Thinking of taking a cruise to an exotic locale for a little rest and relaxation? You’ll want to keep something in mind before booking your trip. Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute show that in 2014, maritime accidents killed 2,118 people and caused upward of $783 million in insured losses. Of these deaths, 2,000 occurred on passenger ships.
Cruise ship accidents most commonly are the result of four top causes:
- High waves: Rogue waves can reach up to 100 feet.
- Storms: Weather experts report 10 storms per season on average.
- Fires: A total of 72 cruise ship fires occurred between 1990 and 2011.
- Collisions: Ships can collide with rocks, reefs and icebergs with devastating results. Most recently, the Costa Concordia capsized when it struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the eastern shore of Isola del Giglio on Italy’s western coast. The collision tore a 160-foot gash on the port side of the ship’s hull and 32 people were killed.
Illness also is a factor. Statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show an average of 15 major cruise ship virus out breaks each year. Influenza, food poisoning and sun poisoning also are frequent complaints.
By and large, America’s cruise ships offer safe and enjoyable experiences. But accidents and incidents resulting in injuries, illnesses and even death do happen. If your cruise ship excursion is marred by someone else’s negligence or deliberate act, contact a maritime accident lawyer with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.
September marks the beginning of the fall season – the perfect time for the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Council on Aging’s launch of the Falls Free Initiative, a joint project aimed at reducing fall injuries and deaths among America’s elderly.
Consider these statistics:
- More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, entering the age group for which falls are the leading cause of injury nationwide.
- Falls result in more than 2.5 million injuries treated in America’s emergency rooms annually, including more than 21,700 deaths and 734,000 hospitalizations.
- Fatal fall injuries claim an elder’s life every 20 minutes.
- America’s emergency rooms treat new fall injuries every 13 seconds.
- One of three older adults experiences one or more falls each year, yet less than half of senior fall victims tell their doctors.
- Total direct and indirect costs of fall-related injuries, including medical fees, lost wages, etc., was estimated at $34 billion in 2013. Experts say that figure could hit $67.7 billion by 2020.
Tips to help elders avoid falls include reglar exercise to keep the body’s core and limbs strong; getting annual vision exams and updating prescribed eyewear; and outfitting homes with preventative features such as stair railings, tub and shower grab bars and added lighting.
A fall can threaten an elder’s health, safety and independence and result in devastating economic and personal costs. If you or an elder you love suffer a fall caused by negligence on the part of another, such as a lack of adequate lighting, wet floor or trip hazard at a public facility, get medical treatment. Then, call 904-251-1111 to speak with an experienced slip and fall or premises liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.
A new tracking report by the National Safety Council reveals a 14-percent surge in the number of fatal automobile crashes during the first six months of 2015 over the same time period last year. Experts point to a number of contributing factors, but drivers texting behind the wheel carry much of the blame, some say.
The rise comes as a surprise for safety officials and insurance professionals who had expected the decade-long trend of year-over-year reductions in fatal crashes to continue. That trend was aided by growing frequency in the use of seatbelts, tougher enforcement of drunk-driving laws and automotive safety improvements including stability-control systems and air bags.
Factors driving the increase in accident rates include falling fuel prices paired with ongoing economic recovery, as well as adverse weather in some parts of the country. All of these combined led to a 3.5-percent increase in traffic on America’s roadways, reflecting a record 1.54 trillion miles logged through June, according to research by the Federal Highway Administration. As a result, automobile accident deaths now are expected to exceed 40,000 for the first time since 2007, the NSC says.
But not everyone is convinced that the rise in car crash fatalities is simply a matter of numbers. Safety officials and insurance experts point instead to the growth in distracted driving, specifically texting behind the wheel.
“If cars are better—and they clearly are—drivers must be worse,” says Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns insurance giant GEICO. He went on to explain to members of the media that the 3.5-percent rise in traffic alone doesn’t seem enough to warrant the 14-percent rise in fatalities. Indeed, statistics show that one in four automobile crashes involves mobile phone use, despite laws banning text messaging and hand-held cellphone use while driving in most states.
