09Jul 2019

Maybe your parents took you to an empty parking lot to teach you how to drive as a teenager. That may be one of the safest parking lot experiences you will have.

With slow moving vehicles, one would think parking lots are safer than roads. But one of every five motor vehicle accidents and 14% of all claims of auto damage happen in parking lots.

Non-residential parking facilities are used by 175 million people every day, and it seems that most drivers are not paying attention. A National Safety Council Public Opinion Poll found that 66% of drivers said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots, 63% would program GPS systems, 56% would text, 53% would use social media, 50% would send or receive emails, 49% would take photos or watch videos.

In a single year, 99 people were killed and 2,000 injured when they were hit by cars backing out of parking spots, and 106 fatalities and 5,000 injuries were caused from cars moving forward. Five deaths were caused by pedestrians struck by driverless cars! Of children ages 5 to 9 who died in traffic crashes, 22% were pedestrians. Most deaths occurred because drivers failed to see kids while backing up.

Parking lot injuries can be extensive and include medical bills, lost wages and even disability. Victims hit by a careless or distracted motorist are entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Not all parking lot injuries are caused by vehicles. Slip and fall accidents are also common in parking lots. While Florida doesn’t have the hazards caused by snow and ice, inadequate striping, potholes or cracks, lack of signage, debris, poor lighting and puddles can also lead to injuries.

In addition, more than 400,000 violent crimes are committed in parking lots or garages each year, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault.  The law in Florida requires that owners of parking lots have appropriate security in place.  If they do not, they can be found liable for people injured in their lots in violent crimes.

An owner of a parking lot can be found liable for injuries caused by the following:

  • Lack of designated walkways for handicapped and other people
  • Poorly designed structures with bad traffic flow
  • Inadequate signals or markings
  • Inadequate security and lighting
  • Uneven surfaces and potholes
  • Blind spots that block drivers’ vision
  • Improperly marked handicapped zones
  • Oil spills or runoff from poor drainage

What can you do to help ensure compensation for your injuries caused in a parking lot or a garage?

  • As soon as you can, take photos and videos of the dangerous condition that caused your injury. If you don’t have a measuring tape, use any other object to help show the depth and diameter of a hole or condition that cause your fall. Take as many pictures as possible, from a variety of angles.
  • If someone saw you fall and you are able, ask for their name and contact information and a description of what they saw. Ask them to sign and date the statement. If they are willing, use your cell phone to video an eyewitness account.
  • Criminal activity must be immediately reported to police. Always call 911 to notify law enforcement of robbery or assault.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a parking lot accident and have sustained injuries or death, it is important to seek advice from attorneys experienced with personal injury cases. The attorneys at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice and Purtz have over 50 years of experience with personal injury cases and we are here to represent you. We have six locations in Southwest Florida. Our offices are conveniently located in Fort Myers (2 to serve you), NaplesCape CoralLehigh Acres and Port Charlotte. Contact the office nearest you and set up your appointment for a free consultation today.

28Jun 2019

Emily’s DonationLegal Assistant Emily Miller made good use of a spare office recently as she collected items for donation to homeless veterans through the Cape Coral office of U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Through coupons, in a couple months, she was able to collect $4,300 worth of food, self-care and other products. Miller, who has been with the firm for 10 years, started couponing for herself about two years ago. She became so good at couponing, she began sharing excess deals with friends. “It starts to accumulate over time,” she said, so she decided to collect items the homeless might need. “You can get things for pennies on the dollar. It does get time consuming with the planning and driving. My biggest investment is time.” The only drawback? With a sleeve full of coupons, she’s that person slowing down the grocery line. “They can heckle me all they want. I’m helping people.” Want to help? Contact Frank Jones, 239-652-1800, ext. 20551 or http://www.leegov.com/dhs/veterans.

24Jun 2019

BuckleyStephen W. Buckley never intended to stay in Florida after his grandparents offered to pay for his college at the “new” Edison College (now Florida SouthWestern State College). His planned to get his education in Florida and move back to Connecticut where he grew up.

His grandparents had been vacationing on the other coast and moved to Fort Myers in the 1950s.

“None of the kids or grandkids were close by, so they asked me if I would come down and start my college and they would help with expenses.”

