Articles Posted in Insurance

Fire can happen at any home, at any time, destroying property and wreaking havoc on homeowners. What you may not know is that fire damage is one of the most common disasters that affects homes across the United States every year.

As was the case Tuesday evening when lightning struck a house off Glenridge Boulevard in the Sugarmill Woods subdivision in Homosassa, causing the home’s attic to catch fire.

No one was injured.

Many different things can cause house fires, including:

  • Lightning strikes
  • Area wildfires
  • Cooking fires
  • Faulty electrical appliances or wiring
  • Candles

Your homeowner’s insurance will usually cover fire damage to homes and property. However, policy limitations, exclusions, and deductibles may affect the amount what is covered and what amount will be paid to cover the loss. As a homeowner, it is very important to review your homeowner’s insurance policy very carefully to make sure you understand what coverage and exclusions apply. Citrus County is a high risk area, so many homeowner’s insurance companies require property owners to purchase additional coverage to cover fire damage.

As soon as possible after a fire, homeowners should file a claim with the insurance company. Acting fast can speed up the claims process, which means you can start the repairs process sooner.

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A water main break has lead to a portion of Truman Blvd in Beverly Hills to be closed until further notice.

Yesterday, Nov. 14, a water main break caused a huge hole in front of 11 Truman Blvd. A vehicle that had been stuck in the hole has since been removed.

Crews are stilling working to repair the hole and a detour has been put in place. Truman is shut down from S. Washington St. to S. Barbour St.

Officials are asking drivers to avoid this area.

Holes in the roadway can cause a variety of different damages to a vehicle, not to mention cause accidents that result in serious injuries. Typical damages to a vehicle include:

  • Tire blow outs
  • Under carriage damage
  • Fender damage
  • Cracked rim
  • Total loss of vehicle
  • Airbag deployment

Roads are supposed to be properly maintained so they are suitable for driving and free from defects, sinkholes, potholes, etc. Additionally, drivers should be warned when such dangers exist in order to minimize their exposure. Multiple parties can be at fault for any damage related to a hole in the road, and our Citrus County Auto Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help with your claim. We can make sure you recover financial compensation for your damages.

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One person was killed Wednesday in a mobile home fire in Dunnellon.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and Crystal River Fire Department, the fire broke out just after 11 a.m.

Fire officials believe a man was sleeping in the home when the fire broke out, but he managed to escape through a window. Another person became trapped in the home and could not escape.

The man who escaped told officials he tried to help the other person, but could not save that person due to the flames.

The survivor was taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

By the time firefighters arrived, the home was almost completely engulfed in flames.

The mobile home has been declared a total loss. The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the fire.

Around 22,000 fires occur in mobile homes annually, killing 500 people and injuring 1,000. Sadly, fire death rates for mobile homes are two times higher than those in other types of dwellings. The leading cause of mobile home fires are faulty electrical and heating equipment.

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On Wednesday, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in the state of Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Hermine.

Hermine, the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005, dumped several inches of rain on Florida and caused major flooding issues.

The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected people in Citrus, Dixie, Hernando, Hillsborough, Leon, Levy, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help residents and business owners recover.

Federal funding also is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofits on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities. That’s in place for Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Pasco, Pinellas, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance Thursday by registering online or calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing- or speech-impaired.

The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7am to 9pm seven days a week until further notice.

Our Citrus County Hurricane & Storm Damage Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you file a claim with your insurance company to cover property damage. We will work to make sure you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve if your insurance claim was unfairly denied, delayed or underpaid. We will do whatever it takes to help you recover what you deserve.

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A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows new data that concludes when speed limits are raised, fatal accidents also increase. Forty-one states were analyzed over a period of twenty years from 1993 to 2013. During this study period, 33,000 auto accident deaths occurred.

The study took into consideration various factors when analyzing their results, including alcohol consumption, the number of drivers between the ages of 16 to 24 per capita, the state’s geography and the types of roadways traveled.

It was determined that the number of fatalities rose 8 percent per 5 mph increase on interstates and freeways.

In 1973, Congress established a 55 mph maximum speed limit. This was not done actually imposed for safety reasons, though. Rather, it was enforced because there was a fuel shortage at the time. In 1987, the limits were raised to 65 mph on rural interstates and in 1995, states could enforce their own limits. Currently, six states have allowed speeds of up to 80 mph, and in Texas, drivers can legally drive at 85 mph on certain roads.

In Florida, speed limits on state highways up to the following maximums: 70 mph on Interstates, 65 mph on a four-lane divided highway outside an urban area (with a population of 5,000 or more), and 60 mph on other state highways.

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A summer without multiple trips to the pool just would not make sense. It’s hot in Florida, so cooling off poolside is a MUST!

With everything good, comes some bad, and unfortunately, pools can be danger zones for kids. Fortunately, the following safety tips can help you and your youngsters stay cool and safe.

Adult Supervision Is A Must!

Kids need to be monitored 24/7 by an adult anytime they are near water. Teenagers do not count, so make sure an adult is keeping an eye on the children. Turning your head, even just for a minute, could be disastrous. Practice the 10/20 rule: Check the pool every 10 seconds and make sure you are close enough to get to a child in distress within 20 seconds if needed.

Safety Devices Are Not Foolproof

Children can easily fall off pool floats and those “water wings” can puncture and deflate. Life jackets are best, but they should be replaced when they are torn or worn and no longer fit.

Make Sure Your Cell Phone Is Fully Charged & Close By

Having a phone handy could save a life if a medical emergency arises. On a side note, having your address posted in a spot that is easily accessible for guests can help should an emergency operator need it.

