Recall Of Takata Airbags More Serious For Florida Residents

herman and wells
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Recall Of Takata Airbags More Serious For Florida Residents

Drivers of Acura and Honda cars made between 2001 and 2003 face special dangers due to the potential 50 percent humidity that is often an everyday occurrence in South Florida.  These models of cars utilize airbag inflators that have been proven to explode when deployed.  Instead of the intention for which the air bags were designed, to save lives, the vehicles with the Takata airbags can potentially harm, or even kill, the person(s) they were meant to protect.  The recall of Takata airbags is one of the largest in history, and the company’s representatives and government regulators want owners of these cars to stop driving them immediately and have them repaired.  If you have suffered injuries as a result of one of these defective airbags, contact a qualified personal injury attorney to learn what yours rights you have.


In January, new and stronger warnings were aimed at the drivers of cars potentially more at risk in Southern Florida.  In fact, South Florida has the highest number of cars at risk and that is primarily due to our tendency toward humid weather.  The cars listed below have airbags with a 50 percent chance of malfunctioning, causing serious harm, injuries, or even death to its occupants.  Several Florida drivers have already been injured and one death has been attributed to the malfunctioning airbag.  Some of the claims say that, “Metal shrapnel shoots out at you … like a grenade going off in your face.”  The defective airbags can shoot metal from the dashboard of your vehicle at a reported 100 miles per-hour; that makes for an extremely severe impact.  How do you know for sure if your car is one that needs to be repaired?  Enter your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the website:


As summer approaches, Floridians need to take note.  In September 2016, only one in four of the affected vehicles had been repaired.  That equates to approximately 305,000 vehicles out of an estimated 19 million that have been identified with the defective airbags.  The number of cars affected and added to the recall is expected to grow in the next few years.  Southern Florida has been targeted, in particular, as a location where urgent warnings should go out to all drivers of this impending danger.  Cars included in this high priority category include:

  • 2003 Acura CL
  • 2003 Acura TL
  • 2003 Honda Pilot
  • 2002 Honda Civic
  • 2002 Honda Accord
  • 2002 Acura TL
  • 2002 Honda Odyssey
  • 2002 Honda CR-V
  • 2001 Honda Civic
  • 2001 Honda Accord

If you, or anyone you know, own and drive one of these makes of cars, it is imperative that they not be driven any farther until the airbag has been repaired or replaced.  Honda has offered to have the vehicles towed, if necessary, to the nearest facility for repair.


In December 2016, the U.S. DOT amended an order for replacement parts for the affected Takata air bags.  This amendment sets forth “requirements for when automakers must have replacement parts available for customers and sets progress and completion deadlines for replacements of the defective parts which have been responsible for 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries in the United States.”

If you have suffered injuries from a defective product, such as the recall of Takata airbags, contact a personal injury attorney to learn what options you may have to gain reimbursement for medical expenses, and pain, suffering, lost wages and other related expenses.  We come into contact with many products in our daily lives, and, sadly, not all of them were manufactured to the minimal safety standards. Let an experienced personal injury attorney help you understand the courses of action that may be available to you.


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Drunk Driver: Over The Legal Limit And Running a Stop Sign

Florida state law sets the legal limit for drivers with alcohol in their system at 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol content).  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s data for the year 2013 indicated that 31 percent of all traffic fatalities was the result of drunk driving crashes where the driver registered a BAC of 0.08 or higher.  In 2013, on average, every 52 minutes there was a drunk driving accident that ended with a fatality.  Importantly, if you or a loved one have been injured at the hands of a drunk driver in Saint Petersburg, contact a personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the halls of justice. Florida punishes drunk drivers that injure people by awarding what is called punitive damages to the injured person in addition to the usual medical bills, lost wages, incidental damages, pain and suffering. Punitive damages are meant to punish the person who committed a wrongful act.


In February, John Lovett Rutland, Jr. was discovered to have between 0.125 and 0.128 blood alcohol level after he caused the death of a three-year-old boy in an automobile collision.  Rutland Jr.’s own 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son were in his vehicle with him at the time.  He had just finished a probationary period for a previous drunk driving incident weeks before.  Obviously, it didn’t take.  He got behind the wheel, drunk, again, ran a stop sign, again, and plowed into a car loaded with children.  Four other children were injured.  Rutland Jr.’s 2001 Camry ran through a stop sign on State Route 674 (also known as College Avenue), crossed into the westbound lanes of a four-lane divided highway, across the median, hit the driver’s side of a 2002 Chevrolet SUV carrying the car load of children.  All were wearing their seatbelts; however, the impact of the collision with the drunk driver was enough to send the three-year-old and a 10-year-old through the windshield.


Debbie Jasmer, a volunteer EMT with Sun City Emergency, was selling meals from her food truck, Whymama’s Finger Fist and Fork, when the crash occurred.  She saw the SUV flip over several times.  Jasmer performed CPR on the three-year-old until Florida state troopers arrived on the scene.  She tried for eight minutes, and the state troopers tried for 30 minutes more, yet the three-year-old could not be revived.


Rutland Jr. has a very long history with driving infractions, including careless driving and speeding.  He was also arrested in 2003 for shooting a gun from his car window.  In 2013, he was involved in a lawsuit for auto negligence, in which a settlement of the case was a result.  The lawsuit involved a crash on Bayshore Blvd., in which the victim was seriously injured.

In December 2015, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported that Rutland Jr. ran a stop sign in Dover, at the intersection of Gallagher and Wheeler roads.  He also struck three road signs before his vehicle finally stopped.  He failed field sobriety tests and his driver’s license was restricted to business-only travel until December 29, 2016.  The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has now decided to revoke his license entirely for one year, beginning February 23, 2017.

