Citrus County Personal Injury Lawyers | Whittel & Melton, LLC | Inverness, Crystal River

The Citrus County Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed solely to assisting injury victims and their families attain justice. We represent clients throughout Inverness and Crystal River in every type of personal injury matter, varying from car accidents, motorcycle collisions and medical malpractice. When someone else’s negligence contributes to the death of a loved one, we can pursue a wrongful death claim on the family’s behalf. Our team of capable trial attorneys can make sure your rights and interests remain protected from start to finish. With Whittel & Melton, you can be certain all of your questions will be answered and that your recovery will be maximized.

Don’t Face the Judge Alone! Beverly Hills, Lecanto, Homosassa, Dunellon

Many questions surface after an accident. Do I need to contact my insurance company? What if an insurance adjuster calls me? Who is going to pay for my medical expenses? Will I have to go to court? What is my case worth? How will I take care of my family while I’m out of work? These questions cannot be ignored after you are involved in an accident. At Whittel & Melton, we can help you and your family members obtain the answers you are looking for.

Personal injury law can be challenging, and attempting to handle your injury or wrongful death claim alone can further complicate matters and result in unfair or inadequate compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an accident throughout Citrus County, we can help. Your initial consultation is always free, and you will not pay us any fees unless we recover compensation for you. Contact Whittel & Melton today.

Proudly Serving Clients in Inverness, Crystal River, Beverly Hills, Lecanto, Homosassa, Dunnellon, Hernando, Sugarmill Woods, Citrus Springs and Floral City.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that children dying from being trapped inside hot cars has reached a record high. Children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left or became trapped, has resulted in 53 child deaths in 2018, the most in more than 20 years. 

This year, there have been 40 such deaths as of September 9, according to NoHeatstroke.org.

More than half of vehicular heatstroke cases from 1998 to 2018 were because an adult forgot about a child, according to reports. The trends in these incidents is as follows:  

About 44% of the time, the caregiver meant to drop the child off at daycare or preschool. 

The end of the workweek, Thursdays and Fridays, saw the highest number of deaths.

You might be wondering how this happens, but this is an issue that has affected many families. Our Citrus County Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton hope this will serve as a reminder to keep you alert, avoiding distractions, and putting safeguards in place so your child is never left in the backseat.

Tips for Adults With Children in the Car

Hot car deaths occur most often because the person forgets there is a child in the back seat. Leave something, such as your purse, wallet, or phone in the back seat. This will require you to check the area before you leave your vehicle. 

Vehicular heatstroke deaths do not just happen when a child is forgotten. The second leading cause (26%) of such deaths are children getting into unattended vehicles, according to NoHeatstroke.org. The best habit to avoid this is to lock your car doors and trunk, year-round. The temperature inside a car can reach 110 degrees, even when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees. Temperatures can reach over 125°F in 20 minutes for a vehicle left in the summertime heat. The temperature can reach 140°F within 40 minutes which is a temperature increase of over 45° above the temperature outside the vehicle.

Tips for Keeping Children Out of Cars

All types of vehicular heatstroke deaths are entirely preventable, but the third leading cause of these deaths—knowingly leaving a child—is the most preventable. Never leave a child alone in a parked car, even with the windows rolled down or the air conditioning on. A child’s body temperature can rise three to five times faster than an adult’s. 

If you happen to see a child alone in a vehicle:

  • Check to see that the child is okay and responsive. If not, call 911 immediately. 
  • If the child appears to be okay, try to locate the parents or have the facility’s security or management page the car owner over an intercom system. 
  • If the child is not responsive and appears to be in distress, do everything you can to get to the child, even if it means breaking a window. Just like many states, Florida has “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from lawsuits for getting involved to help a person in an emergency. According to the Florida Good Samaritan Act, “any person, including those licensed to practice medicine” who willingly, and in good faith, provides emergency care or treatment to another in an emergency situation shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of such aid or treatment.

