Archive for May, 2013

Seat Belts Save Lives But Not All Teens Buckle Up

According to WFLX TV West Palm Beach, five teenagers were recently killed in a Riviera Beach car accident. At least three of the five teenagers who were killed in the accident were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash. 

Our West Palm Beach accident lawyers know that many teenagers make the choice not to wear seat belts when they are driving or when they are passengers in a car. Unfortunately, this choice can be a deadly one. Every teenager should be sure to buckle up when in any moving vehicle and parents should take steps to ensure that their children are wearing seat belts at all times in the car.

Tragic Accident Shows the Perils of Young Drivers

WFLX reported on the tragic accident that took five lives, indicating that the crash involved  two young men and three teenaged girls. The teens were in a Lexus driving east on Blue Heron Boulevard when a Mercedes reportedly came off of the exit ramp, ran a red light and struck the Lexus.

Both the Lexus and the Mercedes were pushed over the median in the accident and both vehicles landed in the Westbound traffic lanes. The driver of the Mercedes was 21-years old and suffered injuries that were described as serious and that necessitated treatment.

Unfortunately, the kids in the Lexus were not so lucky. There was one 14-year-old and two 17-year-olds riding in the back seat of the Lexus. All three died at the scene. The passengers in the front seat also lost their lives as a result of the accident, including a 22-year-old man who has not yet been identified.

This tragic accident is a clear illustration of many of the risks associated with younger and more inexperienced drivers. While law enforcement is still looking into whether alcohol played a role in the crash, the 22-year-old driver who allegedly ran the red light and hit the Lexus obviously made a grave mistake if he disobeyed the traffic signal. This mistake led to the loss of five young lives.

Seat Belts Save Lives

While the deaths are the fault of the driver who caused the crash, it is possible that the deaths could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident.  Seat belts save lives and result in far fewer fatalities while not wearing a seat belt can result in a far greater chance of dying in a wreck. In fact, in 2009, a full 56 percent of all young people involved in fatal crashes were not bucked up at the time the deadly accidents occurred.

Despite this data on the importance of seat belt use, however, many young people still decline to buckle up anyway. In fact, according to NHTSA, teenagers buckle their seat belts far less often than adults do. Only 80 percent of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 said that they buckle up, leaving 20 percent of teens at the mercy of fate. This was the lowest percentage of bucklers of any age group.

Teens need to be aware that not buckling up is a very deadly decision, and parents should be sure to discuss the importance of seat belts with their kids so they can make smart choices that may potentially save their lives.

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 May, 2013

West Palm Beach Bicycle Accidents a Summer Risk — Florida Nation’s Deadliest State

According to Safe Kids.org, child bicycling deaths increase as much as 45 percent above the normal monthly average during the summer months. This makes sense as kids are out of school and have more time to ride their bikes and to enjoy the warm weather. However, it is still a tragedy that more kids are dying over the summers while engaging in an activity that is supposed to be a fun part of childhood.  

To try to prevent bike accident deaths during the summer months, May has been declared national Bike Safety Month. This month is dedicated to educating parents and kids about essential safety tips before the summer season starts. Our West Palm Beach accident attorneys know that this year in Florida, this education will take the form of a campaign called “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow! Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident.

Bicycle Safety Month Lessons

The Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow! campaign was launched by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and will be focused on the things that pedestrians and bicycle riders can do to try to keep themselves safe.

For example, some of the different safety tips that can help to prevent bike accident deaths in Florida throughout the summer include:

  • Wearing helmets every time you ride. The helmet should sit atop the head in a level position without rocking or sliding from side to side. The buckle of the helmet should always be bucked and you should ensure a proper fit.
  • Supervising children until determining that the child has good judgment and good traffic skills. Parents should make sure to watch kids for the first several times they ride especially to make sure that the kids have the hang of bicycle safety.
  • Riding in appropriate locations. Kids under the age of 10 should ride only on sidewalks and paths. While older adults and children may wish to ride on the street and in dedicated bicycle lanes, this requires the bicyclists to obey all rules of the road. Young children may not be equipped to do so safely. They may need guidance to avoid drivers of cars that might not always exercise the caution they should when dealing with cyclists.
  • Riding under appropriate weather conditions only.  Again, children especially should be protected from riding when it might not be safe. This includes time when it is foggy or when it is dark. If children or adults do make the choice to ride a bicycle on the road at dark, then it is advisable for  those out riding after nightfall to wear clothing that is very visible and that has retro-reflective material. The bikes should also be equipped with reflective materials.

Florida is the most dangerous state in the United States for bicycle safety and has had the highest fatality rate of bicycle riders for eight years running. Hopefully, the educational campaigns launched during Bike Safety Month will help to bring the number of deaths down this year so the path can be made a little safer for kids and adults on bikes in the Sunshine State.

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 May, 2013

West Palm Beach Jet Ski Accident Risks

According to News Channel 6, two people were recently involved in a Jet Ski accident in West Palm Beach. The two Jet Skis struck each other on the canal located behind 150 Australian Avenue. Rescue crews were called to the scene to evaluate the riders on both Jet Skis but fortunately there were no serious injuries resulting from the accident. 

While these Jet Ski riders were lucky, others may not be as fortunate over the course of the summer. With the miles of open water area, West Palm Beach is a popular place for Jet Skiing and for other water sports. Unfortunately, our West Palm Beach accident attorneys know that this means many people will be injured and some may even be killed as a result of personal watercraft accidents.

Staying Safe from Jet Ski Accidents

Data available from the Boating Accidents Statistical Report indicates that a total of 125 accidents on personal watercrafts, including Jet Skis, occurred in Florida in 2010. These watercraft accidents killed 10 people and caused an additional 112 people to suffer injuries.

Injuries that can result from Jet Ski accidents range from mild cuts, scrapes and bruises to broken bones, back injuries, head injuries, spinal cord damage, and accidental drowning. The faster the Jet Ski is going at the time of the accident, the more likely it is that the injuries will result from the incident. Those who are on a Jet Ski but who do not wear protective gear such as life jackets are also going to be at greater risk of becoming seriously hurt or drowning as a result of a Jet Ski accident.

Jet Ski accidents can occur for many different reasons, including:

  • Improperly maintained equipment.
  • Poorly designed Jet Skis or poorly manufactured Jet Skis.
  • Inexperienced drivers with no knowledge of how to control the watercraft or of how to drive safely.
  • Speeding drivers.
  • Racing drivers, especially those who get too close to each other.
  • Drivers who do not know how to control or steer the Jet Ski.
  • Reckless behaviors while riding a Jet Ski.
  • Drunk drivers or other intoxicated drivers riding on Jet Skis.
  • Young children riding on Jet Skis without proper supervision.
  • Distracted drivers.

In some cases, the driver of the Jet Ski is to blame, such as when the driver is drunk or careless. If this is the case, then passengers aboard the Jet Ski can potentially take legal action against that driver. Others on the waterways, including drivers and passengers on other watercraft who were hit by a careless rider, could also take action.

In other cases, the watercraft itself malfunctions or causes problems. When this happens, the manufacturer may be to blame or the rental store that rented you the watercraft may bear some responsibility. In these cases, it will be necessary to determine what the problem with the watercraft was and whether it was caused by improper maintenance or a defect in the design.

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