Texting Teen Found Guilty of Vehicular Homicide

A recent survey reported that American drivers texted more while driving than drivers of other countries.  Approximately 69 percent of American drivers aged 18-64 admitted talking and texting on their cell phones in the previous month when surveyed.

Distracted driving contributes up to 8,000 crashes every day, and using a cell phone quadruples your risk of crashing.

Even with such serious statistics, drivers continue to not only talk on their cell phones, but to text, as well.  Many states are placing anti-texting laws in place, and those who break these laws are beginning to suffer the consequences, as one teen in Massachusetts discovered recently.

On February 20, 2011, Aaron Deveau crashed his car into a vehicle driven by Donald Bowley.  Bowley was killed in the collision and his girlfriend was seriously injured.

The teenaged Deveau claimed not only was he tired from working that day, but be was also distracted by thoughts of his homework.  Unfortunately for Deveau, the prosecution produced phone records at his trial that showed the young man was texting moments before he crashed his car into that of Bowley, so his excuse did not fly in court.

Deveau, who is now 18 years-old, was found guilty of vehicular homicide and texting while driving.  He was sentenced by Judge Abany to four-and-a-half years imprisonment on the two charges.  Deveau’s sentence was eventually reduced to one year in jail, three years probation and the loss of his driver’s license for fifteen years. 

Although drivers have been cited for driving while texting in the state, this is the first time in Massachusetts’ history that an individual has been charged with vehicular homicide while texting. 

Many experts believe those who take lives and cause injuries while texting and driving, will be dealt with in the same way that Deveau was in the state of Massachusetts. 

Currently, there are thirty-five states with bans on texting and driving.  Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous activities to do while driving; when you are looking at the keyboard on your phone, you are not looking at the road.  Become part of the solution to this problem by vowing to change your behavior and refuse to text while driving. 

Original article found here.

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Posted in car accident

Florida Man Cannot Adopt His Girlfriend

The Third District Court of Appeals ruled that a multi-millionaire could not assume parental custody of his girlfriend.  The appellate court ruled the “adoption constituted a fraud on the court” because the man intentionally concealed the adoption from his ex-wife, who should have been notified because the adoption “directly, immediately, and financially impacted the children.”

The ruling overturned John Goodman’s 2011 court approved adoption of his girlfriend, Heather Hutchins, which changed his biological children’s entitlement of their $300 million trust fund from one-half to one-third. 

John Goodman is the founder of the Wellington Polo Club and was convicted of DUI manslaughter in March 2012 for running a stop sign and colliding with another car, killing the driver, 23-year-old Scott Patrick Wilson in February 2010.  The impact of Goodman’s BMW colliding with Wilson’s car, flipped the vehicle  into a canal, drowning the young man.  Sobriety tests after the fatal crash showed that Goodman had a blood alcohol level of .20, more than twice the state of Florida’s legal limit.  Goodman was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for Wilson’s death.

Goodman, who remains on house arrest at his Wellington mansion on a $7 million bond, reached a $46 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Scott Wilson’s parents.  Wilson’s family’s attorney have stated Goodman’s adoption attempt was a “brazen bid to shield his assets from the grieving parents.”

The International Polo Club Palm Beach founder quietly adopted his girlfriend in 2011, thus making her eligible for a share of the $300 million trust he had established for his biological children.  When the adoption became known to his former wife and children, a guardian for the teenage children filed a lawsuit contesting the adoption.

The court’s decision to void Goodman’s adoption of the 43-year-old Hutchins was based on Goodman’s failure to notify his ex-wife, which gave her no opportunity to protect her children’s financial interests from Hutchin’s encroachment.

Goodman’s attorney declined to comment on the ruling, saying “I have no comment, that’s all I can say right now.”

Original story found here.

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Posted in Wrongful Death

Shopper Cards Can Save Your Life

Local health departments, as well as state and federal health investigators, have discovered a new way to track down outbreaks of food borne illnesses. 

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report shopper cards are  now being used to track down outbreaks of food poisoning and other food borne illnesses.  The cards give detailed information – the product, the flavor, the lot code, the best by date – of all products that enter a consumer’s shopping cart.

The CDC states identifying exactly which products were purchased by victims of food poisoning has become a standard tool for public health investigators, and the agency supports the use of shopper cards during outbreak investigations.

According to the CDC, an estimated 48 million Americans contract food borne illnesses every years, with 128,000 needing hospitalization, and 3,000 dying. 

An article in NBCNews.com cites an example of two women in the same household who were struck with gastrointestinal symptoms.  The younger woman had been sick for nine days when her mother-in-law became ill with the same symptoms.  Unfortunately, the older woman’s symptoms were so severe she required hospitalization.  Both women had contracted E.coli from contaminated organic spinach and spring mix salad greens.

Health department officials were able to, with the women’s shopper card numbers, discover exactly where the contaminated greens were sold and grown, and have the contaminated product pulled from grocery store’s shelves.

Experts state that identifying the source of an outbreak early and accurately can not only result in the contaminated product being pulled from store’s shelves more quickly, but can assist doctors in prescribing the proper treatment for victims, as well. 

