Can a Motorcyclist Without A Helmet Win a Tort Lawsuit?

rider-216778-mLet me begin by saying that the vast majority of motorcyclists are doing what they can to be safe on the road, while enjoying the sense of freedom that a bike provides. However, we have all seen the bikers that insist on weaving in and out of traffic, at high speeds, with no helmet and inadequate clothing. Can it possibly be fair to assume that a person riding with no helmet could file and win a tort lawsuit against another driver?

It doesn’t matter how the biker is outfitted. When he or she is the victim in a car accident, there is just as much right to compensation. However, if the major injury – leading to the need for medical care – is head or neck damage, the rules may vary.

In Florida, riders over the age of 21, with appropriate insurance, can legally ride without a helmet. Some states mandate that all riders where a protective helmet when riding. In those states, it can be difficult for motorcyclists, having received head and neck injuries in an accident while not wearing a helmet, to collect any damages in a tort lawsuit at all. Even in Florida, with the more lax helmet laws, the defendant’s attorney would fight hard for the case that a helmet would have protected against the injuries suffered and, in choosing not to wear one, the rider was negligent.

That is not to say that you, as a Tampa auto accident victim, could not collect compensation for your losses just because you chose to ride without a helmet. However, if the courts determine that you were negligent to some degree, the awarded funds could be less than if you had worn the proper head gear.

The lesson to be learned here is, for safety’s sake and also to protect yourself financially in the event of an accident, wear a helmet while you ride.

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Traveling With Man’s Best Friend

waiting-and-watching-974073-mAre you planning a road trip for the holiday season? Will your four-legged friend be riding along? If you are going to be taking a long drive with man’s best friend, you better start planning. Driving with a dog in the car can be very dangerous if not done right. The entire traveling experience is altered, in fact, when there is a dog in tow.

While many canines are great car riders, that is certainly not the case with all of them. Some can become overly stressed, making them prone to whining, wetting, and sudden neediness. All of this can be a big distraction to the driver – you – and increase the likelihood of a Tampa auto accident, putting your traveling to a stop almost before it begins.

In order to ensure that your dog is safe, happy, and not distracting your efforts, consider the following:

Plan Stops. Dogs will need to take breaks from the car as much as any human will. While you might want to cut down on travel time, regular stops can help ease your dog’s anxiety and make the trip less stressful for all involved. Try to choose areas that are not overly burdened with other people and pets, so your dog can unwind, relieve himself, and be ready to go when you are.

Crate or Buckle. No, you don’t want to restrain your beloved pet because you don’t want to upset him, but consider the fact that this action could save his life. Much like putting a crying child into a car seat, you must consider your dog’s safety, and your own. Crating or using a harness that allows a seat belt to be used on the dog will keep the animal at bay while you drive, thereby reducing the risk of a car accident.

Collar and Leash. Whenever exiting the vehicle, it is important to ensure that your pet is properly collared and leashed (with dog tags). This prevents the chances that the animal gets overly excited and gets away from you. Should your dog take off, out of your grasp, he could run in front of a moving vehicle. The loss of your dog would be enough to suffer, but then you might also have to consider what it would be like to face a personal injury attorney in court, should the accident result in the need for vehicle repairs, medical care, and lost work for the driver (and possible passengers) of any other vehicle involved.

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Construction Accidents: Falling Objects

construction-1-1338553-mSeveral times, I have written about the potential dangers that exist on construction sites and yet, until now, I have overlooked a big one. That same mistake has been made by thousands of people this year alone, because it is easy to forget that work being done overhead could make something as simple as crossing the length of a building a dangerous task. In fact, being struck by falling objects is the second leading cause of fatal construction accidents at work sites (coming in just behind physically falling). More than 80 people will die this year because they weren’t able to get out of the way of something falling from a rooftop, from scaffolding, from metal framework, or elsewhere.

There are many mistakes that can be made that increase the risk of falling objects hitting, hurting, or even killing individuals on a job site, but there are also steps that can be taken to prevent these serious accidents.

Barricades. While the workers on a job site are likely equipped with hard hats and an understanding of the type of work being done, pedestrians are not. For that reason, innocent, unknowing members of the public should be protected with barricades, which keep them far from any potential hazards.

Safety Gear. As mentioned above, anyone who will be within range of potentially falling objects should be equipped with safety gear. A hard hat will protect the head, but falling things are not always hard, or solid. It is also wise to provide protection to the body and the eyes when potentially harmful chemicals are being used on-site.

