May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a state where growing numbers of motorcycles and vehicle drivers share the roads, it is important for all motorists to practice safe driving behaviors to prevent motorcycle crashes. With more than 80,000 miles of roads and ideal, year-round riding conditions, Florida is a popular location for motorcyclists. More than a million drivers in Florida have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver licenses and there are over 600,000 motorcycles registered in the state, not including all of the out-of-state motorcycle enthusiasts that come to Florida to ride.
With the anticipated increase in motorcycle traffic during the summer months, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Department of Transportation are promoting May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Florida.
“Regardless of your mode of transportation, safety comes first,” said Col. David Brierton, director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Last year, there were nearly 10,000 motorcycle crashes in Florida that resulted in 440 deaths and more than 9,800 injuries. By staying alert and using common sense and courtesy, drivers and riders alike can help to create a safer road environment for everyone.”
FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said, “Florida has great weather and roads for motorcycle enthusiasts. FDOT is committed to making roads safe and usable by all, including motorcyclists. We all need to share the road and look twice for motorcycles.”
In 2013, 462 motorcyclists including passengers were killed in traffic crashes, a slight increase from 2012 (457). Those deaths account for 19.2% of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3% of all vehicles in Florida.
DHSMV and FDOT are asking motorcyclists to ride smart and motorists to share the road by using these simple tips.
Tips for motorcyclists:
• Make yourself more visible to motorists: Wear bright colors.
• Always wear safety gear.
• Train regularly.
• Stay out of blind spots, especially around large trucks. The smaller the vehicle, the more difficult it is for truck drivers to see it.
• Obey the speed limit. Twenty percent of speed-related motorcycle crashes (46) in 2014 resulted in a fatality.
• Always drive sober.
• Inspect your motorcycle before each ride to ensure your safety by having it in good working order.
Reducing the number of motorcycle-involved crashes goes beyond training and prevention on the part of the motorcyclist. Motorcycles are vehicles with the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle on the roadway.
Tips for drivers:
• Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width; never try to share a lane.
• Check for motorcycles by looking in your mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections. Remain extra vigilant when entering or crossing intersections. In 2014, 15 percent (66) fatal motorcycle-involved crashes occurred within an intersection.
• Do not tailgate. Allow more following distance when following a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
• Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on driving – don’t drive distracted.
• Always drive sober.

Original Article found here

Posted in News

Teen Drive – new tech feature of Chevy Malibu

General Motors intends to assuage teen driving accidents with a new system that allows parents, even when they are not in the car, to overseer their young adults driving habits.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. Fortunately, teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and this new system is a strategy that can improve the safety of young drivers.

In fact, nearly 2,650 teens aged 16–19 were killed and almost 292,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries from motor-vehicle accidents. This means that seven teens ages 16 to 19 dies every day from motor vehicle injuries.

Because compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use and they are more likely to speed up than adult drivers.

“We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids—they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits,” said General Motors safety engineer Mary Ann Beebe.

The innovative system of GM then, that is hailed as Teen Drive offers a bunch of features that are intended to promote safe driving. For example, the vehicle will automatically mute the radio and any paired device in the car when the front seat occupants are not wearing seatbelts. In addition, it will give audible and visual forewarnings if the vehicle travels faster than the fixed speeds.

Parents can also set the radio system’s maximum volume to a lower level, and pre-set maximum speed of about 40 and 75 miles per hour, and when the teen exceeds it activates safety warnings.

What’s more unnerving for teens is that the new system made available for the parents to look at a record of how their teens drove the car. That is comprised of how fast they went, the distance they drove, and if the teens have prompted any active safety feature like over-speeding.

The said Teen Drive technology will be made available for the 2016 Malibu as a customary feature in the Premier vehicle and optional with the LT model. The 2016 Malibu will launch at the New York Auto Show and is expected to go on sale at the end of the year.

Original Article found here

Posted in Teen Driving

Texting and Driving – From Attorney Michael J. Politis

If I asked you to close your eyes for five seconds, WHILE you are driving 55 miles per hour along a busy roadway, you would probably tell me I’m crazy.

The average length of time it takes to receive or send a text message is approximately 5 seconds.  At 55 miles per hour, your car will travel the entire length of a football field!  Anything can happen in that distance, including the loss of life.

It is a statistical fact that a person who’s drunk at .08 blood alcohol is 4 times more likely to get into a crash.

