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Jul
26
2015
A proposed NHTSA rule will strengthen motorcycle helmet laws.

A proposed NHTSA rule will strengthen motorcycle helmet laws.

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.

 

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Jul
20
2015
The Instant Pot Smart and Smart-60 electric pressure cookers are among several popular kitchen items recalled over safety issues this month.

The Instant Pot Smart and Smart-60 electric pressure cookers are among several popular kitchen items recalled over safety issues this month.

 

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.

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Jul
17
2015
At any given daylight moment across America, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other devices while driving.

At any given daylight moment across America, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other devices while driving.

A unique ruling in a high profile Clinton County, Michigan case is drawing both praise and criticism. But it’s also highlighting growing frustrations with the issue of distracted driving.

Police reports show that defendant Mitzi Nelson was texting on her cell phone when her car hit Jill Byelich, a mother of two and an avid bicyclist, in September. Byelich was wearing a reflective vest and helmet and was riding on the right edge of the road when Nelson’s car struck and killed her. In court, Nelson pleaded no contest and Judge Stewart McDonald sentenced her to a minimum 90-day jail stay, 150 hours of community service and more than $17,000 in restitution, fines, fees and court costs. She also must speak to 20 driver’s education classes about the dangers of distracted driving and is banned from owning a cell phone during her two-year probation.

“I don’t think she has a right to have a cell phone,” Judge Stewart McDonald said at Nelson’s sentencing. “I think it’s a privilege.”

At any given daylight moment across America, upward of 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving – often with tragic results. Statistics show that in 2013, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Any momentary distraction, including reaching for a ringing phone, dialing or looking at the on-screen caller ID can be dangerous. But texting is particularly risky because it takes the driver’s eyes off the road for an average five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.

If a distracted driver causes you or someone you love serious injury or loss, you’ll want to enlist the help of an experienced auto accident lawyer. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Jul
15
2015
Researchers recently found that several popular children's crayon brands contain asbestos.

Researchers recently found that several popular children’s crayon brands contain asbestos.

Parents assume that if a toy is allowed on America’s store shelves, it must be safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always true, as recent research commissioned by the EWG Action Fund shows. Tests revealed that samples of four brands of children’s crayons and two kids’ crime scene fingerprint kits contain deadly asbestos fibers.

Many erroneously believe that asbestos has been banned in America. Not so. While use of asbestos is prohibited in the manufacture of various products including certain types of insulation and paper, it’s still legally and widely used in other products like clothing, roofing felt, vinyl floor tiles and automotive parts. This is despite the fact that asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills up to 15,000 Americans a year.

Asbestos-caused medical conditions including lung disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma typically are the result of breathing in tiny asbestos particles that become airborne. Findings of the tests on children’s products are particularly troubling considering that a child exposed to asbestos is 3.5 more likely than a 25-year-old to develop mesothelioma, according to the according to the UK Committee on Carcinogenicity. Unfortunately, because it’s a progressive disease that can take years, even decades to develop, diagnosis typically happens in later stages with high mortality rates.

“Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children, today as it did in 2000 and 2007, the last time tests found the deadly substance in these children’s products,” says Dr. Philip Landrigan, professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Landrigan is an internationally- recognized expert in the area of asbestos and other toxic materials and a former senior adviser to the US Environmental Protection Agency on children’s environmental health.

Products proven to contain asbestos in the tests include:

  • Amscan crayons
  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crayons
  • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle crayons
  • Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce crayon boxes
  • Edu Science Deluxe Forensic Lab Kits (black fingerprint powder)
  • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit (white fingerprint powder)

These products all were made in China, imported to the US and sold at popular retailers including Party City and Dollar Tree as well as online at ToysRUs.com and Amazon.com. Reports of the test results have prompted inquiries by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If your children use or play with any of the products listed, product liability attorneys with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell strongly recommend that you replace them with safer brands. If you believe your child has suffered an injury or illness caused by the faulty manufacture of a toy, contact us at 800-251-1111.

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Jun
29
2015
Fewer teens are losing their lives in car accidents, research shows.

