typically caused when part of the person’s body hits some part of the interior of the car. Often this can be a knee hitting a dashboard or the head hitting the seat rest or the side window. Penetrating injuries are typically cuts and scrapes. Shattering glass or loose objects flying inside the car on impact often cause these types of injuries.

Soft Tissue Injuries and Car Accidents

A soft tissue injury is damage to the body’s connective tissue, which means muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is the most common type of injury resulting from a car accident. Soft tissue injuries can take many forms.

A “whiplash” type injury to the neck and upper back is a form of soft tissue injury. In that type of injury, the muscles and ligaments are stretched due to sudden movements imposed on the head and neck in the collision. These same mechanisms and forces can cause soft tissue injuries in other areas of the body such as the back. Car accidents often cause mid-back and low-back muscle sprains, and sometimes cause more serious back injuries because of the impact force against the spine.

Scrapes and Cuts

In a car collision, any loose objects inside the car immediately become projectiles thrown about the car’s interior. This includes cell phones, coffee mugs, eyeglasses, purses, books, dash-mounted GPS systems, etc. If any of these items hit your body, they can easily cut your skin or cause other injury.

Sometimes these scrapes and cuts are relatively minor and require no medical treatment. More serious injuries can result in loss of blood, and may require stitches.

Cuts or scrapes can also result if your airbag deploys in the collision.

Head Injuries and Car Accidents

Head injuries can take a number of forms, some relatively minor and others quite severe. A car’s unexpected stop or change in direction often causes the heads of the car occupants to experience sudden and unnatural movements. This can cause muscle strains in the neck and back (as discussed above). But the head itself can also be injured. Impact with a side window or steering wheel can cause scrapes and bruising to the head, or even deeper lacerations. More severe collision impacts can cause a closed head injury. In that situation, the fluid and tissue inside the skull are damaged because of the sudden movement or impact of the head. Less severe closed head injuries often result in concussions, while the most severe impacts can cause brain damage.

Chest Injuries

Chest injuries are also a common result of a car accident. These injuries typically take the form of contusions or bruises, but can be more severe, such as broken ribs or internal injuries. Drivers often experience chest injuries because of their position behind the steering wheel, which allows very little freedom of movement before the chest collides with the steering wheel. If a person’s body is thrown forward in a collision, even though it might not impact the steering wheel or dashboard, the chest area will still experience a high level of force against the shoulder harness or seat belt, which can cause severe bruising.

Arm and Leg Injuries

The same forces that unexpectedly throw a person’s head about in car collisions act similarly on arms and legs. If your car suffers a side impact, your arms and legs might be thrown hard against the door. While positioned as a passenger in a car, your legs typically have very little room for movement. Car accidents often cause an occupant’s knees to hit the dashboard or seats in front of them. Depending on the nature of the collision, injuries to your arms and legs might be mere bruises or scrapes, but sprains and even breaks can occur.

Keep in mind that some injuries are not readily apparent following a car accident. Depending on the nature of the injury, it may take days, weeks, or even months for symptoms to appear. So, if you are in a car accident, it is best to seek medical treatment for even the slightest discomfort or early indication of injury.

Since we don’t look like “Graham” (at least I hope you don’t!), drive safely out there friends!

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When you are the victim of a hit and run accident, you likely feel angry and confused, and it can be unclear how to get compensation for your damages and injuries. However, there are steps you can take to create a smoother experience, should you be in this unfortunate situation.

Gather as much information as you can to help police and your car insurance company identify the other vehicle. Try to find and get contact information for any witnesses.

If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and/or collision coverage, your provider may cover the damage in a hit and run and compensate you or any of your passengers for any injuries.

 

What Is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run accident is any accident in which a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing contact information.

Examples of hit and run accidents include:

  • A car hits you and speeds off.
  • A driver hits your unattended parked car and leaves no contact information or way of collecting damages.

What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident

While you’ll likely be feeling immense stress if you’re a victim of a hit and run, it will help to stay as calm as possible and gather as much information as you can.

Having more information:

  • Increases the chances that the police will catch the driver who hit you.
  • Helps your car insurance company make decisions about your claim.
  • First, get as much information as you can about the car that hit you, such as:
    • Make,
    • Model,
    • License plate number.

Finally, take the following steps before leaving the scene:

  • Write down the time and location of the accident.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene.
  • Take pictures of your car, especially if another car’s paint is visible on it. (This will help you prove that you are not attempting to defraud your insurance company.)

If the hit and run occurred when you were away from your parked car, jot down as much information as you can, such as:

  • Time,
  • Location,
  • Damage.

Who Pays for Hit and Run Damage and Medical Care?

This depends on certain factors, including whether the fleeing driver was identified and what state you live in.

Payment for hit-and-run claims usually comes through your own car insurance. In most states, the coverages in question are uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage, which essentially act as the at-fault (in this case, hit-and-run) driver’s liability coverage. Uninsured motorist bodily injury helps pay for injuries caused by a hit-and-run accident, while uninsured motorist property damage covers damages to your car.

The good news is that these coverages are relatively affordable, and they offer significant financial protection from the uninsured (or hit-and-run-committing) drivers up to the limits you select.

YOUR #accidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

Sources:  dmv.org and esurance.com