Just Talking on a cell phone and the odds are exactly the same – a person is 4 times more likely to crash.

Texting while driving and you are 8 times more likely to get into a crash – just like being double the legal limit of intoxication.

You would never drive your car blindfolded or drunk – but texting when driving is the same thing. Please, just don’t do it!  As a driver you are personally responsible for the lives of your friends and family in your car, and the lives of all the men, women and children in the other cars on the road around you.  PLEASE, just don’t.


Posted in Texting While Driving

What to do after a Slip-and-Fall Injury

If you’ve suffered a slip-and-fall injury on someone else’s property, there are steps you should take immediately after the accident.

To win a slip-and-fall case, you will need to prove that there was a dangerous condition that led to your accident. You will also need to prove that the owner knew about the dangerous condition and didn’t fix it.

According to, one of the most important things you can do is to document everything. Make sure to write down all details from the accident, including how you fell, what led to it, what the conditions were like and if there were any warning signs to alert you or others to danger.

You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you weren’t seriously injured, recommends seeing the doctor so you can get any injuries diagnosed and documented.

You should also contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help guide you through the process and determine what steps you should take.

Original article found here:

Posted in Uncategorized

Simulator shows teens dangers of texting and driving

BALTIMORE —In 2012, more than 3,000 people were killed and more than 400,000 were injured in car crashes caused by distracted driving.
But high school students from across the state got a real-life lesson on the dangers without having to learn the hard way.
Some high school students got a hands-on lesson Tuesday about the dangers of texting and driving.
“Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of people age 1 to 34. This is an extremely important issue and we feel this is an opportunity to get in front of the leaders in the school so they can take this message back,” said Shelva Clemons with Allstate.
More than 400 student athletes from across the state gathered at North County High School in Glen Burnie for a leadership conference. One of the activities was an Allstate’s driving simulator. The students get behind the wheel and drive wearing a virtual reality visor. Then they’re told to start texting. Most end up swerving and crashing sometimes hitting a pedestrian.
“I thought it would be a lot easier but it was really difficult,” eleventh-grader Clarence McNeary said.
The students said actually getting behind the wheel and experiencing it first hand is much more effective than learning about it in the classroom.
“It was pretty crazy because I was swerving when I was driving I wasn’t even going the speed limit the speed limit was 45 and I was going 25 because I was trying to text I didn’t even get the full text through before I hit a person at the stop light because I didn’t see them,” said 11th-grader Maddie White.
“It really is sort of like a wake-up call that the dangers are real and it’s not something that could happen to a special person. It happens to anybody,” McNeary said.
Organizers hope these students will remember this lesson when the next time they get behind the wheel of a car and share the experience with other students at their school.
“We want them to just realize how important of an issue this really is. We’re really about raising awareness and trying to change behavior, so if we can just have one student who says they’ve learned something and going through the simulator, (that) has made a difference than we feel like we’ve been successful today,” Clemons said.
And judging by the students’ reaction, the simulator had a lasting effect.
McNeary said he will not text and drive and White said, “Never, I don’t already and I’m never going to do it.”
Original Article found here

