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!
Last week I wrote about a young client of mine who developed an intense fear of driving or being a passenger in an automobile after she was involved in a rear end collision that injured her. Many of you expressed a similar fear, so this week I researched to find some helpful tips to overcome, or at least alleviate, this common fear.
If you are someone that would like to overcome a driving fear, these tips from Jennifer Johnson may be very helpful. If you are the type of person who would rather run in the opposite direction in order to avoid driving or if you find yourself wobbling on jelly-legs whenever you try to open the driver’s door, it is possible that you are suffering from driving anxiety. Here are some tips on how you can cope with driving anxiety…
Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective relaxation techniques for anxiety disorders.
Self-talking and positive affirmations are another relaxation technique that you can make use of while driving. Tell yourself some words of encouragement such as “I can do this and I will be at my destination very soon and safely!”
Another self-talk technique is to tell yourself your reason for driving and outline the details or purpose for the trip. The key here is to try to relax yourself by distracting your mind and keeping it away from any negative thoughts that will only exacerbate your feelings of anxiety.
Think of the good points for your purpose of driving. Are you excited about your arrival or the event coming up?
You need to observe ‘mindfulness’ all throughout the duration of your trip. Don’t allow your anxiety to make you lose focus whilst driving! Once you notice your hands starting to grip the steering wheel more tightly and your mind is telling you about impending accidents…stop your thoughts and get back to rule number one. Use relaxation techniques.
Choose A Driving Companion
People who are suffering from driving anxiety should carefully choose someone to keep them company while driving. It should be someone whom you trust and someone who is very much aware of your anxiety and completely understands your condition.
This person must also be prepared to help you relax and stay calm.
Avoid those people who do not understand your anxiety or those who will only be causing you more stress and anxiety behind the wheel. Even if it is a husband or wife…if they are not supportive…do not drive…let them. Only drive with people who can help…not hinder. If you also hate being a passenger, say positive affirmations and deep breathe.
Know When To Take Driving Breaks
If you are experiencing driving anxiety, it is best to take several breaks behind the wheel. For example, you can take a break every 30 minutes of driving. You can either have someone else drive the car or you can look for a safe place to park for a few minutes.
You may increase the length of time for driving and shorten the time for your breaks once you notice yourself improving. If you are in a hurry, allow a trusted friend or someone else to do the driving for you.
Anxiety First Aid Kit
Another important thing that you must remember before you start driving is to check whether your anxiety first aid kit is complete. Make sure that you have your bottle of water, cell phone with its charger and your relaxation CD inside the car. It would also be best to have your own GPS so you can easily find your way back especially when you are driving to unfamiliar places.
Avoid Taking Anti-Anxiety Medications
Anti-anxiety medications may effectively relieve your anxiety. Unfortunately, most of these anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications cannot be taken while driving. Taking these medications before or during driving is not recommended and will only increase your risk of accidents.
The most dangerous thing you do daily is get into a vehicle. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in the U.S., and the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it is estimated that the numbers for 2015 will come in even higher. While you cannot control what other drivers do, you can minimize your risk of being in car accident by modifying your own behavior and always being alert to red flag behavior on the part of other drivers.
Red Flags to watch out for on the road would include:
Failing to indicate
Hogging the middle lane
Hogging the outside lane
Jumping traffic lights
Being slow away from traffic lights
And this doesn’t even take into count the drunk, distracted and new and old drivers on the roads!
Many of us choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, traveling to visit relatives or taking a winter vacation, but with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation, taking the family vehicle is dangerous. In 2013, 360 people died on Thanksgiving Day, 88 on Christmas Day, and 343 people on New Year’s Day according to Injury Facts 2015. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31% of the totals. There are other dangers out there too friends.
Here are some great, simple tips from AAA and myself to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.
Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.
Of course, never drive more than 8 hours straight. Fatigued driving is the same as drunk driving.
And lastly, but certainly not least, NO TEXTING!
With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and arrive safely to enjoy your holiday with family and friends.
When a teenager gets a driver license, it signifies freedom and the lure of the open road. But with this newfound freedom comes a host of new situations and possible problems that most teen drivers have never encountered before. It’s a good idea to review these scenarios with new drivers in your family, and discuss how to handle them before they happen for real.
From traffic stops to road rage, here’s a primer on what you need to tell teen drivers as they take to the roads.
What to do when you’re stopped by a police officer
Safely pull to the side of the road, turn off your car, roll down the window and keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves or argue with the officer. Do your arguing in traffic court.
How to deal with a flat tire
Pull completely off the road, even if it means destroying the tire. Call roadside assistance and let that person change the tire. If you have a spare (many cars now only have an inflation kit) and know how to change the tire, make sure you are out of traffic and in plain sight of oncoming traffic before changing it yourself.
What to do when the “check engine” light comes on
If there is any change in the car’s performance, any mechanical noises, smoke from the tailpipe or electrical smells, stop the car and call for assistance. If there are none of these symptoms, take the car to a dealer and let them diagnose the problem. However, if you just bought gas, the light might just be indicating that the gas cap is loose. Tighten the cap and continue driving. The light should go off on its own.
