Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers | Whittel & Melton, LLC | New Port Richey, Dade City

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may already be dealing with the pressure associated with your family’s wellbeing. The claims process for an injury can be overwhelming, so it is normal to feel scared and unsure of what to do next. While you may be tempted to accept the insurance company’s initial offer just so you can put the matter behind you, the reality of the situation is that you may be entitled to much larger compensation than the insurance company wishes to let on.

Don’t Face the Judge Alone! Zephyrhills, Land O’Lakes, Hudson, Holiday, Lutz, Trinity

As Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers, we are more than familiar with the measures some Florida auto insurance companies will stoop to in order to settle claims in their favor. We focus on helping individuals and their families suffering from accidents related to auto collisions, motorcycle and ATV accidents, electrical contact, slip, trip and falls and medical malpractice. We represent regular, hard-working people who have become injured either on the job or as a result of the carelessness of another person or company. Our main goal is to see that you receive the greatest financial security for your family so that you have the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of throughout this difficult time.

No matter how complex the case, the Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have the staff, legal resources and experience to take on your injury matter in New Port Richey, Dade City, Zephyrhills, Land O'Lakes, Hudson, Holiday, Lutz, Trinity and Wesley Chapel.

If your or a family member has suffered from a serious injury, give our Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers a call today. You can review our practice areas pages here to see the various injury cases we handle. Your consultation is always free, and by contacting us you will speak to one of our personal injury attorneys who will supply you with a detailed legal assessment of the merits of your case. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you will pay no fees unless and until a financial recovery for damages is collected for you.

Navigate our web site and explore our blog to see if the information posted can shed some light on the legal issues you may be dealing with and to learn more about our firm, our attorneys, and why you can trust us with your case. Once you decide that your situation demands personal representation from experienced counsel familiar with the Pasco community, contact us to see how we can help resolve your injury matter.

Contaminants in the water wells at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune contained dangerous chemicals for decades, including trichloroethylene, benzene, perchloroethylene, vinyl chloride, and other harmful compounds that resulted in numerous Marines, civilian workers, residents, and naval personnel developing cancers and other illnesses.

While the wells on base were shut down in 1985, thousands of active-duty military members and their families suffered toxic water exposure between August 1953 through December 1987. Being exposed to these toxic chemicals found in the water supply on MCB Camp Lejeune can cause:

  • Adult leukemia

US-19 is a stretch of straight, flat, and wide highway that sprawls through New Port Richey, Port Richey, Hudson, and Holiday in Pasco County. The highway features three lanes moving in each direction, with extra turn lanes on the right and left making totaling eight or nine lanes at the majority of intersections.

Along this stretch of road, you will find tattoo parlors, Dunkin Donuts, Walmart, Publix, medical equipment supplies stores, strip clubs, motels, auto body shops, chain restaurants, and even a mini-golf center where you can actually feed baby alligators.

When driving this highway, you may never be aware of the dangers, but if you are walking, then you definitely will. The speed limit is 45 to 55 miles per hour, but the cars drive much faster through these parts. There are very few crosswalks for pedestrians, leaving those on foot to trapse more than half a mile to get to a crosswalk so that they can safely cross a street to get to a business that is a few hundred feet away.

Using information from the government’s database of fatal car crashes, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a team from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee identified that US-19 saw 137 pedestrian deaths between 2001 and 2016.

Data from the Florida Department of Transportation shows that pedestrian fatalities on US-19 have remained a problem past 2016 – 48 pedestrian deaths have occurred between 2017 and June 2022.

For every 100 miles on US-19, there have been at least 34 deaths since 2017, making it the deadliest road in the state of Florida.

Mint-Green-Super-Swiss-Road-Safety-Poster-225x300Florida ranks No. 1 in the nation for pedestrian deaths. In 2020, 716 pedestrians were killed while traveling on foot in the Sunshine State. In 2021, the death toll for pedestrians reached 899.

Pedestrians fill the roads and sidewalks of Florida throughout the day and night, including the dangerous span of highway in Pasco County known as US-19. The sad truth us that too many motorists fail to pay attention to pedestrians or choose to ignore that they may have the right away, which can easily result in tragedy.

The numbers are staggering in Pasco County along US-19 and throughout the rest of the state. A pedestrian accident can result in the wrongful death of a loved one or a very serious and life-changing personal injury. Dealing with a death or medical issues is enough to deal with without piling on the headache of handling uncooperative insurance adjusters and/or a legal claim. Our Pasco County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are ready to help you explore your rights to file a claim for compensation after a pedestrian accident. We will conduct a thorough investigation in order to determine who is to blame in the crash.