According to a report by the Food Marketing Institute, approximately sixty percent of retail grocery stores offer shopper cards and approximately eighty percent of consumers in this country belong to a shopper loyalty card program, with the average household participating in six shopper programs.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Texting and Driving: U.S. Number One

A recent study has shown that Americans drivers are ranked number one!  Although usually a ranking at the top is an honor, in this case, quite the opposite is true.

A survey was taken of American and European drivers to see which country’s drivers texted while driving.  Unfortunately, federal government researchers reported Americans came out on top, with approximately two-thirds of drivers admitting they texted while driving.

The countries surveyed by researchers included Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.  The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) used data from 5,000 people surveyed by Porter Novelli, a marketing and public relations firm, for the study.

The survey showed there is a big difference across both the United States and Europe in the number of drivers who admitted they get distracted by cell phones, but U.S. drivers scored the worst.

Approximately 69 percent of American drivers aged 18-64 admitted talking on a cell phone while driving in the past month.  In Britain, only 21 percent of drivers admitted to this, while in France 40 percent of adult drivers admitted to driving and talking on a cell phone. 

In Europe, most countries have hand-held cell phone bans in place.  What was surprising to researchers was the vast variation in European driver percentages across the seven countries in the survey.

Talking on a cell phone even when it is hands free is distracting, but experts agree that texting is not only enormously distracting, but dangerous as well.  Experts believe people should not use phones at all when they drive.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center in 2010 reported  those drivers distracted by cell phone use killed an estimated 16,000 people from 2001-2007, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. 

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement, “Driving and dialing or texting don’t mix.  If you are driving, pull over to a safe place and stop before you use your cell phone.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Giant Screen Collapses on Miami Music Festival Stage

Ultra Music Festival is an annual outdoor electronic music festival held in Downtown Miami in Bayfront Park every March.  The 2013 festival will be held over two weekends, March 15 to 17 and March 22 to 24,  with an estimated attendance of 250,000.

Unfortunately on Thursday night, four members of the crew setting up the stage for the festival were injured when a giant video screen collapsed on them, trapping the men underneath.  The accident apparently happened when the screen was hoisted up in the air to be part of the stage.  Tragically, instead it came tumbling down on top of the workers.

According to a Miami fire official, two people suffered  life-threatening injuries, including serious head injuries and other fractures and were transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment.  The fire official reported the two other stage workers injured sustained minor injuries in the collapse, with one receiving treatment at the scene of the accident and another being transported to a local hospital.

A section of the concert area at Bayfront Park will be closed off to concert-goers because of the accident.  However, the event has six other stages and the event will begin as scheduled at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.

Both OSHA and  Miami Fire Rescue investigators returned to Bayfront Park on Friday to determine the cause of the accident.  In a news release late Thursday night, festival officials said, “Festival organizers are working with and supporting authorities as they investigate the details behind the accident.”

When you are injured at work, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney.  Even though workers compensation laws provide financial protection for employees who have been injured at work, making a successful claim is not easy and may require the assistance of a skilled, experienced attorney.  A knowledgeable Florida personal injury lawyer will carefully examine your case and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Original story found here.

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Posted in Brain Injuries, Common Injuries, Personal Injury

March: Brain Injury Awareness Month

March has been designated as brain injury awareness month, and the Brain Injury Association of America’s message for its 2013 awareness campaign is “Brain Injuries do not discriminate.” 

  A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.  A TBI can range in severity from “mild” to “severe”.  The majority of TBI’s that occur each are concussions.

The association reports the following facts:

  • 1.7 million people, including 475,000 children, sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in this country every year.  Of those who sustain a TBI, 52,000 die, 275,000 will require hospitalization and 1.3 million will be treated and released from an emergency room.
  • TBI contributes to one-third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. each year.
  • 3.1 million people live with lifelong disability as a result of TBI.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that TBI costs this country $76.3 billion each year in direct medical costs and indirect costs.
  • Causes of TBI include falls (35 percent), car crashes (17 percent), work place accidents (16 percent), and assaults (10 percent).

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, for many Americans a  TBI is the start of a lifelong neurological disability, which is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood.  When a TBI is sustained, immediate access to specialized trauma care, followed by specialized rehabilitation and lifelong disease management are some of the elements needed to restore and maintain an individual’s quality of life.

More information on TBI can be found at www.cdc.gov or www.biausa.org.

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Posted in Brain Injuries

Fans Hurt at Daytona Speedway

Fans at Daytona International Speedway were injured when one racer’s car collided with another’s car and became airborne,  sending tires and other debris flying  into the grandstands.

The crash that injured fans happened in the last lap of the race, a race that had already been stopped for twenty minutes by a thirteen car pile-up five laps from the finish.  In that crash, driver Michael Annett was transported to a local hospital with, according to his Richard Petty Motorsports team, chest bruising.

