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.

National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from October 20-26, is a great time to address teenage driver safety. As parents, you have a lot of power over your children’s decisions. Research shows that parents are the biggest influence on their teens’ behavior behind the wheel.

Every year thousands of teens are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old. In 2017, the most recent data available, 755 teen drivers died in crashes, and a total of 2,038 teen drivers were involved in crashes where someone in the vehicle died.

Teenage passengers are more likely to be injured in a car being driven by a peer. Some of this has to do with general distraction. The high rate of crashes among teen drivers is caused primarily by their lack of maturity and driving experience coupled with overconfidence and risk-taking, according to the NHTSA. New drivers are more likely to take eyes and attention off of the road, increasing crash risks.

To try and decrease the risks that teen drivers pose to themselves and others, the state of Florida has implemented a graduated drivers license (GDL). Teen drivers must obtain their learner’s permit first and then they can graduate to receiving their driver’s license, granted they meet the requirements. 

To get your Learner’s Permit in the state of Florida, teens must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Provide proof of completion of a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course
  • Provide parental consent form if under 18 and required documents for proof of identity
  • Complete your permit exam
  • Pass a vision and hearing test

Once you obtain a learner’s permit in Florida you have some driving privileges, but they are restricted. The rules for operating a motor vehicle with a learner’s permit are as follows:

  • You must be accompanied by a licensed driver in the front passenger seat at all times. This driver must be 21 years of age or older.
  • You can only drive during daylight hours for the first 3 months from the date you receive your permit. 
  • After the initial 3 months, you are permitted to drive between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.

If you are under the age of 18, the following rules apply to getting your driver’s license:

  • You’ve had no moving traffic citations within 12 months of the issuance of your permit. (You may have 1 traffic violation where adjudication is withheld. Adjudication withheld is when you are not convicted of the offense, while still being held guilty).
  • Your parent or legal guardian, or a responsible adult 21 years or older, has certified you’ve completed at least 50 hours of driving experience, including 10 hours at night.
  • You must pass a driving test.

It is a great idea to use National Teen Driver Safety Week as a way to discuss the potential road dangers that could affect your teen driver. The best thing you can do is enforce the rules of the road. 

The Rules of the Road

Wear seat belts

The car should not even be started until everyone is buckled up. It does not matter if you are sitting in the front seat or back seat or even how far you are going — everyone in the vehicle should always wear a seat belt. Over half of the passengers killed in cars driven by teen drivers in recent years failed to wear a seat belt.

Drive sober

It is illegal to drink before you are 21, and driving drunk or under the influence of drugs is illegal at any age. In 2017, almost one out of five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Do not get distracted

Focus on the only task you need to – driving. Do not use your phone to text or talk, and refrain from doing anything else, like eating, drinking, or fixing hair and makeup. About 10% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in recent years were distracted at the time of the crash. Encourage your teen driver to activate the “do not disturb” feature on their phone to eliminate the distractions notifications cause.

Follow the speed limit

In 2017, almost one-third of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. When you speed, you limit the extra reaction time you need to avoid a collision. Every driver must obey posted speed limits.

Extra passengers are not a good idea

Teen drivers are at a greater risk for a crash when they have other people in their car. This extra cargo can be a distraction to novice drivers. 

As parents, don’t forget that you are a role model. When your teen driver sees you following the rules of the road, then they are more likely to do the same. If you break the rules, then they think it is OK to as well. 

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A teenager remains in the hospital in serious condition Tuesday morning after being struck by a vehicle while walking to school in New Port Richey. 

According to Pasco Fire Rescue, the incident happened around 7 a.m. at the intersection of Schrader Blvd and Little Rd in New Port Richey near Fivay High School.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 16-year-old boy was walking across the northbound lanes of Little Road when he was hit by a Ford F150 driven by a 57-year-old man. The teen was listed as a trauma alert and transported to Bayonet Point Medical Center in Port Richey. 

Hurricane season officially begins June 1st, peaks September 10th, and officially ends November 30th. Our Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have compiled some helpful information on being prepared for any tropical storms and hurricanes that occur during the season and appropriate steps to take in the event you have a home, business, or property that is affected by a storm.

List of 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Names:

  • Andrea
  • Barry
  • Chantal
  • Dorian
  • Erin
  • Fernand
  • Gabrielle
  • Humberto
  • Imelda
  • Jerry
  • Karen
  • Lorenzo
  • Melissa
  • Nestor
  • Olga
  • Pablo
  • Rebekah
  • Sebastien
  • Tanya
  • Van
  • Wendy

While there’s no way to prevent a tropical storm or hurricane, you should take steps to protect your loved ones and property from a storm. Our Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melon are committed to making New Port Richey, Dade City, Zephyrhills, Land O’Lakes, Hudson, Holiday, Lutz, Trinity and Wesley Chapel a safe place for all. Below we have outlined some practical safety measures, and how we can help you rebuild after a hurricane, like Hurricane Dorian. 