Heat stroke can happen relatively quickly in Florida’s climate. 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion are:

  • dark urine
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • nausea
  • damp skin
  • headaches

Symptoms of heat stroke are:

  • fever in excess of 104°
  • loss of consciousness
  • rapid shallow breathing
  • weakened pulse
  • seizure
  • irrational behavior or confusion

So, what is the law on leaving children unsupervised in a vehicle? Under Florida law, Section 316.6135, “A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes.” 

Children and hot cars can be a lethal combination. Our Citrus County Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to remind you to not take any chances when it comes to the safety of your child. Always look in the front and back of the vehicle before locking the door and walking away. 

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Hurricane season begins on June 1, and it is best to prepare for the season before this date. You will want to know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind. Our Citrus County Hurricane Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton encourage you to look into the following before a tropical storm or hurricane hits: 

  • Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation area by contacting your local government/emergency management office or by checking the evacuation site website.
  • Put together a basic emergency kit with flashlights, generators and storm shutters.
  • Before an emergency strikes, plan your evacuation strategy and discuss it with your family. Discuss where you will go and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. 
  • Review your insurance policies to make sure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property. Remember flood insurance is separate from your home insurance policy. 
  • Understand NWS forecast products, especially the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.

As Hurricane Dorian looms over our Citrus County community, be prepared to evacuate. You will want to allow enough time to pack and inform friends and family if you need to leave your home. We also encourage you to do the following: 

  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 inch exterior grade or marine plywood, built to fit, and ready to install. 
  • Check the websites of your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management office. Find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or other radio or TV stations for the latest storm news.
  • Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if ordered!

If NOT ordered to evacuate:

  • Ride out the storm in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level during the storm. Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can.
  • Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
  • If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm, but on the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force winds coming from the opposite direction.

After a tropical storm or hurricane, there are a few other safety tips we stand by. 

  • If you evacuated, only return home when officials say it is safe.
  • Once you are home, walk carefully around the outside of your home to check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage.
  • Get out if you smell gas, or if floodwaters remain around the building. 
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms in areas dealing with power outages. Do not use a portable generator inside your home or garage. 

Call Us For Help After a Tropical Storm or Hurricane

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Prom season is here, which is a very exciting time in your teen’s life. Unfortunately, the months of April, May, and June are the most dangerous times for high school students.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. Texting or using social media while driving is quite common among teen drivers. Of the 3,166 people killed in distraction-related crashes in 2017, 229 were teens 15 to 19 years old.

To help reduce teen deaths and injuries and encourage safe driving, our Citrus County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want to encourages high school students to make safe driving choices.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has some great tips for both teens and parents to keep prom night safe.

Teens

Pay Attention: Avoid distractions in the car and save the #JustDrive. Save the selfies for prom.

Slow Down: Speeding was a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Faster speeds are especially dangerous for young drivers as this cna limit driver reaction times. Follow the speed limit and get to your destination safely.

Stay Alert: Prom and after parties can go pretty late, so get home before the exhaustion hits or stay with a friend so you can avoid driving drowsy.

Buckle Up: Nearly half of young drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 weren’t wearing seat belts. Every time you get in the car, buckle up.

Drive Sober: You must be 21 to legally drink, so alcohol should not be an issue, but if you have gotten your hands on some alcohol, then hand your keys over. Get a sober driver to take you home.

Parents

Hire a Ride: Many parents choose to get their teens a chauffeur for the night to ease the worry of inexperienced teen drivers on the road. Talk to other parents and see if splurging for the night is something you all can do.

Set the Rules: If your teen insists on driving to prom, then sit down and discuss safe driving practices and what is expected of them behind the wheel.

Open Your Home: Prom night goes late. Encourage your teen to have friends sleep over to keep them off the roads. Some snacks and non-alcoholic beverages can make for s fun and sober after prom party.

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A 9-year-old Ocala boy was killed in a boat crash in Crystal River recently, according to wildlife officials.

