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What is a Low Impact Auto Accident?

Medical remedy for torn ligament and fractured bone

Can a person be seriously harmed in a so-called low impact auto accident? (i.e., where there appears to be minor, little, or no damage as a result of a collision). Many insurance companies want you to believe that a person won’t / can’t suffer serious injuries if their vehicle doesn’t show the prerequisite amount of damage they deem necessary. How hard does a person have to be hit before they are hurt? What does low impact auto accident mean?

Research into Low Impact Auto Accidents

The fact is that research has proven that there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever that minimum auto damage also means minimal injuries suffered. Yet, everyday insurance companies will argue that low impact auto accidents equaling minimal, or no, injuries suffered by those parties involved. Engineers have shown that when a car’s body and frame do not bend, all the force is translated into the occupant, creating the whiplash effect on the occupant instead of cushioning the blow.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues are the tissues that are not bone. They include cartilage, ligament, tendon, disks, etc. They are typically what is repaired in most neck, back, shoulder and knee surgeries. Soft tissue injuries are common in low impact auto accidents. If you have been involved in what someone has termed a “low impact” accident, but yet you don’t feel right – you have new pain, you’re noticing health symptoms that weren’t there before the accident, make sure you get checked out right away.

You may not have broken any bones, but soft tissue injuries can necessitate a lifetime of treatment for conditions that either won’t go away, or will never be the same again, as far as your health is concerned. Begin documenting any injuries right away, and seek treatment for them from a physician. You don’t know what the future may hold for you – chronic pain from soft tissue injuries could make it impossible to keep your current employment.

Pictures of the Damaged Vehicle

Attorneys for insurance companies will use photos of a vehicle sustaining minor damage to “show” to a jury that you couldn’t possibly have been injured when there was hardly any damage to the vehicle. Sadly, it can often be the “perception” (shown by a photo) that may make a lasting impression with a jury. In fact, many insurance company attorneys will call on so-called experts to denounce the fact that a low impact accident can also take a toll on those involved. It takes a skilled personal injury attorney to know how to talk to the jury, and get them to put the photo in the background, while examining actual, physical, and mental sustained injuries from the collision in the foreground.

Knowing What to Look For

An insurance company’s adjuster who wants to diagnose your case as minimal damage and no injuries will focus his/her attention on the minimal damage that can be seen in the outward appearances of your vehicle. They will want photos of the car before the accident and they will also ask about any possible pre-existing damage. They will also want:

• You to get an appraisal of any damage;
• A recorded statement (do NOT do this without your attorney present);
• Background information on you (do NOT give your Social Security Number to the adjuster);
• Their own “experts” to evaluate any damage to your vehicle; and
• A quick, low settlement.

Perhaps most of all, it will take patience on your part because insurance companies love to delay, delay, and delay some more. They are hoping you will stop treating, run out of patience and decide to “settle” on a lesser amount than you deserve just so you can be through with them. Don’t give in to them. If you have been involved in a low impact accident in St. Petersburg, talk to a personal injury attorney soon to get assistance in dealing with the insurance company.


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Cell Phones As Evidence in Personal Injury Cases

People have been taking photos and videos on their cell phones since the 1990s, mostly sharing for fun and making memories. Cell phones today play larger and larger roles in daily life. They can even help people capture crimes in pictures or videos in an instant. If you realize you are witnessing a potential crime in St. Petersburg, likely your cell phone will be a lot handier than a “regular” full-size camera. People are starting to grasp the significance of how they can help assist others in a moment of need by using cell phones as evidence.

Assault on Elderly Man

On October 25, in Winter Haven, Florida, a 90-year-old man was backing out from his parking space in a Publix lot about 4:50 in the afternoon. A black four-door vehicle was driving in the parking lot, in the wrong lane. The 90-year-old victim had looked in both directions to ensure it was safe for him to back out of his parking space, when, BAM! The black vehicle (which may have been a Kia) slammed into him. Both drivers got out of their cars and proceeded to yell and curse at each other. There was also a passenger in the black vehicle, who got out of the car and was yelling as well, when, all of a sudden, one of the occupants of the black vehicle hit the 90-year-old man so hard, it knocked him unconscious.

