Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Halloween is a holiday enjoyed by both children and parents alike. However, Halloween can pose major safety risks for children if proper precautions are not followed. Halloween can easily become a nightmare when you combine darkness, unsupervised children and costumes that may make visibility difficult. By following a few Halloween safety tips from our Pasco County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton, you can reduce the odds of a child injury affecting your family.

Costume Tips:

  • Make sure costumes are bright and reflective. Costumes should also be short enough to prevent tripping or contact with flame.
  • Try adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.  
  • Make sure all costumes and accessories are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child can easily get hurt by these accessories.
  • Children should be equipped with flashlights with fresh batteries for trolling around dark streets.
  • Give your child a cell phone and teach him or her how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.

Carving Pumpkins:

  • Small children should not carve pumpkins. A safer alternative is to have children draw a face with markers and then parents can do the cutting.
  • Use a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you are using a candle to light your pumpkin, votive candles are best.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and do not leave them unattended.

Home Safety:

  • You want to keep your home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters,so it is best to remove anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations from the front yard and porch area.
  • Replace any burned-out bulbs outside.
  • Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps.
  • Keep any pets restrained so they do not jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.


  • A parent or other responsible adult should always accompany young children when trick-or-treating.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan their route and agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for candy.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication or emergency calls.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • Do not cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Never assume as a pedestrian that you have the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters, so be extra cautious!
  • You should notify police immediately about any suspicious or unlawful activity.

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A 2-year-old boy had his foot amputated Saturday after he was accidentally struck by a riding lawn mower being operated by his mother, according to Pasco County authorities.

Pasco County Fire Rescue claims that the mother was riding a commercial zero turn riding lawn mower at the family’s home in rural Spring Hill and saw the child running toward her. She tried to shut off the mower but was unable do so in time.

9298639_a33358c475_mAs the boy approached the mower, he fell and his leg went beneath the mower, severing it between his ankle and knee.

Emergency personnel responded to the home around 11 a.m. They packed the amputated leg on ice and had the boy transported to Tampa General Hospital.

This is at least the second lawn mower accident in the Tampa Bay area in 27 months. In April 2013, a 2-year-old lost both legs below her knees when her father accidentally backed over her on a riding lawn mower in the family’s Palm Harbor driveway.

Mowing the lawn is a simple and necessary task, but a lawn mower is one of the most dangerous household tools. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 250,000 people were treated for lawn mower injuries in 2010. Lawn mower injuries can be quite serious, including amputations, as this case shows, vision loss, and severe burns. In severe cases, lawn mower injuries can be fatal.

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This Fourth of July weekend, many people will be traveling, enjoying fireworks or just firing up the backyard grill. At Whittel & Melton, our Pasco County Injury Lawyers want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. We urge you to have fun, but also make sure safety is a top priority.

The American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday weekend.


There will be millions of people on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. Follow these 6 steps to stay safe while traveling:

  • Buckle seat belts.
  • Observe Speed Limits.
  • Do Not Drink and Drive.
  • Pay Attention to the Road. Avoid using a cell phone to call or text.
  • Use Caution in Work Zones.
  • Stay Alert at Night. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see,  and turn the headlights on as dusk approaches as well as during inclement weather.


4428561177_831c2f9269_zThe best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display put on by professionals. However, if you are going to partake in your own fireworks show at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never Give Fireworks to Small Children.
  • Always Follow the Instructions on the Packaging.
  • Keep a Supply of Water Nearby.
  • Anyone Lighting Fireworks Should Wear Eye Protection.
  • Light only One Firework at a Time and Never Try to Relight “A Dud.”
  • Never Throw or Point a Firework at People, Animals, Vehicles, Structures or Flammable Materials.


Each and every year during the Fourth of July holiday, people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up lunch or dinner for your backyard barbecue:

  • Always Supervise a Grill when in Use.
  • Never Grill Indoors.
  • Keep Children and Pets Away from the Grill.
  • Keep the Grill Away from the House, the Deck, Tree Branches, or Anything that Could Catch Fire.

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Deputies are currently investigating a shooting that happened outside of a Land O’ Lakes bar Sunday night that left one man dead.

The 44-year-old man died from a gunshot wound early Monday morning at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to Rock Harley Saloon on Land O’ Lakes Boulevard just after 9 p.m. Sunday. They arrived at the scene to find the deceased suffering from a gunshot wound to the upper body.

Deputies are still working to develop information regarding a suspect.

