December 28, 2009

Auto Child Booster Seats Receive New Ratings

41Y%2BUtv3HjL._AA400_.jpgThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just announced new ratings for child booster seats, and the findings could prove vital in keeping your kids safe while in your car. The agency tested 60 different brands of seats, and rated them as “Best Bets”, “Good Bets” and some they do not recommend at all.

Parents should not use just a simple visual inspection or price comparison to select the best option for their children. By researching the IIHS findings, parents can make a much more educated choice for kids who have outgrown child restraints. "We're confident we're giving consumers a solid overview of what they'll find when they shop for their children," says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research, adding that "parents don't need to dig deep into their pocketbooks to buy a booster with good all-around belt fit."

The Institute assessed the boosters using a specially outfitted crash test dummy representing an average-size 6-year-old child. Engineers measured how 3-point lap and shoulder belts fit the dummy in each of the 60 boosters under 4 conditions spanning the range of safety belt configurations in vehicle models. Each booster gets 4 scores for lap belt fit and 4 for shoulder belt fit. The overall rating for each booster is based on the range of scores for each measurement. Child booster seats are made in two main styles – those with high backs and those with just a base pedestal seat. Some are convertible models, with high backs that can be removed.

A complete listing of the results of the IIHS comparison can be found here.

“There are so many parents with good intentions who don’t realize the importance of properly designed and installed child safety seats,” says Attorney PJ Scheiner of the Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, P.A., firm. “This study provides vital information necessary for them to select the best option to fit their child and their vehicle.”

The firm recommends all parents of children who should be using booster seats carefully research their purchase, and make sure the seat is correctly installed. For more information on the dangers of improper child restraint use, we invite you to visit our website at www.focusedonjustice.com.

December 23, 2009

Vehicle Airbags: What You May Not Know…

743960_37921235.jpgSince the invention of the airbag restraint system in the 1970’s, it is true that it has saved the lives of people involved in car crashes. But, some people may not know that the safety feature found now in virtually all cars and passenger trucks can cause serious injuries under some circumstances.

The airbag is deployed in an explosion of a small cartridge that causes the bag to inflate in a fraction of a second. If the driver or passenger is too close to the airbag, or if it is not aimed correctly towards the sternum or chest area, serious injury or even death can occur. Even in event of emergency braking before the impact of a collision, an improperly or unrestrained vehicle occupant is thrown directly towards the airbag module, resulting in an increased risk of serious injury at implosion of the device. If you place an object on top of the passenger side dashboard, where airbags are generally stored, you’re creating a projectile that is thrown toward the occupant at incredible force.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), recommends drivers sit with at least 10 inches between the center of their breastbone and the center of the steering wheel. Children 12 and under should always ride properly restrained in a rear seat. Never put a rear-facing infant restraint in the front seat of a vehicle with a front passenger air bag. A rear-facing infant restraint places an infant's head close to the air bag module, which can cause severe head injuries or death if the air bag deploys.

Almost all air bag-related deaths have involved unrestrained or improperly restrained occupants. Only by using your lap and shoulder harness correctly can you ensure that a deploying airbag will work as it was intended. In some newer, more advanced vehicles, manufacturers have refined airbag restraint system sensors to deploy in relation to the severity of the crash impact, the seated posture of the car’s occupants, the distance of the occupant from the device and the usage of lap and shoulder belts. Some of today’s more sophisticated cars utilize sensors which can detect these variables, and automatically deploy the air bag in a less explosive, staged deployment, or not at all if the impact is not severe. Some vehicles now have side impact air bags, and some have been designed to reduce injury in a rollover accident. Side airbags are not required in vehicles, nor governed by the NHTSA.

“Having been involved in a serious rollover accident with my wife a few years ago, I know the importance of properly restraining yourself while behind the wheel,” says Bruce L. Scheiner, founder and senior attorney of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers. “While airbag systems have been shown to reduce serious injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash, there are certain conditions in which they can actually create an injury.”

The team of expert accident lawyers and support staff at the firm has decades of experience representing those who have been seriously injured in crashes. They urge you to buckle up, and to be sure you are driving a vehicle in which the airbag restraint system is correctly positioned in relationship to the proximity of the driver and passenger. We invite you to learn more by calling us at 1-800-Dial-BLS, or visiting our website at www.focusedonjustice.com.

December 16, 2009

Southwest Florida Streets In Need of More Pedestrian Planning

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With the popular movement to “go green” and help reduce their impact on the environment, many people in Southwest Florida are embracing the more pedestrian methods of transportation – literally. High gas prices and the effort to leave a smaller carbon footprint in their wake are pushing many to seek out alternative ways to get from point A to point B – most notably, by riding a bicycle or simply walking.

