Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued a report in June 2020 regarding fireworks-related fires. Their findings show that in 2018, 19,500 fires were started by fireworks, resulting in 5 deaths, 46 injuries, and $105 million in property damage.

On that same note, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released its Fireworks Annual Report that shows 10,000 people were hospitalized last year due to fireworks-related injuries. Their reports show that over a third of the injury victims in 2019 were young children. Twelve deaths were reported from fireworks in that same year. 

And while fireworks were made legal this year on three holidays: Fourth of July, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve, most people fail to think about property damage and injuries over holiday weekends. While fireworks are associated with fun and celebration, most people fail to think about their potential to cause devastating injuries, burns, fires, and even death. Something as simple as lighting off a bottle rocket or Roman candle could easily lead to a house fire, and not just your own home, but a neighbor’s house as well. It is important to remember that these situations can be avoided by erring on the side of caution. 

Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance may have you covered if a house fire is accidentally started by legal fireworks. However, if you are using illegal fireworks, you can expect your claim to be denied. Using illegal fireworks could place you on the line personally for any damage that results. One mistake with an illegal cherry bomb, M-80, M-100, or silver salute could mean you are now solely on the hook for rebuilding your home and replacing all of your belongings. 

You may be wondering what would happen if your home caught fire due to someone else’s illegal fireworks or firecrackers. In instances like these, your homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance should cover these claims. It is always a good idea to double check your insurance policy and contact your insurance provider to make sure you understand all of your coverages. 

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The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office has released an update on a woman in her mid-60s who was attacked by a pack of dogs last week.

Officials say over the weekend the woman was airlifted from Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point to a Manatee County hospital where she will receive specialized treatment for her wounds. 

The woman is listed in critical condition.

On Friday, officials said four large dogs got out of a home at 11079 Mayflower Road and attacked a woman walking her dog. According to the report, the dogs initially went after the woman’s small dog but turned on the woman after she picked up her dog to protect it.

Officials said the victim’s dog was not injured in the attack and is being cared for by a family member.

The four dogs, plus another large dog at the home, were removed by Animal Enforcement Officers. There were six dogs total that resided at the home. The sixth was a Pomeranian.

The 5th dog, a terrier mix, was confirmed by witnesses to not have been involved in the attack and was released back to the owner. However, officials say it is unknown if the owner retrieved the dog yet. 

The dogs involved in the attack were “owner surrendered” to Hernando County Animal Services, with euthanasia forms completed.

The three owners of the dogs involved received Civil Citations for the following: 

  • Animal Bite
  • Unrestrained Animal
  • Unvaccinated Animal
  • Unlicensed Animal

According to the sheriff’s office, had other people not intervened in the attack, the woman would not have survived.

Several neighborhood residents rushed over to try to stop the dog attack, which was still in progress when first responders arrived. Fire rescue personnel helped the residents get the dogs off the woman.

Two of those good Samaritans were also injured and transported to a hospital. A few others incurred minor injuries and refused medical treatment.

One of the residents whose fiance got bitten while trying to stop the attack said it looked like they were eating her alive.

The investigation remains ongoing.

It is a simple fact of life that dogs bite. In fact, dogs bite nearly 5 million people a year in the U.S. About 800,000 Americans each year seek medical attention for wounds from dog bites, and 386,000 require emergency room treatment. About 16 people die every year after being attacked by a dog. Any dog of any breed can bite someone. A dog bite can be anything from a nip to a traumatic attack that results in serious injuries and even death. When a serious injury occurs from a dog bite or dog attack, the victim has every reason to hold the dog’s owner accountable by seeking financial compensation for all medical expenses, pain and suffering and other harm caused by the bite.

According to dog bite statistics from the CDC, approximately 885,000 dog bite victims require medical attention for their injuries.

The most common victims of dog bite attacks are:

  • Children ages 5-9
  • Elderly people
  • Post letter carriers

According to the CDC, dogs most often bite a person’s arm, hand, leg, foot, head or neck. Common injuries in dog attacks include:

  • Cuts, bruises and scratches
  • Puncture wounds
  • Tearing 
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Amputations
  • Head and skull injuries

Anyone who has been seriously injured in a dog bite attack deserves financial compensation. Many victims are reluctant to pursue legal action because they fear the money will come out of a friend or neighbor’s pocket. However, the compensation recovered in a dog bite claim almost always comes from the dog owner’s insurance, through their homeowners’ insurance or business liability insurance. 

Our Hernando County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are experienced in handling dog bite cases. We can investigate your dog bite case to determine whether the dog’s owner is liable and calculate the financial compensation you may be entitled to receive for your suffering. We work with a team of medical experts and investigators who are dedicated to uncovering favorable evidence in your case. We will explain every step of the legal process and help you make informed decisions about your case. Our top priority is making sure you recover and receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.