How to deal with a friend who is about to drive under the influence
Don’t get in the car. Do anything not to drive with an intoxicated person, and that includes calling your parents for a lift or paying for a taxi. Your next move is to try to prevent your drunken friend from hurting themselves or someone else.
What to do after an auto accident
If the car is drivable and there are no serious injuries, turn on your flashers and pull safely out of traffic. Call the police to report the accident. Exchange insurance information with the other driver but refrain from discussing the accident and who is at fault. Make notes and use your cell phone’s camera to take pictures of the cars involved.
How to drive in rain
Reduce your speed and leave more room between your vehicle and those in front of you. Understand how to handle skids. Understand that a car might hydroplane on a rain puddle on the road and learn how to react to driving with reduced traction and visibility.
How to avoid road rage situations
Understand the severe consequences to you, your car and your driving record when minor disagreements escalate to life-threatening situations. When someone offends you, take a deep breath and know that your anger will dissolve in minutes. Don’t anger other drivers by cutting them off or tailgating. If you’ve inadvertently angered another driver, don’t get drawn into interacting with them. Ignore them or, if necessary, change your route. Finally, repeat this phrase: It’s just not worth it.
And lastly, but most important of all:
How to drive safely
Distracted driving is fast becoming one of the country’s biggest health concerns.
As more and more drivers text while on the road, distracted driving crashes are steadily increasing year over year. In fact, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 8 people are killed every day in the U.S. as a result of crashes involving a distracted driver.
However, distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting and driving. You can be distracted by one of many activities.
Distracted driving means driving while not fully paying attention to the road. Many people think of texting and driving or talking on the phone when driving; however, you can also be distracted by:
The answer is yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. As nice as the other driver might seem, their story may change and it will be difficult to prove without the backup of a police report, as recently happened to one of my clients. Having an accident report cuts down on the he said/she said at the get go.
A police officer’s presence at the scene — and any resulting police report — may be crucial to your claim. A trained police officer can be an invaluable source of help and information in such a confusing situation. A police officer can:
provide or call for emergency medical care (of course, if there are injuries, someone should call 911 as soon as possible, before calling the police)
protect the accident scene, and
investigate and document the cause of the accident.
In cases involving injuries, substantial damage to the vehicles, or significant motor vehicle law violations, the officer will write a police report of a car accident. Make sure to get the name and badge number of the officer and the police agency that the officer represents so you can get a copy of the accident report after it’s written. Also get the report number if it’s available. There will probably be a small charge for the police report, but it’s worth it. The police accident report is a critical document which is relied upon fairly heavily by everyone involved in the claims process.
If You Have a Fender-Bender With No Injuries
Should you still call the police even if your accident is just a minor one? The answer is usually yes. Even after a minor accident, a police officer can help you sort things out, and document what happened in case that becomes important in the future. However, in many metropolitan areas, the police probably won’t come to the scene of your minor fender-bender. They will simply tell you to exchange information with the other driver. The police will not prepare a report in this situation.
If the Police Tells You to Just Exchange Information
If you do call the police, and they tell you to just exchange information with the other driver, what information should you exchange? At a minimum, make sure you get from the other driver(s) — and that the other driver(s) get from you — the following information:
Name of car insurance company
Name, address and telephone number of insurance representative that you should contact about this accident.
License plate number (and state in which the car is registered)
Ask to see documents from which you can copy this information, such as a driver’s license and an insurance verification card. Why? Sometimes, drivers — such as those who don’t have insurance — will give false information if you don’t verify what they are telling you. If they won’t verify their information, call the police and insist that the driver stay until the police arrive.
If you are suspicious about the information you are getting, call the other driver’s insurance company from the scene of the accident to verify for yourself that the other driver has given you accurate information. But only verify coverage. Don’t give accident details to the other driver’s insurance company. Not yet. You’ll do that later, after you’re away from the scene of your accident and have calmed down.
If the Police Are On Their Way
If you call the police, and they do send an officer to the scene of your minor accident, they may give it a low priority. It could take up to one hour for an officer to arrive after you call the police. Wait for them. What should you do while you are waiting for them to arrive?
Assess the situation
Help anyone who is hurt
Protect the scene against further damage
Don’t make any agreements with the other driver at the scene
Document the scene with your cell phone or camera, and
Contact your own insurance company to notify them and see if they have anything they want you to do while there.
Once the police officer arrives, speak only with him or her about the specifics of your accident. Provide the information that the officer requests, but be careful what you say, even to the officer.
If you have any questions about what you should do, contact your local accident attorney for a free consultation. My office is always happy to answer your questions!
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.
Heading out for a trip to see the fall foliage? Make sure that you check out the condition of your tires before you leave. For many drivers, there is nothing more frightening or potentially dangerous than a tire blowout at almost any speed. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped dramatically since 2008, when all new vehicles were required to have automatic tire pressure monitoring systems, these numbers still remain high. The stats do not lie, as tire blowouts and flats result in nearly 11,000 collisions and 200 fatalities each year.
