Not enough people are buckling up in the back seat, says highway safety report

According to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), most drivers instinctively put on their seat belts when they get behind the wheel, but not enough back seat passengers are buckling up. About 90 percent of adults wear seat belts in the front seat, but the number drops to 76 percent for back seat passengers. Only 57 percent of people buckle up in the back seat of for-hire vehicles such as taxis, Uber and Lyft.

People fail to wear seat belts in the back seat for several reasons. Most often people claim that they were in a rush, did not think it was necessary on short trips, or were uncomfortable doing so. The GHSA study found that 803 people died in crashes while sitting unbuckled in the back seat of a vehicle in 2018. Around half of the deaths may have been prevented if the passengers had worn seat belts.

In 2017 and 2018, Florida had 66.6 percent of rear seat passengers wearing seat belts in fatal accidents, which is below the national average. Under state law, all drivers, front seat passengers and everyone under the age of 18 are required to fasten their seat belts. However, the state has no back seat belt law.

According to the report, 20 states have no mandatory seat belt requirements for adult passengers in the back seat. Safety advocates recommend that all states enforce strong seat belt laws and promote the benefits of seat belt usage.

Everyone should wear a seat belt no matter where they sit in a vehicle. Buckling up can prevent injuries and save lives during car accidents. If you have been hurt in car accident, contact the lawyers at Joyce & Reyes to find out how we can help you recover compensation.

How using social media can damage your personal injury claim

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may instinctively decide to post an update about it on social media to quickly and easily let your friends and family know how you are doing. However, what many people do not realize is that posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms can have a devastating impact on your personal injury case.

Anything you post online can be used against you by the opposing party, including at-fault drivers and their attorneys, to undermine your case. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to monitor your social media accounts after an accident and attempt to gain access to them. As a result, it is best not to accept new followers or friend requests from anyone you do not know personally until your case is over.

Importantly, avoid sharing anything about your case on social media. Even seemingly innocent posts that are unrelated to your accident or injuries can jeopardize the outcome of your personal injury case. Photos are often used in court to contradict an accident victim’s claims. For instance, a photo of you at a party with friends after an accident may be used as evidence that your injuries are not very serious, even if you were smiling through your pain just for the photo or standing up only for a few minutes.

You should also adjust your privacy settings to prevent others from tagging you in photos or mentioning you on social media sites, which can be just as damaging as your own posts. Online posts are never truly private. In most cases, defense lawyers can request access to your posts, chat conversations and private messages as part of the discovery process even if you have limited public access to them.

The safest course of action is to stay off social media and even shut down your accounts until your accident claim is resolved. After a car accident, you want to do everything in your power to protect your rights and present the strongest possible case. Speak to a personal injury attorney at Joyce & Reyes to learn how we can help you maximize the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Simple ways to prevent children from suffering head injuries around the home

Head injuries are among the most common types of injuries that children tend to suffer. They account for around 80 percent of pediatric trauma cases, according to the Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences at Carilion Clinic. The severity of head injuries can vary greatly, ranging from a small bump to a debilitating traumatic brain injury (TBI).

While TBIs can occur in many different circumstances, such as when kids play sports or fall on the playground, recent research published in the Brain Injury journal pointed out that many incidents that need medical treatment tend to take place in the home. For instance, children can potentially sustain brain injuries due to fall hazards like loose wiring or uneven flooring.

The best way to protect your child from a TBI is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Although no child is injury proof, parents can take precautions to remove fall hazards at home by following some simple tips:

  • Ensure all area rugs are secured to the floor.
  • Install window guards to prevent falls out of open windows.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Keep stairs and floors clear of clutter.
  • Attach furniture to walls to prevent the risk of tipping.
  • Do not leave infants alone atop high places such as a bed or couch.
  • Make sure bunkbeds have secure railings.

Parents may do everything in their power to keep their children safe from head injuries at home. While they can monitor their home environment, they have no control over outside circumstances that may cause their child to suffer a TBI.

If your child has sustained a catastrophic brain injury due to the negligence of another party, you need a skilled brain injury lawyer. Contact Joyce & Reyes to learn how we can help you pursue compensation for your child’s injuries.

Five electric scooter safety tips for Tampa residents

Electric scooters, commonly known as e-scooters, have quickly become popular in Tampa since their launch this summer as part of a yearlong pilot program. Although e-scooters serve as a convenient, ecofriendly mode of transportation, they can also pose safety hazards. For instance, riders may lose control and enter traffic or hit pedestrians.

The presence of e-scooters has impacted the city’s pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who must now be on the lookout for them. Numerous injuries have been reported. In one accident, a 33-year-old man suffered fatal injuries when his Lime e-scooter swerved into a tanker truck’s path. He was not wearing a helmet.