It was reported that several people were in the vicinity during this time, and one witness even tried to stop the occupants of the black vehicle from speeding off after the assault, but was unable to do so. Police are asking for the public’s help to identify the occupants of the black vehicle. It is thought that at least one person might have taken a video of the incident. This is where everyday citizens can step up and help solve cases like this, especially when there is unnecessary brutality involved. With that being said, it is also important to keep calm and quiet, trying to take pictures or video unobtrusively, as no one would want an innocent bystander to get hurt “because” they were trying to record an event. Use commonsense and, when possible, if you are witness to an incident, if you can take pictures or a video that could be useful later, don’t hesitate to use the smart technology at hand to help another.

Importantly, for intentional acts, such as assault and battery, the defendant may be open to punitive damages without caps and cannot simply avoid the judgment by declaring bankruptcy.

Photos and Videos

Photographs and videos have become two of the most effective pieces of evidence that can be presented in court. In fact, in car accidents and many other types of accidents, it is unusual NOT to have photos or videos presented as evidence. Of course, before cells phones as evidence can be entered, either photos or videos, they must pass the authentication test. Questions that will be asked include:

• Does the photo accurately represent the subject?
• Does the photo or video fairly represent the subject?

Issues remain that could cause the photo or video to be admissible, or inadmissible, in court. The question will also arise:

• How relevant is the picture and how does that weigh against an undue prejudice on a party?

Photos and videos submitted as evidence could also raise challenges due to the ease with which photos and videos can be altered. The angle and light in photos and videos could also be called into question to address the pertinence of the evidence. Many variables could come into play; however, it is still considered very helpful to have this kind of material available for use. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident or incident where cell phone photos and/or videos may have been taken, speak with a personal injury attorney about potential acceptance of that material as crucial evidence in your case.


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What Happens When a School Bus and Car Collide

It’s that time of year again – time for all vehicles to be on the lookout for children going back to school in Saint Petersburg and everywhere else in Florida. It is extremely important for motorists to watch for children crossing roadways near schools and always watch for a school bus. An intersection with or without a crossing guard can still be extremely dangerous for children. Even when being driven in a school bus, parents have to be aware of the possibility of a collision with another vehicle while children are en-route to school.

SCHOOL BUS COLLISIONS

An accident involving a vehicle and a school bus occurred on August 17 in Pine Hills, Orange County, FL at the intersection of Silver Star Road and Willow Bend Boulevard. It was not immediately known if there were students on this bus but two people were transported with injuries. In January 2017, three accidents involving school buses happened in one day, all three involving Pinellas County schools. One involved a collision with an SUV. Thankfully, no students were injured in any of these collisions. One incident involved the driver of a school bus failing to stop at a stop sign. In one of the other two accidents, a school bus driver was arrested on DUI charges. The third incident involved a bus running into a pole after it was struck by a car.

STUDENTS WORKING TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS

Sit up and take notice of Makayla Trowell, a 14-year-old girl who wrote a letter to 8 On Your Side because she was very concerned about the traffic speeds outside her school. The road in question for Trowell was in front of Crews Lake Middle School. Upon further inspection by Leslee Lacey, a WFLA traffic reporter, it was discovered that, besides speeders near the school, there was no traffic light and no “School Zone” sign along the busy road. There was only a “suggested” speed limit sign of 35 mph along the road in question, Shady Hills Road. There is also a “blind curve” that can be another cause of trouble for the area. Reporter Lacey clocked drivers at 64 mph during school hours with her Speed Busters radar gun.

Further investigation showed that at least 13 crashes had been recorded in that area within a one-year period. When Leslee Lacey addressed these concerns with Pasco County Traffic Operations Manager, David Skrelunas, he “told Leslee one of the reasons the school lacked a designated school zone was because it’s entrance was not directly on Shady Hills Road. However, Leslee found there is a designated school zone on nearby Hudson Avenue, yet the school entrance is not along Hudson Avenue.”