6781763344_cb2211da66_zMost people go to nightclubs, bars and taverns for an evening of fun with friends or just to unwind from the day, however, anytime alcohol is being served late at night, in a crowded venue, and with limited security, the potential for dangerous activity exists.

Bar and nightclub owners have a duty to protect customers from violent acts, including assaults, batteries and all other illegal conduct by their employees, including bartenders, bouncers and wait staff, as well as third parties, like patrons and vendors. The owner of the establishment may be liable for customer injuries if their employees start a fight, fail to prevent a fight from happening or allow people on the premises with weapons. With that said, the business owner can also be liable for violent acts that take place outside of the venue, such as a parking lot or alley, due to inadequate or improper security.

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A Pasco County day care worker has been arrested and charged with child abuse after the mother of a 16-month-old girl said her daughter had bruises on her body when she picked her up from a Holiday day care center Saturday afternoon.

The mother called authorities after discovering her daughter’s bruises, according to deputies.

The police report listed the injuries on the girl as an abrasion underneath her eye and another on the left side of her face.

According to deputies, surveillance video from inside the daycare shows a 49-year-old daycare employee intentionally kicking the girl once on the top of the head. The video goes on to show the woman scraping her foot along the left side of the girl’s face. A short time later, deputies allege the woman kicked the child on the buttocks.

The woman, who lives in Tarpon Springs and has worked at the center for four years, was fired. The woman denied kicking the child on the head and had no explanation for kicking her in the buttocks when questioned by police.

5189946551_db248821b4_zThe woman was released on bail on Sunday. The woman has four children of her own and no incidents on her record. However, investigators plan to look at other surveillance video from the daycare to see if anything like this has happened before.

Injuries at daycare facilities can range from minor accidents that will heal over time to serious injuries and sometimes death. Sadly, when looking at these types of cases, the underlying problem is usually connected to daycare negligence where the fault lies with caregivers failing to act appropriately. When these incidents do occur, fortunately, the civil justice system can help provide accountability and compensation for victims and family members.

No one is more vulnerable than an innocent child. For this reason, it is vital that day care providers act responsibly and keep children secure and free from harm. Lack of supervision is the leading cause of daycare injuries. The issue of supervision is often caused by inadequate staffing. If there are not enough adults watching a group of children, or if the adults watching the children are behaving negligently, the odds are that an accident will occur, whether intentional or unintentional.

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New Year’s Eve is here, and that means parties, drinking and counting down to the new year.

While no one should assume that their New Year’s Eve party will be the source of liability in 2015, it never hurts to exercise added caution.

Follow these helpful NYE party tips:

  1. Supply Non-Alcoholic Beverage Options.

New Year’s Eve parties are notorious for serving all kinds of alcoholic beverages. This NYE you may want to opt for serving “mocktails.” As a social host you can be held liable if someone who was over served at your party does something negligent once they leave your soiree.

  1. 2154575545_f58be7229d_zCarefully Select Party Snacks.

Hors d’oeuvres and other fancy foods might be on your NYE menu, but take the time to make sure you avoid dangerous foods that could spoil if left out too long. Hint: anything that contains mayo or is a raw meat or fish may not be the best choice. Remember, not just restaurants can be sued for food poisoning.

  1. Car Theft Can Happen.

Did you know that New Year’s Day is the top holiday for car thefts? Make sure to park your car in a well-lit area, take all your valuables with you and advise your party guests to do the same thing!

  1. Block Off Dangerous Areas

Any time you invite anyone into your home, drunk or sober, you need to warn visitors of all dangers they could encounter. If any area of your home is not safe, make sure to mark the area as off-limits to partygoers. By highlighting home hazards, you could avoid slip-and-fall injuries.

  1. Party Insurance? Yes, it’s real!

Believe it or not, party insurance is a thing! You can even go as far as to customize your party policy based on the size and details of your New Year’s Eve party.

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Even though the weather in Florida does not show it, summer is coming to an end. This Monday is Labor Day, and families and friends across the country will be gathering together over the long weekend to say goodbye to summer. Most people think of Labor Day weekend as their last chance to take a vacation, visit the beach or even just grill outdoors. The following safety tips can ensure that you have safe and fun Labor Day holiday.

Road Trip Safety Tips

  • Always have an emergency kit in your vehicle that contains flashlights, extra batteries, jumper cables, bottled water, a tool kit and a knife.
  • Tell someone who is not travelling with you about your travel arrangements. That way someone knows where you’re going, how long you will be away and what time you will be back.
  • Fasten your seatbelt! Make sure everyone in the car properly fastens their seat belts, and small children remain in their appropriate car seats.
  • Never drink and drive. Figure out a safe alternative home before you go anywhere.