With the arrival of e-scooters, Tampa residents can benefit from taking some precautions to avoid getting hurt or injuring others in an accident. Here are some simple tips for e-scooter riders to remember:

  • Inspect the e-scooter before hopping on to make sure its wheels, brakes and other parts are working properly. If you have never been on one before, doing a test ride in an open, uncrowded area might be helpful.
  • Wear a helmet, even though it is not required under Florida law. Helmets can protect you from concussions or serious brain injuries due to a fall.
  • Ride solo.Since e-scooters are built for only one rider, riding tandem increases the risk of equipment malfunctions or losing balance.
  • Focus on your surroundings. Many e-scooter accidents occur because the rider failed to pay attention to the road conditions or was unaware of the weather. Avoid distractions like using your cellphone or listening to music while riding an e-scooter. Otherwise, you may easily miss seeing pedestrians, cars and other riders.
  • Make sure to park e-scooters safely so that they are out of the way and not blocking sidewalks or building entrances. Otherwise, people can trip over them.

E-scooters are relatively new in Tampa, and the rules governing their use are still evolving. If you have been injured in an e-scooter accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Joyce and Reyes to learn how we can help.

Howard Frankland Bridge crash highlights dangers of reckless driving

Reckless driving involves failing to prioritize safety, disregarding the rules of the road and ignoring the consequences of your driving practices when behind the wheel. Unfortunately, far too many drivers engage in reckless driving behaviors that put themselves and others at risk of suffering serious injuries or even death due to auto accidents.

In a recent Florida crash, a man died after his SUV flew over the Howard Frankland Bridge barrier and into Tampa Bay. Officials said the two drivers involved in the fatal accident were driving “aggressively and recklessly” and seemed to provoke each other.

National data indicates reckless driving is becoming more and more common. In a 2016 study, the American Automobile Association found that around eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme road rage, including exiting their vehicle to confront another driver or slamming into another car on purpose.

In Florida, drivers can be cited for reckless driving. However, reckless driving tends to go unnoticed by law enforcement officials until it occurs in connection with a crash. An auto accident can be attributed to reckless driving and driver negligence if it is caused by behaviors such as speeding, passing dangerously, drunk driving, tailgating, using a cellphone or other distracted driving practices.

Although you may have no control over reckless drivers, you can choose how you react to them. The key to safe driving is for drivers is to remain calm and make every effort to minimize conflict on the road. It is best not to engage with drivers who are displaying aggressive behaviors, such as gesturing or shouting. Responding in a heated manner will only escalate the situation and lead to potentially dangerous consequences.

If you see someone driving recklessly, you can call the police and let them handle the situation. If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident with a reckless driver, contact Joyce and Reyes to learn how you can pursue compensation.

What to do after a Lyft accident?

If you were in an automobile accident with a Lyft vehicle, there are certain things you can do while at the accident scene, if you can. Taking the following steps can help when you and your Lyft accident lawyer are fighting for fair compensation for your injuries. Below is a short list of steps:

  • Call 911. Call 911 as quickly as possible. The quicker an ambulance and EMTs get to the scene to help the injured, the better chances these people, including yourself, have a chance to survive and recover. Also, you want the police there to direct traffic. Further, the police will begin to investigate the cause of the accident and create an accident. This report can be used by your Lyft accident lawyer in a future lawsuit.
  • Collect insurance information. Get the information about every insurance policy that may be relevant to the crash. Because Lyft drivers are independent contractors, collect insurance information that the Lyft driver purchased on their personal vehicle. In Florida, Lyft must buy an insurance policy on every Lyft vehicle. Make sure the Lyft policy information is obtained. Check the expiration date of the insurance policies.
  • Document what happened. Take photos of the damage to the vehicles, debris on the road and road conditions. Write up your statement of what happened. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of all of the possible witnesses.
  • Look for evidence of intoxication. Observe the at-fault drivers for signs of intoxication. See if the at-fault driver is attempting to hide evidence of intoxication like throwing away empty alcohol bottles or cans. Report suspicious behavior to the investigating officer.
  • Get treatment. Seek medical help immediately after the accident. Even if you think you were not injured, you should see a physician. Some injuries might not be visible right away. Keep all records of appointments and medical bills.
  • Report the crash to Lyft. You can report the crash here. The reason to do this is to ensure that Lyft knows about the car crash as soon as possible.
  • Contact an experienced car accident attorney. Do not attempt to negotiate with the insurance company on your own. Insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible for your injuries. Instead, you should have an experienced legal team on your side, fighting fair compensation that you deserve.

If you have been injured Lyft car accident, contact the lawyers at Joyce & Reyes at (813) 251-2007. The initial consultation is free.

What Florida drivers need to know about the new texting and driving rule

Texting and driving is already illegal in Florida. However, on July 1 it become a primary offense instead of a secondary offense under state law. This means that police officers can pull over drivers solely based on suspicion of texting while driving.

Penalties remain the same. Offenders will receive a $30 base fine plus additional fees for a first violation. Fines will increase for subsequent violations. Drivers caught texting while driving will also have three points added to their driver’s license.

