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 Fourth of July is quickly approaching, and fun activities are in store for those in Crystal River and the surrounding areas such as fireworks, boating, swimming, grilling, and more. As the long weekend nears, it is extremely important for people to be aware of the dangers that could arise and how they can potentially be on the hook for any liability when injuries happen. Our Citrus County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton encourage everyone to prepare themselves for the dangers that could arise this holiday weekend so that everyone can stay safe this Fourth of July.

Blue-Red-White-Fireworks-Independence-Day-Greeting-Fourth-of-July-Facebook-Post-300x251Fireworks Safety in Crystal River

Fireworks can be dangerous, and even deadly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported fireworks were involved in about 15,600 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2020. Accidents involving fireworks that happen on your property could mean that you are liable for any mishaps. Do not allow anyone to come on your property and shoot off fireworks or sparklers in an unsafe way as you (the homeowner) could be held accountable for any property damage or injuries, like serious eye injuries, burns, and hearing loss.

Drinking and Driving in Crystal River

The Fourth of July holiday usually goes hand in hand with drinking with friends and family. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that from 2015 to 2019, 1,339 drivers were killed in car accidents over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Of those, 38% of the drivers that were killed were found to be driving drunk.

Remember, that when you choose to drink and get behind the wheel of a car, you can be liable for a crash that you cause. If you plan to consume alcohol over the Fourth of July, then plan a sober ride home. If you host a party where a guest is overserved, then you can be held liable if someone happens to them, so make sure that you take away car keys from someone who is inebriated and that you have alternative transportation planned for guests or a place where they can sleep it off.

Boating Safety in Crystal River

Boating accidents over the Fourth of July holiday weekend increase substantially. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary reports that the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, account for over one-third of all boating accidents and deaths annually.

If you take people out on your boat this holiday weekend and an accident result from negligence, then you can be held liable. This is why you must take all necessary precautions when heading out on the water:

  • Always wear a life jacket and have enough life jackets that fit all of your guests
  • Never drink and operate a boat
  • Make sure your radio is properly working
  • Make sure your boat is in proper working condition
  • Always be on the lookout for other boats and any debris in the water

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Florida lawmakers approved a plan just weeks ago that would bring about a change in staffing standards for nursing homes.

The Senate voted 28-9 to pass the bill (HB 1239), which was approved by the House in an 80-31 vote.

The staffing issues centered on changes for certified nursing assistants, who are the ones providing much of the care to residents in nursing homes.

Unintentional injuries and mistakes made by medical health professionals are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 200,955 patient deaths in 2020 alone.

When we get sick, we go to a trusted physician for medical treatments and procedures that will improve our health, not worsen our condition. Sadly, numerous patients die every year in hospitals across the U.S. due to preventable medical errors. Lawsuits against doctors and hospitals alleging medical negligence vary by state, but annually there are about 85,000 medical malpractice claims filed each year.

surgery-gc07ec7002_1920-300x200Here are five medical malpractice facts that are less widely known, but should be something on everyone’s radar:

  1. Most medical malpractice claims arise from the misdiagnosis of an illness, injury, or disease. The most commonly misdiagnosed cancer is lymphoma as the symptoms associated with this blood cancer are also associated with less severe conditions.
  2. Medical negligence can happen at any time over the course of a patient’s care: during the diagnostic phase, during treatment, during a surgical procedure, through prescribed medications, and even during follow-up care.
  3. A good amount of medical malpractice cases stem from sexual misconduct from a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or caregiver.
  4. One out of every three patients will be a victim of medical malpractice while in the hospital for treatment.
  5. One out of every 5 patients will be given incorrect medical dosages during their hospital stay.

What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Anytime a person suffers harm because of a medical error, they can file a medical malpractice lawsuit for financial compensation for their lost wages, medical bills, ongoing treatment costs, rehabilitation and physical therapy, and pain and suffering.

In order for a lawsuit to be successful, there are 3 things that must be proven by your Medical Malpractice Lawyer in court. 1.) a physical or emotional injury must have been caused by a medical professional; 2.) sufficient evidence must be linked to the injury and the medical professional in question; 3.) a breach of duty by the medical professional must be demonstrated showing that a medical professional of the same education and training would have acted differently when faced with a similar situation. Continue reading

Making the decision to place your loved one in a nursing home is a huge decision, and one that many Citrus County residents face every year. It can be a daunting task to select the best place to move your loved one to and make sure that they get the best possible medical care.

If you are facing this tough choice currently, then our Citrus County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton recommend that you do your homework on these facilities as the care provided can vary greatly from one facility to another.

