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By Sara Schlafstein, Law Clerk and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

In the State of Washington as well as other States, playgrounds provide children a place to have fun and be active.  Playgrounds allow children to move around, use their imagination, and interact with their friends.  To have fun, playgrounds should be a place where there can be a certain amount of adventure.  This must be tempered with safety and adult supervision.  Unfortunately, playgrounds can be the site of serious personal injuries or even the death of a child when equipment is in disrepair, equipment is not age appropriate for the children in and around the playground, equipment is dangerous, and / or there is a lack of supervision.   While most playgrounds are designed with safety in mind and provide a great environment for children, adult supervision should always be provided because most playgrounds have swigns, ropes, monkey bars, and / or elevated areas in which a child can be injured.  Furthermore, children need to be supervised to make sure that the playground is being used as designed.  Furthermore, any time that children play in the same area, there is always a risk of rough play, bullying, and other acts that can and do lead to the injury of a child.

It was reported by several media outlets that Stormy Solis (a 7 year old girl) died as a result of  a swing set related injury at Fisher’s Landing Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington. According to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s office, the 7-year-old girl suffered a fatal closed head injury. After falling off the school’s swing set, she reportedly felt dizzy upon her arrival home, and was later found sick in her bedroom that day. She was then taken to a medical center and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, and later transferred to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. She was taken off life support by her doctors on the morning of Friday, October 3, 2014. This tragic event has led to changes in playground policies in certain Washington counties.

As a result of the accident, two Washington school districts, Spokane and Richland, are removing swing sets from all school playgrounds. The decision is garnering mixed criticism from parents in the area. The incident, however, raises important questions regarding swing sets on playgrounds and the extent to which they should be restricted or banned. See School District Removes Swing Sets Following Death of Child Resulting from Playground Injury.

Due to the motion and heights associated with swing sets, personal injuries can result especially when a child falls off of a swing or jumps off of a swing in motion.   A child can also be injured if he or she walks too close to another child in motion on a swing set.  With proper adult supervision and use of the swings by the children, most swing set related injuries can be avoided.

Most personal  injuries come from misuse of equipment such as standing on the seats, or walking closely behind or in front of a swing. To some, banning swing sets from a playground may seem drastic or an exaggerated reaction to an isolated incident.   To others, the banning of swing sets makes the playground that much safer and better protects the children.

Most playgrounds these days still have swing sets in place.  Playground supervisors should adhere to certain guidelines to prevent swing set related injuries. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety website (www.cpsc.gov), swings should be placed far enough apart from each other to prevent injuries resulting from impact between moving swings. As such, it is suggested that swing spacing be:

– At least 8 inches between suspended swings and between a swing and the support frame.

– At least 16 inches from suing support frame to a pendulum see- saw.

– Minimum clearance between the ground and underside of swing seat should be 8 inches.

– Swing sets should be securely anchored.

In addition, authorities should create a no-access zone around the swing set to prevent children on the ground from coming into contact with a moving swing. Beneath the swing set, there should be a shock absorbent material rather than a hard material such as concrete. Supervisors should monitor the children at all times to make sure that children are using the swing set equipment properly (such as refraining from standing on the seats or roughhousing in close proximity to the equipment, etc.). Adults should use necessary disciplinary action when safety rules are broken to prevent serious injuries. For more information on swing set and playground safety tips, see Playground Safety Tips.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know - has chapters on Playground Injuries, Sports Related Injuries, Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, and other topics.  This is a wonderful resource for parents seeking some information when dealing with the aftermath of a child injury.

 

 

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Playground slide green child safety

Playground Safety – Slides, Swings and More

By Sara Schlafstein, Law Clerk and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

Day care centers are first and foremost obliged to protect the safety of their students. Playground sets, because of their potential for misuse, can present safety challenges for day care centers. Thus, there are many actions that a day care center’s staff should take to ensure that their playground creates a safe environment for children in order to prevent potential injuries and accidents. Safe kids, a worldwide organization with the mission of protecting children from injuries, provides “Playground Safety Tips,” a guide to keeping children safe on the playground.

The guide stresses the importance of active supervision of children on the playground. This includes checking the equipment prior to use. If there are any potential hazards such as rusty or broken equipment, this should be reported to the day care center authorities promptly. Supervisors should not allow roughhousing, such as pushing and shoving, especially on or near the playground equipment. Additionally, children should be encouraged to remove clothing or jewelry that can get caught on the equipment and cause potential suffocation. It is also important to recognize that children of different ages play differently, so it may be necessary to have separate playground areas for children under 5 years of age.