The boy’s family was on a fishing trip at Crystal River Preserve State Park in Citrus County when the recreational open bay boat that his father was driving hit a channel marker.

The boy, who was wearing a life vest, was thrown from the boat, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said.

He was taken to Bayfront Health Seven Rivers hospital in Crystal River, then flown to All Children’s hospital, where he died.

The crash is under investigation, FWC said.

Boating accidents in Florida are not uncommon. In fact, the state of Florida has over one million registered boats. With that many peope on the waterways, it is no surprise that Florida has the highest number of boating fatalities, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Many boating accidents involve collisions with docks, other boats, bridges, barges, or channel markers. Because boats have no brakes and the waterways have no stop signs or traffic lights to guide boaters, boating safety knowledge and common sense are a must for all boat operators. Just one simple mistake can result in serious injuries, or even death.

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A 77-year-old man was killed and a 74-year-old woman was seriously hurt Sunday when their vehicle turned into the path of a pickup truck, troopers say.

The crash happened at about 11 a.m. on U.S. Highway 19 at the intersection of Turkey Oak Drive in Citrus County.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a 2012 Subaru Outback was headed south on U.S. Highway 19 when it tried to turn left onto Turkey Oak Drive, but traveled into the path of a 2000 Dodge Ram.

The passenger of the 2012 Subaru Outback was pronounced dead at the scene; the driver was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center with serious injuries.

The driver of the Dodge Ram and her 6-year-old passenger were not hurt.

All four people were wearing seat belts, troopers said.

While you can’t control what careless or reckless motorists do, you can take control of your life after a collision causes injury or the death of a loved one. The road to recovery starts by contacting our Citrus County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton who will protect your rights, seek the financial compensation you deserve and ultimately help to relieve any additional stress.

We will conduct a comprehensive investigation to determine if another person is liable for your suffering. Once the at-fault party is identified, we can aggressively pursue financial compensation for you.
We will start by visiting the accident scene to gather evidence and take photographs. We will talk to witnesses, obtain the police report, and even bring in an expert to reconstruct the accident. We will handle all the complex issues to make the process simple and straightforward for you. Our goal is to handle everything on your behalf so that you can focus on your health and healing.

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A 19-year-old was killed in a motorcycle accident early Sunday morning in Citrus County.

The crash occurred shortly after midnight at E. Gulf to Lake Highway and S. Lois Terrace.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a Mercury Marquis traveling westbound on E. Gulf to Lake Highway attempted to turn left at S. Lois Terrace and entered the path of a motorcycle.

The motorcycle ended up colliding with the right rear side of the Mercury, causing fatal injuries to the motorcyclist.

Troopers said the 19-year-old died at the scene.

The driver of the Mercury was not injured in the crash, however the passenger was seriously injured and transported to Ocala Regional Hospital.

The crash, which is still under investigation, caused the road to be shut down until 3:40 a.m.

According to the report, charges are pending.

Motorcyclists lack the same protections as a passenger vehicle, so they are exposed to the elements. When they are thrown from their bikes or pinned in a crash, it is common for them to suffer catastrophic injuries, such as:

If someone you love has been killed in a motorcycle accident, you should contact our Citrus County Motorcycle Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton to determine whether a wrongful death action can be taken against the negligent driver.

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Citrus County authorities have released details about a baby killed by a family pet dog.

The incident happened two weeks ago at a home on West Ranchetta Street in Dunnellon.

According to the family, the pit bull jumped onto a bed next to a cradle where the girl was located and attacked the infant while the grandmother was in another room.

When family members realized what happened, the child’s grandfather began performing CPR on the child, and help was called.

The child was airlifted to a local hospital but died about 90 minutes later. The county’s Animal Control unit took control of the dog, which has been euthanized.

The death was ruled accidental.