When it comes to liability in pedestrian crashes, the smallest details may be the evidence needed to prove what actually happened. If you are being met with resistance from an insurance company, then we can step in and deal with them directly. We will focus our efforts on making sure you are fairly compensated for your suffering. Continue reading

David Gwynn, Florida’s regional transportation secretary, said that the state is looking to make the 13 mile stretch of highway from Tampa to Pasco County safer by installing three traffic signals at dangerous, crash-prone intersections.

The state is also researching how to widen the U.S. 301 due to the high number of accidents as well as future projections showing as many as 49,300 vehicles using the road by 2040.

Gwynn told the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization last week that when he drives U.S. 301 from Tampa to meetings in Pasco County that he finds himself often speeding just to keep up with other motorists sharing the highway and prevent them from erratically passing him.

Shortly after sharing the state’s plan – just 16 hours later – a four-vehicle crash happened on U.S 301 just before 3 a.m. killing two people and leaving two others with serious injuries. The accident caused the road between Zephyrhills and the Temple Terrace area to be closed off for over six hours.

According to state data, 16 people have died and another 338 have been injured in 464 crashes on U.S. 301 for a five-year span ending in 2019. This crash rate is twice the statewide average for similar roadways.

From 2015-2019, there were 24 head-on collisions on the highway, with speeding being identified as the main issue. Gwynn said that impatient drivers try to maneuver dangerous passing techniques that can result in serious crashes.

The plan to turn the two-lane road into a four-lane divided highway between State Road 56 in Pasco and Fowler Avenue is in the study stage, according to reports. There is no money currently budgeted for this estimated $199.5 million job.

There are also concerns about the speed limit and whether it should be reduced to 45 mph.

Pasco-County-Car-Accident-Lawyers-300x300Head-on collisions are some of the most life-threatening car accidents a person can be involved in. These crashes happen when two cars bang into each other head on, usually resulting in pretty serious injuries and in the worst cases, fatalities. If you are lucky enough to survive a crash of this magnitude, then you are likely suffering from any of the following injuries:

If you have suffered harm in a head-on collision on U.S. 301, our Pasco County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can review the details of your specific crash and work towards helping you recover financial compensation from the at-fault party. Continue reading

A skydiver was killed in a tragic accident in Zephyrhills earlier this month.

The Zephyrhills Police Department has confirmed that a 33-year-old male skydiver from British Columbia, Canada was killed after a hard landing at Skydive City in Zephyrhills.

The Zephyrhills Police Department and Pasco Fire Rescue responded to Skydive City after receiving a 911 call.

The man was taken as a trauma alert to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives with the Zephyrhills Police Department along with crime scene investigators are all a part of an ongoing investigation.

Untitled-design-1-300x251Skydiving has something that adventure and thrill seekers alike seek: a rush of adrenaline and maybe a bit of fear. This excitement can get adrenaline junkies hearts pumping. Some people save skydiving for a special occasion – like a birthday, an anniversary, or even a special group outing for work or to strengthen a friendship bond. However, accidents can and do happen in the sky. Our Pasco County Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help if you or a loved one was involved in a skydiving accident that has gone awry. We want to help you hold all responsible parties accountable for any negligence.

Most landings from skydiving are issue free. Parachutes have really given skydivers much greater control of their fall/landing. Slowing down the rate of a skydiver’s descent will allow a softer touchdown.

Most skydiving businesses require all jumpers to sign a waiver before they partake in the excursion so that they are relieved of any liability should something go wrong. In certain cases, any carelessness or recklessness on the part of the company can void this waiver. In other cases, these waivers are air-tight and alleviate the company of any faults related to equipment failure or any other type of accident.

Before you partake in skydiving, you should read these waivers and take them seriously before signing your name. Depending on the terms of the waiver, if you are harmed in a skydiving incident, you may not be able to take legal action to cover financial needs stemming from the accident, such as medical bills or lost wages. Continue reading

Riding a motorcycle is dangerous, and if you are an avid biker, then you know that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car due to the lack of safety protections. This is why having the right gear is a MUST when you are riding on the open road. Our Pasco County Motorcycle Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have outlined 5 key pieces of gear you need every time you ride:

  1. Motorcycle Helmet: While Florida requires all motorcyclists under 21 to wear a helmet, riders over the age of 21 can opt out of wearing one as long as they have at least $10,000 in medical benefits on their insurance plan. Helmets are a good idea to wear regardless of the law because (a.) it keeps bugs out of your eyes and mouth (yuck!), (b.) many helmets on the market now come with Bluetooth so that you can make phone calls, listen to music, and even get driving directions while wearing it, (c.) it protects your brain – God forbid you are involved in a crash, a traumatic brain injury can change your life forever.
  2. Dont-Sweat-It-2-300x300Leather Gloves: this is the second most important piece of gear for bikers as if you are ejected from your bike, you will use your hands to protect yourself. If you do not have gloves on for protection then you can easily lose skin, fingers, and break bones. No, gloves won’t protect you from everything, but they can really help if you are involved in a crash. Many come with knuckle protectors and are wind and waterproof.
  3. Motorcycle Jacket: This can keep you warm when it’s cooler out and thanks to perforated leather jackets, you can stay cool in the Florida heat. Some leather jackets are even made of ballistic mesh, which is great for heat. While a jacket may increase your body temperature causing you to sweat a bit, if you do crash then a jacket can protect your body if you slide on the pavement. A jacket keeps your skin from being scraped off your body – if you don’t have one on then your muscle, bones, and nerves can all be exposed after a bad accident.
  4. Motorcycle Boots: Yes, they look cool, but they also provide you with traction and protect the bones in your feet in the event of a crash. You want to look for sturdy boots that offer over then ankle protection – this keeps them from flying off you if a collision occurs.
  5. Motorcycle Pants: Shorts leave your knees and legs exposed. Jeans can get shredded if you slide on pavement. Motorcycle pats are made with Kevlar panels added to key places, so you have built in armor to zones that will likely see impact in the event of a collision.

Continue reading

Doctors, surgeons, and medical staff are all highly trained professionals, but just like everyone else, they can make mistakes. If these errors are egregious enough, then this could mean there are grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you have been the victim of a surgical mistake or botched medical care in New Port Richey, Port Richey, Hudson, Dade City, Holiday, Trinity, Zephyrhills, Land O’Lakes, Wesley Chapel, or elsewhere in Pasco County, then we urge you to contact our Pasco County Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Whittel & Melton right away for a free consultation so that we can assess your unique situation and determine if you have a valid claim for financial compensation for the harm you have suffered.

Surgical Errors That Could Be Medical Malpractice

There are many nursing homes in the state of Florida and throughout the United States that provide excellent care to the elderly, but there are also many other facilities that do not properly care for elderly residents in their care. Our seniors deserve to be cared for properly and with respect and dignity, but sadly this is not always the case.

Seniors who are neglected or abused can suffer from serious injuries or even wrongful death. Our Pasco County Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help advocate on behalf of any nursing home residents who are being mistreated. We know that placing your loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult decision as well as a strain on your finances. These facilities are costly and you likely did your due diligence to find the best facility that fits into your budget. Finding out that your loved one was harmed in a nursing home can be absolutely devastating.

wrist-watch-ga9fedbe05_1920-1-300x125Top 5 Nursing Home Injuries

  1. Falls: There are roughly 1.6 million residents in nursing homes throughout the country and nearly half of these residents suffer from a fall every year. Of those, about one in three falls more than once a year. One in 10 elders suffer serious injuries after a fall. How do you know if negligence resulted in a fall at a nursing home? Look for signs of unsafe equipment, understaffing, and environmental hazards.
  1. Pressure ulcers or Bedsores: These happen when a nursing home resident stays in the same position for too long placing increased pressure on the skin. These wound usually develop on the heels, ankles, tailbones, and hips. Residents who cannot move on their own must be turned over and shifted consistently to reduce any pressure that could lead to bedsores. If your loved one has developed bedsores, then this is usually a sign of negligence due to overworked and understaffed facilities.
  2. Infections: There are about 400,000 nursing home residents who die every year due to developing an infection. Nursing home staff should be aware of their residents’ conditions and do everything they can to protect their residents from infections. The most common infections residents of nursing homes can suffer from include:
  • COVID-19
  • Flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory infections
  • Soft tissue infections
  • Skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  1. Medication Mistakes: Many nursing home residents need multiple medications daily. A good amount of nursing homes have at least 100 residents, so mix-ups and mistakes can happen easily, but when they do, it can be deadly. Negligent facilities must be held accountable for their reckless and careless actions when seniors in their care suffer as a result.
  2. Broken Bones and Fractures: Aging causes bones to weaken and become more brittle. They elderly are at heightened risk for hip and neck fractures. In fact, around 300,000 seniors are hospitalized every year for hip fractures – most of which are women. Many residents of nursing homes are there because they can no longer care for themselves independently, but when nursing home staff do not properly assist their residents, then injuries leading to broken bones and fractures can easily occur.