Posted in car accident

Florida Supreme Court Considers New Juvenile Sentencing Law

The Florida Supreme Court has asked attorneys how a new state law might affect cases dealing with inmates who were sentenced to long prison terms for committing murders or other major crimes when they were juveniles.
The new law went into effect July 1 and was designed to carry out two landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings based on the idea that juveniles are different from adults and function at different stages of brain development. As a result, the U.S. Supreme Court held, juvenile sentencing guidelines must offer young offenders the chance to have their cases reviewed after serving a certain number of years.
Now the question is whether the state law or the U.S. Supreme Court rulings are retroactive to sentences imposed on juveniles in the past.
Last month the Florida Supreme Court asked attorneys in cases that might be affected by the new sentencing guidelines to submit briefs on the issue. That included cases from Bay and Duval counties, where juveniles were sentenced to 70 years or more. The attorney general’s office also is expected to weigh in.
One of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings, in a 2010 case known as Graham v. Florida, banned life sentences without a “meaningful opportunity” for release for juveniles convicted of non-homicide crimes. The other ruling, in a 2012 case known as Miller v. Alabama, banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder. Juveniles can still face life sentences in such cases, but judges must weigh criteria such as the offenders’ maturity and the nature of the crimes before imposing that sentence.
That’s why the Florida Legislature this spring passed HB 7035, calling for judicial hearings and sentencing standards that vary depending on the nature of the crimes. Under the law, a juvenile convicted of a murder classified as a capital felony could be sentenced to life in prison after a hearing to determine whether such a sentence is appropriate. If a judge finds that a life sentence is not appropriate, the juvenile would be sentenced to at least 35 years. Also, juveniles convicted in such cases would be entitled to reviews after 25 years.
But while the new law tries to bring Florida into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court rulings, it doesn’t mention retroactivity. Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, the law’s Senate sponsor, said it was not intended to address that issue.
“We were simply looking at a statutory scheme that was clearly unconstitutional,” the Fleming Island Republican said. “We were looking at two United States Supreme Court decisions that set forth certain parameters, and we developed a sentencing framework that complied with those two decisions. As far as how that applied individually to individual defendants, we’ll leave that to the court system.”
In the years between the U.S. Supreme Court rulings and the new law taking effect, juvenile sentencing cases have landed at the Florida Supreme Court.
As an example, one of the pending cases concerns Rebecca Falcon, who is serving a life sentence for a murder she committed in Bay County in the course of a botched robbery in 1997, when she was 15 years old. Another, from Duval County, involves Shimeeka Gridine, who was sentenced to 70 years in prison for crimes—attempted first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and aggravated battery—committed during an attempt to rob a gas station in 2009, when Gridine was 14 years old.
“We believe that (the) Miller (ruling) itself is retroactive,” said Tania Galloni, managing attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Florida office. She said Falcon and Gridine should be entitled to re-sentencing hearings.
Falcon’s attorneys are seeking to have her mandatory sentence—life without parole—vacated under the Miller ruling, arguing that as a new rule of constitutional law, it is retroactive for the courts.
“I’m not arguing that the new (state) law should be applied retroactively,” said Karen M. Gottlieb, an attorney for Falcon. “I’m arguing that the court has an inherent power and obligation to enforce constitutional rules of law that are retroactive. … That’s an important distinction.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, said the Florida Supreme Court faces a balancing act. On one hand, the justices must comply with the U.S. Supreme Court rulings; on the other, he said, juveniles who commit serious felonies are a threat to public safety.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has already clearly said you can’t give them what amounts to a life sentence,” Judd said. “But we’re dealing with an extremely small percentage of people who are extremely violent, and the overwhelming majority of them would be again when set free upon society.”
But Galloni of the Southern Poverty Law Center said juveniles who commit crimes are still capable of changing the course of their lives.
“I think everyone involved in policymaking should be basing their decisions not on emotion or visceral reaction but on the science, on the facts,” she said. “And we know from the science of brain development that children are going to change.”
Original article found here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cell Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws

Distracted Driving Laws

This chart details state cellular phone use and texting while driving laws.

  • Hand-held Cell Phone Use: 13 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws—an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.
  • Text Messaging: Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 44 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 5 have primary enforcement. Of the 6 states without an all driver texting ban:
    • 4 prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
    • 3 restrict school bus drivers from texting.

Crash Data Collection: Nearly all states include at least one category for distraction on police crash report forms, although the specific data collected varies. The Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) guideline provides best practices on distraction data collection.

Preemption Laws: Some states have preemption laws that prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting their own distracted driving bans. States with such laws include – but may not be limited to – Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Carolina.

Original article found here with a chart that outlines state distracted driving laws.

Posted in Uncategorized

Family awarded $11 million in Okeechobee County DUI hit-and-run

Okeechobee County, Fla. – $11 Million was awarded to the family of a motorcyclist who was dragged 200 ft. under the wheel of a drunk driver.

Rodney Wilde still has trouble walking and speaking after a wreck that nearly killed him and caused serious brain damage four years ago.

Rodney was the victim of a DUI hit and run with Leroy Felt behind the wheel. Felt had been served alcohol for nine hours prior to the wreck at the Eagles Lodge on 441 where he was a member.

Felt also left the scene of the accident leaving the victim seriously injured on the road. Police later caught Felt who was three times over the legal alcohol limit.

A new bill moving through the legislature would mandate at least a four year minimum sentence for hit and run drivers. Currently, there is no minimum.

The jury found the Lodge negligent for serving Felt so much alcohol.

Felt was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Original article found here.

Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

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.

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.

Posted in Wrongful Death
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