Medicare has a ranking system for all nursing homes, hospitals, and other providers for the entire country. Their ranking system is based on staffing, quality measures, and health inspections and based on these findings, a facility is given between one and five stars – one being the lowest and five being the highest. If you are interested in seeing where a facility you are interested in falls on the Medicare rankings, you can view them by visiting the Medicare site here.

Another factor that may sway your decision is whether or not your insurance is taken at the facility. Most nursing homes accept a wide range of health insurance plans, but some only accept certain types. When you are shopping around for the right nursing home, you can ask about what insurance plans they accept as well as other payment options.

wrist-watch-ga9fedbe05_1920-300x125Perhaps the most important thing to do when selecting the right nursing home for a loved one is to visit them in person. Go visit these facilities and take tours. Have a list of questions ready for staff members and take your own notes when visiting. You will want to see what options of activities are available for residents, room designs, the level of care and attention the staff provides to residents, housing preferences, and the facility’s relationships with doctors and hospitals. You can make a scheduled tour through the nursing home and we also recommend popping in unexpectedly to experience the home as it is on a typical day where you are not expected.

If you are placing a loved one in a nursing home in the immediate future, then we strongly recommend that you visit your loved one often and irregularly so that your arrival is not anticipated. There are many studies out there that suggest that the best care is given to residents in nursing homes that have frequent visitors. Likewise, regular appearances will allow you to quickly spot any red flags of possible nursing home neglect or abuse. Continue reading

A potentially dangerous defect resulted in millions of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP machines) to be recalled in June 2021.

While Philips Respironics, the company who manufactures these CPAP machines, is offering to fix or replace these machines, the wait times have been extended into September 2022. That is a long time for users who rely on these machines to survive to wait. The only other option is to purchase a machine out of pocket from another manufacturer.

Here is a list of the recalled devices:

  • 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

If you or a loved one are in need of a repair or replacement for a Philips CPAP machine, you can apply here.

pillows-g979174480_1280-300x200Side Effects of Using a Defective Philips CPAP Machine

Philips CPAP machines were recalled following complaints that these machines were releasing degraded foam particles and chemical emissions for users to inhale or ingest. The possible symptoms associated with degraded foam exposure include:

  • Irritation or inflammation to the upper airway
  • Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Sinus infections
  • Headaches
  • Kidney, liver, or other organs failing
  • Irritation to the respiratory tract
  • Pressure in chest
  • Chronic cough

Exposure to chemical emissions from Philips CPAP machines can lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Irritation to the respiratory tract
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hypersensitivity

Recover Compensation Through a Philips CPAP Defective Machine Lawsuit

If you suffered harm after using a recalled sleep apnea machine, then you may be eligible to recover financial damages for your losses. These can include all past, present and future medical costs, a replacement CPAP machine, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic losses related to your injuries.

Our Citrus County Phillips CPAP Device Recall Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can review the details of your claim and provide you with a better understanding of the financial compensation that may be available to you. Continue reading

In 2018 there was a 60% increase in the number of elderly drivers on the roadways since 2000. While this might seem like an insignificant statistic, the truth is that older drivers (65+) are at an increased risk of being involved in a fatal crash. In 2018, nearly 7,700 seniors (aged 65+) were killed in car crashes throughout the United States, and another 250,000 were treated in emergency departments for car crash-related injuries. This breaks down to more than 20 adults killed every single day, and other 700 injured.

How to Have a Conversation with Your Elderly Loved One About Driving

While most seniors feel like taking their driving away is a loss of freedom, is your elderly loved one has been in a few car accidents lately or had a close call, them it might be time to have a conversation with them about handing over their car keys. Even if your loved one has not had any accidents, it might still be a good idea to discuss their options moving forward. We know that these conversations are not easy ones to have, but necessary. Our Citrus County Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton strongly encourage you to have these discussions in order to keep everyone in your household safe. It is best to not be confrontational in these situations and use “I” rather than “You” when expressing what you think is best.

motorist-4178353_1920-300x199Identify What the Problems Are with Your Elderly Driver

Elderly drivers often experience new aches and pains, vision loss, and delayed reaction times, all of which can negatively impact their ability to operate a vehicle safely. There are a few good ways to avoid some of the most common problems associated with elderly drivers, such as:

  • If your elderly driver is having problem with their vision, then it may be an option to only have then drive during the daytime when all weather conditions are clear.
  • If your elderly driver has expressed having anxiety during rush hour traffic times, then help them adjust their schedule so that they avoid peak traffic times.
  • If your elderly driver is having memory problems and forgets where they are going when driving, then they may need to drive only if they have a buddy riding shotgun who can take over the wheel if need be.
  • If your elderly driver can no longer get in and out of their car safely or without pain, then they may need swivel or swing-out parts that can assist them in getting in and out of their car easier. There are many devices that you can buy and install that can help with this.
  • If your elderly driver is having problems moving their head or turning their neck when driving, then they may need an additional backup mirror or wider mirrors.

