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 By  David Wolf, Attorney

Bandage Child InjuryDuring the summer months, the temperature in various parts of the United States can easily exceed 100 degrees.  For children, especially those prone or susceptible to sunburn complications, the hot summer weather combined with poor supervision and common sense on the part of child care providers can combine to produce some significant sunburn related injuries.  Some sunburn injuries are so bad that they require medical care from an emergency room and / or a pediatrician. Certainly, a child can become sunburn when there is an extended time of play, sports, or outdoor activity.  The pursuit a claim or case will depend on the particular facts and circumstances as well as the significance of the injuries.  If a 8 year old child comes home with a mild sunburn, this by itself would not warrant – for practical reasons – the pursuit of a claim or a case.  However, if the child returns home with severe burns to the point that there is exposed skin and large painful blisters, then this situation could warrant the pursuit of an insurance claim or a potential lawsuit.
There are related type of summer time or warm weather injuries in the form of burn injuries.  This is distinguuished from sunburn injuries. For instance, let’s say that a child is playing on a slide that is plastic, rubber, or metal.  The slide is so hot that it causes second and third degree burns to the 4 year old child’s legs.  Under this fact pattern, the child care providers should have inspected the slide and taken measures to cool down the slide OR taken measures to close off the slide while it was too hot or dangerous for use by the children.
It was recently reported in Oklahoma that two children suffered severe sunburn injuries while attending a day care center / summer camp.  The photos of the children with the sunburn related blisters and injuries were posted on Facebook and went viral to some extent.  The children who sustained the injuriies were fair skinned.  The incident raises concerns and questions as to what the day care center / summer camp can do as to sun protection and sunscreen and what it cannot do.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injuries – 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

cal-0814-cl5-funpark11During the summer months and other times of the year, amusement parks and theme parks are packed with guests.  For most, the day or evening at the theme park or amusement park is filled with good times, fast but great tasting food, and fun rides.  For some guests, the day or night at the theme park or amusement park is one filled with personal injuries or even the untimely and tragic death of a guest or rider.  There are risks inherent with any activity; however, amusement park and theme park rides should be sound from an engineering and mechanical standpoint.  It is also important the the theme park and amusement park is properly staff with individuals who are trained and otherwise dedicated to the job.  Unfortunately, some theme parks or amusement parks are staffed with low paying employees who are not very motivated to do a good job.  Furthermore, there is a certain boredom or montony with the task of running a ride over and over again. It is the same task.  The work can be quite dull and this, in turn, can distract the ride operator into some daydreaming, sleep, and other distractions like mobile phone use.  Some ride operators mayy even under the influence of drugs or alcohol just to get through the shift.
When a person is injured at a theme park or amusement park, there are many questions or issues sthat arise including but not limited to the following:
When was the ride last inspected by the amusement park or theme park?
When was the ride last inspected by the state or regulatory agency in charge of overseeing amusement park or theme park rides?
When was the ride originally designed from an engineering standpoint?
What safety measures were provided in the design?
Were there any additional safety measures that could have been added to the ride?
Was video surveillance in place at the time of the incident or event?
How many ride operators were in place?
What were the manufacturer recommendations for the ride as to set up, safety measures, ride capacity, weight, and inspection?
Where there any mechcanical defects in the ride?
What was the repair or maintenance history for this ride?
Had other riders or guests be injured on this ride or a similar ride in the past?
If a person is injured as a guest or rider at a theme park or amusement park, the property owner or management company is not automatically liable for the personal injuries or death of the guests.  In order to pursue a case or claim, one or more of the following must be shown or proved by the presentation of evidence to support the same:
There was a mechanical defect in the ride that the theme park or amusement park knew or should have known about. 
There was a mechanical defect in the ride due to improper or insufficient maintenace and inspection.
The ride was unsafe for use at the time of the incident and action should have been taken to restrict or close down the ride. 
There was an engineering or design problem with the ride that caused or contributed to the personal injuries or death of the guest or rider. 
There was a lack of proper supervision by the ride operator that cause or contributed to the personal injuries or death of the guest or rider. 
Cases involving theme park or amusement park related personal injuries or deaths can be quite complicated and technical.  Because of this, it is important for the injured guest / rider OR the family of the injured guest / rider to contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for advice, consultation, guidance, and when appropriate legal representation.
Published on:

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Building Blocks Glossy - P - Day Care CenterIt is not difficult to find stories – horror stories better yet – about unlicensed day care centers in Louisiana, Florida, and other states.   When you see a news article posted about an unlicensed day care center, you will often read about a child being injured or put at risk or danger of personal injury while under the care of the unlicensed day care center.   These child care providers are “operating in the shadows”.  Without any oversight, rules, or regulations, many unlicensed facilities do just what is necessary to convince the parents desperate for child care to part with their hard earned money.   While there are some unlicensed facilities and day care centers that happen to do just a fine job, there are so many others that are truly cutting corners and putting the dollar over safety concerns and measures for the children.
 
In many states, a day care center that cares for a certain number of children can be exempt from licensure and regulation.  For instance, in Louisiana, a day care center is not required to obtain a license if it provides are for 6 children or less.  It was recently reported that an unlicensed day care center in Louisiana was caring for 8 children.  A 22 month old child was placed under the care of this day care center.  On the child’s first day at the day care center, the child returned home with 11 bites.  That’s right – 11 bites.   Subsequent to the incident, the day care center operator was arrested for child desertion.  The day care center operator will be entitled to the services of a public defender or a private criminal defense attorney regarding these charges.   It is quite disturbing for a parent to drop off an infant or toddler at a day care center on the first day and have the children returned with so many injuries.  While the injuries could have been more worse in the form of fractures, head injuries, or even the death of the child, it is still quite disturbing to have a child harmed while under the so-called watchful eye of the day care center. 
Of course, personal injuries can take place at licensed and unlicensed facilities alike.   Just because a day care center has a license and complied with the local and state standards does not mean that the child will never suffer an injury.   Proper supervision is key in any day care center.  It is important for child care providers to be trained and to have the proper maturity, common sense, and temperament to care for children.   Some child care providers supervise children by utilizing corporal punishment.  One excuse may be that the child care provider was raised with spankings and corporal punishment so it is ok to use similar methods at the day care center.   One word can describe this mindset and manner for caring for children – WRONG.  In most states, corporal punishment of a child is prohibited and can form the basis for an arrest and criminal prosecution depending on the severity of the situation.  
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.
Published on:

By  David Wolf, Attorney

Fire Rescue Graphic Blue in SquareBounce houses are common sites in neighborhoods, parks, theme parks, attractions, and amusement centers. One potential dangerous condition in or near bounce house area is concrete.  If a bounce house is placed on concrete and there are any exposed areas, a serious personal injury can result.   There is also a danger to having any entry or exit areas near concrete.   As a child is entering or exiting a bounce house, the child can easily fall or lose balance.  This, in turn, can lead to a hard impact on the concrete.  This is especially dangerous if the child’s head hits the concrete ground surface.  Because of the dangers associated with bounce houses, it is advisable that bounce houses be installed by trained professionals and that all reasonable and available safety measures are provided to prevent serious injuries to children playing in or near the bounce house area.
There was a very serious personal injury reported in New Zealand in which one of the inflatable columns of the bounce house or inflatable playground became deflated.  This, in turn, resulted in an exposed play area with the concrete flooring or ground.  A 10 year old child fell while playing the area and suffering a serious personal injury in the form of head trauma.   This one injury represents a true danger of bounce houses, inflatable play areas, and entertainment / amusement areas for children.   If there is a danger present, it should be repaired or separated or roped off in some area to prevent entry or use by the children.  In some instances, it may be necessary to just shut down the bounce house or inflatable area to prevent injuries to children until the proper repairs can be made.
Certainly, even when a bounce house or inflatable area is set up in the safest manner possible, there is still a risk of injury when there is no adult supervision or virtually no adult supervision.   What’s the difference? If there are no adults presents, then there is no adult supervision.  If there is an adult prevent but that particular adult is otherwise distracted by texts, tweets, e-mails, and phone calls, then there is virtually no adult supervision.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Attraction and Theme Park Injuries, Water Park and Swimming Injuries, 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 LawyeBlog