The final lap collision occurred when the leader of the race, Regan Smith,  tried to block Brad Keselowski in an attempt to keep the lead.  Cars began crashing all around these two driver’s cars, and when rookie Kyle Larson collided with Keselowski’s car, his car went airborne and crashed into the fence dividing the race track from the grandstands, a fence that tragically was lined with fans.  The entire front end of Larson’s car was sheared off, and large pieces of the car landed in the grandstands injuring fans in the upper deck.

Dave Byron, Volusia County spokesman, said there were six seriously injured people who were transported by ambulance to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.  He added that two people with minor injuries were transported to other local hospitals.

NASCAR President Mike Helton said  it was fortunate there were many emergency workers around at the time of the crash, and added the workers took care of the injured very quickly.

Tony Stewart won the race for the nineteenth time, but was in no mood for celebrating.  Stewart said, “We’ve always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport.  But it’s hard.  We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.”

Original article can be read here.

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Posted in car accident, Uncategorized

Fatal Valentine’s Day Crash Kills Teenager

Tragically another teen driver has died on a Florida highway in a motor vehicle crash.  The crash, according to state troopers, occurred  Valentine’s Day on County Road 484, just west of Marion Boulevard.  According to witnesses of the accident, the driver, 16-year-old Brandon Garner, was not only speeding, but weaving in and out of traffic as well when he lost control, ran off the road and slammed into a tree.  Another automobile was also involved in the accident, but fortunately the driver sustained only minor injuries. 

In the United States, vehicular crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, with an average of 6,000 teens dying and another 300,000 being injured in this country each year. Teens  across this nation are involved in 15 % of all motor vehicle crashes, but in Florida they are involved in 22 % of all motor vehicle crashes.  Florida has three of the deadliest metro areas in the nation for teen drivers. These areas are Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.

Research has shown  teenaged drivers’ lack of experience, their tendency to speed, drive distracted –text, cell phone use – and lack of seat belt use, all lead to these deadly crashes.

The State of Florida attempts to prevent teen drivers’ injury and death in motor vehicle crashes by enacting Graduated Drivers License laws.  These laws limit a teen driver’s high risk driving situations as well as requiring supervised driving until a teen has had the opportunity to demonstrate responsible driving habits.  Once they have done so, they will then be able to “graduate” to a less restrictive license.

Original article can be found here.

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Posted in car accident

Assisted Living Facility Owner’s License Suspended

Frances Howell, the owner of Howell House, an assisted living facility in DeFuniak Springs, has had her nursing license suspended by the Florida Department of Health for abusing a 70-year-old resident of the home in July of last year.

The health department issued an emergency license suspension  stating the 68-year-old Howell used force against the elderly woman when she pulled her off a chair  by the back of her pants and then removed the chair from behind the woman.  The resident stood for a few moments on her own, and then fell backward to the floor, suffering bruises and a back strain in the fall.

The suspension order states Howell’s “decision to deliberately cause the woman to fall… demonstrates such a complete lack of care and concern for the health, safety or welfare of her patient that the safety of any of Ms. Howell’s patients cannot be assured as long as she continues to practice nursing.”

According to an employee at the home who taped the incident at Howell’s command, Howell wanted the victim removed from the home because of her declining health.  The former employee also informed investigators that employees were told by Howell they were not to assist the victim with bathroom needs on several occasions, and added because of Howell’s treatment of the elderly, he did not think she should be caring for elderly patients.

Howell was arrested in November and charged with abusing an elderly person.  She has pleaded guilty to the charge and her pretrial hearing is set for February 21.

Original article can be read here.

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Posted in Slips and Falls

Teenager Struck by Scooter as He Walks to School Bus

On Tuesday morning, a 14-year-old boy was walking to his school bus in West Park when a scooter struck the boy.

According to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, the boy was struck when the driver of the scooter passed the stopped school bus in the area of Southwest 56th Avenue and Southwest 25th Street.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office reported the injured teenager was transported to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while the driver of the scooter received minor injuries and will most undoubtedly be cited for passing a stopped school bus.

Florida law states that a driver always stops for a school bus with its lights flashing except when the driver is on a divided highway traveling in the opposite direction of the bus and there is at least five feet of unpaved space, a raised median, or a physical barrier separating the roadway from where the bus is stopped. 

However if you are not driving on a divided highway that meets the above specifications, whenever you see a school bus with its lights blinking and stop signs out, whether you are behind the bus or facing the bus traveling in the opposite direction, you must stop.

A driver who passes a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and its stop sign extended, commits a moving violation.  If a driver passes a bus illegally on the left, he can expect to receive the following penalties:

  • 1st Offense – $165 fine
  • 2nd or Subsequent Offense within five years – $165 fine plus license suspension for 90 days to six months

A driver who passes a stopped school bus illegally on the right, can expect more severe fines:

  • 1st Offense – $265 fine
  • 2nd or Subsequent Offense within five years – $265 fine, license suspension for 180 days to one year, plus a mandatory hearing

Offenders will also be required to attend and complete a DHSMV approved driver improvement course in 90 days.

Original articles can be found here.

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Posted in Pedestrian Injuries, Personal Injury