Hurricane Preparedness for Homeowners & Property Owners

It is very important for homeowners to keep proper records of their property’s condition in the event that it is necessary to file a claim through their insurance company.

Before a Tropical Storm or Hurricane: 

  • Take pictures of your property. 
  • If you are not able to get any pictures before a storm, collect the most recent photos you have taken of your property.

After the Tropical Storm or Hurricane: 

  • Once it is safe to do so, take pictures of your property’s interior, exterior, and roof. 
  • Before making any statements to your insurance company or meeting with an adjuster, consult with an attorney who can handle insurance claims. 
  • Homeowners should get an inspection performed by a qualified contractor and/or roofer to assess whether the hurricane force winds have damaged or diminished the roofing system.

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With summer approaching, National Safe Boating Week is here to encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the best practices for a safe boating experience.

The 7-day period before Memorial Day weekend is “National Safe Boating Week,” and runs from May 18 through May 24, 2019.

In 2017, the Coast Guard recorded 4,291 recreational boating accidents that contributed to 658 fatalities and roughly $46 million in losses. Drowning is the leading cause of death in 76 percent of boating fatalities, and about 85% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets are designed to keep you afloat following an accident and save thousands of lives every year.

Here is a breakdown of Florida life jacket laws:

  • All recreational vessels must have at least one personal flotation device (PFD) that is U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved and of the proper size for each person on boat
  • Vessels 16 feet or longer must have one “throwable” Type IV PFD which is USCG approved and immediately available
  • Children under six years old must wear a USCG approved life jacket at all times on any vessel less than 26 feet in length that is underway in Florida waters
  • Children under 13 years of age on vessels operating on waters outside the geographical boundaries of Florida must wear a USCG approved PFD unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin
  • Each person on a personal watercraft (PWC), such as a Waverunner or Jet Ski, must wear a USCG approved life jacket

The following are a few boating safety tips our Pasco County Boating Accident Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have compiled:

  1. Wear a life jacket that is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. We encourage you to check life jackets here: safeboatingcampaign.com
  2. Know local and state boating laws
  3. Consider taking a Florida Boating Safety Course before getting out on the water
  4. Make sure your vessel is properly prepared before heading out on an excursion
  5. Schedule a Vessel Safety Check with the U.S. Coast guard
  6. Prepare a U.S. Coast Guard Float Plan. You can check that out here: http://floatplancentral.cgaux.org/
  7. Always have a communication device ready
  8. Do not drink and operate a boat
  9. Follow all navigation rules

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A school bus crash in Pasco County Wednesday morning left multiple people with injuries, including three children.

According to Pasco County Fire Rescue, the crash happened just after 7 a.m. at Kitten Trail at Oakwood Lane in Hudson.

A vehicle collided almost head on with the school bus.

The driver of the small car was extracted and transported as a trauma alert.

There were three students on the bus that suffered minor injuries. All students refused transport and were released to parents.

The driver of the bus was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash remains under investigation.

When a crash involves a car or truck colliding with a school bus, the injuries can be quite serious as many school buses are not required to have seat belts to protect students in the event of an accident. If your child was injured in an accident where another car hit a school bus, you may be able to recover financial compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You could receive compensation for your child’s pain and suffering and other damages such as loss of normal life, emotional distress, and disability or disfigurement.

If the school bus driver is at fault, you may be able to recover financial compensation from the school district, which is required to have insurance to cover accidents caused by school bus drivers. However, this can be a long and challenging process.

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Four bicyclists have been hospitalized after they were seriously injured in a crash involving another vehicle on Ridge Road in Port Richey, according to Pasco County Fire Rescue officials.

According to the agency, the bicyclists were struck by the liftgate of a vehicle ahead of them that dislodged and fell open.

The driver of the vehicle initially kept driving, but Port Richey Police later caught up with him.

All four bicyclists were transported to Bayonet Point Hospital. Three were transported as trauma alerts.

The crash happened just before 7:30 p.m. when a Florida Cancer Specialist tractor trailer was headed eastbound on Ridge Road when the gate fell off, hitting the cyclists on the sidewalk.

Authorities said there were seven people on bicycles total but three of the riders were able to avoid getting hit by the gate. The other four were not.

Also, police said the driver kept going after the crash.

However, it is unclear if they even knew what happened. The driver is cooperating with authorities.

As of now, the driver is not facing any charges. The investigation is ongoing.

Port Richey is a great place to ride a bike. However, even if bikers use the bike lanes they can be injured by reckless or careless motorists who fail to keep a proper lookout out for bicyclists. Every year, numerous serious injuries and fatalities related to bicycle accidents occur throughout Port Richey and Florida, and all over the United States as well. If you have suffered serious injuries in a bicycle accident, or if a loved one has died as a result of a car vs. bicycle accident, our Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you during this stressful period.

