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Whiplash Injuries Can Be Significant

What is whiplash? Is it a serious injury? Yes, it most certainly is. Whiplash happens when, during an often traumatic event, the head and neck get unexpectedly forced back and forth. These rapid motions can put extreme stress on the cervical spine. The most common symptom is neck pain, which can range from mild to severe. Other symptoms of whiplash injuries can include a reduced range of neck motion, stiffness in the neck, shoulder pain, upper back pain, headache, tingling, numbness, or weakness that can extend into the shoulder area or down the arm.


Rear-end vehicle collisions are notorious for producing whiplash. The severity and the way in which whiplash can be brought about by a car collision is dependent on many factors, including the angle from which you get hit. Typically, the collision happens behind you, which can result in the following:

• If your vehicle gets rear-ended, it can cause your seat to push against your back. The spine can get compressed when that happens and get jammed upward toward your neck and head.
• The cervical spine can become unnaturally shaped like an S-curve. The compression and force that accompanies this action can cause damage to invertebrate discs and joints.
• The back of the car seat accelerates forward, while the head is snapping backwards, causing neck injuries.
• Then, the reverse can happen, and the head bounces off the back of the seat rest and forward again, with a force.
• The seatbelt (which every passenger of a moving vehicle should be wearing) restrains the body, but the head and neck areas can still get whipped around, thus resulting in whiplash conditions.

Speed does not always factor into whether a person gets whiplash or not. Whiplash injuries have been shown to occur at only 10 mph. As well, the exterior of the car does not have to “appear” severely damaged for whiplash to still occur within the interior of the vehicle. Often, forces that may appear to bypass the car’s exterior travel instead to the interior, causing injury to the body.


While everyone who experiences any kind of pain at all after a motor vehicle accident is urged to seek immediate medical attention, some signs should be of particular concern. These include:

• When the neck isn’t stable – you can’t get it to stay stable
• Numbness, a tingling sensation, or weakness that extends into a shoulder, down an arm and/or into a hand
• Balance or coordination issues
• Drastic departure from normal behavior and mannerisms, such as can be caused by depression, increased irritability, insomnia, and/or having trouble focusing


While most people who sustain a whiplash injury can recover in about three months, studies throughout the years have shown that many people will still struggle with chronic pain from the injury for the rest of their lives. Additional factors that can play into a whiplash injury lasting longer include:

• Age – the older a person is who sustains such an injury, the longer period of time it can take to recover
• Gender – women often have more recurring pain from this type of injury than men
• PTSD – if the individual who suffers a whiplash injury is also suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), recovery can take longer
• Severity – if the severity of the whiplash injury is extremely painful at the time of the onset, it can take more time to recover

If you or a loved one have been in a motor vehicle accident in or around St. Petersburg and you think you may have incurred a whiplash injury, speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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Head-on Crashes Can Intensify Impacts

Collisions that happen “head on” can be some of the most serious accidents. Anything that happens “head on,” such as a car accident, or train, plane, or ship accident is when the front ends hit each other from the opposite direction in which they were traveling. The force of two vehicles, or other modes of transportation, is intensified by the fact that they were coming together with full momentum. In head-on crashes, victims most likely will have impact with the steering well, dashboard, and windshield.


Car crashes happen quite suddenly and some injuries aren’t always felt right away. It may take days or, in some cases weeks, before you realize the full extent of injuries sustained in those few brief moments. Some of the more common injuries that are seen from head-on crashes include, but are not limited to, the following list.

• Brain injuries
• Neck fractures
• Broken nose or other face fractures
• Spinal cord injuries in the neck
• Soft tissue injuries in the neck
• Bruised heart (from impact of the steering wheel)
• Breastbone fracture
• Larynx and tracheal injuries
• Rib and/or ribcage injury
• Hip and pelvic injuries
• Knee injuries
• Accumulation of fluid around the heart
• Bruised or collapsed lung
• Abdominal organ injuries

Keep in mind that impacts can also occur within your body, such as when internal organs are bounced around inside your body. One example is brain injuries. The impact from a head-on collision can force your head or neck to jerk violently, thus causing your brain to bounce against the inside of your skull.


On March 18, two people died in a head-on collision and two others were seriously injured. The crash happened in Brevard County, at night on State Road 407 and Interstate 95. One of those killed, Argelio Chappotin, was driving a 2016 Ford Edge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. For no known reason, which seems to happen often, Chappotin veered into the southbound lanes and struck a 2000 Buick four-door sedan head-on. One of the passengers in the Buick, Martha McHenry, died at Wuestoff Rockledge Regional Medical Center, where she was transported after the crash. It has not been determined yet what role, if any, alcohol or another impairment may have played in the crash. Chappotin died at Parrish Medical Center. The two other victims who had serious injuries were both from Saint Petersburg.


Both drivers involved in a head-on collision on Sunday, March 4, perished at the scene. Jose Z. Zertuche-Garcia and Brett Thomas Hitchcock were the drivers who succumbed to their injuries. This head-on collision occurred on U.S. 301, just south of Saffold Road. Hitchcock was driving a 2005 Toyota Tundra and veered into the northbound lane of U.S. 301 just as Zertuche-Garcia’s 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 was also in that same spot. The Florida Highway Patrol concluded that alcohol did not play a part in this crash. What made Mr. Hitchcock swerve out of his lane and into Mr. Zertuche-Garcia’s lane? We shall never k now.