If you or your dependents are injured in an accident caused by another’s distracted driving, get medical treatment and contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111 to speak with an auto accident attorney.
If you have track lighting in your home or business, you may be using a popular halogen bulb that’s currently under recall. Netherlands-based Philips (formally known as Royal Philips) recently recalled its 60W PAR 16 120V halogen bulbs after receiving 13 separate reports of the bulb’s lenses shattering, posing laceration and burn risks. Of those reports, two involved laceration injuries and five involved property damage.
The recall affects upward of 370,000 lightbulbs made between November 2013 and March 2015. Look for date codes representing the month and year of production, along with “PHILIPS Halogen PAR 16,” “China” and “60W/120/V” painted or printed on the bulb glass. Date codes to look for are:
- 2013: 3L and 3M
- 2014: 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4J, 4K, 4L and 4M
- 2015: 5A, 5B and 5C
If you find that you own one of the recalled bulbs and have not suffered an injury or property damage, Philips officials and those with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission urge you to safely remove the bulb from its fixture and contact Philips. The company will send specialized packaging materials and instructions for returning the bulbs, as well as free replacement bulbs. If you have been hurt or your property damaged, however, keep the bulb intact and call Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111 to speak with an experienced product liability attorney.
Here in Florida, where Harrell and Harrell is based, total workers’ compensation payout ranks a respectable eighth in the nation, according to a recently released report by the National Academy of Social Insurance. But the news isn’t all good.
Data shows that nationwide it’s getting pricier for businesses to provide workers compensation coverage to employees and as a result, benefits are on the decline. The report shows that workers’ compensation benefits, as a percentage of payroll, dropped in 39 states between 2009 and 2013. Experts point to two primary reasons – one positive, the other less so.
“The decline is due to a drop in workplace injuries as well as changes in many state laws that made it more difficult for workers’ to qualify for benefits,” says John F. Burton, professor emeritus of Rutgers and Cornell University, who served on the data study panel. “These state laws include more stringent compensation rules, the reduction of coverage for certain medical diagnoses and new legal requirements that make it more difficult for workers to succeed in their claims for benefits.”
On average, injured workers received 98 cents per $100 of covered wages while employers paid $1.37 per $100 of covered wages. Plus, while benefits paid per $100 of covered wages decreased in 39 jurisdictions, employers’ costs for workers’ compensation insurance per $100 of covered wages increased in 27 jurisdictions.
Here in Florida, workers’ compensation premium rates currently are 58 percent lower than they were in 2003 and the National Council on Compensation Insurance recently proposed a 2.2-percent decrease in premiums throughout Florida. If approved, the new rates would become effective January 1, 2016.
In any case, know that your employer is legally required to provide you with a safe workplace where the risk of injury or illness is minimized. If you do suffer a workplace-related injury or illness, you are entitled to fair compensation. Report it, get medical treatment and call 800-251-1111 to speak with a workers compensation attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.
America’s DIY enthusiasts love their power tools, and among the most popular among them is a table saw. Unfortunately, table saws also are among the most dangerous, sending some 40,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms each year. Of these, upward of 4,000 table saw injuries result in amputations, leaving scores of victims disfigured and unable to work.
Now, an admitted defect in one popular table saw brand has prompted a recall of nearly 1,200 units. Made by Bellingham, Washington’s Grizzly Industrial, Inc., the Grizzly 10-inch hybrid table saw features a motor pulley that can come loose and hit the saw blade, causing the blade teeth to break into dozens of flying metal fragments, posing a risk of laceration or impact injury to users. Thus far, the company has received two reports of malfunction incidents, including one in which a 46 year-old man suffered a broken nose and multiple cuts.
Affected units are marked with the model number G0771 and serial numbers between TS2014060001 and TS2014111244 or a date code between 06/2014 and 11/2014 and were sold in the company’s store showrooms, online at www.grizzly.com, in catalogs and in woodworking trade magazines from January 2015 through May 2015 for about $625. Look for the Grizzly logo, “G0771,” the serial number and the date code printed on the side of the table saw’s enclosed white metal base.