Swimming Safety Tips

  • Check the weather and stay away from water during a lightning storm.
  • Don’t swim alone. Children should always be supervised by an adult when playing in or around water.
  • Emergency floatation devices should always be readily available. If taking your boat out, you should have enough life jackets for everyone on board.
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol while boating. You can be arrested for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol.

7525573720_957c2abe23_mGrilling Safety Tips

  • Make sure your grill is set up in a safe location, away from houses, trees and any other flammable objects.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Do not add charcoal starter fluid after you have already ignited the coals.
  • Wear gloves when grilling foods to prevent burns and always handle food in a safe manner.

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A 7-year-old girl is recovering after her neighbor’s dog bit her on the cheek on Wednesday at her Land O’Lakes home.

The girl went to hug the dog while he was on a leash when he bit her on the cheek.

The bite required the girl to get 28 stitches.

mean dogFamily members and neighbors are shocked to see the dog suddenly turned vicious.

The dog was not taken by animal control, but was put on home quarantine.

According to reports, a doctor advised the girl to stay out of the sun for the next six months. Her injuries will require reconstructive surgery.

Dog bite victims have legal rights, and a Pasco County Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can make sure that these rights are upheld. As an injury victim, you have the right to seek financial compensation from the owner of the dog to cover medical bills for any and all injuries, disfigurement, scarring and mental trauma that resulted from the attack. It is always recommended that you obtain immediate medical attention after a dog bite or animal attack and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites each and every year. About half of dog bite victims are children, and sadly, more than a dozen dog bite victims die per year, which is why dog attacks should never be taken lightly. In Florida, dog owners can be held liable for damages when their dog attacks or harms another person.

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A 3-year-old girl was the victim of a vicious dog attack in Hudson on Thursday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies reported that the toddler was bit on the nose and cheek in the 12,000 block of White Bluff Road located in the Verandahs neighborhood, which is just north of State Road 52, and west of Suncoast Parkway.

The child was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital.

At this time, the girl’s condition, as well as the breed of the dog, is unknown.

cray dogDog bites and attacks can cause serious disfigurement, which can lead to expensive medical bills and emotional trauma, especially when the victim is a young child. A Pasco County Injury Attorney at Whittel & Melton knows just how damaging a dog bite or attack can be to a young child, which is why we help victims seek damages for facial injuries, scarring and disfigurement in attacks that result in hefty medical expenses, lost wages and rehabilitation costs.

Children are often the victims of gruesome dog bite attacks simply because of their size and proximity to dogs. Most child injuries from dog bites result in permanent facial scarring. Your child should not have to suffer from painful scars and disfigurement because of a negligent dog owner. We can file an injury claim to help you recover financial compensation for your child’s pain and suffering.

In many dog bite cases, the owner of the dog is a neighbor, friend or relative. Most people are reluctant to sue friends and neighbors because they do not want to ruin their relationship with that person over money. However, in most dog bite cases, it is the dog owner’s insurance company that must cover damages associated with an attack.

Our personal injury lawyers have many years of experience dealing with insurance companies. We will consult with medical professionals, animal experts and economic analysts in order to determine the cause and full scope of your injuries. The truth is, a vicious dog attack can result in serious injuries that last a lifetime, and you should not have to cover medical bills for injuries that are someone else’s fault.

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A 7-year-old Port Richey girl is still recovering in the hospital from a severe dog bite attack on Friday.

According to authorities, the girl was attacked by a chocolate Labrador that belonged to a family friend. The 7-year-old has since had reconstructive surgery, and she is apparently  recovering well.

The owner surrendered the dog to Animal Control.

choc labA Tampa General surgeon said the dog bite damaged the girl’s nose, skin and eye area. She is not expected to suffer any vision loss.

Dog bites can result in very severe and long-lasting injuries. Serious dog bite attacks often leave victims suffering from permanent physical and psychological scars. In many dog bite cases, the victim or family of the victim knows the pet owner and is afraid to pursue a claim for compensation because they do not want to ruin the relationship they have with the owner.

Dog bite injuries involving children are quite common. In most cases, the child knows the dog or the pet owner and did nothing at all to provoke the attack. However, just because you may be friends with the pet owner, this does not mean you should forego your rights to any compensation for your injuries. Most dog bite claims are settled through the dog owner’s homeowners insurance and usually results in minimal financial cost to the liable party. A Pasco County Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can handle your case with discretion and patience in order to protect the relationship you have with the pet owner and obtain the full and fair recovery you are entitled to.

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