Building Blocks Glossy - P - Day Care CenterUnfortunately, spankings and corporal punishment are still prevalent in many communities.  It is a tradition that has been literally handed down from generation to generation.  While there may be some time and family history to spankings and corporal punishment, the fact is that most States ban such activities and disciplinary measures in most day care centers and child care facilities.  Some church based or religious based institutions may have an exception from such State regulation.  Even in circumstances where spankings and corporal punishment are permitted, there are still child abuse laws in place that make it actionable or criminal if the spanking or corporal punishment is excessive and causes physical marks and / or the need for medical evaluation and treatment.  Clearly, the best way to make sure that a child is not subjected to excessive corporal punishment is just to refrain from it completely.   Corporal punishment and spankings put a child at risks especially by an adult who does not fully realize the size differential and the force that is applied when engaged in corporal punishment or spankings. Furthermore, it should be noted that many day care providers are angry when giving out punishments which can lead a day care provider to be out of control and really cause significant permanent injuries to the child.

Every parent of a child enrolled in a day care center should be familiar with the state and local rules and regulations regarding spankings and corporal punishment.   If a day care center engages in activities that are banned, a parent should be wary about keeping a child enrolled in the facility.  Furthermore, it should be noted that the state and local day care laws and regulations are in place to protect the children from harm, abuse, and injuries.  It is not up to the day care center OR the parents to pick and choose which rules and regulations should be followed and which should be ignored. 
If a child has been subjected to improper and / or excessive physical punishment at a school, day care center, summer camp, or at any other facility, the parents should seek out legal representation to discuss the respective rights of the victimized child and the potential courses of action.  
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Theme Parks and Attractions, Swimming and Waterpark Injuries, Automobile Accidents, Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
Published on:

 By  Andrew Baker, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney

Building Blocks LIn Ohio and other States, licensed day care centers are regulated and overseen by a state social service agency. In Ohio, it is the Department of Children and Family Services is the social service agency that regulates day care centers.   When a facility is cited by the Department or charged by the police with failing to provide appropriate care, sanctions can result in the form of fines, arrest, license probation, and license suspension.   A caregiver, individually, can be arrested and fined as well.  It should be noted that the administrative proceeding and criminal proceeding are quite different than an insurance claim and civil case.   When rules and regulations are violated, the state can step in to discipline and fine the facility and / or its staff members.  For a civil case or an insurance claim, the elements of a case are a bit different especially when it comes to the element of damages.  For instance, a facility may violate a bunch of different building codes and get shut down by the state; however, if there are no harm caused to any of the children – there may not be a civil case or insurance claim to pursue.  Just because a day care center violates a rule or regulation or even engages in conduct that is criminal in nature – this does not mean that there will be a big settlement or any settlement for that matter on behalf of the child.
For day care center insurance claims or cases, there are typically four elements to consider:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;
3. Causation; and
4. Damages.
 
In baseball, if a player bats .500 – he is an amazing player.  That means that for every 4 appearances at the plate, the batter gets 2 hits.   As such, going 2 for 4 in any professional baseball game is a very good statistic.  Of course baseball is much different than the pursuit of a legal case or claim; however, the analogy is an important one.   Let’s take a look at a day care case. If you can only prove 2 of the 4 elements, that is not respectable at all for a day care center case. In fact, a case that lacks causation and damages would get thrown out of court if it was filed or pursued.
As such, it is important to be able to prove that damages / injuries resulted from the breach of duty on the part of the day care center and its staff.  It can be quite complicated and confusing getting through the maze of issues that present themselves in a typical case.  As such, it is recommended that a parent contact a Child Injury Lawyer for advice, consultation, guidance, and legal representation.
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.
 
Published on:

By  Jonathan Safran, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney

Nap Time - Moon and StarParents rely on day care centers during the working day to care of the child in an environment that is safe and clean.  One overlooked area of child care in a day care center can be the sleeping or napping arrangements.  Children especially infants are at risk for injury during sleep and nap time.   An infant should not be placed in an adult bed or even a toddler bed for that matter.   Pillows and soft objects should be removed from the crib area or sleeping area for the infant.  Swaddling is also something that many pediatricians and experts advise against.
When a facility is a licensed day care center, state officials will come in from time to time to survey and inspect the facility.  During these inspections, dangerous sleeping arrangements and accommodations can be spotted and removed.   Of course, inspections are often spaced out over time and sometimes not performed at all.
For unlicensed facilities, the overnight just is not there.  Many day care centers in various states avoid the requirements of licensure due to size, location, and / or religious affiliation.  Whether a day care facility is big, small, unlicensed or licensed, it is important that the children especially infants are cared for in a safe environment during sleep or nap time.  Otherwise, there are significant risk of personal injuries or death to the child including but not limited to SIDS, strangulation, suffocation, and other complications.
A child’s death at a day care center was recently reported in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.   An autopsy was performed.  It was reported that the medical examiner could not determine why or how the child died.   There was a part of the article that causes some concern about the sleeping environment at this unlicensed day care center. It was reported that the 4 month old was swaddled, placed on a “Snuggle Me” fusion on his back, and placed on  an adult twin bed.  Of course, there are various ways and methods of putting an infant to sleep.  The swaddling technique is questioned by many medical experts. Furthermore, an adult bed should not typically be used as the bed for a child.   Placing the child on his or her back is the recommended position for most infants.  Finally, there is a question as to the type and level of supervision when evaluating the care provided to a child while in a day care center.
Certainly, the loss of any infant is a tragedy for the family as well as the day care providers responsible for the care of that child.  It is important for parents to ask questions of the day care center as follows:
Does the day care center have a license? If no, why not?
 
What are the arrangements for sleep and nap time?
 
What level of supervision is provided to children during sleep or nap time?
 
What is the staff to child ratio at the day care center?
 
What precautions or measures are taken during sleep time or nap time to prevent SIDS related deaths, suffocation, strangulation?
 
When is the last time that the day care center was inspected?
 
What is the training and experience of the day care center staff members employed at the facility?
If a child is injured or dies at a day care center due to the negligence or carelessness of the facility or its staff, a case or claim may be pursued on behalf of the child or the family of the child.  It should be pointed out the pursuing a case against an unlicensed facility can be quite challenging especially if the facility lacks any liability insurance coverage.   A day care center that is exempt due to religious affiliation may still have insurance because of its affiliation with an established and ongoing reputable business in the form of the church or religious institution.  However, it would be difficult from a practical standpoint to pursue a case against  the day care facilities that fly under the radar and just do not bother to get licensed or insured when they are required to do so.
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.
Published on:

By  Keith Kerfeld, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney

Day Care Center Sleep and Nap TimeParents rely on the day care centers and child care centers for the supervision of their children.  There are some obvious risks that need to be accounted for in and around the day care center.  For instance, if the day care center is in a busy commercial area, children should be closely monitored to prevent a child from wandering out the door or wandering out of the fenced area and into traffic.  Wandering into traffic is an obvious danger.   A not so obvious danger involves sleep or nap time. One would think that the safest place for a child at day care center would be the crib or the sleeping area.  One would think that a child could not possibly be harmed while engaged in the relaxing slumber of a good sleep or a good nap.  However, this is the very time and place in which many children are harmed especially toddlers and newborns when the sleep area is unsafe for the age or size of the child AND / OR when the sleep or nap time supervision is lacking or dangerously non-existent.   Most states in the day care and child care regulations set forth rules, guidelines, and regulations for sleep time / nap time related responsibilities of the day care center. One such state is Minnesota.
In Minnesota, child care centers / day care centers are governed by Chapter 245A – Human Services Licensing, Minnesota Statutes.    Pursuant to Section 245A.1435 Reduction of Risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death in Licensed Programs, a child care center / day care center which is licensed is required to:
*Place the infant on the infant’s back, unless the license holder has documentation from the infant’s physician directing an alternative sleeping position;
 
*Must place the infant in a crib directly on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet that is appropriate to mattress size, that fits tightly to the mattress, and overlaps the underside of the mattress so it cannot be dislodged by pulling on the corner of the sheet with reasonable effort;
 
*Must move the infant to a crib as soon as practicable if the infant falls asleep before being placed in the crib; and
 