Our Pasco County Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence Lawyers at Whittel & Melton Can Help Continue reading

There are an estimated 18 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that can be dangerous and disrupt a person’s ability to breathe normally while sleeping. In the past, those diagnosed with sleep apnea would be prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP machine) that can pump air into a person’s lungs continuously as they sleep at night. These machines provide a more restful night of sleep for users and also make sure that the right oxygen levels are maintained.

In June 2021, the Philips CPAP recall affected roughly four million devices in the United States. Users of these defective devices were left to suffer by not using their device or continue using them at an added risk. Philips has issued statements that they will replace or fix all their defective devices, but have said that it will take until September 2022 to get the job done.

pillows-g979174480_1280-300x200This situation is less than ideal for CPAP users, and for some it can be life- threatening. Now there is a new study that has emerged linking sleep apnea to increased complications or death from COVID19.

COVID-19 and Sleep Apnea

Research from the Cleveland Clinic shows that sleep apnea increased the risks of severe COVID19 and death. The study found the following:

  • Patients suffering from sleep apnea in the study who contracted COVID19 were 31% more likely to suffer from serious complications needing hospitalization
  • Patients suffering from sleep apnea in the study who contracted COVID19 were 31% more likely to die

In May of 2021, another study conducted at Kaiser Permanente in California found that sleep apnea patients had a higher infection rate of COVID19. The study also found that the longer patients used an assisted breathing device through the night, the less likely they were to contract COVID19.

Philips CPAP Recall

Philips recalled millions of their CPAP devices, BiPAP and ventilator machines in June 2021 following complaints that their devices had foam particles breaking down, resulting in users inhaling and ingesting these toxins that could cause short and long-term health issues.

The following machines have been recalled:

  • E30 (Emergency Use Authorization)
  • DreamStation ASV
  • DreamStation (ST, AVAPS)
  • SystemOne (ASV4)
  • C Series (ASV, S/T, AVAPS)
  • OmniLab Advanced Plus (In-Lab Titration Device)
  • SystemOne (Q Series)
  • DreamStation (CPAP, Auto CPAP, BiPAP)
  • DreamStation GO (CPAP, APAP)
  • Dorma 400,500 (CPAP)
  • REMStar SE Auto (CPAP)
  • Trilogy100
  • Trilogy 200
  • A-Series BiPAP Hybrid (A30) – not marketed in the United States
  • A-Series BiPAP V30 (Auto)
  • Garbin Plus, Aeris, LifeVent
  • A-Series BiPAP A40
  • A-Series BiPAP A30

Class actions lawsuits have been filed against Philips seeking compensation for injuries and illnesses, lost wages, emotional and physical suffering.

Contact Our Pasco County Phillips CPAP Device Recall Lawyers at Whittel & Melton Continue reading

The damage from Hurricane Ida is still being felt by those in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast as they are still without power, water, and unable to get necessary supplies for what could be days or even weeks. Many are still not able to return back to their homes. With the peak of hurricane season being September 10 and continue through November, there are still more storms that could affect Floridians, including Larry, Mindy, and Nicholas. Our Pasco County Hurricane Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind everyone to have an emergency plan ready should you need to evacuate for any of the remaining storms for the 2021 hurricane season.

The National Weather Service names the hurricanes for the season alphabetically at the start of hurricane season in June. “I” for Ida was the ninth storm of the season, and “L” is up next with Hurricane Larry, followed by “M” for Hurricane Mindy and “N” for Hurricane Nicholas. Hurricane Larry is anticipated to bring major damage, just liked Hurricane Ida, but as of now Larry is not projected to hit the United States, however it could bring strong rip currents and rain to Florida beaches. Hurricane Larry is being labeled a Category 3 or higher, and growing more intense rather quickly, gaining 35 mph in wind speed in 24 hours or less.

storm-426787_1920-300x198Hurricane Larry could be like Hurricane Ida that quickly went from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Category 4 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Ida went 85 mph to 150 mph in less than 24 hours. With that level of intensity, it is important for all Floridians to have an emergency plan ready to go in case a hurricane or tropical storm brings about property damage.

The hurricane season for 2021 has been a busy one already, and if you look at what 2020 brought you can see a pattern of more intense storms than ever before. In 2020 the U.S. saw 30 named storms, including 14 hurricanes (7 of which were major storms), 11 named storms that hit the U.S. coastline, and then Greek letters that were used to round out the remainder of the hurricanes and storms for the season.