He transferred to University of Florida for his undergraduate degree in journalism and then Florida State University for his law degree. “One of the kids in the class asked the assistant dean where he would go to practice law, and he said Fort Myers,” Buckley said. “I had ties in Fort Myers.”

He said he always knew he wanted to be a lawyer. His father and grand parents were in real estate. “I grew up with real estate law,” he said.

Now he assists clients with wills, trusts, estate planning, probate, real estate and real property law cases. Buckley is a top-rated lawyer under the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review rating system.

After graduating from law school in 1969, he moved to Florida and joined the firm, then seven years old and located in downtown Fort Myers in its present location at the corner of Main Street and Broadway.

Fort Myers was a different place when he started. Area Bar meetings were held in a corner of the former Snack House restaurant. Edison Mall had just opened, pulling Sears and J.C. Penney’s from downtown. When he started, he said there were five men’s stores downtown. “Attorneys wore suits more then than they do now,” he said, “Everyone dressed to the hilt.”

Buckley has seen tremendous change in the law through the years. “I think today there are more judges than attorneys,” he said. “When I started there were two circuit judges and one county judge.”

He remembers one of his first cases was to get a woman in real estate the right to sell property she owned without consent of her husband, which was the rule at the time. Shortly after he was able to make her a “free dealer,” the rule was abolished. He also remembers a case where he worked with the Coast Guard to have a man declared dead who disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle on a flight to Bimini. Without a body, it would have taken five years for his spouse to get a death certificate. He said the investigation determined how much fuel the plane had and every place the plane could have landed. The plane, the man and his passenger were never found.

He enjoys spending time vacationing at his home in Maine, but Buckley says he has no intention of retiring. “I enjoy what I’m doing,” he said. “I don’t play golf. I don’t play tennis. I don’t fish. I’ll just keep doing it while I can, and the clients want to work with me. My wife would have a long honey-do list if I did retire.”

He and his wife, Bonnie, who he met in Fort Myers at a roller-skating rink, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in August.

24May 2019

Despite efforts every year to increase awareness of motorcycle and bicycle safety, there’s no getting around that accidents happen. More cars, more people and more distractions guarantee it.

The combination of great motorcycle weather and distracted or inattentivedrivers of motor vehicles in Florida is deadly. Nearly 600 motorcycle riders are killed on Florida roads each year, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Florida continually ranks in the top three states in the nation for motorcycle-related fatalities, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Motorcyclists are about 27 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a crash and five times more likely to get injured, according to the Department of Driver Services. The injury rate for motorcycle riders involved in a collision is 80 percent.

Surprisingly, weather is a factor in only 2 percent of accidents. Speed is often not a factor, either. The average motorcycle speed prior to an accident is 29.8 mph.

Most motorcycle accidents with another vehicle are the fault of the other driver. About three-quarters of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, most often a passenger automobile, with two-thirds of them caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right-of-way.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney, who may be able to help you obtain more relief than you would get on your own and can guide you through the process of making claims to insurance carriers of other drivers. Retaining the services of a motorcycle personal injury lawyer with experience handling motorcycle accidents means your lawyer knows what to look for when investigating the accident and assessing the strength of your claim.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers several tips for motorcycle operators. Obtain proper licensing, practice driving your motorcycle before you attempt to navigate roads with traffic and ensure your motorcycle is working properly. Always wear a helmet, avoid unnecessary risks, don’t consume alcohol or drugs. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets reduce fatalities by 37%.

Safety Tips for Motorists

Of course, preventing accidents is the best course of action. Here are some motorcycle safety tips for car drivers from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:

  • Never attempt to share the lane with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist is entitled to the entire lane
  • Watch for motorcycles and look carefully before pulling into an intersection or changing lanes
  • It is difficult to gauge the speed of a motorcycle; they may appear to be much farther away than they really are
  • Do not follow too closely behind a motorcycle; motorcycles can stop more quickly than other vehicles
  • Motorcyclists often slow down by down shifting or rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light
  • Never pass a motorcyclist with only a few feet of space. The force of the wind gust can cause the rider to lose control
  • When being passed by a motorcycle, maintain your lane position and do not increase your speed
  • Maintain a four-second buffer zone between you and a motorcyclist, and increase space when encountering inclement weather, gusty winds, wet or icy roads, bad road conditions and railroad crossings