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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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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

What You Need to Know When a Dog Bite Leaves You Scarred in More Ways Than One (1)

Negligence on the part of the owner often plays a role in a dog bite or animal attack. Savage Stallion is not just a great name for a rock band! Laws vary by county, so if you, or someone you know, have been bitten or attacked, it’s important to seek legal advice right away to help determine liability and negligence and seek damages, if appropriate. And of course, if there is an injury, seek immediate medical attention!
Stay safe out there friends!
YOUR #accidentattorney Marianne

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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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Isn’t it wonderful that fall has finally arrived? With cooler air and beautiful, sunny days here finally, many of us are opting to get out our bicycles and head out for a ride after work or on the weekends. This is a great way to spend healthy time with friends and/or family.  Bicycle safety is a main concern for these rides as a report released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that Florida has the highest rate of bicycling deaths of any state in the nation, 0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate of 0.23 per 100,000.

HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?

Deaths and Injuries

In 2013 in the U.S., over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries.

Cost

Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.

  • You always need a helmet wherever you ride. You can expect to crash in your next 4,500 miles of riding, or maybe much sooner than that!
  • Even a low-speed fall on a bicycle trail can scramble your brains.
  • Laws in 22 states and at least 201 localities require helmets, although few cover adults.
  • Make sure your helmet fits to get all the protection you are paying for. A good fit means level on your head, touching all around, comfortably snug but not tight. The helmet should not move more than about an inch in any direction, and must not pull off no matter how hard you try.
  • Rear stabilizers do not substitute for careful strap adjustment.
  • Pick white or a bright color for visibility.
  • Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme “aero” shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag or shatter in a fall.
  • Consumer Reports has some brand recommendations here.

So, get out that dusty bike and polish it up!  Grasp life by the handlebars! Because four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul. And thank you for not driving (in the bike lane).

Stay safe out there friends,

YOUR #accidentattorney, Marianne

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Savage Stallion is not only a great name for a rock band, but a common cause of injury here in Horse Country.  Recently we represented a woman who was bitten by a passing stallion on a local trail.  Negligence on the part of the owner often plays a role in a dog bite or animal attack. Laws vary by county, so if you have been bitten or attacked, it’s important to seek legal advice right away. If there is an injury, seek immediate medical attention. It’s not always possible to know just by looking at the animal if it is sick, and you want to guard against the chance of infection and other disease from a bite or related injury. If you have been bitten by a dog or injured by a vicious animal, do not admit fault.

According to www.webmd.com, animal and human bites may cause puncture wounds, cuts, scrapes, or crushing injuries. Most animal and human bites cause minor injuries, and home treatment is usually all that is needed to care for the wound.

Most animal bites occur in school-age children. The face, hands, arms, and legs are the most common sites for animal bites. Since most bites occur in children, be sure to teach children to be careful around animals and that an animal could hurt them. Young children should always be supervised around animals.

Dog bites occur more than any other animal bite and are most frequent in the summer months. The dog is usually known to the person, and most injuries result from the dog being teased or bothered while eating or sleeping. Boys are bitten about twice as often as girls. The arms, head, and neck are the most likely areas to be bitten in children.

Cat bites usually cause deeper puncture wounds than dog bites and have a high risk of bacterial infection because they can be hard to clean adequately.

Exotic pet bites, such as from rats, mice, or gerbils, may carry illnesses, but rabies is not usually a concern. The bites from some pets, such as iguanas, are at risk for infection but do not carry other serious risks.

Livestock, such as horses, cows, and sheep, have powerful jaws and can cause crushing bite injuries. Infection, tetanus, and rabies are possible risks.

Wild animal bites may occur while hunting, camping, or hiking. Infection, tetanus, and rabies are possible risks.

Adult bites that cause a wound to the hand can be serious. A clenched fist striking another person in the mouth and teeth can cut or puncture the skin over the knuckles. This is commonly called a “fight bite.” Underlying tissues may be damaged, and an infection can develop.

Bites from children are:

  • Usually not very deep.
  • Not as forceful as adult bites.
  • Not too likely to become infected.
  • Not damaging to underlying tissue.

When you have a bite:

  • Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure.
  • Determine if other tissues, such as blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, bones, or internal organs, have been injured.
  • Determine if treatment by a doctor is needed.
  • Clean the wound to prevent bacterial infections, tetanus (“lockjaw”), and viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus (CMV).
  • Determine the risk for rabies and the need for treatment to prevent the disease.
  • Determine if you need a tetanus shot.

Have you been the victim of a dog bite or animal attack as a result of someone else’s negligence? 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.

