23Jun 2020

By Christopher J. Smith, managing partner

A rise in alcohol sales during lockdown and the pandemic could make July this year even deadlier for driving. During July, with July 4th being a key factor, more people die in drunk driving crashes than any other month, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

Early May represented the strongest growth rate for alcohol sales since the “peak pantry-loading week” in late March, according to figures from market research firm Nielsen, which noted alcoholic beverage sales were up 55% as of the week of March 15-22 across the country. Spirit sales were up, too, and have soared to 75%, while beer sales saw a 66% jump and wine sales spiked to 42% when compared to this time last year. 

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) notes drunk driving is still the No. 1 cause of death on our roadways. Every two minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash, and every 51 minutes, someone is killed, with drunk driving impacting two out of three people in their lifetime.  

This is despite efforts to curtail drunk driving since 1980, when MADD was started by one mom whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver at her kitchen table. While the number of drunk driving fatalities has been cut in half since then, alcohol-related deaths remain the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 

For the third year, Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz will be a presenting sponsor for Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Walk Like MADD 5K that raises money to fund free victim support and drunk driving prevention programs in Southwest Florida.  

This year’s Walk Like MADSaturday, Sept. 26 will be virtual. Although virtual, the event will still offer amazing food (via coupons), finisher medals, 5K place medals and, in place of an event shirt, a custom neck gaiter. For information on supporting or joining the walk, click here. 

Walk Like MADD provides an outlet for those affected by drunk and drugged driving to channel their grief into hope and healing and gives communities the chance to surround and support those hurting by taking action to prevent others from suffering. MADD believes that drunk and drugged incidents are not accidents because they are the result of choice, not chance.  

Here is how you can avoid being part of July’s grim drunk driving statistics, provided by State Farm insurance: 

  • Always choose a non-drinking designated driver — every time you go out. 
  • If you go out alone, do not drink alcohol. Order a non-alcoholic beverage such as a soft drink or water. 
  • Never feel pressured to drink alcohol. If you do plan on drinking, do so responsibly. Eat plenty of food and drink water. 
  • If you have been drinking, call a taxi or car-sharing service for a ride, like Uber or Lyft. 
  • Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. 
  • Protect others by taking their keys if they try to drive after consuming alcohol. They may be mad at you, but the alternative is much worse.
  • Be careful on the road. Pull over and report drivers you suspect to be under the influence by calling 9-1-1. 

I have been been a team leader for Walk Like MADD and was named after a family member who was killed by a drunk driver. If you or someone you know has suffered injuries due to drunk driving, it is important to seek legal help. Our attorneys have over five decades of experience with personal injury cases.

10Jun 2020

Hurricane Satellite Image

By Richard L. Purtz

This year is shaping up to be memorable in so many ways, including a predicted above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, according to forecasters with NOA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

National Insurance Awareness Day is June 28 to remind people to review their insurance policies and make sure they have the coverage you need. About two-thirds of U.S. homes are underinsured, which could result in financial hardship in the event of storm damage. A study by insurance.com in 2018 learned nearly a quarter of homeowners said they’d never even read their policy!

Now is a good time to review and make sure your homeowner’s policy is robust enough to fully repair or rebuild in the event of a claim. It’s important to understand what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t. Make sure that none of your information – such as residents of the household or pets – needs to be updated. While you are at it, it is probably a good idea to look at your other insurance policies also.

Why is it so important to update your insurance policies with new information? Insurance companies can deny coverage for a loss when there is a “material misrepresentation” by the insured when procuring the policy. These material misrepresentations can be in the form of a failure to disclose a resident relative or a new pet. This can be devastating for someone who has faithfully paid their premiums for years because it may mean you have no insurance coverage for an event that destroys your home.

You should also regularly check to see if you have enough coverage – whether it is coverage for your home, coverage for the contents within your home, bodily injury coverage for your motor vehicle, or underinsured motorist coverage for your vehicle.

Here are things to consider in reviewing your homeowner’s insurance:

  • Are deductibles on your policy sustainable in the event of a claim? Will you be able to cover them if necessary?
  • Have you explored all possible discounts, such as wind mitigation certification or discounts for fire or burglar alarms, new roof or upgraded heating, plumbing or electrical systems?
  • How has your customer service experiences been with the company? Check online resources and ask friends and family to determine what insurers have a good reputation among policyholders. Responsive customer service will be important in the event of a claim.
  • Have you had a major life change, like having a baby or starting a new job? You may need to update your insurance.
  • Have you renovated or built an addition? If so, make sure your policy reflects the change in value of your home.
  • In the event you need to rebuild, does your insurance policy include any extra expenses caused by meeting building codes adopted after your home was built? You may want to add building code coverage, called building law or ordinance coverage.
  • Flood damage, which can come with a hurricane, is usually excluded on homeowner’s policies. Consider purchasing separate flood insurance. Visit FloodSmart.gov for information.
  • If you live in a condominium, what type of insurance does your homeowners association require?
  • Have you evaluated your needs by conducting a thorough home inventory of your possessions?
  • Does your policy provide enough coverage for landscaping, outdoor appliances or storage sheds?
  • Have you started a home-based business? You may need to change your coverage for business liability and equipment.