Fewer teens are losing their lives in car accidents, research shows.

If you’ve got a teenager behind the wheel, there’s good news. New research shows that today’s teenage drivers are less likely to be involved in fatal car accidents than at any point over the past 20 years.

Statistics from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show a 56-percent decrease in the number of drivers age 15 to 19 involved in fatal crashes over the past two decades, from 6,000 in 1994 down to 2,614 in 2013. Researchers credited increased seatbelt use among teenagers, more strenuous drivers’ license preparation and exam programs and economic factors – namely higher gas prices.

While the news certainly is positive, it doesn’t mean that teens are fully in the clear behind the wheel, of course. Teen drivers still have higher crash rates than any other age group. Plus, 27 percent of victims of fatal car crashes involving teen drivers were passengers in those drivers’ cars and 30 percent of those killed were other cars.

“This data confirms that the impact of their crashes extend well beyond the teen who is behind the wheel,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Since teens drive more during the summer than any other season, this insight is a timely reminder to everyone – drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists – to be mindful when sharing the roads with young drivers.”

In fact, teen fatalities rise 43 percent during summer months, according to the AAA. After all, teens are out of school and logging far more miles on the road to hang out with friends.

If your teenager has hit driving age, set and enforce strict safety rules including wearing seatbelts, driving no faster that the speed limit, limiting the number of passengers and nixing distractions like mobile phones and loud music. In the event that your teenager is involved in a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence, get your child medical treatment immediately, even if there are no apparent injuries. That’s because most problematic crash-related issues are soft-tissue injuries that can be seen with the human eye or even with X-rays. Then, contact an experienced auto accident injury attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Jun
22
2015
Some 9 million Americans use sleeping pills, and that could place them at risk for auto accidents.

Some 9 million Americans use sleeping pills, and that could place them at risk for auto accidents.

If a good night’s sleep proves elusive, you may be tempted to turn to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. But if you drive daily, you’ll want to reconsider. New research shows that taking sedative sleeping pill such as Ambien, Desyrel or Restoril can nearly double the risk of an automobile accident for new users.

A study conducted by the University of Washington in Seattle examined prescription records and automobile crash record of more than 400,000 registered Washington state drivers who had a drug benefit in the Group Health Cooperative insurance plan. Results showed that the risk of a crash related to sedative use is similar to the crash risk associated with driving drunk, and that the risk continued for up to a year among regular users.

Ambien in particular has been a concern in recent years. In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration mandated lower recommended doses, labeling changes and a recommendation to avoid driving the day after taking Ambien CR, an extended-release form of the drug. The move was prompted by complaints and report of daytime drowsiness in patients who had taken Ambien the evening prior. FDA officials noted studies that showed blood levels of the drug in some patients remained high enough the next morning to “to impair activities that require alertness, including driving.” Research shows that women are at higher risk because their bodies process the drug more slowly than men’s bodies.

If you have been prescribed sedatives, talk with your doctor about the risks and be sure to follow instructions precisely. If you’ve suffered injury or loss in a car accident or other incident that you believe was caused by daytime drowsiness resulting from sedative use, contact an experienced dangerous drugs attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving North and Central Florida and South Georgia, can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Jun
15
2015
Front and back of Apple's Beats Pill XL speakers, recalled over a potential burn hazard.

Front and back of Apple’s Beats Pill XL speakers, recalled over a potential burn hazard.

They’re stylish, convenient and increasingly popular. Unfortunately, they’re also a burn hazard. Cupertino, CA-based Apple, Inc. has issued a recall of all Beats Pill XL portable wireless speakers, numbering some 222,000 sold in the United States and another 11,000 sold in Canada.

“Apple has determined that, in rare cases, the battery in the Beats Pill XL may overheat and pose a fire safety risk,” Apple officials wrote in a prepared statement. “Because customer safety is the company’s top priority, Apple is asking customers to stop using their Beats Pill XL speakers.”