With all the advances in safety standards and technology, why are tire blowouts still such a significant safety issue? According to Traveler’s Insurance, one reason may be that since blowouts are now a rarer occurrence, when they do happen, drivers are less prepared to handle them and react properly. When a tire blows out, it can take about ¼ second before your ride suddenly becomes a struggle to avoid an auto accident. How you react can make all the difference in how the situation resolves itself. The first step is staying calm and in control of your vehicle.
What Does a Tire Blowout Sound Like?
Expect to hear three key sounds that may vary depending on your specific situation. First, you may hear a loud boom or bang of the tire popping reverberating through your car. You may then hear a whooshing sound or the sound of the air quickly escaping from the tire, and finally, a repeated flapping or flopping of the deflated tire hitting the road.
What Does a Tire Blowout Feel Like?
When a tire explodes at speed, first you will feel the vehicle slow down, then it will pull strongly to the left or right depending on which tire burst. If it was a front tire that burst, you will feel the force mostly within the steering of your vehicle. With a rear tire, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the car. Whether the blowout occurred in the front or back, your response should be the same in either situation.
How to Drive Through a Tire Blowout
According to the National Safety Council and other safety experts, there are some important tips and best practices to remember if you experience a tire blowout.
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Do not slam on the brakes.
Let your car slow down gradually.
Pull to the side of the road once you have slowed to a safe speed.
After a blowout, only exit your vehicle if you are certain you are safely off the road and out of harm’s way. Turn your emergency flashers on to alert other drivers, and put out reflective cones or triangles if you have them. If it is not safe to change the tire where you are, or you are unsure how, call for roadside assistance.
Also keep in mind that a spare is only recommended for emergencies and should not be driven for long distances or at high speeds. Take the time to read your owner’s manual to learn where your spare tire and necessary tools are located. Your manual may also provide instructions on how to change a flat tire. It is a good idea to be familiar with these procedures before you get stuck on the side of the road.
How to Prevent a Tire Blowout
The good news is that many tire blowouts are preventable with the proper effort and attention. Most occur from May through October when the road surface is the hottest, resulting from an underinflated tire, excessively worn treads, or an overloaded vehicle. A simple, routine inspection of your tires to check for slow leaks, wear and tear, and proper pressure is important. Keeping your load light, within your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations (found in the same spot as the recommended tire pressure), can help too.
So head on out for a great fall adventure, and stay safe out there friends!
A great many drivers on the road represent threats to your safety and well-being. But there are numerous ways of minimizing your chances of having a collision with an unsafe driver. Defensive driving is a big part of car safety and you should always be practicing it, until it becomes second nature.
A cardinal rule that will help you stay out of collisions is: Don’t tailgate. Tailgating is the cause of innumerable accidents, many of them serious. No matter how fast you’re going, you should be able to stop safely if the car in front of you were to slam on its brakes. Any closer than that and you are in a danger zone. So the faster you’re traveling, the more room you’ll want to leave between your car and the one in front of you.
More space gives you:
More time to react and brake or steer if something unexpected happens;
Better visibility around the vehicle ahead;
More room to maneuver and lane change if there is a delay or obstruction in your lane;
A smoother ride because you no longer need to brake abruptly;
Better fuel economy and reduced vehicle wear because you are now driving more smoothly.
Keep a safe distance. While it is never safe to tailgate any vehicle on the highway, following too close is particularly dangerous around large trucks and buses because the size of these vehicles prevents you from seeing the road ahead and having sufficient time to react to slowing or stopped traffic or another obstacle.
Following too closely is always the cause of multi car pileups on freeways and other roads. Besides, it’s illegal. So don’t tailgate. And if you’re being tailgated take action to get the tailgater off your back. If possible, move to another lane. If you can’t do that safely, slow down gradually. Don’t hit the brakes – you could cause an accident involving yourself, and you could also trigger a bad case of road rage. Just gradually slow down until the driver behind you takes the hint and decides to either back off or go around.
What is GAP Insurance and why should I add this coverage to my automobile policy?
GAP insurance or “guaranteed auto protection” is a coverage that you may purchase for your already existing automobile insurance policy. This coverage will pay for the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the amount that you still owe to the bank or finance company at the time of loss. Insurance companies will only pay what your vehicle is worth at the time of loss (actual cash value) and if the vehicle is depreciated they will deduct that amount. Therefore, you could end up paying for the difference of the amount you owe on your car loan and the car’s current estimated value. As a result, you may want to purchase GAP insurance in order to protect your investment.
Over the years I have had many clients who were injured in auto accidents in Florida and time and time again my clients assumed that their comprehensive and collision insurance will pay for their vehicle damage. These clients were surprised to find out that at the conclusion of the case they did not receive full compensation in their property damage because they did not purchase GAP insurance. So do your research and contact your insurance company and request a quote for GAP insurance coverage before you really need it!