Signage. Proper signage will remind people on the ground that work is being done above. That way, they will know to stay clear of the “drop zone.”

Equipment Inspection. Bad equipment leaves those working at great heights and those working down below at great risk. All equipment should be properly inspected at the start of every job.

Education. Instructing workers on proper working etiquette can save a lot of lives and defend against serious injury. Workers who will be doing their jobs above ground level should, for instance, know the rules for securing tools and themselves.

Anyone hurt on a job site has the right to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer may be able to help that victim collect monetary damages needed to pay medical expenses and other related costs.

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How Tampa Weather Can Affect Your Car

raindrops-1436561-mRain. While the average rainstorm in Tampa is nothing to worry about, some Tampa weather, such as heavy rains or water logged roads, can cause damage to vehicles. Flooding is always a concern – on many levels – partly because of the damage it can cause to vehicles not stored in garages.

The vehicle’s intake system is highly susceptible to water. When moisture enters, it can find its way to the cylinders and pistons. When these compress, the water causes undue pressure and can potentially destroy the engine. Similarly, the braking system and transmission can be damaged by excessive moisture. In the transmission, it can cause gears to slip. Hot brakes can warp when splashed with cold water that has built up on the roadway. This can lead to a definite vibration when driving. Worse yet, driving through deep puddles can allow water to enter the brake lines, which could ultimately cause the brakes to fail.

It is important to note that if you are driving on very wet roads, and pass through puddles, pump your brakes once you are on drier ground. This will help to squeeze out any water captured in the brake pads.

Flooding can cause far more issues for Tampa weather conditions. Interiors can be ruined, water can enter the oil pan and cause increased friction in the engine, and electrical components can be destroyed. Many of these problems may not be immediately evident, but will arise over time, which is why it is essential to ensure used cars have not been exposed to flood waters.

Sunshine. We certainly have our fair share of beautiful days in this part of Florida, but sunshine is not always a good thing. Direct sunlight can heat the interior of the car drastically. Parked in a sunny spot, a car’s steering wheel can reach temperatures greater than 159 degrees. While the sunlight can cause sunspots in the paint job or an overall dulling of the car’s exterior, the excessive heat can damage car interiors, cause doors and window seals to warp, thereby causing air leaks, and can even reduce the effectiveness of air bags in Tampa auto accidents.

Just think, we are still considered lucky compared to the car owners in the north, where cold, snow, ice, and road salt can wreak havoc on vehicles. Still, you should be sure that you are doing what you can to protect your car to not only get the best possible trade-in value, but also protect against potential Tampa auto accidents. If you are involved in an accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney.

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WARNING: Exhaustion Behind the Wheel

so-tired-303872-mNEWS FLASH: We are tired! As a collective, the vast majority of this nation can be lumped under one category, and that is “exhausted.” The media feeds us stories about the importance of sleep just days after running a story on how the number of people suffering from insomnia continues to rise. Better yet, the shelves at local grocery stores are stockpiled with energy drinks, power bars, and vitamin supplements, all of which are aimed at making us feel more awake, more alert as we go about our day.

Unfortunately, when everyone is feeling so utterly fatigued, the roads become an even bigger hazard than they already were. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 100,000 accidents related to driver fatigue each year. This is thought to be a very conservative estimate as there is no good way to measure the level of exhaustion a driver is feeling at the time of an accident. Fatigue does cloud the brain, make it more difficult to do simple tasks, and drastically slow one’s reaction time. Worse yet, it causes people to fall asleep behind the wheel every day. It is as dangerous, if not more so, than drunk driving.

Why are we so tired? It’s pretty simple to understand if you think about it. As a culture, we place a great deal of stress upon ourselves to be more, do more, and make more. We are working ridiculously long hours – with executives putting more time into a single position, while lower paid workers struggle to maintain multiple jobs. On top of that, parents carry a great deal of guilt around with them today. As such, they feel the need to keep their children more active in sports, recreation, social events, and educational tasks. When the kids are busy, so are the parents. In a recent study, it was reported that working parents today are spending more time with their children, on average, than stay-at-home mothers of generations past. There is a great deal of pressure to have the nicest, cleanest home, with the best landscaped yard, the smartest and most well-rounded children, and the job that others would envy. Yet, this leaves very little time for sleep and sanity … very little time to get rested before heading to the office each morning.