Discuss Ways to Stay Active Without Having a Car

If you have decided that your elderly driver needs to have their keys taken away, then encourage them to remain active. Older adults that can no longer drive might begin to suffer from depression or isolation, so come up with some alternative ideas to help them keep up with their normal routine:

  • Call on neighbors, friends, or other family members to help shuttle your loved one to their frequented places, like the coffee shop, grocery store, or a friend’s house.
  • You can introduce your loved one to public transportation, like buses.
  • Another option for non-drivers is to use a rideshare app to schedule a ride when they need one. Uber and Lyft can be great alternatives to driving yourself.

Review Safe Driving Strategies with Your Elderly Driver

All of us on the road, not only elderly drivers, should implement safe driving habits to keep everyone safe in the event of an accident. Some of these safe driving habits include:

  • Wearing your seatbelt at all times. If your seatbelt is uncomfortable then adjust the shoulder mount or pad. Do not drive any distance without buckling up properly.
  • Limit your distractions. Put phones and other devices away before travelling anywhere.
  • Keep a safe distance between your car and others on the roadway at all times.
  • Driving during daylight hours is always best, especially for elderly drivers with some vision impairment. Many have difficulty seeing at night and the glare of headlights can only make vision problems worse.
  • Inclement weather like snow, fog, rain, or snow can be dangerous for all drivers. Elderly drivers should wait for weather conditions to improve before heading out.
  • Elderly drivers should avoid busy highways as merging can be difficult and busier highways mean more drivers, which can increase their stress levels and quickly lead to them becoming overwhelmed and at an increase of being involved in a car crash.
  • Elderly drivers often take a lot of medications. Some prescription pills come with recommendations to not drive when under their influence, but others do not. Review and read all medications your elderly driver may take and ask the pharmacist if you are unsure of whether it is safe for your loved one to drive while taking them.

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Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, leaving millions without power, roads blocked, and sanitary services like water and sewage disrupted for what could be weeks. With so many people forced to seek shelter elsewhere, many are left wondering what they should expect next. Our Citrus County Hurricane Lawyers at Whittel & Melton encourage everyone to stay alert and be prepared for the remainder of hurricane season, especially if you reside in the Atlantic and Southeastern states.

Every hurricane season, names are given alphabetically to storms starting in June. The National Weather Service always names the hurricanes. The letter “I,” is the ninth letter of the alphabet so that means Ida was the ninth storm of the season, which usually happens at the end of September, which means Hurricane Ida was a month early. Hurricane Ida was also one of the most powerful storms the U.S. has seen, joining a few other “I” storms from the past that also left a lingering impact, 2004’s Ivan and 2017’s Irma.

storm-426788_1920-300x2002021 has been a busy storm season already and looking back at 2020 we can see that there were 30 named storms, including 14 hurricanes (7 of these were major storms), 11 named storms that hit the U.S. coastline, and then Greek letters used for the remainder of the hurricanes that closed the season.

When an elderly person is being abused, sometimes it can be tricky to spot any disturbing signs. Whether they are in a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or staying in their home or the home of a loved one being cared for by a spouse, child, or an in-home nurse, there are usually certain indications that can point to abuse, neglect or exploitation by the caretaker. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has research that shows that 1 in 10 elderly Americans suffer from abuse, which adds up to about 5 million senior citizens every single year. In most cases of abuse, 60% of abusers are family members of the elderly person. Even worse, only 1 in 14 cases are reported to authorities. 

How Can I Spot the Signs of Elder Abuse? 

You may notice physical changes and even behavioral changes if someone you know is being abused by a family member or nursing home or assisted living facility staff members. As we mentioned above, not all signs of abuse are easy to spot, but some signs are big red flags, including:  

  • Bruising: if you notice any bruises in odd places or any bruises that cannot be explained then it is best to report your suspicions. 
  • Falls or cuts that cannot be explained
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Dehydration
  • Depression 
  • Pale complexion
  • Malnutrition
  • Bed sores
  • Poor hygiene
  • Personal items, money, credit cards, or checkbooks that are missing 
  • Unattended patients 
  • A patient living in dirty conditions
  • Bugs or rodents present in the the living quarters
  • Lack of proper AC or heating systems

knitting-1809160_1920-300x200How Do I Report My Suspicions of Elderly Abuse? 