Thanks to Makayla Trowell’s letter and the follow-up of WFLA Traffic Reporter Leslee Lacey, the Pasco County Traffic Operations Department decided to create a designated school zone in that area. Now, there is a flashing “School Zone” sign that tells drivers not to go over 15 mph during school hours. Fines for abuse of that law have also been doubled. Makayla is very excited as she was greatly concerned about the safety and well-being of her school friends. Speed Busters radar gun wielder and traffic reporter Lacey have since been back to the scene and discovered that the sign has, indeed, made a difference and the speeds of vehicles passing through that area have been greatly reduced.

ONE VOICE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Makayla Trowell has realized through this encounter that she did, in fact, effect change and that one voice can make a difference. Trowell’s story should give us all hope and a new determination to try to implement change where it is most needed. Makayla has since been honored by her school, as well as Pasco County, for her resolve to make a difference.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a vehicle accident in St. Petersburg, contact a personal injury lawyer to determine your rights for recourse as a result of that accident.


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Tractor-Trailer Crashes are Plentiful in Florida

Tractor-trailer crashes are all too common in Florida, especially in and around the St. Petersburg area. While most of the time, tractor-trailers successfully navigate their designated routes without incident, due to the large amount of traffic that regularly traverses the highways in the state of Florida, it can be challenging at times to share the road with these large vehicles. It can also be scary when you realize the weight of any impact with a tractor-trailer can be devastating.

TRACTOR-TRAILERS AND I-275

On a Sunday morning in July, the Florida Highway Patrol reported that two different tractor-trailer crashes occurred near I-4, causing crazy delays all the way back to I-275. One truck jack-knifed around milepost 44 at about 8:00 in the morning. Almost simultaneously, yet separately, a truck headed in the opposite direction crashed into a concrete barrier. Both northbound and southbound lanes were closed with the exception of one lane.

In another tractor-trailer accident, also involving I-275 and the westbound I-4 ramp, the front of a flatbed crashed, with the tractor and its front wheels hanging over the barrier wall. All I-275 southbound lanes were blocked for a time.

THE BAND ADRENALINE MOB

Also in July, the New York heavy metal band, Adrenaline Mob, was traveling to a concert in Saint Petersburg when the band’s RV was struck by a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer lost control when it veered off I-75. The band had pulled the RV off on the side of the road to change a flat tire. Nine people were in either the RV or the band’s van. The van was pulling a covered trailer with the band’s equipment loaded in it. One person was killed and six others were taken to area hospitals in either serious or critical condition. David Zablidowsky, known as David Z, the band’s bassist who succumbed to his injuries from the crash, had been a long-time player in Tampa’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The accident was near Micanopy on the southbound side. The semi driver was not injured.

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY TRACTOR-TRAILER CRASHES ON FLORIDA HIGHWAYS?

According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System statistics for 2016, there was a total of 41,233 commercial vehicle crashes. So far in 2017, that number is 27,166. Of those involved in tractor-trailer crashes, the people most affected are those driving passenger vehicles. Why? The large size of tractor-trailer rigs means their impacts when control is lost can be significant. They are more massive and it also takes them longer to be able to stop in accident situations. As well, an undercarriage beneath the trailer provides a space where accident victims can get trapped.

Pure exhaustion is another reason for the tractor-trailer crashes. While federal regulations are in place to prohibit tractor-trailer drivers from driving too many hours at one time without a break, the stress and strain on these drivers can spur them on to their destination despite the lack of sleep and rest they may get.

Given the number of Florida ports and the number of access roads through the state to destinations beyond that products must travel, it is essential that tractor-trailers be able to operate safely throughout Florida. Interstate 75 plays an important role in Florida’s commerce, as cargo travels into Florida and throughout the rest of the United States. U.S. Route 1 runs along Florida’s east coast, 545 miles from Key West into Georgia. Interstate 4, I-275, and I-95 also play significant roles in maneuvering traffic through the Sunshine state.

Driving alongside tractor-trailers is a necessary part of navigating the roads of this state and this country, and we are grateful for their services, transporting goods across the country. Every driver needs to be aware of their space and place on the roadways, ensuring to heed all traffic signs and weather conditions that might be affecting roadways. If you or a loved one happen to become involved in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, the results could be life-changing. Seek the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney to help you prepare for potential legal action, if necessary.


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