According to reports, from 1982 to December 31, 2017, there were 389 reported deaths from a pit bull attack. In 2017, 12 different dog breeds caused fatalities, including Akita, Boxer mix, and German Shepherds. A 5-year study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that 50.9% of dog bites to children were from pit bulls. The next most common occurrence was from Rottweilers at 8.9%.

Pit bulls are just a small fraction of the dogs that bite each year. With almost 80 million dogs in the US, it is important to be educated on proper dog safety, especially if you have children sharing the home with a dog.

All dogs can be dangerous, not just pit bulls. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a dog attack, you may be able to file a negligence claim against the owner of the dog. This includes someone who is keeping the dog, has the dog under their care or allows the dog to be on their personal premise.

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Thanksgiving is almost here and millions of Americans will sit down for a festive and hearty meal. Americans consume billions of dollars of turkey every holiday season, with 88% of Thanksgiving meals including turkey on the menu. While turkeys are one of the most anticipated aspects of Thanksgiving, they can lead to serious problems in the kitchen!

Fire Hazards

The No. 1 turkey-related tragedy is fires. With so many dishes to prepare, many cooks find themselves easily distracted. If a turkey, or any other dish, is left unattended, it can overheat and catch fire, leading to danger. In order to prevent a meal mishap, the turkey and other dishes should be carefully monitored while they cook.

You should have a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to deal with different types of fires. Keep children and pets out of the kitchen while you cook, and stay focused on your tasks and timers.

Don’t Leave Out the Leftovers

Food poisoning can be a huge issue over the holidays. Most people want to relax and watch football after their large turkey dinner, but it is very important to put away the leftover food. If food is left out and uncovered, it can quickly pick up bacteria, which can lead to unpleasant illness after consumption. To prevent foodborne illnesses, all leftovers should be promptly refrigerated, and food that has been sitting out for more than two hours should be tossed.

For a successful Thanksgiving, take kitchen safety precautions, watch out for any recalled products, from contaminated meats to faulty ovens, and of course, remember to be thankful and enjoy your day with loved ones!

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An 81-year-old man was killed in a head-on collision after his vehicle veered into the wrong lanes.

The 81-year-old Inverness man was traveling eastbound on East Gulf to Lake Hwy in his Honda Odyssey when for an unknown reason, his vehicle traveled into the westbound lanes.

Troopers said the Honda collided head-on with a Toyota Camry.

The crash occurred at about 7:25 p.m. on Saturday.

The 81-year-old man was transported to Citrus Memorial Hospital where he died from his injuries. The driver of the Camry was transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center in serious condition.

A head-on collision is when two vehicles meet nose-to-nose or front-end-to-front-end. This usually happens because one driver is travelling in the wrong direction, but these crashes can also happen at intersections. Head-on collisions, in particular, can be more serious than other car accidents due to the speed that the vehicles may be going right before the collision. Safety features such as airbags, restraint systems, and antilock brakes can mitigate damages, however, serious injuries can still result from these types of impacts.

The injuries that can result from a head-on collision can be very serious and even result in death. For this reason, it is crucial that a person injured in a head-on collision in Citrus County contact our Citrus County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton right away. We can prepare a strong case and to fight for the compensation that you or your loved ones deserve.

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A 22-year-old woman from Crystal River was killed in an early-morning motorcycle crash Tuesday.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the woman died in a crash on West Fort Island Trail in Citrus County.  

Troopers said the woman was a passenger on a 2012 Yamaha motorcycle just after midnight when the driver failed to negotiate a sharp curve, went off the road and collided with a tree.  

The 30-year-old Homosassa man driving the motorcycle suffered critical injuries and remains at Bayonet Point Hospital.

The woman died at the scene.

Troopers said neither the woman nor the driver were wearing a helmet.

One in every five motorcycle crashes reported results in head or neck injuries. Head injuries are just as severe as neck injuries and are actually a lot more common. Research shows that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of neck or head injury. You are three times more likely to suffer an injury or death than those wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Florida laws are more lenient when it comes to helmet rules. A person over 21 may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing a helmet if they are covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.

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