The “Playground Safety Tips” also stress the importance of having the right type of equipment on playgrounds. It is dangerous for children to play on hard surfaces without impact-absorbing materials. This includes concrete, gravel, and asphalt. It is recommended that playground sets be on woodchips, sand, shredded rubber, or other similar materials. Rubber mats and synthetic turfs can also provide a safe alternative on playgrounds. The surface materials should be large enough to cover the entire playground and surrounding areas. This is particularly important under swing sets, where it is recommended that the surface material should extend out twice as long as the height of the swings. In addition, slides should have soft, shock-absorbent materials at the bottom, to avoid potential leg and arm injuries that may occur.

Although these are some of the suggested precautions that day care centers should take, it is not an exhaustive list. However, day care supervisors should follow these general guidelines when overseeing children on playgrounds, as safety is of the utmost importance, and these recommendations can prevent potential injuries and damages. For more information on keeping children safe, visit safekids.org and review the article  Playground Safety Tips.

Unfortunately, children suffer injuries on playgrounds.  Many such incidents could have been prevented with better supervision and maintenance of the playground equipment.  Day care center staff members should be on high alert any time that children are engaged in play on or near a playground area.  The focus of the attention of the day care worker should be on the children and their safety.   Playground time is not a time for staff members to take breaks or multi-task by using the time to text, surf the web, or e-mail from their mobile phones, tablelets, or lap tops.

When a child suffers a playground related injury to the fault of the day care center, the parent is faced with many challenges including but not limited to medical care, medical bills, lost wages, and the overall stress and emotional toll associated with the personal injuries suffered by the child.   The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Water Park Injuries and other topics.  You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury. 

 

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By Sara Schlafstein, Law Clerk and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Vancouver, Washington and other cities, children can often be found on school, public, and day care center playgrounds. Physical activity is an important part of the school day and can help enhance the education experience for children. It is important when children are in the playground that safety precautions are taken. Day care center works, teachers, and staff members should provide attentive supervision. While mobile phones are great tools, mobile phones can also be a distraction for adults charged with the responsibility of playground supervision. All parts of the playground should be supervised.

Any rough play should be discontinued and appropriate discipline should be handed out if a particular child is misusing the equipment and / or causing a dangerous situation to persist on the playground itself. Discipline can include “time outs” and removal from the playground area. Many playgrounds are equipped with swings which can present a danger with normal use. Children, not on the swings, should keep a safety distance from the swing set area. Otherwise, serious injuries can result to the child on swing and / or the child on the ground. In addition, staff members should keep a close eye on the use of the swings and if a child seems to be swinging too high on a particular swing.

In Vancouver, Washington, KOIN 6 News and other media outlets reported that a student enrolled at Fisher’s Landing Elementary School suffered serious personal injuries. It was reported that the child may have been injured when using the schools swing set. The incident is currently under investigation. For further details about the incident and investigation, see Child Dies Following Playground Incident at Fisher’s Landing Elementary School.

Parents should ask schools and day care centers about policy and procedures for playground use. Parents should be informed about the number of supervisors and the rules that the children must follow during playground activities. Parents should also take the time review any school board rules and policies if the playground is located at a public school.

Safe Kids is a worldwide organization that promotes the safety and wellbeing of children. You read about some general playground safety tips at Playground Safety – Safe Kids. The safety tips presented include the following:

*Inspect the playground prior to play to make sure that all equipment is in good working order;

*Inspect the playground and remove any hazards like broken bottles, glass, sharp objects, and other trash on or around the playground;

*Make sure that the enclosures are in good repair and appropriately latched and closed off especially at day care centers or other locations where young childre at play.

A parent is faced with a number of challenges when dealing with the aftermath of a playground injury. The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know - has chapters on Park and Playground Injuries, School Injuries, Day Care Centers Injuries, and other topics. You can get a free copy of this book at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By Scott Zahler, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Brunswick, Georgia and other cities, day care centers are responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the children enrolled in the program. Home based Georgia day care centers are regulated, inspected, and governed by DECAL – Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. DECAL is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. Here is a link to the website for the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

It was recently reported that a child was found unresponsive in a Brunswick Georgia day care center. Subsequent to the child’s death, state regulators closed down the facility. The story was covered by News 4 Jax. Here is a link to the news report – Brunswick Day Care Center Closed After Boy’s Death.

There were prior violations reported as to the day care center – Generations Kids Childcare. However, it should be noted that some of the violations may not have link to the child’s death. For instance, there was a violation for a fence that was in disrepair. While this may have been a violation, this particular prior violation may have no link whatsoever to the death of the child at this Georgia day care center. Is a day care center liable for a child’s death when there are violations of applicable regulations? The answer is not so simple. It depends on the nature of the violation and the link or relationship to the child’s death. Here are the four elements of a civil case for the wrongful death of a child:

1. Duty;

2. Breach of Duty;

3. Causation; and

4. Damages.

All four elements must be met in order to be able to pursue a civil case or claim for the alleged wrongful death of a child at a day care center. As you can see above, the third element – Causation – is one of the four elements. The Causation element is often the most difficult element to prove as part of a case against a day care center, school, business, or other entity involved with the care and supervision of a child. Here are some the questions or issues that are evaluated as part of child death cases:

How was the child’s health prior to the incident?