A van and a semi-truck collided on County Road 74 in Glades County at the Desoto County line in Florida last December. One death and six people injured were the results of that head-on collision. Six passengers were in the van and the one death was sustained in the van. The five others were rushed to the hospital where three were determined to have serious injuries. The semi-truck driver was also taken to the hospital with serious injuries. It was undetermined at the time which driver crossed the center line to cause the collision, but it ended in one fatality and several serious injuries.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a head-on collision, seek advice from a personal injury attorney. A St. Petersburg attorney can help you navigate the legal processes necessary once you get through the initial shock and medical care of what happened. Head-on crashes can be some of the most terrifying accidents.

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Careless Driving vs. Reckless Driving

In Florida, careless driving is a civil traffic offense whereas reckless driving is considered a criminal offense. Florida Statute §316.192 states, “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Florida. Police officers commonly cite careless driving for drivers whom they believe are at fault in a car accident. Careless driving is particularly cited in rear-end collisions when the police officer did not witness the accident and the driver who was rear-ended did not see or know why the accident occurred. Both careless driving and reckless driving endanger the lives of others and, of course, should be avoided.


Jameis Winston recently crashed into a vehicle in Tampa and was cited for careless driving. No one was injured in the incident, in which Winston is reported to have been driving his Ford-F250 pickup on Veterans Expressway when he struck the rear-end of a Subaru Forester. Along with a careless driving citation, Winston may face a $150 fine for failing to slow down in time to prevent running into the back of the Subaru.


Along with a host of other charges, Antonio L. Trevino will face a reckless driving charge with property damage, for an accident involving a two-car crash in Kenneth City. Trevino’s Chevy Impala was reported going the wrong way on 54th Avenue North. An agent from the Sheriff’s office followed Trevino as he weaved in and out of traffic, without turning on his emergency lights or siren. After a short way, the sergeant did activate his emergency equipment in an attempt to stop Trevino. The Impala did not stop and the sergeant gave up pursuit after a while. A little bit later, a Sheriff’s deputy activated a tire deflation device, but Trevino kept the Impala on the go in a reckless manner. They had a time trying to stop Trevino until, unfortunately, the Impala struck a Ford Winstar turning into a gas station. That crash disabled both vehicles and Trevino was apprehended. The driver of the Ford Winstar, Bernard Deins III of Pinellas Park, who was 65 years old, was taken to a local hospital and reported to have non-life-threatening injuries.


In the 2017 Florida Statutes, Title XXIII, Chapter 316, Section 316.1925 addresses careless driving. It states, “(1) Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so a not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. Failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless driving and a violation of this section. (2) A person who violates this section shall be cited for a moving violation, punishable as provided in Chapter 318.”

It is further stated that, “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” As stated above, reckless driving is a criminal traffic violation in Florida and carries up to a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for a first offense.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, The Beaches, or Pinellas Park, seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. This is especially prudent if you received an injury or incurred medical expenses or lost wages as a result of the accident.

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Wearing Seatbelts is Still Important

Four people were not wearing seatbelts in a February car crash. Those four people were all ejected and injured when an SUV lost control on Interstate 4 in Davenport, Florida. According to Florida Highway Patrol officers, seven people were in an SUV as it lost control and ran off the roadway. The 19-year-old of the Chevy Tahoe, Corbin Lynn Laws, was going east on Interstate 4, driving in the center lane. Laws, a resident of Polk City, had just moved into the left lane at the 50-mile-marker when the vehicle struck the center median cable barrier. The Chevy Tahoe began to roll and it overturned while entering the westbound lanes. The SUV went over a Toyota driven by Joann Dang, a resident of Orlando, who was traveling in the opposite direction. The Tahoe ended up on its left side in the right-bound lane of Interstate 4. A two-month-old baby girl, Makinley Laws, was in a rear-facing car seat that was not ejected; however, FHP troopers indicated she may have suffered severe injuries. There were two people in the Toyota and they were not injured in the accident.


The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) issued a press release on October 17, 2017, stating that a research study they conducted indicated that seatbelt usage in the State of Florida was at an all-time high, with the peak reaching 90.2 percent. FDOT, along with its safety partners, has focused educational efforts and safety campaigns on Floridians to try to make them more mindful and aware of the advantages of wearing seatbelts. The high visibility of law enforcement officers is also said to have played a significant role in the high rate of seatbelt usage. Situations can arise that are outside the control of an individual driver and seatbelts can make the difference between life and death. Research has shown that a passenger wearing a seatbelt in the front seat of a vehicle can reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 45 percent. This statistic proves that wearing seatbelts is a smart choice to make.


Seatbelt laws have existed in the State of Florida since 1986. Law enforcement officers in Florida have started to get pretty strict about enforcing seatbelt laws. Since 2009, violations of seatbelt laws have been seen as a primary offense, meaning that a police officer can pull you over just for not wearing a seatbelt. In contrast, secondary offenses must be in conjunction with a primary offense before you can be pulled over by an officer of the law. Besides being in violation of a law if you don’t wear a seatbelt, wearing one just plain makes good sense. More vehicles are on the roads than ever before and collisions can occur more often in low-speed environments than in high-speed ones, so wear your seatbelts all the time.


As in most places, children are required, by Florida law, to wear a seatbelt or a child safety restraint device when riding in a motor vehicle. Children ages three and younger must be in a child restraint system that has been federally approved. Those children aged four to five years can have an option of either being in a child restraining device or wearing a seatbelt.

If you have been involved in an accident in St. Petersburg, Largo, Pinellas Park, Clearwater, or The Beaches, contact a personal injury attorney. He or she can help you weigh the options available to you as recourse for any damages or medical expenses incurred.

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