However, with the urban sprawl and heavy traffic found in Southwest Florida, the mix of motor vehicles with bicyclists and people on foot can prove to be dangerous, if not deadly. While people may get satisfaction from trying to be more eco-friendly, they are often putting their lives at risk by walking or riding their bikes around our area.

The problem is that very little forethought went into the road planning and real estate development rush of years past when it comes to bicyclists and pedestrians. The lack of sidewalks, underpasses and other thoroughfares designed specifically for bikes and walkers forces them onto the streets, where the interaction with cars and trucks turns into a high-risk cat and mouse game. Those who advocate the use of bikes or walking locally are pushing for new ideas in urban planning, aimed at addressing the need for safer ways to get around, and saving lives in the process. In 2007 and 2008, 32 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists were killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in Lee County alone. The National Safety Council estimates that the cost of such an accident, when factoring in the cost of the accident itself and the economic impact of the loss of a productive life, to be around $4 million. City and County planners and engineers point out that designing and building new roads and sidewalks for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians is expensive, and even retrofitting our current infrastructure can carry a hefty price tag. Clearly, the cost of not doing so needs to be fully understood.

Local advocacy groups like BikeWalk Lee are stepping up their efforts to bring their cause to the forefront. According to their website, BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County - streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. In early December, the group presented letters to Governor Charlie Crist and to the Lee County Legislative Delegation asking that the State enact specific efforts to reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on Southwest Florida roadways. Among their requests is that the Florida Department of transportation designate 22% of state funding on road design and construction to more pedestrian-friendly planning. The organization points out that 22% of all traffic fatalities in Florida involve people on foot or on bicycles.

“Drivers just don’t watch for people walking or riding their bikes as they should”, says PJ Scheiner of the Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers law firm. “We see the tragic results of these accidents in our practice, and applaud the efforts of all the local organizations working to promote a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians”.

If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury while biking or on foot, our experience in fighting for justice can prove invaluable in seeking the financial restitution you deserve. We devote our entire expertise and resources to your individual case, and you are obligated to pay us nothing unless we are successful on your behalf. Contact us at 1-800-Dial-BLS, or visit our website www.focusedonjustice.com.


December 9, 2009

Sky Safety: Are Regional Airlines as Safe as Major Carriers?

plane.jpgThey used to service the small towns and rural areas where the large commercial airlines did not provide service, and some used the term “puddle jumpers” to refer to commuter or small, regional airline services. Today, as a result of the economy, mergers and some larger airline companies going belly up, regional airlines are a growing segment of the air transportation industry. However, many passengers, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, are concerned that the safety standards of both the airplanes and the pilots that fly them may not be up to those of the big commercial carriers.

Almost half of all the flights in the country are operated by regional airlines, and they transport 160 million passengers per year – an increase of 40 percent since 2003. All of the major airlines, such as American, Delta, United, Continental, and US Airways utilize smaller regional carriers to fulfill their routes. Oftentimes, a passenger is unaware that when they purchase a ticket on a major carrier, they will actually be flying a “partner” airline, even though Federal law requires that disclosure. In most cases, regional carriers operate under the names or two-letter codes of the major airlines that hire them. Countless travelers are often surprised when they arrive at their departure gate and see a small, 50-seat aircraft when they were expecting a full-sized commercial jet. Today, it is not uncommon for smaller, regional jets to be used for longer flights than in years past, some for duration of three hours or more.

Some recent incidents involving regional airlines have caused Congress and government regulators to take notice. In February, a flight operated by Colgan Air, owned by a company called Pinnacle Airlines, crashed in Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board, and one on the ground. Investigation of the accident unearthed that the pilots may have had inadequate training and actual flight hours, which may have been a major factor in how they reacted to the warning they received that the plane was about to stall due to icing conditions. The crash has served as a wake-up call for the FAA and those who police the air travel industry, bringing to light serious concerns about pilot training, compensation, hiring practices and even the number of hours a regional pilot and crew are working on each shift of duty. The major carriers require that a pilot applying to fly for them typically have 5,000 to 7,000 hours of flight time under their belts. With the commuter airlines, the standards are much lower – Colgan Air has a pilot on staff that was hired with less than 500 hours of flying time – and that wasn’t even the lowest number of hours among those in his new-hire training class. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in his book Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters comments that, “Regional airlines will now take someone with 200 hours of flying experience and make him or her a first officer.”

Largely due to the information discovered after the crash in Buffalo, Congress passed a bill in October of this year that requires all new pilots hired by any airline have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time.

Poor Performers
Regional carriers routinely rank at the bottom of the Department of Transportation’s monthly reports on things like baggage handling, denied boarding and on-time performance.

Another area of concern is the fatigue factor – many regional pilots and co-pilots often commute long distances between their homes and the airports they fly out of, which can result in inadequate rest between flights. Roger Cohen, the president of the Regional Airline Association, a trade group, estimates that between 50 to 70 percent of pilots commute thousands of miles from the city where they were, in airline parlance, “domiciled”, in order to report for work. The stunning facts uncovered in the investigation of the Buffalo crash have shocked many people.

