23May 2017

Passenger Accidents

Every time you get into a car as a passenger, you are implicitly trusting the driver with your health and livelihood. You expect the person behind the wheel to remain vigilant, focused, and controlled. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If you are a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident, especially if you sustain an injury, it is just as important that you know your legal rights as it is for the driver of the car.

The first step is to file a third-party insurance claim against the driver at fault, even if it is the driver of the car in which you were a passenger. A third-party claim is a claim against a car insurance policy other than your own. If you foresee you will file a third party claim after an accident, it is important to collect the driver’s insurance information and submit all bills and proof of expenses to the company with which you made a claim.

Often, the fault of an accident, especially if multiple vehicles are involved, is not black and white. The good news is the passenger of a vehicle is almost never liable. However, in an accident with unclear liability, especially if the driver sustained serious injury, a personal injury attorney can help de-mystify the process.

Passenger Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that the best way to prevent personal injury is to ensure all occupants of a vehicle wear a seat belt or child restraint. The use of a seat belt reduces the risk of the front-seat passenger suffering a fatal injury by 45 percent. In 2015, the NHTSA estimates that seat belts saved the lives of 13,941 people. In addition to wearing seat belts, travel in a car with front airbags whenever possible. If you are traveling with a child who is not big enough to safely use a seat belt, the use of child restraints reduces the risk of a fatal injury in an accident by 71 percent.

Who to Call

If you were a passenger in a car involved in an accident and you or a member of your family sustained an injury, it is important to seek legal counsel. The Southwest Florida attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice, and Purtz have over 50 years of legal experience in dealing with personal injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

23May 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Safety Tips

Memorial Day weekend is a holiday which is known as the unofficial “kick-off” to summer. During this long weekend, many Americans will be joining together with family and friends to enjoy some fun in the sun with activities such as a backyard barbeque, a day at the pool or enjoying the sun and sand at the local beaches. Sometimes Memorial Day weekend plans might even include travel plans for a mini vacation. Whatever your plans are for this long holiday weekend, it is important to always take precautions to help keep you and your family safe.

Memorial Day Travel

Thursday, May 25 through Monday, May 29 is considered to be the travel period for the 2017 Memorial Day holiday. According to the American Automobile Association or AAA, an estimated 39.3 million Americans are expected to be traveling this Memorial Day holiday. This number is an increase of one million more travelers from last year making this year the highest forecast for Memorial Day travel since 2005. Despite the high gas prices, AAA is expecting automobile travel to increase by 2.4 percent. With all of these extra travelers on the roads, the attorneys and staff at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz want to help keep you and your family safe with some travel safety reminders.

Travel Safety Tips

  • Buckle up – Make sure that you and all passengers in your vehicle are using appropriate safety restraints such as seat belts and safety seats.
  • Keep your cell phone off – Refrain from using your cell phone while behind the wheel. This includes using hands-free devices such as Bluetooth headsets, speaker phones and dashboard systems.
  • Do not drive while drowsy – If taking long road trips, stop to rest frequently to avoid drowsy driving.
  • Have a designated driver – If you are planning to consume alcoholic beverages at any time during your holiday celebrations, make sure to designate a non-drinking driver or make arrangements for alternative transportation from services such as Uber, Lyft or a Taxi company.
  • Allow extra time – With additional travelers on the road, allow for extra time to arrive to your destination. Extra time also allows you to be extra cautious should you run into inclement weather.

Protect Your Rights

As cautious as you may be during your holiday travel, unfortunately others may not be as proactive and accidents may occur. If you or someone you know should be injured in an automobile accident due to a negligent driver, it is important to protect your rights. The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz have over 50 years of experience with personal injury cases. We have six offices in Southwest Florida to serve you. Call us today for a free consultation.

16May 2017

Small Plane Accidents

Most of us have been comforted by the aphorism “it is more dangerous to ride in a car than fly in a plane” to curb anxiety about flying. However, aircraft not associated with commercial air, such as private planes, helicopters, and even hot-air balloons, have a much higher rate of accident and injury than the giant jet liners. These assorted small aircraft are all in the category of general aviation. In the year 2015, there were 123 general aviation accidents in the United States, 17 of those were fatal, resulting in a total of 28 fatalities.

On March 9, 2015, one of these accidents occurred in Fort Myers. Gregory Piehl was flying his 85-year-old mother Donna in a recently purchased private plane and crash-landed in a parking lot on the corner of Colonial Blvd and US 41, unable to reach the landing space at Page Field. Unfortunately, the injuries sustained by Donna Piehl in the crash resulted in her death. In December, a National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that the crash was a result of pilot error leading to an engine failure.

Causes of General Aviation Accidents

The accident in Fort Myers was an example of the FAA’s leading cause of small aircraft accidents: loss of control in-flight. Some of the other causes the FAA lists include:

  • Low altitude operations
  • Loss of fuel or low-quality fuel
  • Weather
  • Midair collisions
  • System component failure
  • Negligence of Air Traffic Controllers
  • Structural or design problems

While the rate of general aviation accidents has declined over the years, the bottom line is smaller aircraft designs and the variety of experience in pilot training lead to accidents that can result in the injury or death of those aboard or even on the ground. Sometimes, these accidents are the result of negligible acts on the part of the pilot or owner of the aircraft. It is important to know your rights when involved in a general aviation accident.

Who to Call

If you or someone you know has suffered from an injury sustained in a general aviation accident, it is important to seek legal counsel to get the justice you deserve. The knowledgeable attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice, and Purtz have over 50 years of legal experience in dealing with personal injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

16May 2017

Motorcycle Accidents

Florida’s year-round subtropical climate provides a haven for motorcycle enthusiasts. According to the Motley Fool, in 2015, Florida was the second leading state in motorcycle sales with 41,720 new motorcycle sales. Motorcycles, even when wearing a helmet can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “motorcyclist deaths occurred 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles, based on 2014 fatal crash data.”

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute in 2015:

  • 4,693 motorcyclists died in crashes; 91% were male and 61% were wearing a helmet
  • Drivers operating without a valid driver’s license accounted for 27% motorcycle driver fatalities
  • 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2015 from motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle Safety Tips

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers several tips for motorcycle operators:

  • Share the road – All vehicle operators should be aware of the challenges motorcyclists face such as the size and visibility of a motorcycle; road awareness by all drivers increases safety
  • Cycle Safety – obtain proper licensing, practice driving your motorcycle before you attempt to navigate roads with traffic, ensure your motorcycle is working properly
  • On the Road – always wear a helmet, avoid unnecessary risks, don’t consume alcohol or drugs

Additionally, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention “The single most effective way for states to save lives and save money is a universal helmet law.” Helmets reduce fatalities by 37%.

Motorcycle safety is a very important issue. Wearing a helmet, driving safely, and avoiding drugs and alcohol can help reduce the risks associated with motorcycles. If you are in the unfortunate circumstance of being involved in a motorcycle accident it is important to seek qualified legal counsel.

Who to Call

The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice, and Purtz have over 50 years of experience dealing with car and motorcycle accidents. With six offices located throughout Southwest Florida we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.