Archive for December, 2010

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Survivor of crash that killed 3 speaks out

December 31, 2010

The driver of the accident on US 27 in Broward county that left 3 teenagers dead is awake and talking about what happened. When reports of the accident were initially released, illegal street racing was suspected, but 18-year-old Angel Lazo is now telling a different story.

According to the teen, while driving home that night, his car started mis-firing, so he told Raymond Garcia, the driver of the other car, to follow close behind him as he was going to pull over ahead. The driver of the tractor trailer could not stop quickly enough, and crashed into the back of both cars, killing 2 teens instantly. The third teen died a few days later at North Broward General Medical Center.

Lazo remains hospitalized as he suffered severe neck trauma and a fractured skull. He reports that he is hurt that police would think they were racing, as they were simply trying to get off the road safely. What has not been reported on is why the driver of the tractor trailer did not see the car sitting on the roadway. Had the tractor trailer been traveling at a safe speed, with the driver paying attention, it seems as if the tractor trailer driver should have seen the cars and been able to avoid them.

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Florida Auto Safety: Railroad Crossing Safety Tips

December 30, 2010

Across the country, a person or a vehicle is hit by a train approximately every three hours. Florida ranks 7th worst in the nation for fatal accidents involving cars and trains and 13th worst for accidents involving collisions between trains and autos according to the Federal Railroad Administration (2009 statistics). Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit rail safety education program, notes that “current Federal Railroad Association (FRA) data shows that highway-rail grade crossing collisions and pedestrian trespass on tracks together account for over 95% of all railroad fatalities”.

There are many reasons for train/automobile accidents: impatience (not wanting to wait for the train to cross) and driver distraction rank high on the list. Other factors also come into play. Trains can look as if they are moving slower than they really are, which can prompt a driver to think they can beat the train through a railroad crossing. In addition, many railroad crossings are not equipped with electronic signals, so a driver may not realize a train is coming until it is too late.

Operation Lifesaver lists seven steps for Florida auto safety around train tracks:

1. Approach a railroad crossing with care and slow down when you see an Advanced Warning Sign.

2. Be prepared to stop for a train. Turn off your air conditioner and radio, roll down your window, and look and listen for a train.

3. Double check to the left and right of your car and look in both directions before you drive across the tracks.

4. Cross railroad tracks with care. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, use a gear that will not require shifting until you reach the opposite side.

5. If you see a train approaching, stop at least 15 feet from the nearest rail, but not more than 50 feet from the rail.

6. Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come down.

7. Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. If your vehicle has a trailer, remember to take the additional length into account when stopping after crossing the tracks.

An additional Florida auto safety tip regarding train crossings: don’t stop your car on the railroad tracks while waiting for a traffic light to change. If a train comes and traffic is backed up waiting for a light on the other side of the tracks, you may be the one stuck in the train’s path!

If you or a loved one have been injured in a railroad crossing accident, contact the experienced South Florida auto accident lawyers at the Law Office of Joseph M. Maus and Associates at 1-866-556-5529, visit their website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email them today.

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Child Struck, Seriously injured by car in Fort Lauderdale

December 29, 2010

The Sun-Sentinel reports that a 5-year-old boy was seriously injured yesterday as he was struck by a car while riding his bike. Another boy was riding on the handlebars of the bike, but he was not injured. The boy was transported to Broward General Medical Center with life threatening injuries.

According to the NHTSA, in 2005, 784 people were killed while riding their bicycles. 25% of these fatalities involved children under the age of 14. Between May 27 and June 17 alone, one hospital treated 10 children hit by cars. Half of those were critically injured and three more had broken bones or internal injuries. According to Safekids.org, each year, approximately 630 child pedestrian fatalities occur. Additionally, children sustain more than 39,000 nonfatal pedestrian injuries each year.