The spotlight is now focused on the strikingly low pay for new pilots; the rigors of flying multiple flights, at lower altitudes and thus often in worse weather than pilots on longer routes, while scrambling to get enough sleep; and the relative inexperience of pilots at the smaller airlines, whose training standards are the same, but whose skills may not be.

“Four of the six passenger flights that have crashed since September 11th, 2001, have been commuter flights,” points out PJ Scheiner, an experienced pilot and a personal injury attorney with the firm founded by his father almost four decades ago, Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, P.A. “As pilots ourselves, my father and I recognize the importance of stringent safety standards, extensive training and the amount of experience necessary to safely operate a commuter aircraft,” says Scheiner. “Our aviation experience makes us intimately familiar with the rigors of actually being in the cockpit.”

Aviation accident cases require in-depth expertise and a thorough knowledge of aircraft operation. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of an airline accident, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers at 1.800.Dial.BLS or log on to www.focusedonjustice.com

Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, fighting for justice, and aggressively representing your legal rights.

December 7, 2009

Florida Highway Patrol Announces Results of Thanksgiving Holiday Crackdown

FHP safe-guarding our roads during the holiday seasonOver the five day Thanksgiving Holiday period, the Florida Highway Patrol instigated a crackdown on Florida’s roads and highways. Statistics have shown that this holiday is the deadliest time of the year for drivers, due to the increased traffic caused by the large numbers of drivers traveling to family gatherings statewide. Unfortunately, alcohol and drug-impaired motorists are also more prevalent during the peak Thanksgiving travel period.

Because budgetary constraints are hampering the number of officers the FHP has on area roadways, administrative personnel were assigned road duty to assist with the Thanksgiving crackdown. The agency reports that 21 people lost their lives over the holiday period. Just under 8,000 citations were written, with almost 6,000 issued for speeding offenses. Additionally, 157 arrests were made for driving under the influence.

“The Florida Highway Patrol enhanced our patrols to remove unsafe drivers from the streets so that families could reach their destinations safely and enjoy the holiday with friends and loved ones,” said Colonel John Czernis, the agency’s Director. “Throughout the holiday season we will continue our enhanced enforcement efforts, with special emphasis on impaired drivers. Motorists should always designate a sober driver if they plan to consume alcohol.”

The FHP also issued almost 1,400 citations for seat belt violations, and directed troopers to be on the alert for aggressive drivers.

“Although people may assume that New Year’s Eve is the holiday most likely to involve an increase in drunk drivers, Thanksgiving has proven to be more problematic,” says Bruce L. Scheiner, founder and senior attorney at the law firm of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, P.A. “Drivers need to know, particularly with the Christmas Holiday coming up, that every law enforcement agency is stepping up their aggressive patrols in a concerted effort to remove impaired drivers from the road, and allow people to get to their destinations safely.”

The personal injury lawyers at the firm have seen the devastation that a serious injury or even death caused by a drunk driving crash can bring to a family. They work closely with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, (MADD), supporting their efforts to keep drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. If you have been injured by a drunk driver, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers at 1-800-Dial-BLS or visit www.focusedonjustice.com.

December 4, 2009

Reckless Driving A Serious Offense in Florida

While a large amount of media attention is directed towards accidents caused by a drunk or impaired driver, the offense of reckless driving is equally as serious, and many people are unaware of the definitions and consequences of this crime.

As an example, even speeding, under certain circumstances, can result in a reckless driving charge in Florida. If you are found to be exceeding the posted speed limit by 25 miles per hour or more, you may be charged with not only speeding, but reckless driving, as well. Florida statutes differentiate between “careless driving” and “reckless driving”. Reckless driving is a more serious offense, and involves circumstances defined as "driving with a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property," or in similar terms. For a complete reference to Florida’s reckless driving statutes, click here.

One offense that can result in a reckless driving charge is racing your vehicle with that of another driver. “Drag racing” is not a new occurrence on the nation’s roadways. The dangerous activity came into popularity in the 1950’s in California, where a group of generally younger car enthusiasts would gather on weekends to engage in competitions to determine whose car was faster. Sadly, the practice still continues, and today’s cars are so far advanced in horsepower and technology, that the results can be deadly. Today’s younger drivers often lament the lack of a sanctioned, legal venue at which they can test their car’s performance, and resort to secluded public roads to challenge other drivers. Intoxicated by adrenaline and the socially-charged atmosphere, they seldom think about how this reckless behavior is not only illegal, but also that an accident could result in a life changing injury or even death.