Kiddie Pools Should Be Emptied After Each Use

Small children can easily drown in shallow water. They lack the upper body strength to pull themselves up. If you leave a kiddie pool full of water in the backyard, or anywhere near the house, a child could fall in and drown.

Install A Fence And Gate Around Larger Pools

A fence with a gate makes it a lot harder for small children to gain access to the pool unsupervised. With that said, remove any stacked lawn chairs or anything that can be used to climb over the fence – children can be very resourceful!

Curb The Alcohol

Pool parties and barbecues usually involve alcohol. Excessive drinking can cause your focus to fall away from supervising little ones.

Limit the Horseplay

Leave those cannonballs and backflips to the professionals. Kids can easily get hurt playing around and diving and trying out crazy tricks.

If you or a loved one is injured in a swimming pool accident, our Citrus County Swimming Pool Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help.

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Summer is here, and our Citrus County ATV Accident Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to warn parents about the dangers of children riding adult ATVs.

During the 2015 Memorial Day holiday weekend, there were at least 13 deaths and an estimated 2,900 emergency room treated injuries associated with ATV usage, according to reports gathered by the CPSC. Reports for the six Memorial Day holiday weekends from 2009 to 2014 show a total of more than 114 ATV-related fatalities.

While these all terrain vehicles are fun to tool around on, the fact is that they can be quite dangerous when not handled properly. The CPSC has released the following safety tips to keep children safe this summer:

  • Do not allow children to ride ATVs that are meant for adults. Children under the age of 16 should only operate youth model ATVs appropriate for their age.
  • Do not let children younger than 6 on an ATV.
  • Make sure children wear a helmet and other protective gear that fits them right whenever they are on an ATV.

The following safety tips will keep children and adults safe while using ATVs:

  • Avoid travelling on paved roads.
  • Do not operate ATVs with a passenger or ride as a passenger.
  • Always wear a helmet and other protective gear, including eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Drive at a safe speed and exercise caution when turning and crossing slopes.

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Memorial Day weekend is here and this marks the unofficial start of  summer! The three-day weekend is generally filled with family activities, parties with friends and, of course, road trips! Lots of these events involve alcohol, and with a high number of drivers on the roadway this weekend, getting behind the wheel after drinking can have devastating consequences.

The risk of being involved in a car accident increases significantly around holidays. The National Safety Council reports that there has been an 11.5 percent average increase in fatal traffic accidents during the Memorial Day weekend over the past six years, compared to other summer weekends. According to the NSC, there could be more than 400 car accident fatalities and another 43,500 injuries that require medical attention this weekend. In 2010, there were 397 deaths over Memorial Day weekend and 40 percent were alcohol-related.

If you keep a few simple safety tips in mind, you can avoid injuries, and keep you and your family safe this Memorial Day weekend:

  • Refrain from using your cell phone to talk or text while driving.
  • Always buckle up, regardless of how far or short your trip is! Make sure all backseat passengers are buckled up, too.
  • Obey posted speed limits, and don’t rush to get to your destination.
  • Do not drive while distracted or drowsy. Drowsy driving can actually be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
  • If you plan on drinking, have a plan on how to get home safe. Remember, even a small amount of alcohol can impair your judgment and affect your reaction time.

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An Inverness teenager died from her injuries Tuesday, two days after she and her brother were hit by a suspected drunk driver.

The 14-year-old died Tuesday night at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. She and her 13-year-old brother had been at the hospital since Sunday afternoon, when they were hit by an SUV.

The teen’s family said she was taken off life support Tuesday night and has since passed away. Her organs were donated.

Her brother, who was taken to the hospital in critical condition, has undergone several surgeries. He remains in the hospital.

The brother and sister were riding on the same bike north on Independence Highway when a 40-year-old Inverness man drove up behind them, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The man crossed the center double solid line in an attempt to overtake them, but the teens swerved into the path of the SUV, and both were thrown from the bike.

Investigators are unsure as to why the teens swerved.

The man was arrested on charges of driving under the influence.

Nothing is more devastating than losing a family member or loved one in a collision caused by a drunk driver. These accidents are 100 percent preventable, making the situation that much more tragic. When an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a car and kills someone, families are left grieving and unsure about what to do next.

At Whittel & Melton, our Citrus County Auto Accident Lawyers represent families who have lost loved ones in fatal DUI accidents. We work to obtain financial compensation for the survivors by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. We will aggressively pursue the drunk driver as well as the establishment that may have served the drunk driver. We know that no amount of money can replace your loved one, but it can help you now and in the future so that you can mourn without the added stress of worrying about money.

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We all are aware that driving is a task that requires 100-percent of our concentration. Anything less and you risk being involved in a serious accident. Sadly, very few people follow this unwritten rule.

Whether it be texting and driving or driving drunk, new figures show that 87 percent of all drivers have admitted to risky behaviors while behind the wheel. The study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers are constantly distracted by technology, the lack of sleep or drugs and alcohol.

AAA broke down the study into different categories researchers considered to be unsafe behaviors: Distracted Driving, Drowsy Driving, Impaired Driving, Red-Light Running, Seat Belt Use, and Speeding.

According to the study that polled nearly 2,500 licensed drivers, most drivers think distracted driving is a bigger problem today than it was three years ago. Still, more than 2 in 5 drivers admitted to reading a text message or an email while driving in the past 30 days.

Nearly 70 percent of the drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving.

Impaired driving was found also found to be quite prevalent among the drivers polled. More than 1 in 8 drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel when their alcohol level may have been near or above the legal limit.

Drunk driving crashes cost the country more than $50 billion each year.

Our Citrus County Auto Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton hope this research influences drivers to eliminate their risky behaviors while behind the wheel. Not only will this save you money and the headaches associated with any legal action, but it could also save your life.

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