Attorney Joseph Maus suggests the following to ensure the safety of children riding a bicycle:

1. Make sure they ALWAYS wear a proper fitting helmet
2. Adjust their bicycles to fit- There should be 1 to 2 inches between the child and the top tube bar.
3. Make sure that the tires are inflated and the brakes work
4. Ensure that they wear florescent and neon colors as well as something reflects light
5. Keep them on the sidewalk at all times
6. Do not leave small children unsupervised

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Five teens found dead in Hialeah motel room; carbon monoxide blamed

December 28, 2010

The Sun-Sentinel reports that 5 teens were found dead, after renting a motel to celebrate the birthday of 19-year-old Juchen Martial. The red Kia Optima they had driven was found running in the single car garage in the bottom of the room. According to reports, the teens aged 16, 18, and 19 decided to leave the car running overnight as the battery charged. The door that led from the garage to the room was cracked open allowing the fumes to seep upstairs.

The teens had borrowed the car from a friend for the birthday getaway, and it had been giving them trouble all night. Around 8pm that night, they had a friend jump the car battery and went to the motel near Miami International Airport for the celebration. Police did not find any drugs or alcohol in the room. The teens were all found in their clothes on or around a bed with bags of McDonald’s food.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “there are approximately 2,100 unintentional deaths from carbon monoxide every year in the U.S. and the use of CO Alarms could potentially prevent many of these fatalities.” In addition, more than 40,000 CO injuries occur annually from this colorless, odorless and tasteless poison.

A 2007 Florida law requires that all hotel rooms be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors integrated with the hotel’s existing fire alarm system. A factor in the bills passage was the 2006 death of a 26-year-old man that was staying in a Key West hotel who was killed by the fumes seeping from the boiler room next door.

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Toyota to pay $10 Million in lawsuit

December 27, 2010

The Associated Press reports that Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to pay $10 million to the family of four people that were killed in 2009. Investigators concluded that the accident occurred because a wrong sized floor mat trapped the accelerator of the Lexus, causing the car to reach more than 120 mph’s. The car then struck another vehicle before launching off an embankment and rolling over several times before bursting into flames.

The car accident led to the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles. They first recalled the floor mats that caused the accelerators to jam and later millions more as the gas pedals were sticking. This case was considered the strongest of the hundreds of lawsuits that had been files due to sudden acceleration on Toyota’s.

Although Toyota never admitted liability, they filed a motion to keep the settlement amount confidential, as they felt it could hurt its reputation. Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr denied the motion as he felt it was the public’s right to know the details, as many others were affected by the vehicle’s problems.

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DOT steps in to help prevent child fatalities from backovers

December 24, 2010

According to NHTSA, about 300 children are killed each year from accidental backovers, and an additional 18,000 are injured. 85% of these accidents are caused by parents or caregivers. Fortunately, the number of backover related deaths could soon be decreasing, as new government regulations can help prevent these accidents by 2014.

The Associated Press reports that the Department of Transportation wants to help reduce the number of backover related injuries or deaths by requiring the use of cameras and better outward visibility in vehicles. Many cars today are designed to enhance styling and perform better in side-impact crash tests. Because of this, outward visibility is often compromised. SUV’s and pickups have the greatest disadvantage as they sit higher off the ground, making it harder to see small children.

Auto manufacturers will be able to satisfy the requirement by designing cars that have better outward visibility, but it is believed that most car manufactured will implement cameras instead. Although backup cameras will add to the cost of vehicles, it is a small price to pay to prevent these accidents from happening.

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Girl injured in hit-and-run in North Lauderdale

December 23, 2010

A third hit-and-run incident in south Florida this week leaves a 7-year-old girl in critical condition. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Francesca Moise and her mother were heading out Christmas shopping when she was struck by the vehicle. The car is believed to be white with red wheel rims. Following the accident, the girl was airlifted to Broward General Medical Center where she was she is listed in critical condition.
The NHTSA statistics show that there were 4,092 pedestrian related fatalities in 2009 and an additional 59,000 pedestrian injuries reported. Florida ranks among the top 4 states for pedestrian related accidents. California, Florida, Texas and New York account for 42 percent of pedestrian related accidents in the United States.

Only one witness has come forward with information. Investigators are looking for additional witnesses or anyone with information about the incident or unidentified driver to contact Broward Crime Stoppers.

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