An annual insurance review can go a long way in protecting what is often your biggest investment. Make it part of your hurricane preparations. Our attorneys are always willing to sit down with you and review your policy at no cost, to make sure you have appropriate coverage.

13May 2020

Zantac--Prescription-and-Over-the-Counter-Drug-Found-to-Contain-CarcinogenZantac, known generically as ranitidine, a drug prescribed more than 15 million times a year to patients for heartburn worldwide since 1983, was recalled in April by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) because of unacceptable levels of a probable carcinogen.

Multiple manufacturers had already issued voluntary recalls of the drug, including Sanofi, the maker of Zantac, as well as generic ranitidine-makers. Major pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart had already suspended sales due to the drug’s link to cancer.

Patients who are taking prescription and over-the-counter versions of ranitidine, a drug widely used to treat stomach acid and ulcers, should stop taking the drug, throw it away and see their doctor for alternative treatments.

The FDA began investigating reports of levels of NDMA, or Ni-nitrosodimethylamine, in the summer of 2019 after an independent lab found high levels of it in ranitidine products and brought it to the attention of the FDA. After initial investigation, the FDA said patients could continue taking the drug and did not face health risks from low levels of NDMA.

NDMA is the same carcinogen that led to a recall in July 2018 of blood-pressure-lowering drugs valsartan and losartan that came from a new manufacturing process first used by a drug ingredient factory in China. Zantac’s risk appears to be the unstable nature of the drug and not manufacturing.

In April, The FDA recalled Zantac completely after determining that contamination poses a greater risk than previously thought because levels of the chemical increase over time, especially if tablets and capsules are stored at higher temperatures, including during distribution and handling by consumers. FDA testing confirmed that NDMA levels increase in ranitidine even under normal storage conditions and that the older a product is, or the longer the length of time since it was manufactured, the greater the level of NDMA.

Studies have shown that the presence of NDMA in ranitidine was known long before the recent discoveries, possibly since the late 1980s. In 2016, Stanford University researchers tested urine samples of 10 people who took 150 milligram Zantac and found NDMA levels far greater than FDA daily limits.

Low levels of NDMA not expected to lead to an increase in the risk of cancer are commonly ingested in the diet, as NDMA is present in food and water. However, sustained higher levels of exposure and exposure for a long time may increase the risk of cancer in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NDMA has been linked to severe liver disease, liver cancer, testicular cancer and lung cancer.

The FDA encourages health care professionals and patients to report adverse reactions or quality problems with any human drugs to the agency’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program.

In addition, if you or a family member have taken Zantac or ranitidine and have developed cancer, it could be linked the drug and you may be entitled to compensation from the product’s manufacturer. For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please call one of our Southwest Florida offices at 239-500-HURT.

09Apr 2020
April is Alcohol Awareness Month Image of Glass with Ice and Alcohol next to Car Keys

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) reports more than 300,00 incidents of drinking and driving a year, resulting in one preventable death every 52 minutes across the United States. Additionally, 290,000 people are injured by impaired drivers each year, one every two minutes. Nationally on average, two out of three people will be impacted by drunk driving in their lifetime.

What is so startling about these statistics is that these deaths and injuries are entirely preventable, making alcohol- related deaths the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States!

During the current coronavirus pandemic, there are fewer cars on the road as a result of self-isolation and stay-at-home orders, but post-pandemic return to the roads could include a spike in drunk driving accidents, as drinking is on the rise. According to market research firm Nielsen, alcoholic beverage sales are up 55% as of the week of March 15-22 across the country. Spirit sales are up, too, and have soared to 75%, while beer has seen a 66% jump and wine has spiked to 42% when compared to this time last year.

Our firm is community champions for reducing the risk of injuries from drunk drivers. For three years, the firm has been a presenting sponsor for Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Walk Like MADD 5K walk and run that raises money to ensure no one in our community suffers from the impacts of impaired drivers.

Pending possible changes caused by the coronavirus, at this time this year’s Walk Like MADD event is planned Sept. 26, 2020 at Jet Blue Park. For information on supporting click here.

Our attorneys have also been active in supporting area multi-jurisdiction DUI checkpoints carried out by law enforcement agencies in Lee and Charlotte County and sponsored by MADD Southwest Florida.

Sponsoring the briefing dinner before checkpoints demonstrates to the officers that the law firm and the community supports their dedication to make our roads safer for all residents and visitors.

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries due to a drunk driver accident, it is important to seek legal help. The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz have over 5 decades of experience with personal injury cases. We provide free consultation to discuss your case and determine what can be done to protect your rights. Call us today to set up your virtual appointment as our offices are currently closed to visitors.