If you own one of the recalled table saws and have not suffered an injury, return your saw to Grizzly for a full refund, a free repair or a free motor pulley kit that you can install yourself. However if you have suffered a table saw-related injury caused by the recalled product or any other brand, get medical treatment and contact Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111 to speak with an experienced product liability attorney today.
Recently, royal watching media outlets were all abuzz about captured shots of England’s Queen Elizabeth taking a Sunday drive in her Jaguar X-type through Windsor Great Park. Typically chauffeured, the soon to be 90-year-old monarch slipped behind the wheel herself for the drive to church. But the beloved ruler known for obsessively minding her royal Ps and Qs seemed oblivious to the rules of driving imposed upon the regular folk when she nonchalantly veered her car onto a grass verge to avoid hitting a young family strolling through the park.
The episode largely was met with amusement and affection. After all, no one was hurt and it’s arguable that the odd move was not due to any loss in ability but rather to the fact that she is, indeed, the Queen and enjoys all the pertinent perks. But it also prompted a wider discussion about the inherent risks associated with elderly drivers, both Across the Pond and here in the United States.
While driving is credited with helping many elder citizens to remain mobile and independent, the benefits come with a risk to not only older drivers but those on the roadways around them, too. Consider the statistics:
- In 2012, there were upward of 36 million licensed drivers age 65 or older in the United States, a 34-percent increase from 1999.
- That year, more than 5,560 older adults were killed and more than 214,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents. These figures reflect 15 older adults killed and 586 injured in crashes every single day.
- Per mile traveled, fatal accident rates increase noticeably beginning at ages 70-74 and are highest among drivers 85 and older. Experts point to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications among older drivers, including age-related declines in vision and cognitive functioning (ability to reason and remember).
The good news is that most seniors tend to display habits that help to keep their risk for automobile accidents at bay. For instance, results of one study showed that 79 percent of older motor vehicle occupants who were involved in fatal crashes were wearing seatbelts at the time, compared to 66 percent of younger adults. Seniors also tend to drive when weather and visibility conditions are best and have a lower incidence of impaired driving. Study results revealed that just 7 percent of older drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or greater at the time, compared to 24 percent of drivers age 21-64.
If you are, or if you love a senior still behind the wheel, auto accident attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell offer these tips for reducing your risk of being involved in a crash:
- Exercise regularly to improve and maintain strength and flexibility.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications commonly used by seniors.
- Undergo vision screenings at least once a year and wear contacts or glasses as prescribed.
- Restrict driving to daylight hours in clear weather.
- Plan the safest routes with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn arrows and easy parking.
- Leave a large following distance behind the car in front of you.
- Consider alternative travel modes such as catching a ride with a friend or using public transit services.
Most importantly understand the risks, take them seriously and accept that with age come both wonderful benefits and natural limitations.
If you’ve suffered an injury or loss in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, age notwithstanding, call 800-251-1111 and speak with an experienced auto accident attorney.
Recent research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drivers and passengers wear seatbelts at higher rates than the national average. While nationally, 86 percent of all vehicle occupants wear restraints, that figure rises slightly to 87 percent in Florida and to an impressive 92 percent in Georgia.
Study after study shows that wearing a seatbelt and using proper child restraints save lives. In fact, wearing seatbelts and buckling children into age- and size-appropriate car seats or booster seats can reduce the risk of serious injury and death by half. Yet, millions of Americans navigate our nation’s roadways daily without using safety restraints.
So what’s pushing the rates of compliance in these two states? Law makers and enforcers credit the fact that both Florida and Georgia have primary seatbelt laws, which allow police officers to stop and ticket drivers or passengers for failing to buckle up. In Florida, these laws cover drivers, front seat passengers age 6 and older, and passengers age 6-17 in all seats. In Georgia, they cover drivers, front seat passengers age 18 and older, and passengers age 8−17 in all seats. On average, states with primary seatbelt laws see higher rates of seatbelt use than states with secondary laws, which allow officers to ticket offenders only if they’ve pulled the driver over for another reason, such as speeding or erratic driving.