Fatigued driving kills … frequently. It’s not worth the risk, so if you find yourself regularly drowsy behind the wheel, it is time to reconsider the priorities in your life. All of those achievements will mean very little should you die in a Tampa auto accident.

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When Construction Vehicles Cause Accidents

sign-1-714551-mMany efforts have been made in recent years to ensure that construction workers are kept safe while working on busy roadways, bridges, and other such areas. Speed limits have been changed, penalties, and fines for traffic violations have been increased, and safety gear has been made more readily available for construction zones, in many instances. Yet, there were still more than 85,000 construction zone accidents in 2010, according to the U.S. DOT. Of those, more than 500 involved fatalities and another 26,000 involved injuries.

It is no surprise that the majority of these accidents occurred during the busiest traffic hours – which just so happen to correspond to the hours most likely to see construction workers on the road – 8:00 am to 5:00pm. However, what might come as a surprise is that in a notable percentage of those cases, the victim was not a construction worker.

Far more than half of the fatal accidents that occur in construction zones are seen in areas with a speed limit of 55 mph or more. With construction vehicles coming and going, and transitioning within those spaces, there is often little warning to the driver of a passenger car.

Dump trucks, cement trucks, paving trucks, and other such heavy equipment must enter and leave the construction site at various times of the day. If the operators of that equipment are not paying close attention, an accident is very likely and the results are often devastating.

Florida construction vehicles often cross busy roadways, back up, and spin around in order to get a better angle on the work to be completed and when traffic is already backed, bottle-necked, or just beginning to slow entering the work zone, a Tampa auto accident is likely. It is important to understand that you do have rights when you are the victim in an accident. It is possible to collect damages to cover repair costs, lost wages, and medical expenses.

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Timber! A Fallen Tree On Neighboring Property

fallen-tree-1375136-mNeighbor-versus-neighbor scenarios are all too common in the personal injury lawyer’s realm. Unfortunately, just because two people live next door to each other doesn’t imply that they will get along. In many cases, the fight starts over something as ordinary as a fallen tree. It is important to understand the laws when it comes to trees, so these battles can be better prevented.

Trimming a Tree. Whatever portion of a tree that hangs over your property line boundary is yours to trim. Whether you own it, or your neighbor does, a tree’s limbs can be trimmed by you if they are hanging in your yard. However, try to remember that you wouldn’t want a neighbor butchering your landscaping, so treat such situations with respect. When you trim, do so in a delicate manner to ensure the tree is not harmed or made unsightly.

Harvest Time. While trimming falls well within your rights when a tree’s branches infringe on your property, the fruit bore by that tree is not yours. That belongs, legally, to the owner of the tree and should not be picked without permission.

When a Tree Falls. Homeowners are always responsible for the tree falls on their property. Ignorance to an internal issue within the tree is no excuse, so if a tree topples into a neighbor’s house or yard, the owner of the tree must pay the damages or else he or she will likely face a lawsuit. As a homeowner, it is wise to regularly inspect trees for any sign of damage or death that could cause it to fall.

Tree Removal is Not Mandatory. Just because you dislike the leaves, pine needles, or rotten fruit that have blown or fallen into your yard because of a neighbor’s tree doesn’t mean that you have the right to cut it or harm it in anyway (unless it is the limbs over your yard). Unless the tree is deemed a hazard, no one can force a homeowner to take it down.

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Sidewalk Care: Spend Now To Save Later

trees-in-autumn-and-sidewalk-1116547-mHave you ever looked at the sidewalk at the front of your property with disgust? You’ve done so much to keep your home and yard in pristine condition, but the sidewalk is full of cracks, has weeds growing up through it, and, in general, looks rundown. This isn’t a problem that should be overlooked; for more reasons that one, sidewalk care should be considered.