Storm names for the remainder of the 2021 hurricane season are: 

  • Larry
  • Mindy
  • Nicholas
  • Odette
  • Peter
  • Rose
  • Sam
  • Teresa
  • Victor
  • Wanda

How Do You Handle a Hurricane Claim for Your Home or Business Following a Hurricane or Tropical Storm?

Once a tropical storm or hurricane has damaged your home or business property, you may think that the logical move is to contact your insurance company and then get paid to repair or fix any issues caused by the storm. Sadly, it is not always this simple and you could be met with reluctance from your insurance company to pay you anything for the damages a hurricane brought. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not losing it, so they will often deny claims, even ones that are legitimate. And while your insurance provider may provide you with a lengthy list of reasons why they are denying your claim, our Pasco County Hurricane Claim Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand what steps need to be taken in order to secure the financial compensation your hurricane claim deserves. Continue reading

The state of Florida takes any suspicions of elderly abuse quite seriously. In fact, it is mandatory for anyone that has reason to believe an elderly person is being abused, neglected or exploited to report this behavior to the proper authorities. This prompts the question: How do I report any instances of elderly abuse? Our Pasco County Nursing Home and ALF Elder Neglect and Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to provide you with the information you need to keep our elderly citizens safe. 

What Are The Signs of Elderly Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation? 

Physical abuse or neglect is usually the result of some type of violence that results in injuries to the victim like bruises, burns, abrasions, pressure marks, broken bones, etc. Usually these injuries cannot be explained and happen rather frequently. 

The elderly are often vulnerable to emotional abuse by a caretaker, and warning signs could be sudden changes in mood or alertness, unusual depression, arguments that happen frequently or any noticeably strained or tense relationships between the older person and their caretaker, etc. 

The elderly are also targets for financial exploitation, so if you notice any sudden financial changes to their situation then financial abuse could be the culprit. Warning signs include missing cash or checkbooks, sudden will changes that could be forged, other financial documents being changed or possibly forged, missing valuables, expensive gifts or money being given to caretakers, etc. 

Another form of abuse commonly inflicted upon elderly victims is emotional or verbal abuse. If you have seen an elderly victim threatened or belittled by their caretaker, or witnessed any other similar actions, then you should report these actions right away. 

A neglected elderly person is also a victim of abuse. If an elderly person’s medical needs are not being met, if they are not being provided proper shelter, clothing, water, food, etc. this constitutes neglect. If you hear an elderly person complain of being hungry or thirsty, not having medical supplies or medications they need, poor hygiene, bedsores, unusual weight loss, etc. then you need to report the neglect as soon as possible. 

hands-981400_1920-300x200What To Do If You Suspect Elderly Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation

There are many different agencies that handle cases of elderly abuse, neglect and exploitation, so it can be confusing as to who you should contact. However, as with any emergency situation, if an elderly person’s life or safety is in immediate danger you should always call 911 first to make sure they are removed from a dangerous and life threatening situation right away. 

If you have witnessed any elderly abuse, neglect or exploitation of a senior citizen or even if you think an elderly person might be a victim of abuse, you should call the Florida Abuse Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873) to make sure your concerns are voiced. You will be asked to press 2 if you suspect any abuse or neglect is happening to an elderly person. Online reports can be made as well by clicking here. The TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) is 1-800-453-5145. You can also fax in a report at 1-800-914-0004. You will want to include your name and contact information with your detailed report so that you can be reached for any follow up questions. 

What Happens When I Make A Report of Elderly Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation? 

However you choose to make your report about what you have witnessed or suspect is happening just be prepared to give as much detail as possible. You will need to have the victim’s full name and contact information. You will likely be asked about the victim’s current situation, such as their medical needs, family members, and of course further details about what you have seen happening or suspect is happening (fighting, unexplained injuries, medical needs not being met, hitting, etc.) 

You will be asked to give your name and contact information, but keep in mind that if you wish to remain anonymous the state of Florida will still take your report and investigate accordingly. 

If the abuse, neglect or exploitation is happening at a nursing home or assisted living facility, then your complaints will be handled by a state Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman. Annette Perry is the District Ombudsman Manager for Pasco County as well as Pinellas County. Her contact information is: 

Annette Perry, West Coast District Ombudsman Manager

11351 Ulmerton Road, Suite 303

Largo, FL 33778

Phone: (727) 588-6912

Fax: 727 (588) 3648

What Do I Do After I Make A Report of Elderly Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation?  Continue reading

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