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My office often gets calls from accident victims that felt fine immediately after the accident and by a week later are in some serious pain.  Vehicle accident injuries can be late-appearing. Here’s how to protect your health and your legal rights.

 

Almost any car accident is a traumatic event. From catastrophic collisions to fender-benders, there is a lot of force involved when a vehicle hits (or is hit by) something. Often, when people are in a car accident that seems minor, they do not notice any injury symptoms right away. This happens for a variety of reasons. In this article, we’ll help you understand the importance of monitoring your injuries following a car accident — for your physical well-being and to protect your legal rights.

Shad Withers, writing in the legal blog Nolo.com, had some really good advice that I would like to pass on to my friends.

 CAR ACCIDENTS ARE EXCITING

Not “exciting” in the fun sense, more from a physiological perspective.

Sometimes athletes get injured during a game, and they continue to play without noticing the injury until the game is over. That is because their bodies are generating adrenaline and endorphins. These two chemicals operate to super-charge our bodies and even block pain.

Most car accidents will create a similarly heightened level of excitement. Your body will generate adrenaline and endorphins, which means you feel increased energy and (possibly) a lack of pain. Just because you feel fine immediately following a car accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are fine. Once the release of those chemicals subsides, the pain from any car accident injuries could start to set in.

SOFT TISSUE INJURIES AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

A soft tissue injury refers to damage done to parts of the body other than bone. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are considered “soft tissue.”

Car accidents, even low-speed ones, generate a lot of force. Drivers and passengers often come to a sudden stop right along with the vehicle in a car accident; or they may get thrown around the passenger area. This places a lot of stress on joints and other vulnerable areas of the body.

Perhaps the most common — if not the most recognized — type of soft-tissue injury is “whiplash.” This refers to an injury to the neck muscles when the head is suddenly, and forcefully, thrown forward and then back.

Soft tissue injuries typically result in pain, swelling, and reduced mobility, but these symptoms may not show up immediately. They can take days, even weeks, to manifest. In addition, soft tissue injuries are not visible on an X-ray. This makes them more challenging to diagnose and document. Getting proper medical treatment is the key first step, at or even before the first sign of pain or discomfort (more on this below).

CONCUSSIONS AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

Your brain is well-protected by your skull and the fluid inside of it. However, if you strike your head, or your body is violently jolted, your brain may strike the inside of your skull with great force. If this happens during the course of a car accident, you may sustain a concussion.

Concussions can be very serious, and the symptoms do not often show up immediately. Sometimes the symptoms are obvious (such as disorientation or even loss of consciousness), but they can also be more subtle. Here is a list of concussion symptoms:

  • clouded thinking
  • inability to concentrate
  • difficulty remembering new information
  • headache
  • blurry vision
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • lack of energy, and
  • abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping more than usual or less than usual)

If you exhibit any of these signs following a car accident, you may have a concussion; and you should seek medical attention.

SEE A DOCTOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

Following a car accident, you should see a doctor if you feel any level of pain and discomfort. It may even be a good idea to get checked out even if you feel fine. Your doctor will be in the best position to determine whether you sustained any serious injuries in the accident. Your doctor can also give you advice on monitoring symptoms of potential injuries, including the sorts of red flags to watch out for.

If you end up making any sort of injury claim after the accident, it’s crucial to be able to document the fact that you sought medical treatment within a reasonable amount of time. If you wait too long to see a doctor, the insurance adjuster is going to argue that you couldn’t have been all that injured.

DO NOT SETTLE RIGHT AWAY

Following a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you and try to get you to sign a release of any claims you might have. The insurance company may even offer you a sum of money to entice you to sign the release.

You should wait until you have been fully evaluated by a medical professional before signing anything the adjuster puts in front of you. You should also wait long enough to make sure all injuries from the car accident have fully manifested themselves. Your doctor can help you determine how long this needs to be. If you sign a release, and an injury shows up later, you cannot then go back to the insurance company and ask them to pay for your medical treatment. You waive your legal right to pursue that compensation when you sign the release.

If you’ve suffered significant injuries after a car accident, or you just want to make sure the claims process goes smoothly, you may want to talk with an experienced attorney. Learn How an Attorney Can Help with a Car Accident Claim.

My staff and I are always happy to answer questions about your accident you may have free of charge. And if we can’t help you, we may be able to point you in the right direction.

Stay safe out there friends!

YOUR #accidentattorney,

Marianne Howanitz

 

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Hot time in the city? Heading out for a weekend at the lake? I don’t blame you, when the weather starts to heat up and summer hits, it seems as if everyone descends upon the lake at the same time. Fishing boats, speed boats, jet skis, swimmers, and others take to the water to keep cool during the hot months. While hanging out at the lake can be an enjoyable American pastime, it can turn dangerous if people behave recklessly or are inattentive while on the water. Knowing the safety risks of jet skis can help to keep you and your family safe this upcoming summer season.

