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Crosswalk-Personal-Injuries-169x300In Utah and other States, children are the unfortunate victims of the negligent, distracted, and / or drunk drivers that cause serious personal injuries and in some cases wrongful death. Certainly, drivers should slow down in school zones, at bus stops, and at parks.  Drivers should also proceed with caution when a child is in or near a crosswalk or intersection.  Tragically, children continue to be the victims of careless drivers on a daily basis.  When a child is injured, a criminal case can be pursued against the negligent driver if the careless driver amounted to a crime in the form of DUI or other forms of reckless conduct.  Justice demands that action is taken in these cases.  There may also be a civil case pursued against the negligent driver. It should be noted that there are many practical consideration that come into play when an attorney reviews a potential civil case for potential legal representation.  One such consideration focuses on the availability of automobile insurance to cover the damages claimed by the injury victim and the family of the injury victim.  Here are the various types of insurance that may apply:
Personal Injury Protection.  In States in which insurance carriers offer such coverage, PIP can provide in most instances up to $10,000 for medical bills and wage losses.  PIP benefits are often paid from a parent’s automobile insurance policy.  For instance, if a child is hit by a negligent driver, the medical bills may still be processed under the PIP portion of the policy of the parent(s) of the child.  PIP can apply even though the parent’s vehicle was not involved in the crash.
Medical Payment Coverage.  This coverage works similar to PIP coverage.  The medical bills may be processed or paid by the insurance policy of the injured child’s parent.  If no such coverage applies, the Medical Payment and / or PIP benefits may be obtained from the at-fault driver’s policy.  This will depend on the insurance policy language as well as the insurance laws in place for the State where the incident / accident took place.
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Calendar-300x295The statute of limitations is the time period by which a party or victim needs to take legal action to enforce rights and / or seek financial compensation for the negligence or intentional harm caused by a person, business, and / or government entity.  These time limits are proscribed or set by the legislation in statutes / laws.  The time period for a particular case will depend on the state where the incident took place, the type of action brought, and the parties involved.  Over the years, legislatures have broadened the time limits by which a victim can bring forth a case based on the sexual abuse of the victim.

The statute of limitation in sexual abuse cases has always been a topic of discussion amongst the law community as it is very impactful on the amount of cases received by firms. The topic is also sensitive when understanding the physical and emotional trauma that may impede an individual from filing a lawsuit within a set amount of time after the incident. As time has gone on and many states have become more progressive and understanding of the victim’s position in sexual abuse cases, we have seen a positive trend in the expansion of statutes of limitations in these cases. Just recently, both New York and New Jersey passed laws affecting their statute of limitations. What’s interesting is that they both went about this in different ways. Having realized that many cases of sexual abuse involving a child had been swept under the rug, New York passed the Child Victims Act (CVA) which repeals the statute of limitations on these cases for a period of a year and raises the age limit to 28 in criminal cases and 55 in civil suits . The one-year grace period for cases outside of the statutes of limitations led to 439 cases being filed on just its first day enacted. New Jersey’s approach was to raise the statutes of limitations age to 55 for all child abuse cases or within 7 years of the victim’s realization that the abuse caused harm. The most recent example of a state that is expanding its statute of limitations involving sexual crimes is Texas. Effective September 1st, the statute of limitations has been doubled from 15 to 30 for personal injury claims related to sexual assault.

What is important about the changes being made in these states is that it sends a message to survivors of these heinous crimes that legislators are listening and that they are not going unheard. These changes encourage more people to report actions that may be considered sexual assault/abuse and gives less reasons as to why it should be brushed under the rug. With cases like Jeffrey Epstein’s reaching national media coverage, more and more states are becoming aware that they need to stand up for victims of sexual abuse. As 2019 continues, keep an eye out for more states to follow in the footsteps of New York, New Jersey, and Texas.

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Red-Light-108x300Traffic lights are placed at intersections for a specific purpose – to control traffic and make the roads a bit safer.  While traffic lights are clearly visible to drivers, there continue to be drivers who run a red light for a variety of reasons.  Some drivers misjudge the timing of a yellow light, while others are just in a hurry to get from Point A to Point B. Some drivers are distracted by their phones.  Whatever the reason, running a red light can have terrible consequences including but not limited to the death of innocent victims who were at the wrong time and wrong place.