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Our Hernando County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to wish you and your family a happy Fourth of July. We also want to remind you to celebrate safely this Wednesday and throughout the rest of the week. Whether you and your loved ones are planning backyard pool parties, barbecues, or heading to a fireworks show, safety should always be a priority, especially if children are around.

Here are a few tips to help you stay safe this Fourth of July:

Fireworks

While fireworks are a tradition on July 4th, they are also responsible for sending an average of 230 people to the emergency room each day during the month around the holiday, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. We always encourage you to attend shows put on by professionals, but we know that some people are just going to light their own. If you plan on using fireworks, be sure to do so safely, follow instructions, keep spectators at a safe distance, and monitor children closely. You want to comply with Florida laws, so please review: Under Florida law, only sparklers, approved by the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal, are legal for consumer usage. It is illegal to use exploding and/or flying fireworks in Florida, which include: shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets and firecrackers.

Swimming Pools

Pool parties are common on Fourth of July, so it makes sense to remind you to always supervise children, watch for diving into shallow water, excessive horseplay that can get out of hand, and running near pools. Drowning accidents can and do happen all too often, but by keeping a vigilant eye of the premises, you can prevent these tragedies.

BBQs

Most people pull out their grills on the Fourth. Always be careful of handling propane and charcoal grills, never grill indoors, and be careful when using lighter fluid to avoid preventable burn injuries. Keep children, pets and flammable materials away from grills and never leave them unattended.

DUIs

Most people throw a few drinks back on the Fourth. If you plan on drinking, remember to do so responsibly and to designate a sober driver if you need to get home. The Fourth of July week/weekend sees high rates of alcohol-related auto accidents, so expect to see increased patrols on the roads.

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A 16-month-old was taken to a trauma center after being bitten in the head by a dog.

The incident happened just before 2 p.m. on May 21, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The child was playing with the dog under the supervision of the child’s mother.

The owner said the dog “did not appear to maliciously attack the child, but rather, appeared to be playing.”

The family adopted the dog from Hernando County Animal Services about two months ago.

Deputies are still investigating.

Dogs are thought of as household pets, so this may come as a surprise, but dogs have been the cause of over four million animal bites every year. Many of these cases involve attacks on small children which can leave the child with both permanent physical and emotional scarring. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, it is important that you speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Our Hernando County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can review your claim and work towards recovering the financial compensation you need for your injuries.

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Window Safety Week in April comes with the arrival of spring as this is the time when most people want to open their home windows and let the fresh air in.

Window safety week aims to target two things: understand how windows can be used in escaping a fire or other emergency and to learn to safeguard against accidental window falls.

Windows have saved many lives when used as emergency escape routes. In the event of a house fire, you want to be prepared. The following can be a good checklist for your family:

  • Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut
  • Never install air conditioners in windows that need to be used for escape routes
  • Make sure window guards, security bars, grilles or grates have a working release mechanism
  • Keep emergency escape ladders in second- or third-story bedrooms and make sure everyone in the household knows how to use them

It only takes seconds for a window fall to happen. Window falls are entirely preventable and occur more frequently in urban areas. You may not be aware, but window falls account for about eight deaths and 3,300 injuries among children 5 and younger each year.

April 3-9 is officially Window Safety Week, and our Hernando County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton encourage you to be safe and practice window safety year-round. The lives of your loved ones could depend on it.

We have compiled a list to help you prevent unnecessary window falls:

  • Keep in mind that insect screens do not support the weight of a child
  • Do not leave children unattended around open windows, whether they have a screen or not
  • Windows that are within a child’s reach should stay closed
  • Do not put furniture in front of windows as children can climb on furniture and possibly fall from an open window
  • Refrain from putting a child’s play area near a window, balcony or patio

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There are more cooking-related fires on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year, according to the State Farm insurance agency. That means that the number of fires on Thanksgiving is more than double than any other day in November.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that turkey deep fryers account for more than 1,000 home fires during the holiday and these fires produce more than $15 million in property damage. Moreover, fires have the ability to deliver severe burns and injuries. Our Hernando County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to help your family enjoy a safe and injury-free holiday, which is why we have compiled the following safety tips:

How to Safely Fry Your Thanksgiving Turkey

  • Place the fryer a safe distance from any structures, trees, or wooden components such as a deck or patio. Never use a turkey fryer indoors!
  • Fill the fryer to the recommended level and then lower the thawed turkey into the cold oil to ensure that you have enough oil. If you have too much, just remove the excess.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before you place it in the fryer.
  • Turn off the fuel source before you lower the thawed turkey into the hot oil.
  • Do not marinade the turkey prior to frying it
  • Never leave your bird unattended in the fryer.
  • Have a fire extinguisher nearby when frying a turkey and never use water to extinguish a grease fire!
  • DO NOT add water or ice to the oil to try and cool it down once the turkey is done cooking!