Obviously, when it comes to maintaining (or increasing) the value of your home, you want to do all that you can to ensure there is great curb appeal. The state of your sidewalk will have an impact. However, even more important than that is the fact that, in many cases, as a property owner, you are responsible for sidewalk upkeep. If someone is hurt because he trips and falls, wrecks a bike, or is otherwise harmed by sidewalk disrepair, you could be held responsible. There are a couple of things to understand when it comes to this topic:

    You May Or May Not Be Negligent. Property ownership often comes with the responsibility of maintaining public walkways on the property. There are a couple of reasons why the sidewalk may not be your obligation:
      o The path must cross your land, in order for you to be accountable for injuries sustained on it. Thus, if the sidewalk is not within the surveyed boundaries of your property, it is not up to you to repair it.
      o If you are part of a homeowners’ association, and pay regular dues, the sidewalk will likely be considered the responsibility of the HOA. However, you should verify this information before the sidewalk becomes a hazard.
    Negligence, in Part. While it may be your responsibility to maintain the sidewalk, you cannot be held responsible for another person’s reckless behavior. A person partaking in a reasonable activity on a public path can file a lawsuit against the property owner if injured due to poor maintenance. However, if the person was doing something irresponsible at the time of the accident, any damages charged to the homeowner would be reduced or erased. This is something a personal injury attorney should discuss with potential clients.
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The Dangers of Refusing Medical Care After an Accident

medical-doctor-1314903-mAfter an accident, there are likely many things going through one’s mind. The scare is enough to get adrenaline pumping through anyone’s body. This often results in a person feeling better than he or she really is. For that reason, injuries can go masked for several hours, or even a day or two after an accident; therefore, refusing medical care at the time can be very dangerous to your health.

Personal injury attorneys are far too familiar with victims who opted to refuse medical care after an accident, only to regret the decision later. It is important to understand, even in those moments of panic, that endorphins are released in the body after an accident. Along with adrenaline, these can cover the pain and discomfort that one would feel otherwise. As that wears off, and time ticks by, the pain sets in. There are many risks that come with refusing care at the scene of the accident, including:

    1. Worsening Injuries. Obviously, the primary concern is for your health. You should ensure that everything is okay, so you don’t unintentionally aggravate injuries due to the adrenaline high.
    2. Overlooking a Major Problem. Internal injuries are not always immediately evident, but can be very serious – even life-threatening. Just assuming that everything is fine can leave you in a very significant emergency situation later.
    3. Causing Complications with Lawsuits. It’s the last thing that you want to think about in such a terrifying moment, but it can help you regain the funds needed to cover repair and medical expenses later.

It’s very important to receive medical care after an accident. Even if you feel okay in the moment, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Continue the medical treatment as prescribed by a doctor. Whether this involves medication, rest, time off from work, physical therapy, massage, or some other type of care, it is essential that you follow through with the recommended path to recovery.

Once you have seen a medical professional, then you can speak at greater length with a personal injury attorney about a potential lawsuit. It is no secret that auto repair costs and medical expenses can add up very quickly. For this reason, the courts protect the victims of Tampa auto accidents. An experienced lawyer can help you file a suit and collect the damages needed to repay those debts.

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Another GM Recall: Cadillacs and Impalas Considered Fire Risk

cadillac---toronto-1-75677-mCars recalled? Let’s face it, you aren’t really overly shocked to hear it. However, GM’s most recent recall isn’t a small one. News broke last week about the manufacturer’s flawed models that had the potential to catch fire due to a brake complication. That’s right, fire!

More than 200,000 cars will fall under the recall category as a result of this announcement. This is in addition to the more than 15,000 sold in other countries. Owners of Impalas and Cadillacs should be paying close attention. This recall impacts Cadillac’s 2013-2015 year models and Impalas manufactured for 2014 and 2015.

Fortunately, there have been no serious injuries or deaths reported; however, the rear braking assemblies are thought to be capable of generating tremendous heat and sparks, capable of ignition, due to a major defect.

So, who should be most concerned by this recall? While all owners of the recalled Cadillac and Impala models should seek to have the problem corrected as soon as possible, those experiencing certain warning signs should stop operating their vehicles immediately. These include poor acceleration and deceleration, excessive brake heat, abnormal smells resulting from overheating brakes, and premature wear of brake assembly components.

Impala owners have added concerns, as many of these same cars were already recalled for a transmission defect. This first recall was issued after it was discovered that the cars were prone to rolling after parked. Another recall was issued for Impalas in June, which pointed to ignition troubles and then another was issued in July when it was discovered that power steering could malfunction while driving.

Recalls are a great thing, in that they point out potential problems to car owners and help them resolve the issue. Unfortunately, the recalls are not always issued quickly enough. When that is the case, Tampa auto accidents can occur, people can be hurt or killed. Personal injury attorneys can assist in recovering financial losses, but they cannot repair the damage done to human beings.

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