The state of Florida takes a strong stance on stopping elderly abuse, which is why it is mandatory to report any suspicions to the proper authorities. If the elderly person you believe is being abused is in immediate danger, then you need to call 911 right away. This ensures that the person will be removed from the dangerous situation and will be safe. 

If you have witnessed anything that you think could be an indication of elderly abuse or neglect, then you need to report your findings to the Florida Abuse Hotline by calling their 24 hour phone line at 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873). Be prepared to press 2 to report your suspicions of elderly abuse and/or neglect. You can also make an online report here. You can fax in a report at 1-800-914-0004 and the TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) is 1-800-453-5145. When making your report, you should include your name and contact information so that you can be connected with any follow up questions. Of course if you wish to remain anonymous you can still file a report that will be investigated. 

If any abuse and/or neglect is happening at a nursing home or assisted living facility, then all complaints will be handled by a state Long Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman. Lori Berndt is the District Ombudsman Manager for Citrus County. Her contact information is: 

Lori Berndt, North Central District Ombudsman Manager

1515 E Silver Springs Blvd. #203

Ocala, FL  34470

Telephone: (352) 620-3088

Fax: (352) 732-1797

How Can Whittel & Melton Help with Elderly Abuse Claims? 

Nursing homes, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and family members who are caretakers of the elderly are required to meet the needs of the elderly patient and make sure that they are taken care of properly. There are far too many elderly victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the U.S. every single year. If you suspect that your loved one’s health is at risk, you should never delay in seeking help  to put a stop to their suffering. Our Citrus County Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Elder Neglect and Abuse Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand the laws that protect your loved one and what can be done to recover justice for any pain and suffering they have endured.  Continue reading

2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199STORM DEDUCTIBLE CONFUSION?!

Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.

DON’T GET FOOLED BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!

First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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american-flag-4231733_1280-300x169Labor Day weekend is associated with the end of summer, which is why most Americans opt to celebrate with family gatherings and other sun social events. Even though this year is a little different considering we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Safety Council still says traffic will be congesting the roadways and fatalities from collisions will still happen. 

Memorial Day through Labor Day is considered the deadliest season for traffic fatalities. In fact, preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that during the 3-day Labor Day weekend for 2019 there were 448 fatalities. The U.S Department of Transportation has reported that since 1982, more fatalities on the roads over Labor Day weekend are the result of drunk or drugged drivers. Distracted drivers, fatigued drivers, and motorists operating their vehicles on unfamiliar roadways are also the main factors that contribute to Labor Day weekend car accidents. 

Our Citrus County Car Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to be safe as you head out driving anywhere this holiday weekend. Whether you are road tripping to another state or just staying close by, we want you and your loved ones to remain accident and injury free this Labor Day weekend. We urge you to remember the following safety tips no matter how close or far you are traveling this weekend.  

Never drink and drive. We already noted that drunk or drugged driving is a leading cause of Labor Day weekend car crashes, so please do not get behind the wheel of a car if you have consumed alcohol or are under the influence of any drugs – this includes prescriptions and over the counter meds that are labeled dangerous if driving. Designate a safe driver for the evening, use Uber or Lyft, call a taxi, or stay put until you are safe to drive home. 

Don’t drive late at night or during the early morning hours. Regardless of your sobriety, stay off the streets between midnight and 3 a.m., as this is when most DUI accidents occur. 

Get your vehicle checked by professionals, to ensure it is in good working condition. You do not want your car to break down during a road trip, so save yourself a headache. Your car needs general maintenance checks regularly, so get your oil changed, have your tires checked, etc. 

Map out your road trip. If you are driving to another state, plan your trip so that you are familiar with the route ahead of time. You want to try and familiarize yourself with the road map so that no surprises catch you off guard. Motorists driving through unfamiliar terrain can lead to serious auto accidents. The better prepared you are for your driving experience, the less likely you will have to panic if the GPS goes awry. You want your main focus to be on the road. 

Limit distractions while driving. Drivers who are distracted can cause fatal car accidents. Distracted driving is a huge problem, so please make your car a distraction-free zone and put your cell phone away, keep your passengers and children preoccupied, and focus your attention on the primary task of driving. 

Give yourself enough time to reach your destination safely. Traffic on Labor Day weekend is unpredictable, so give yourself plenty of extra time in case you get stuck in a traffic jam. Do not speed or engage in any reckless driving behaviors to try and reach your destination quicker. Be patient and drive defensively. 

Our Citrus County Car Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton Can Help Car Crash Victims

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