One of these consequences could be getting pulled over by a police officer. However, the more serious and troubling danger is that running a red light could result in a car accident. Over 200,000 of the almost 6 million car accidents that occur in the United States each year are the result of rushed red lights; more than 800 of these accidents are fatal. Worse yet, the number of deaths caused by collisions due to red traffic lights in the United States have increased almost 30% since 2012. Researchers at the American Automobile Association found a 60% increase over a ten-year period in these kinds of accidents in Nevada. Given this substantial increase in the number of accidents, what are some actions one might take to keep from running a red light?

The first, and most important, step a driver can take is simply to pay attention while at the wheel. Mistakes often come while drivers are distracted, so putting the phone down and focusing on the road will significantly reduce the risk of accidentally running a red light. Of course, not all red light runs are accidental. Some drivers will intentionally rush through when to save some time. Those people just need to make a conscious effort to break their bad habit, because, if not, there is always the risk that they might harm themselves or others.

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Building-Blocks-300x271When selecting a day care center for a child, there are many options in most communities.  A parent can go with a national chain, a local commercial day care center, or an in-home day care center.  There are also day care centers that are part of schools, non-profit community centers, and churches.  While a day care center license is far from a guarantee that a child will never be harmed, a day care center license does subject the facility to oversight, rules, and regulations.  In addition, liability insurance is required as part of many licensing requirements and / or government programs that provide benefits for children enrolled in a day care center.  When a child is enrolled in an unlicensed – off the grid day care center, there may be a number of safety risks associated with the day care center.

Licensed day care facilities are held to higher standards than those that are unlicensed. Employees are required to take safety tests and learn CPR, which can be the difference between life and death in emergency situations. Licensed day cares are also subject to regular inspections from health or safety boards, so they are likely to be safer environments for children. Unlicensed day care facilities fall under no such scrutiny. Their buildings could be unsafe or unclean, their food could be unhealthy, and they could avoid immunization and handwashing procedures meant to stop the spread of diseases. Most importantly, the staff at an unlicensed day care center could be inadequately trained, and there could be too few staff members to properly watch over all the children in their care. Licensed day care centers are clearly the safer option, so why are some parents still choosing to bring their children to unlicensed day cares?

Part of the issue is simply ignorance. Popular day care search website Care.com advertises unlicensed day care centers the same as licensed ones, so some parents will unwittingly send their children to one. Prompted by an increase in infant deaths, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office requested that Care.com “stop deceptive childcare providers” from advertising. Five infants died in unlicensed Tennessee day care centers in 2018, so it only makes sense that the DA would want to put an end to them. Parents looking for day care centers for their children should do research to see if the facility is licensed and safe. They can also report any unlicensed day care center they find.

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Baseball-Injuries-300x228Baseball is America’s pastime. From the Spring through the Fall and into the Summer, fans of all ages including children visit baseball parks / stadiums through the country to watch major league and minor league baseball games.  During most games, you will see foul balls and home run balls fly into the stands. While part of the fun of the game is to take home a souvenir, it is also a very dangerous part of the sport for spectators. A fan can suffer serious injuries when hit by a foul ball or a home run ball.  It can be quite a challenge to pursue a case for compensation due to the long-standing precedent known as the Baseball Rule.

When a foul ball flies into the stands, many fans are eager to try to catch it. What they might not realize is that over 1,750 people are injured annually by fly balls, with some injuries so severe that they cause blindness. One might think that the baseball team or stadium would be held responsible for these injuries, but U.S. courts have consistently ruled that they are not. Under a century-old legal document known as the Baseball Rule, if a team takes simple precautions, such as having enough seats for all fans in attendance and installing netting behind home plate, they are not held legally responsible for injuries sustained by a foul ball. Courts have held that the dangers that come with foul balls are obvious, so fans assume the risk of any injuries that may come. This usually means that they are forced to pay medical bills all on their own.