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The mother of an 18-year-old killed in a crash is urging other drivers to be safe and avoid distracted driving.

The fatal crash happened on Curley Street early Monday afternoon, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

FHP troopers said the man was traveling southbound on the street, approaching Curley Road, at about 1:12 p.m. when he lost control of his 1998 Toyota Tacoma.

He ended up crossing the street and entering the east shoulder before his truck overturned.

Troopers said the man suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

His mother said her son wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and was texting just before the crash.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, and according to the report, alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

No other information has been released.  The investigation remains ongoing.

Texting and driving is a leading cause of accidents across the country. When you think about it, a person who spends just five seconds sending a text message while driving 55 mph will travel over 100 yards while distracted. That’s almost the length of an entire football field.

Some of the types of accidents caused by texting and driving include:

  • Rear End Accidents
  • Head-On Collisions
  • Sideswipes
  • Parking Lot Accidents
  • Turning Accidents
  • T-Bone Collisions

Our Pasco County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to remind all drivers to pull over to a safe area if you must send a text message, or even if you need to make a phone call. Anyone who uses their cell phone while driving risks causing a serious accident. If a texting driver has caused a collision that left you suffering from an injury or took a loved one from you, we can help you hold the negligent driver accountable.

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A motorcyclist was killed in a traffic crash in the Hunters Ridge community of Pasco County Saturday evening, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Investigators said the 59-year-old was on his motorcycle heading east on Rancho Del Rio Drive at the time of the crash. He entered the intersection at Via Segovia, at which time another vehicle drove into his path.

The man’s motorcycle struck the left rear of the second vehicle. He died at the scene.

According to the accident report, the man was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

The driver of the other vehicle was not injured.

No further information has been released.

It is no secret that a motorcycle’s small size combined with their speed can be  deadly. Hundreds of motorcyclists die every year in Florida in collisions with cars and trucks. Motorcyclists have to be very cautious when navigating the roadway, but other motorists also need to be more aware of motorcyclists.

Most motorcycle accidents are preventable. The most common causes of these collisions, include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Motorists not paying attention to motorcycles
  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Faulty mirrors, brakes or lighting

Drivers of cars and trucks are not free to act without regard for the safety of motorcyclists. Motorists routinely neglect their responsibility to watch out for bikers on Florida roads, causing serious, and even fatal, motorcycle accidents.

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Authorities in Pasco County are investigating two weekend hit-and-runs.

According to Pasco Fire Rescue, a toddler was struck by a motorcycle in the 7300 block of Oak Crest Drive in Port Richey on Saturday evening.  

Officials said the motorcyclist just rode off after striking the 2-year-old child.

The child was trauma alerted and flown from the scene.

No further information has been released.

Another crash happened around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, this one resulting in a death.

Authorities are searching for a driver that was headed north on US 19 and struck a bicyclist at Holiday Hills Boulevard in Port Richey.

The Florida Highway Patrol described the car that left the scene as a dark blue 2000’s model Saturn sedan.

Anyone with information in either of these cases is asked to call the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office at (727) 847-8102.

A hit and run occurs when the responsible party of a crash flees the scene. Florida law prohibits this behavior, but sadly, new incidents are reported daily, just like these two crashes. Sometimes the responsible party leaves the scene even when there is an injury victim. For victims of hit and runs, this is physically and emotionally painful. They are left to deal with their injuries, but also left wondering how someone could act in such a negligent and reckless manner.

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An impaired wrong-way driver ran one motorist off the road before colliding with a barrier wall on I-75 near State Road 52 just after midnight on Friday, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the 27-year-old of Alabama was driving northbound in the southbound lane and almost hit a Mercury Milan.

The 19-year-old female driver tried to get out of the way and collided into the guardrail.

Troopers said the man continued driving and approached another vehicle.  He tried to avoid hitting the second vehicle and ended up crashing into a concrete barrier wall.

After crashing, the man tried to take off running, but troopers were able to catch him. They said he had a BAC of 0.341 following his arrest.

The man faces charges for leaving the scene of a crash, driving in the wrong direction, and DUI.

No injuries were reported.

If your or someone in your family was hurt because of the negligence of a drunk driver, you should talk to an experienced Pasco County Auto Accident Attorney at Whittel & Melton about your legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, property damage and other damages, but you will need a lawyer to represent you.

Every car accident case is different. Even if the driver who caused the accident was drunk and negligent, their insurance company will work hard to fight your claim for damages. Our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers have been highly successful in holding drunk drivers accountable for their dangerous actions while securing maximum financial compensation for injury victims and their families.

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