*Refrain from placing a swaddled infant down to sleep because it is not recommended AND furthermore it is prohibited for any infant who has begun to roll over independently.
These are excellent recommendations.  Unfortunately, many day care centers around Minnesota and the rest of the nation do not properly train staff members AND / OR have inappropriate sleep and nap accommodations in the facility that are age appropriate for infants and toddlers.  A stuffed animal can seem like a comforting toy to place in a crib with a child; however, this same fluffy toy can lead to serious personal injuries and even the death of a child if the child rolls over on top of the stuffed animal and then is essentially suffocated while in this position.  
The clipart image used for this article shows a cute teddy bear, pillow, and blanket.   While this is pleasant looking graphic, it is also one that contains three very danagerous items to infants in day care centers:  1. Stuffed Animal;  2. Pillow; and 3. Blanket.   All of these “cute” items can be deadly when placed in a crib with an infant.   It should also be noted that supervision is key to the safety of children even during nap time and sleep time for infants and children placed in an apppropriate sleep or nap environment.
If a child suffers a personal injury due to the negligence of a day care center or child care center, the parents should contact a Minnesota Child Injury Lawyer for advice, guidance, and legal representation. 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.
Published on:

 By  David Wolf, Attorney

Gymnast Personal InjuryIt is certainly an important part of childhood for most children to participate in some sports related activity.  From football to cheerleading to gymnastics to soccer and all sports in between and beyond, youth sports and related activities help make our children more active and better rounded as they mature and head out into the world beyond high school.   For some children especially those in elementary and pre-school, participation in sports related activities can and do lead to serious personal injuries.  Are there inherent risks any time that a child participates in an activity or sports related practice, game, or exhibition?  The simple answer to this question is “Yes”.  However, there are two questions that should be answered when evaluating a potential case involving a sports related activity:
Was the incident leading to the personal injury foreseeable?
 
Was the incident leading to the personal injury preventable?
It was recently reported that a lawsuit was filed in New Orleans, Louisiana regarding an injury that took place at a gym.   A minor child, with no prior experience as a gymnast, was asked to do a certain maneuver on the high balance beam. While attempting the maneuver, she fell off of the high beam and fractured her leg.  The parents, through the services of Personal Injury Lawyer, filed a lawsuit against the gym alleging that the gym failed to provide adequate instruction, supervision, and spotting of the child.   According to the lawsuit filed, the injuries were both foreseeable and preventable.  See Parents File Lawsuit Against New Orleans, Louisiana Gym.   Of course, the gym has every right to defend the case and hire its own attorney do so.   Another central theme to these cases is safety.   Were the proper safety measures put in place to prevent personal injuries from taking place?  In many such cases, expert witnesses are called in to provide opinions and information regarding the industry and standards that should be put in place.   Because of the complexity of these cases and the need for experts both as to liability and damages (medical providers), a parent should reach out and contact a Child Injury Lawyer for advice, consultation, and legal representation.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, Sports Related Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
Published on:

By  David Wolf, Attorney

sports_1000009537-120613intIn the summer and other times of the year, there is always a risk of drowning to toddlers, children, teenagers, and yes adults.  Putting safety measures in place is not just for special events and public pools.  Safety should be a priority any time that a person (of any age) is on, in, or near the water whether it is a swimming pool, water park, wading pool, lake, river, canal, or ocean.   Even a lazy river winding itself around the confines of a luxury resort can be the site of a horrible yet preventable drowning or near drowning incident. Most drowning or near drowning incidents can be prevented with the proper planning and the proper supervision of the swim area.   Let’s talk a bit about supervision.  Here is an equation to consider:
Proximity does not equal proper supervision.
Of course, if an adult is nowhere close to the swimming area, this is not proper supervision either. Let’s go back to that interesting statement:  Proximity does not equal proper supervision.   If an adult in in the swim area but has his head buried in his smartphone – then this is not proper supervision.  A drowning can take place in a matter of seconds.   Here is another statement to consider:  Burying your head in a smartphone makes you stupid when it comes to be an attentive adult in or near a swim area.  While these statements are somewhat interesting and clever, it is the supervision that matters.  Hopefully, this post and the use of common sense will go a long way to making all of us more attentive in and around swimming and water areas.    Here are some other tips to consider:
Designate one or more adults in a  swim area to be an attentive supervisor of the swimmers and those in and around the pool or water area;
 
For small children and weaker swimmers, have these swimmers wear a life jacket.  Yes, this applies to swimming pools and all  other water areas.
 
Buddy systems also work.  Make sure that each swimmer has a buddy in place.  This applies to all swimmers and not just the younger ones.
 
Do not mix drugs or alcohol with your supervising responsibilities.   Having a drink in one hand and a smartphone in the other amount to absolutely terrible supervision.
 
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Swimming and Water Park Injuries, Theme Park and Attraction Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.