Additional Safety Tips for Cooking Thanksgiving Feasts

While not everybody fries a turkey on Thanksgiving, this doesn’t mean that there can’t be other cooking mishaps during the holiday. All holiday chefs should take note of the following:

  • Refrain from wearing loose clothing when cooking.
  • Keep cooking surfaces clean and free from grease.
  • Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen while preparing and cooking food
  • Make sure all flammable items, like oven mitts, kitchen towels, and pot holders away from the stove top.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen where it can be easily reached in an emergency.
  • Check all of your home’s smoke detectors and ensure that they have  fresh batteries and are working properly
  • Make sure you turn everything off in the kitchen, like stovetops and ovens, before you sit down to dinner.

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Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids and adults alike. It is always exciting to dress up in costumes and trick or treat at night! However, it is no surprise that Halloween also brings with it increased risks of accidents and injuries.

There is an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians on Halloween. Also, let’s not forget that many people celebrate the holiday by consuming alcohol, so we can expect an increase in the risk of alcohol-related accidents.

Car accidents are not the only safety concerns. With dark conditions, poor visibility and the design of certain costumes, there is an increased risk of tripping and falling on an uneven sidewalk. Burn injury risks are also heightened on Halloween as some lawns have lit up  jack-o-lanterns, and some costumes can be highly flammable.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe on Halloween, our Hernando County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to make this a safe and fun night for all the trick or treaters. Please review the following Halloween safety tips:

  • Swords, knives, and any similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
  • Never trick or treat alone. Stay in groups with adult supervision.
  • Apply reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Hold a flashlight while trick or treating to help you see and others see you. Always walk and refrain from running house to house.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  • Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  • Wear well-fitting costumes, masks, and shoes to avoid any unnecessary slips, trips, and falls.
  • Only visit well lit houses. Stay away from dark house. Never accept rides from strangers.
  • Wear flame-resistant costumes.

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Visiting a haunted house is supposed to be a scary thrill. However, none of the happenings at these attractions should leave you injured. If you are injured, then the haunted house could be liable.

In 2014, a woman was severely injured while touring a haunted house in Pontiac, Michigan after a moving wall caused her to slip and fall. She sustain multiple fractures as well as other injuries.

The woman’s lawsuit alleged that she was knocked down in an area with inadequate lighting.

The case recently settled for $125,000.

If you plan on attending a haunted house this Halloween season, there are certain safety precautions you can take to avoid harm. However, if there are hidden dangers present, even the safest person can fall victim. Property owners in general have a legal duty to maintain safe conditions on their properties. When an owner or company fails to keep a premise safe and someone suffers a serious injury because of that condition, the victim can seek financial compensation for their losses.

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A deep fryer apparently caused a house fire in Spring Hill, according to Pasco County Fire Rescue.

A deep fryer was left unattended in the kitchen and started a fire inside the home located at 16517 Albright Avenue.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and found heavy smoke and flames shooting from the double-wide mobile home.

Crews battled the fire and were able to contain it to the kitchen and dining room area.

The homeowner was treated for smoke inhalation. One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and released. There were no other injuries.

Due to smoke, heat and water damage, the mobile home is a complete loss.

The Red Cross is assisting the family of five that lived in the home.

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We all know that there are things in our homes to keep away from children. However, you may be unaware of some things that could be very dangerous when in the hands of little ones.

The following five things are hidden hazards in most households, according to the Consumer Product Safety.

Magnets

If swallowed, small powerful magnets can attract inside the body and block, twist or tear the intestines. If you think your child has swallowed a magnet, it is best to seek medical attention immediately.

Recalled Products

Stay on top of the latest safety recalls and get dangerous products out of the home. Sign up for recall notices now at www.cpsc.gov.

Windows

Do not place a crib or playpen near a window blind. Children can strangle on blind so it is best to install cordless blinds or safety devices on blind cords. It is also a good idea to install window guards or stops to prevent falls.

TipOvers

Kids will climb, there is no doubt about that. Top-heavy furniture, TVs and stoves can tip over and crush young children, so it is very necessary to make these objects more stable by installing anchors and brackets.

Pools & Spa Drains

The suction from a pool or spa drain is powerful enough to trap a child, or  even an adult, underwater. Always inspect pools and spas for missing or broken drain covers.

If your child has been injured on someone else’s property, the property owner could be liable for damages. Our Hernando County Premises Liability Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help identify the responsible party.

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