Apple officials thus far have received eight reports of incidents of the popular speakers overheating, including one that resulted in a burn injury to a consumer’s finger and another that damaged a consumer’s desk. The recalled products are plastic, capsule-shaped speakers that measure about four inches tall and deep by 13 inches wide. They feature a plastic mesh grille marked with the lowercase “b” Beats logo on the front and a built-in carrying handle with the mark “beatspillXL” on the back. The speakers come in black, white, pink, metallic sky and titanium.

Recalled units were sold nationwide at Apple retail stores plus other major retail stores and online at Apple.com and Beatsbydre.com from January 2014 through June 2015 for about $300. If you own one and have had no problems, stop using the speaker immediately and contact Apple online for a $325 Apple Store credit or electronic payment. However, if you have suffered an injury or property damage caused by a recalled or faulty speaker, keep the product intact as it may be needed as evidence in a legal case. Get medical treatment immediately and contact an experienced product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell at 800-251-1111.

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Jun
09
2015
Misclassification of construction workers as independent contractors rather than wage employees can cost them their worker's compensation benefit rights.

Misclassification of construction workers as independent contractors rather than wage employees can cost them their worker’s compensation benefit rights.

Recent research by the McClatchy Company, a Sacramento, CA-based publishing firm, showed that here in Florida, 15.5 percent of all construction workers were misclassified as independent contractors rather than wage employees. Whether by mistake or deliberate action, this places all workers at higher risk for injury and many for denial of workers’ compensation benefits.

Though illegal, misclassification of construction workers unfortunately is widespread, and the reason is infuriating. The US Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not cover the self-employed. So, by misclassifying wage employees as independent contractors, employers do not have to worry about the OSHA requirement to provide a safe workplace, thus placing workers of all classifications at risk for a work-related injury or illness. Plus, it allows these unscrupulous employers to skip out on paying workers’ compensation insurance premiums, as well unemployment insurance and other benefits and taxes. Thus, when a misclassified worker suffers an injury or illness, that worker and his or her family bear the costs for medical treatment and recovery.

If you are a construction worker who has suffered an injury and you’re having a tough time securing worker’s compensation benefits, your best bet is to seek legal counsel from an experienced workers compensation attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.

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Jun
03
2015

Trinity Christian baseball makes history and the team of the week

The spirit fo the Team of the Week has always been to highlight and celebrate individuals that have had to overcome some kind of diversity to play the sport they love however very few have had to sneak out their own country to play a game. In the video, we highlight three Armada Soccer players who have done just that.

Tommy Krizanovic, Armada FC Forward, was born in Croatian during the Yugoslav Wars which included the War in Slovenia, Croatian War of Independence, Bosnian War, and the Kosovo War (which saw the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia). Nurdin Hrustic, an Armada FC Defender, had to leave his father and uncle behind in when they left Bosnia during the same conflict. Joseph Toby, Armada FC Devender, was in Sierra Leone when the Civil War began. He was forced to play indoors after the shooting started and even had friends who were captured by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and forced to fight in the war.

Strife and conflict are not the only common thread that runs between these players, there is another, their love for soccer. This common thread, the love for a game celebrated around the world, that knits The Armada together and makes them the team of the week.



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May
28
2015

Trinity Christian baseball makes history and the team of the week

Trinity Christian Baseball made school history last week winning the Florida 4A baseball championship. They also made Jacksonville history by becoming only the third local team to win a Football and a Baseball Championship in the same year joining University Christian and Bolles.
Gil Morales, Conquerors Head Coach said, “We started out the season at midnight and end the season at midnight. We have the trophy to prove it” and with a three-hour lightning delay in the championship game it was well after midnight they secured the school’s first ever baseball title.
However as proud as the players are, toward the end of the season they found a higher calling. Brady, a 4-year-old whose mother is a teacher at Trinity and Grandfather is an assistant principal died unexpectedly in his sleep on May 10. The team rallied around the boy and his family and instead of chants for a first championship they simply said “All for Brady”. So the history making for the school and Jacksonville along with their compassion for Brady and his family launches the Trinity Christian Baseball team into the Team of the Week.



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