Rutland Jr. is being held without bond.  Under Florida law, “DUI Manslaughter (in conjunction with prior DUI conviction), results in permanent license revocation.  There are no provisions for a hardship license.”  Time will tell the outcome of this particular case; however, the slogan, repeated time and time again, and with very good reason, “Don’t Drink and Drive” is meant to serve a purpose.



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Whether walking, driving, or even being parked alongside the road, car accident injuries can occur at any time, at any place, and to anyone. That’s why they are called “accidents.” If you find yourself in a situation where you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, a tractor-trailer accident, car accident injuries, or any other type of accident situation that is someone else’s fault, consider calling a personal injury attorney. We have seen a lot over the years, and we have the experience and knowledge to help you maneuver through the court system, if necessary. We want to ensure you know your rights, and that you have the mechanisms of law that are available to you to help you recover from such a traumatic event.


St. Petersburg police reported Monday, March 20, that a Pinellas County high school student was hit by a car while she was crossing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. North Street on foot. Alina Marie Perez, 17, was struck by a red Buick Rendezvous. She received serious injuries less than a mile from Northeast High School where she was a sophomore. Sadly, Perez died from the injuries sustained during that accident. Police are looking for witnesses in this case as it is believed someone riding a scooter or motorcycle may have seen what happened.

The Florida State Highway Patrol reported that a 56-year-old man received serious injuries when struck by a hit-and-run driver in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, March 22. The injured man, Robert Klimczak, was walking west of 28th Street North, on the shoulder of 44th Avenue North, when hit by a vehicle traveling west. The vehicle then left the scene of the accident. Klimczak was listed in serious condition at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg when transported there for treatment.


A motorcyclist traveling at a high rate of speed suffered life-threatening injuries when thrown 90 feet on Tuesday, March 21, after colliding with a passenger car. The driver of the 2012 Nissan made a left turn onto 33rd Avenue North in front of the motorcyclist. The Saint Petersburg Police felt that due to the high rate of speed at which the motorcyclist was traveling, he couldn’t stop; hence the 90 feet in the air. This accident occurred on Tyrone Blvd. and the severely injured man was transported to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg for treatment. Sadly, the 21-year-old motorcyclist, David Lee Jeffrey, succumbed to his injuries and passed away.


On March 19, a deadly crash involving three vehicles occurred in Alachua County. According to the Florida State Highway Patrol, a disabled tractor-trailer sitting on the side of the road was rear-ended when a passenger vehicle carrying four persons veered off the road and struck it. The third vehicle became involved when struck by flying debris from the crash. The driver of the third vehicle, 52-year-old St. Pete resident Thon Dexter Rice, did not report receiving any injuries. The driver of the parked tractor-trailer rig, 55-year-old Alton Lucius Gravely, was unhurt. The four persons in the passenger vehicle had not been identified yet at the time of this article.

Under the Recent Verdicts tab on our website, you can see just a sampling of some of the recent cases we have tried, including automobile collisions. We handle a variety of cases and, today, more than ever before, it is crucial that you find a personal injury attorney who has experience in handling similar cases all the way to trial, and one who stays on top of the continuously evolving field of personal injury law.

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The Stormwater, Pavement and Traffic Operations Department is responsible for maintaining the traffic signal systems and roadways in St. Petersburg. Traffic signals and speed bumps are for the direct purpose of helping provide a safe and smooth traffic flow on and around streets and roadways. When traffic moves in orderly fashion, everything should flow smoothly and there shouldn’t be any problems, right? In an ideal world. We do not, however, live in an ideal world, and when accidents happen, that’s the time to call a personal injury attorney.


More than a dozen traffic signals are getting a makeover around Saint Petersburg. The artistically-designed wraps are thanks to the efforts of the Clearwater Arts Alliance. Some of the funding has been courtesy of the City Council, while others have been the recipients of grant monies slated for this project. Local artists Liz Smith, Tim Boatright, Don Gillespie, and Ray Paul are a few of those creating the tropical and floral designs. The Traffic Operations Manager for Clearwater reviews and gives the “green light” for which signals receive the beautification process.

Watch the following intersections for more colorful traffic signals to appear: Druid Road at Hercules Avenue, Clearwater Beach near Pier 60, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street and Missouri Avenue, Fort Harrison at Jeffords, Drew Street at Osceola, Cleveland and Osceola, Sunset Point Road and Belleview Road, and State Road 580 at Countryside Blvd.


If you have traffic speeding through your residential area, you are likely concerned about the safety of children at play, as well as any elderly citizens that might take a little longer to cross a street. As well, pets that might untimely dart into the street are also a concern. Getting approval for a speed bump to be placed in your street can be a long process. First, neighborhood residents must circulate a petition and gather signatures to ensure a majority of the residents are in agreement. Neighborhood meetings should be held so that everyone has an opportunity to voice his/her opinion. Traffic studies will also need to be performed. Once all the proper procedures have been followed and the speed bump has been approved for installation, the process almost always goes forward and the speed bump will then be installed.


The SeeClickFix website covering St. Petersburg and Pinellas County offers a forum where residents can report traffic issues and concerns and have them addressed and “fixed.” You can report potholes, malfunctioning traffic signals, and other community issues, such as nuisance graffiti, along with concerns about potential businesses operating without a proper license. The Mayor’s Action Center seems to be on top of addressing problems when divulged through this website so it could be a useful tool.

Will the colorful traffic signal designs help reduce speeding violations? There aren’t any statistics on that yet, but it is possible that more attention could be drawn to them. Hopefully, people will pay more attention to the colors in the middle of the traffic signal than the aesthetic theme that frames them. In the meantime, our St. Petersburg intersections look more aesthetically pleasing now, don’t you think? If you are involved in a car accident, speak with a personal injury attorney to ensure all your rights are protected.

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