From October 1 the law also aims to enforce a broader ban on cellphone use while driving in a school or construction zone. Following a three-month grace period, officers will start issuing citations for Florida drivers who use handheld devices in these areas from January 1. Drivers will also face enhanced penalties.

Hands-free cellphone use remains legal. In addition, texting at a stoplight or while a vehicle is not moving is not considered an offense.

The change in the law appears to be a response to the rising number of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were over 170 crashes in the state due to texting and driving in 2018. If you have been a victim of an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at Joyce and Reyes Law Firm P.A. to learn how we can help you pursue compensation.

Key steps to take after a motorcycle accident in Florida

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in Florida, chances are you feel confused and unsure about what to do. You may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings and others costs resulting from your injuries. However, it is important to remember that what you do in the aftermath of a crash can have a significant impact on your claim.

Make sure you report the motorcycle accident to police immediately so that they can write out an accident report. The report may be useful in the future if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. Keep a copy of the document for your records.

A motorcycle accident is likely a harrowing experience that are hard to forget. However, details about the scene of the crash can prove invaluable. Try to take photos of your surroundings or take notes. Make sure to get the contact details of the drivers involved. Jot down the names and phone numbers of anyone who may have witnessed the accident.

If you are seriously injured in the motorcycle accident, emergency responders may take you to a hospital for immediate medical treatment. Even if you believe you have not sustained any injuries in the crash, be sure to go see a doctor anyway. Sometimes injuries do not show up immediately and some symptoms, like internal bleeding, may be harder to detect. Remember to hold on to your medical bills and records.

Speak to a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney to find out about the possibility of filing a claim to pursue compensation. Negotiating with insurance companies and the parties responsible for your injuries can be challenging, which is why it is beneficial to have skilled legal representation at your side. Contact Joyce and Reyes Law Firm P.A. to learn more about how we can help.

Arrival of self-driving vehicles on Florida roads raises liability questions

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that allows fully automated cars on state roads without a human driver or anyone else inside the vehicle. While self-driving technology is viewed as the future of transportation, it raises important safety concerns as well as questions about legal implications if accidents occur.

The law only allows fully autonomous cars of levels four or five on public roads. Since they are still being tested, it may be a while before prototypes of driverless vehicles will actually debut in Florida.

The new legislation establishes a legal framework for self-driving vehicles to operate within the state. Carmakers and tech companies like Tesla, Uber, Google and General Motors seeking to test autonomous cars on Florida roads must follow basic safety and insurance regulations.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. Commenting on the potential liability of self-driving cars, he said the state will turn to the example of rides-haring vehicles like Uber for their liability models.

In a semi-autonomous car, the human driver is expected to share responsibility for any accident that occurs. In contrast, fully autonomous vehicles are entirely controlled by self-driving software.

The state law clearly notes the self-driving system is considered the vehicle’s operator when it is engaged. This clause implies the party that built the autonomous technology prototype is responsible in the event of an accident. The risk of liability compels engineers and self-driving software developers to ensure their technology is safe and reliable.

Existing liability laws will apply to accidents resulting from unforeseen events such as poor weather or a deer encounter. When asked about a recent crash in which a Tesla vehicle struck a semitrailer while on autopilot, Brandes said the driver was completely responsible for it since “Tesla isn’t a self-driving car. It really is a level two or a two plus.”

What to do at the scene of a truck accident?

Automobile accidents can be horrible for those involved. Accidents involving trucks are especially devastating. The size and weight of trucks, 80,000 pounds, produces severe damages and injuries.

If you are involved in an accident with a truck, there are many things that you can do at the scene of the accident that can help you and help your lawyer deal with a lawsuit. First, report the crash by calling 911 as soon as possible. First responders will be able to arrive quickly to help the injured. Remember, being in a crash caused by the negligence of an 18-wheeler driver can cause serious injuries.

Calling 911 allows the police to arrive at the scene quickly. Police officers will be able to direct traffic and prevent new accidents. Moreover, a police officer will be able to begin investigating the accident by taking photos, confiscating evidence, collecting contact information and securing the scene of the accident. Police officers can also perform sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests. Additionally, police can generate an accident investigation report that can be used later by your lawyer to help win the fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Before the police arrive, you take additional action, if able, after an accident with a truck. Be aware of the truck driver’s actions. Do they seem intoxicated? Make not if the truck driver is trying to destroy evidence of intoxication, like throwing away alcohol bottles or cans.

Next, attempt to obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident. Moreover, talk and collect this information from any witnesses to the crash.

If possible, take pictures of the scene with your phone. Take photos of the damage to the vehicles, skid marks and debris.

Lastly, be cooperative and honest with the police officers when providing a statement of what happened. Do not leave any details out, even if you think they might not be significant.

Immediately after the crash, get medical help. Even if your injuries do not seem major at the time, see a doctor. Some injuries, like internal bleeding, might not show up immediately. Keep all records of your appointments and medical bills.

When you are able, contact an experienced truck accident attorneys at the Joyce & Reyes Law Firm at (813) 251-2007. The initial consultation is free.