What violations were found at the day care center?

What did the autopsy reveal as to the cause and mechanism of death?

Was the incident preventable?

What could the day care center have done to prevent the incident from taking place?

If the incident happened during sleep or rest time, how was the sleeping area set up?

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In California and other States, parents depend on day care center to watch over their children while they are at work. Most people recognize that there may be dangers in a day care center in the form of a swimming pool, aggressive dog, sharp objects, poisons, traffic, and other dangers. Many people, however, do not realize that it can also be quite dangerous for a child especially an infant at a day care center during sleep time or nap time. There is a risks of suffocation, asphyixation, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) when an infant is placed in an unsafe sleeping environment. Here are some risks that may be present in the day care center:

1. Loose blankets in the sleeping area;

2. Pillows;

3. Soft mattresses that are not manufactured for infant sleeping areas;

4. Stuffed animals;

5. Boppy pillows (crescent shaped pillows);

6. Small objectst that present a choking hazard; and

7. Cords from window shades and coverings.

It is important that the sleeping area is regularly maintained and constantly monitored especially for infants. In a matter of just seconds, a child’s life may be put in danger. Sleep time is not the time for staff members to multi-tasks or play on their mobile devices. It is a time to be constantly and viligantly monitoring the children in the day care center during all times of the day including but not limited to sleep or nap time.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Amusement and Theme Park Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By Scott Zahler, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Brunswick, Georgia and other cities throughout the United States, parents rely upon day care centers for the supervision of their children. Most children are cared for in a supportive learning environment that truly focuses on the best interests of the children. At times, children are injured and even die while under the care of a care care center. Is a day care center automatically liable when a child is injured or when a child dies while under the supervision of the day care center? The simple answer to this question is “No”. A day care center is not automatically liable but is potentially liable if a parent can prove the following elements to a case:

1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;
3. Causation; and
4. Damages.

Each element is essential to pursuing a claim or case on behalf of the family of the child who died at a day care center. Typically, a family will be well served by being represented by a Child Injury Lawyer. Personal injury cases are quite complicated and the laws regulating day care centers and governing wrongful death cases can be quite confusing.

There was a recent news report that a child was found unresponsive at a day care center located in Brunswick, Georgia. It was reported by New 4 Jacksonville and other media outlets that a child was found unresponsive by day care center employees and then CPR was initiated. The child was subsequently transported to the South East Georgia Health Center where the child was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be performed by authorities. You can read more about this story at Child Found Unresponsive at Brunswick Georgia Day Care Center.

The results of an autopsy in a case of this nature may reveal important details as to the cause and mechanism of death. However, it is quite possible that all questions are not answered through the forensic and / or scientific information obtained through the autopsy. In addition to an autopsy, authoriites may also obtain statements from the day care center employees and perform a detailed analysis of the area where the child was found to be unresponsive.

When a child dies, there are no words that can describe the loss of the parents or family for that matter. This is especially true when the child is an infant and the death was wholly unexpected. The word “shocking” does not even begin to describe the loss to the family and the community when a child dies.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parents Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Child Abuse, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Seattle Washington and other cities throughout the United States, there is a common danger in many apartment complexes, hotels, and motels. An unsecured window can present a great danger to children of all ages and sizes. A thin screen is typically insufficient to serve as a safety device. This is evident by the thousands of injuries that take place every year resulting from falls from unsecured window areas. A tragic incident was recently reported in Seattle Washington in which a 2 year old child fell from a third story window in an apartment building operated by the Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services. You can read more about this story at 2 Year Old Suffers Fatal Personal Injuries From Fall Out of Third Floor Window.

Child safety advocates believe that public awareness of this issue combined with safety devices can go a long way to preventing these injuries. The thousands upon thousands of injuries to children should be a wake up call to building owners, operators, managers, and residents to take action to protect children. While a screen may look sturdy, it typically cannot withstand the weight or force of even a small children. Do not leave things to chance and put children in harm’s way.

When a child is injured or dies as a result of the negligence of others, insurance claims and litigation can be quite daunting for the parents dealing with the aftermath of the incident. There are bills to pay and other pressures for parents to deal with. Furthermore, navigating through laws and regulations can be quite complicated and confusing. A Child Injury Lawyer can help direct and guide a parent through the process necessasry to secure fair and reasonable compensation for the injured child and / or the parents of the injured child.

The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Homeowner’s Insurance, Shopping Center Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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During the school year as well as summer months, school buses are on the road. Unfortunately, children are injured while riding school buses, while standing at bus stops, and while loading school buses. Because of the risks of injury, it is important for parent, children, camps, and schools to follow up simple steps. This, in turn, will prevent many personal injuries from taking place.