Here are some safety tips from wwwsafetyresource.org  and Emily Abbate of The Stir to help you stay safe out there friends:

  • You need a life jacket. I don’t care if it’s not stylish and you can swim as well as Michael Phelps. I also don’t care about your vice against wacky tan lines. That’s what spray tans are for, my friends.
  • Use the vehicle’s safety precautions.For some jet skis, that means a lanyard that is placed around the wrist, attaching you to the handlebars of the watercraft. Often referred to as a kill cord, the string operates a kill switch when the operator goes overboard, deactivating your ride. Without a kill cord, your jet ski could continue to operate without you in control, and hurt someone else in the process.
  • Stay alert.It’s easy to get caught up in the moment once you get a hand of handling the jet ski. But other boats, skiers, divers, or swimmers could be in your general area.
  • Don’t drink and jet. This should be obvious, but it’s not always the case. I understand that taking a ride after a few beers may seem like a good idea, at the time. But the possibility of injury just isn’t worth the risk. Of course, the same rules apply while being a passenger, too. Intoxication for anyone involved is just a distraction.
  • Don’t get cocky. So you’ve noticed a passing motor boat and the waves that it has left behind. Using these waves as a ramp or launching point could send you and your jet ski flying in a bad direction, or even worse, upside down.

 

And a tip of my own: Different models make a difference. Get familiar with the specific jet ski you’re riding, and take it for a test spin with someone who knows what’s up. Never just assume that you’ll “get the swing of it.” Because the scary truth of it all is that one assumption could cost you your life.

Stay safe out there friends!

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Ready to hit the road this summer? There’s nothing fun about driving next to an 18-wheeler. They’re big and they have a frightening tendency to drift in and out of your lane more often than you’d like. But sharing the road with a big rig need not be a nightmare — there are things you can do to make it easier on yourself and your friendly neighborhood truck driver.

Michael Taylor, transportation special programs developer for the Tractor Trailer Training Program at Triton College in River Grove, Ill., says the top five pet peeves truckers had with fellow motorists are:

1) Riding in a trucker’s blind spots. Trucks have large blind spots to the right and rear of the vehicle. Smaller blind spots exist on the right front corner and mid-left side of the truck. The worst thing a driver can do is chug along in the trucker’s blind spot, where he cannot be seen. If you’re going to pass a truck, do it and get it over with. Don’t sit alongside with the cruise control set 1 mph faster than the truck is traveling.

2) Cut-offs. Don’t try to sneak into a small gap in traffic ahead of a truck. Don’t get in front of a truck and then brake to make a turn. Trucks take as much as three times the distance to stop as the average passenger car, and you’re only risking your own life by cutting a truck off and then slowing down in front of it.

3) Impatience while reversing. Motorists need to understand that it takes time and concentration to back a 48-foot trailer up without hitting anything. Sometimes a truck driver needs to make several attempts to reverse into tight quarters. Keep your cool and let the trucker do her job.

4) Don’t play policeman. Don’t try to make a truck driver conform to a bureaucrat’s idea of what is right and wrong on the highway. As an example, Taylor cited the way truck drivers handle hilly terrain on the highway. A fully loaded truck slows way down going up a hill. On the way down the other side of the hill, a fully loaded truck gathers speed quickly. Truckers like to use that speed to help the truck up the next hill. Do not sit in the passing lane going the speed limit. Let the truck driver pass, and let the Highway Patrol worry about citing the trucker for breaking the law.

5) No assistance in lane changes or merges. It’s not easy to get a 22-foot tractor and 48-foot trailer into traffic easily. If a trucker has his turn signal blinking, leave room for the truck to merge or change lanes. Indicate your willingness to allow the truck in by flashing your lights.

By taking simple common-sense steps to protect yourself and your family when driving near large trucks, traffic fatalities will continue to drop. Over the years, the trucking industry has improved the quality of truck drivers by making it more difficult to qualify for and keep a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Mandatory drug testing has also been instituted. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the following data in 2008. The intoxication rate for drivers involved in fatal accidents was:

27% for motorcycle riders- 23% for light truck drivers (pickups and SUVs, that is)-23% for passenger car drivers-1% for truck drivers

Still, more work must be done to combat tightly scheduled deliveries, overbearing stacks of paperwork and driver fatigue caused by federal regulations that work against the human body’s natural circadian rhythm.

Should you, or someone you know be injured or killed in an accident with a big rig, make sure to contact an attorney that specializes in these types of accidents and make that call as soon as possible to preserve your rights.

Stay safe out there friends, Marianne