Bottom line -To protect yourself and your passengers, insist upon proper seatbelt and child restraint use every time you venture out onto the roadways, even if you’re only traveling a short distance. A recent survey by Progressive Insurance found that 52 percent of reported crashes occurred just five miles or less from the driver’s home and a whopping 77 percent occurred 15 miles or less from home.
If you or your dependents are injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, contact an experienced auto accident attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.
While total motor vehicle fatalities decreased by 15 percent from 1994 to 2012, motorcycle fatalities doubled over the same period of time. In fact, statistics show that a motorcyclist is 30 times more likely to die in a crash than an automobile passenger, with traumatic head injuries being the primary cause of death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), much of the blame lies in substandard motorcycle helmets.
In an effort to curb these statistics and save lives, NHTSA officials recently proposed a new rule calling for increased safety standards and labeling requirements for motorcycle helmets. Of top concern is the growing use of novelty helmets that do not comply with current safety requirements established by the US Department of Transportation. They’re popular for multiple reasons, including the fact that they’re significantly less expensive than compliant helmets. Despite the fact that these novelty helmets are not intended for highway use, they are heavily marketed to consumers for on-road use. As a result, they’re used by upward of 27 percent of motorcycle riders and passengers in states with universal motorcycle helmet laws.
If adopted, the NHTSA’s proposed rule would assist law enforcement officials in the 17 states that require the use of DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets by making it easier to identify noncompliant helmets. Current certification labeling requirements require all certified helmets to feature a decal indicating compliance with federal standards, but in states with universal helmet use laws, many motorcyclists place fake DOT decals on noncompliant helmets. They get away with it because most law enforcement agencies lack the time or resources to individually test potentially noncompliant helmets.
To better address bogus labels, the proposed rule would require all DOT-approved helmets to pass preliminary screening criteria that would be easy for officers to test in the field. Under the rule, compliant helmets would be required to cover a fixed amount of a user’s skull, and to have a minimum helmet shell and lining thickness that can be measured with an inexpensive probe.
“Wearing a helmet that meets DOT standards can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “Our proposal ensures that when motorcyclists put on a helmet it offers that life-saving protection.”
Here in Florida, anyone over 21 years of age may operate or ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet so long as they carry insurance providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries. But considering the risk, we highly recommend wearing a DOT-compliant helmet. If you have suffered injury or lost someone you love in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence or by wearing a helmet that had erroneously been marketed for on-road use, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.
If you love to cook up new recipes, or simply enjoy eating them, you likely spend lots of time in your kitchen. Take note – three popular kitchen items have been recalled this month over risks of laceration, burns and even electrical shock.
Boca Raton, FL-based Epoca International has issued a recall of some 113,000 glass whistling kettles, warning that the bottom portion of glass vessel can break when heated and the contents can spill, posing laceration and burn hazards. This far, the company has received nine reports of incidents that resulted in three injuries and property damage. Affected models are numbered PTKG-4420 (featuring a green plastic handle and whistling stopper lid) and PTKB-4420 (with a black plastic handle and lid).
Canada’s Instant Pot has recalled 1,000 Smart and Smart-60 electric pressure cookers sold throughout the United State after three reports of users being shocked while using them. Company officials warn that the thermal probe in the base of these popular pressure cookers, known as the first Bluetooth-connected cookers, can conduct electricity throughout the device, posing a risk of electric shock. Look for serial numbers between 1410 and 1503 and manufacture dates between 12/1/2014 and 6/1/2015 printed on a label on the bottom of the pressure cooker’s base.
The largest of the three recalls affects some 367,000 motion sensor trashcans made by EKO USA and sold exclusively at Costco stores. The black plastic protective collar in the opening on the back of the trash receptacle can become dislodged and expose a sharp edge, posing a laceration risk. At press time, the company had received 13 reports of injury-causing incidents.
If any of these products are in your kitchen and there have been no injuries or you or your family members, contact the manufacturers or sellers about refunds or repairs. However, if an injury has occurred, keep the product intact, as it may be needed as evidence in a court case. Get medical attention and contact a product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.