It is important to note that in an instance in which a driver is found to have exhibited behavior that results in a charge of reckless driving, many such cases involve alcohol and/or drug use, and a charge of Driving Under the Influence, (DUI), may also be added. While DUI laws and penalties are more severe, a reckless driving charge that resulted in an accident causing personal injury or death can be a felony offense, and carry the same serious and more severe ramifications as does a DUI charge.

Reckless driving has received renewed attention recently with the November 27th single-car accident involving the world’s most famous athlete, Tiger Woods, in Orlando. There was speculation that Woods may be charged with the misdemeanor, but serious, offense of reckless driving, after many questions were raised after the early morning incident. However, the Florida Highway Patrol has cited Woods with the lesser, civil infraction of careless driving, and he has paid his $164 fine.

“We all see aggressive drivers and severe speeding incidents everyday,” says Bruce L. Scheiner, the senior attorney and founder of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers, PA. “People who engage in this dangerous behavior are not only endangering their lives and those of other drivers and pedestrians, but risk serious criminal charges and penalties.”

If you have suffered an injury or property damage as a result of a reckless driver, you need an attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in Florida traffic law statutes. Our team of experts in our 7 area offices can help you fight for justice, and obtain the legal representation you deserve under the law. Call us at 1-800-Dial-BLS, or visit www.focusedonjustice.com to learn more.

December 2, 2009

“Lots” of Accidents: Injuries and Damage Occur even in a Parking Lot

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Many people feel they are safe from being in an accident caused by a careless or impaired driver once they safely pull into the parking lot of their destination. The fact is, many accidents actually happen in parking lots. Pedestrians are seriously injured, and vehicles sustain considerable damage – just as they do on area roadways. The Washington Post reported in October, 2009 that one fifth of pedestrian accidents in their area are occurring in parking lots.

Thoughtless drivers who think the rules of safe driving do not apply to them are the most notorious when it comes to parking lot accidents. Because they are not on an actual street or road, they think the painted lines that delineate the parking lot areas are a “suggestion” of where to drive. We have all seen the hurried driver who cuts diagonally across the lot markings, which are there to indicate where vehicles should park. Not coincidentally, you will discover that these are the same drivers who often occupy two parking spaces with their one vehicle. While there are some who choose to park this way in order to avoid a potentially damaging ding to their shiny luxury car, there are still others who practice this inconsiderate parking technique absent-mindedly, with no regard for the inconvenience of others. Parking near them is almost sure to result in a banged up door or fender on your car.

Many drivers are in a hurry to get where they are going, and this becomes even more prevalent with the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season. Mall shoppers are racing from one plaza to the next, chasing bargains. This results in people driving at a speed that is not safe for parking lots. People, and most often young children, can dart out from between vehicles, directly into the path of an oncoming car. There are also many drivers who do not adequately check behind their vehicle before backing out of their space. Not only could there be another car approaching with a driver who does not notice the car backing out, but there may be a pedestrian distracted by the hectic pace of shopping that does not notice the car is backing towards them. Injuries from these types of incidents can be extremely serious.

Here are some common sense tips for safe parking lot driving:

• Slow down. Racing through a parking lot greatly increases your chances of hitting another car or a pedestrian.

• Turn your headlights on even during the day, to allow others a better chance of seeing you approach.

• Obey all traffic and safety signs, just as if you were on the road. So many times, people feel that a stop sign located at the crosswalk of their grocery store is not a “real” traffic sign, simply because it is not on a city street.

• When backing out of your parking spot, take an additional minute to completely check behind you, and towards both sides of your car, to avoid backing into another car or a pedestrian. If possible, you may want to pull forward into the spot in front of your car when you are parking, to avoid the need to back out later.

• Park a little further away from the entrance to the business you are patronizing. You may avoid a costly door ding, and the extra walk will do you good.

• Always try to park as near as possible to a light when parking at night.

• If there are extracurricular activities happening in the parking lot, like a charity car wash or Christmas tree tent sale, try to avoid that area. More pedestrians and kids not watching out for cars can be a recipe for disaster.

A parking lot accident should be treated just the same way as an accident on a city street or any other road. Get the other driver’s name, driver’s license number and insurance information, license tag number and contact information. Immediately call the police, as some insurance companies will not pay a collision claim if there was no police report filed from the incident. Also try to get one or two impartial witnesses to provide their name and contact information, in case you need to corroborate your version of what happened.

“Parking lots are treated like race courses by some negligent drivers, especially during the busy shopping season,” notes personal injury attorney PJ Scheiner, of the Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner Personal Injury Lawyers “Avoiding an accident can be as simple as slowing down, and paying extra attention to your surroundings.”

The firm’s team of dedicated accident law experts is prepared to stand up for your legal rights if you have suffered an injury in a parking lot accident caused by a negligent driver. For a no-obligation consultation, call 1-800-Dial-BLS, or to see more information on our history of representing accident victims, visit www.focusedonjustice.com

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