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/topics/HealthDay690250_20140801_Expert_Offers_School_Bus_Safety_Tips.html

FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Almost 140 people die every year in accidents related to school transportation in the United States.

But there are several simple ways to prevent school bus-related catastrophes, Dawne Gardner, injury prevention coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center, said in a medical center news release.

“As families begin to prepare for children returning to school, it’s important for parents and children to go over school bus safety tips together,” Gardner said. “This will help ensure a safe, enjoyable start to the school year for everyone.”

It’s especially important, she said, to take care when kids are getting on or off a school bus. “A blind spot extends about 10 feet in front of the bus, obstructing the driver’s view,” she says. “Often times, children are not aware of this blind spot and might mistakenly believe that if they can see the bus, the bus driver can see them.”

Here are some of Gardner’s tips on how to avoid accidents:

To keep them out of the blind spot, encourage kids to stay 10 feet away from the front or back of the school bus.
Get children to the school bus stop at least 5 minutes early so they won’t put themselves at risk by running to catch the bus.
Teach kids to avoid horseplay while waiting for the bus. This will prevent children and their belongings from ending up in the roadway.
Tell kids to take three big steps backwards from the curb when a bus arrives. Don’t start approaching the bus until it has stopped and its doors are open.
Also, children should take care getting on the bus. They should let the driver know if they drop something and make sure the driver can see them if they try to pick it up. They should use handrails and be careful to not catch drawstrings, backpack straps, scarves and loose clothing on rails, doors or seats.

In addition, kids should remain seated and face forward, avoid yelling and horseplay in the bus, and never throw anything.

When it’s time to leave the bus, kids should wait for a complete stop before getting up from their seats. They should use handrails and take five big steps in front of the bus while making eye contact with the driver. The child should cross only when the driver says it’s safe and look left, right and left again prior to walking across the street.

More information

For more about school bus safety, try the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

— Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, news release, July 28, 2014

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/topics/HealthDay690250_20140801_Expert_Offers_School_Bus_Safety_Tips.html#DmWeMEERh7CuYv0T.99

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In South Dakota and other States, there is a time during the day that a child is put at risk even though it is not so obvious to some child care providers. That time of day is sleep time or nap time. A child is put at risk for serious personal injury and even death if a child is put to sleep in a dangerous position. A child is also put at risk when there is a lack of ongoing supervision during sleep or nap time. Because of these significant risk, a day care center should have policies in place for sleep and nap time. Bedding materials should be carefully selected and all other hazards including pillows, blankets, window cords, and stuffed animals.

Many people are under the impression that a crib or an enclosed sleeping area is the safest area in a day care center for child. This is not an accurate statement. The sleeping area can be the last place where a child takes a breath in life. This is especially true when an infant is placed to sleep on his or her stomach or on a soft object like a pillow, stuffed animal, or blanket. These items can cause a child to suffocate or asphyixate during sleep time. When this is combined with a lack of supervision, a child can die at the very day care center where the child is supposed to be cared for and supervised by a trained and attentive staff. Sleep time is not the time at any day care center for a child care provider to multi-task and take care of other work related items like cleaning, cooking, or caring for other children in other parts of the facility.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it was reported that a child was put down to sleep on his stomach while swaddled in a blanket. After an investigation, it was determined that the cause of death was due to asphyixia. As a result of this incident and findings by local authorities, the day care provider was charged criminally with the accidental or negligent death of this child. You can read more about this story at Day Care Provider Charged in Accidental Death of Child -Sioux City, South Dakota.

When a child is injured or dies as a result of the negligence or fault of a day care provider, a parent is faced with many challenges and questions. The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know - has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Water Park and Swimming Related Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Missouri and other States, there are dangers in virtually every community in the form of old buildings and old building codes. In Springfield, Missouri and other cities, many buildings are not subject to current building codes. Some of the newer codes require stricter regulations as to the construction and security in and around windows. This can be especially dangerous for children living in or visiting multi-story townhouses, homes, apartment complexes, and commercial buildings. With older codes, there are less restrictions as to window barriers and screens. This, in turn, can present a danger to children. It was reported in Springfield, Missouri recently that a 4 year old fell put of a third floor window and tragically died from the fall related personal injuries. See 4 Year Old Child Dies in Springfield, Missouri.

Here are some recommended safety tips for children and windows in any building from the first floor up . . .

*Keep playing children away from windows;

*Parents and child care providers should not rely on screens as safety devices in and around windows;

*Keep furniture away from windows to the extent possible to avoid providing a child with a play type or climbing structure near the windows; and

*Use safety devices like window stops to keep the windows from opening large enough for a child to climb through the window