Archive for March, 2013

Reduced Funding for Bike & Pedestrian Projects Ups Accident Risk

On March 4, 2013, the Sun Sentinel published an article about a reduction in funding for bike and pedestrian projects in the Palm Beach area. There is concern that the funding cuts could limit efforts to make the area safer for bike riders and pedestrians at a time when accidents involving these walkers and riders are on the rise. 

Our West Palm Beach accident lawyers know that traffic deaths in Palm Beach County increased by 17 percent last year. Twenty-four bicycle riders died in Palm Beach County between 2008 and 2011. There were also 111 pedestrian fatalities in the county during the same time period. While projects are underway to help make the area safer, the reduction in funding could put those projects in jeopardy and up the risk of accidents.

The Funding Reduction and Pedestrian/Bike Safety Projects

The funding has been cut in a number of different areas that may adversely affect the safety of walkers and bike riders. For example, traditionally there were separate federal funds set aside for programs like Safe Routes to Schools. However, when Congress reauthorized funding for transportation projects last year, these programs were lumped together and the total available amount of money was reduced.

Money intended to improve and enhance transportation also decreased. For example, Broward received between $4 and $5 million in the past to enhance their transportation system. This year, Broward will receive only $2.5 million total both for bike/pedestrian projects and for general transportation enhancement.

This reduced funding may impact a planned project to add bicycle lanes and sidewalks. Broward MPO had just recently created a 20-year-plan to add pedestrian and bike infrastructure and had set aside money for these projects. The one-year budget for bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvements on Broward and Oakland Park boulevards was expected to cost approximately $10 million. This money was to fund 29 bike and pedestrian projects.  While Broward has set aside money for this project, it is possible it will be unable to continue with plans due to the reduction in across-the-board funding.

Palm Beach was hit even harder than Broward, though, because Palm Beach is more dependent upon federal funds and did not set aside as much money as Broward to develop alternative transportation infrastructures. Throughout Palm Beach, federal funds have largely been used to create bike paths and to deal with traffic congestion and traffic control. Without funding, and without the money set aside, Palm Beach may be unable to continue important safety efforts.

Bicycle Riders and Pedestrians at Risk

With Palm Beach and Broward losing out on funding, it is clear that the transportation infrastructure will suffer in some way that hurts pedestrians and bicycle riders. The exact effects will vary from location to location depending on the existing cash reserves and plans of each area. Still, whenever less money is spent on safety, accident risks increase.

Bicycle riders and pedestrians should make sure to look for well-developed areas with bike paths and sidewalks whenever possible. In areas without sufficient bike paths or areas for pedestrians, riders and walkers should make sure they are not taking unnecessary risks and should be aware of the increased chance of an accident occurring.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., at (800) 608-2965 for a free and confidential consultation.

Archive for March, 2013

Death by Drowning at Disney Raises Questions

On March 14, 2013, CNN reported that a 13-year-old young man visiting Disney had died. The young boy was pulled from a swimming pool at a Disney resort in Florida two days before his death. The boy had been playing in the swimming pool with friends, jumping in and out. His friends noticed he was missing and the boy was pulled out of the pool in just minutes, but he still passed away as a result of the drowning. 

Our West Palm Beach injury attorneys know that 10 people die every single day in the United States as a result of accidental drownings. In fact, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional deaths. As an expert interviewed by CNN makes clear, drowning is something that doesn’t just happen — there must be a reason that the drowning occurred. As an investigation is underway into how this young man died at Disney, his death is raising questions about whether the resort will be liable.

Drowning Injury at Disney

According to CNN, a water safety expert indicated that “something always precipitates drowning,” and that drowning only occurs when someone is unable to call for help. When someone is actively drowning, he or she is below the surface of the water lower than eye level for at least 20 to 30 seconds.

Once the diver has been underwater for around 20 seconds, he will begin to sink. After he is submerged, he can normally hold his breath for between 30 and 90 seconds. If rescued during this time, then he is usually fine and a full recovery is possible.

Once 90 seconds has passed, then there is no longer a guarantee that the swimmer will get better even if rescued. After four minutes has passed, then the victim of the drowning will likely be brain damaged even if he is resuscitated. Unfortunately, while the young boy was pulled out of the water quickly at Disney, he was not rescued in time to save him. This raises a number of questions including how and why he drowned in the first place and why there was no one who saw him drowning who was able to help.

Disney’s Potential Liability for the Drowning

The pool at the Disney resort warned swimmers to swim at their own risk. There were no security guards or life guards on duty at the pool at the time when the drowned young man was swimming.

It is possible that Disney may argue it has no responsibility for the death that occurred because of posted signs warning people to swim at their own risk. There have been many cases of pool owners throughout Florida trying to absolve themselves of liability for injury by posting similar signs. However, a hotel or resort is not necessarily absolved of its obligations to its guests simply by posting a sign. If Disney was found to have been negligent or careless or to have acted improperly in any way that led to the boy’s death, then the resort could potentially be held liable and made to pay damages to the family for their loss.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., at (800) 608-2965 for a free and confidential consultation.