Being over a hundred years old, the Baseball Rule has not adapted to changes made in the sport of baseball. To start, seats in newer stadiums are far closer, as much as 20%, to the field than they were 50 years ago. Additionally, athletes are pitching faster and hitting harder than ever, so a foul ball can go into the stands at speeds of over 110 miles per hour. Because of this, several legal scholars have called for the abolition of the Baseball Rule, which would require baseball teams to take much more rigorous precautions, such as full-field netting. Major League Baseball currently recommends that teams install additional netting, but, as it is not required, it is uncommon. The MLB itself even acknowledges that fans that are not protected by netting are at a much higher risk of injury, which goes to show how outdated the Baseball Rule is.

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Public-School-Negligence-300x262Black’s Law Dictionary defined Corporal Punishment as follows:

“Physical punishment as distinguished from pecuniary punishment or a fine; any kind of punishment of or inflicted on the body, such as whipping or the pillory; the term may or may not include imprisonment, according to the context.”

Many people think that corporal punishment is a thing of the past. An archaic or old-fashioned manner of punishment that was once common in the school system.  As an elementary school student of the 1970s, I recall classmates coming back from the principal’s office with a face that was red like a tomato and tears flowing out like there was no tomorrow.  It was clear that these classmates underwent the punishment of a paddling.  Many people would be surprised to know that corporal punishment in the form of paddling and other measures is still in place.

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Building-Blocks-300x271Day care centers should be safe havens. For most children, a typical day at a child care center involves some adventure, snacks, and, yes, that all important nap.  Unfortunately, and tragically for some toddlers, they do not return home at all following a visit to a child care center.  These children do not return home because they died due to the neglect of a day care center.  There is nothing worse for a parent than to bury a child. Nightmares turn into realities.  One such place that tragedies take place is the unlicensed day care center.  In most cases, the unlicensed day care center lacks any appreciable assets or liability insurance.  As such, while a legal action or lawsuit can be filed against the day care center, the collectability of a potential settlement or verdict is highly unlikely to improbable to impossible.  In other words, a strong legal case against a defendant does not mean that there is an economically viable defendant to collect from.

This past July an incident occurred within an unlicensed Tennessee daycare leaving twin babies died. The day care center operator was indicted on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of the two children. The parents of the children filed a wrongful death lawsuit last month seeking compensation of over 50 million dollars. While this seems like a substantial case and demand, a victory in court will most likely be a hollow one since any verdict will probably be uncollectible.  As a general statement, unlicensed day care centers are typically operated by people who cut corners and who do not follow rules.  Furthermore, unlicensed day care centers are usually operated by individuals who have little to no assets to collect upon when there is a sizable verdict against the facility.

Parents should check to see if a day care center is licensed and insured.  While these are not the only factors to consider, if the day care center lacks a license or insurance, it can be a red flag to stay away from that day care center and find one with both liability insurance and licensure in place.  When evaluating a potential case against a day care center, one of the first factors considered is the availabilty and amount of liability insurance.  While a day care center may be legally liable for damages related to personal injuries or death to a child, this does not mean that the day care center owner will ultimately be able to pay out a settlement or verdict rendered in favor of the injured child.

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Video-Surveillance-in-Child-CareIn day care centers across the nation, there are countless acts of abuse and neglect. Some get swept under the rug and never get reported. Children enrolled in a child care center often is an easy target because of age, the inability to defend himself or herself, and the lack of communication skills to alert parents and other adults of the abuse.  Being a child care provider is not easy task.  It requires a person who is alert, physically able, and patient.  Unfortunately, far too many day care centers are run or staffed with unqualified and downright abusive people.

There are plenty of excellent day care centers that do not have video surveillance. On the “wish list” of things to have in a day care center, it is at times helpful to have video surveillance in place.  There are a number of benefits to having video surveillance in place as follows:

Video surveillance is another “set of eyes” supervising the care provided to the children.

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Swimming-and-Drowing-Risks-300x244During the summer months, swimming is a wonderful activity for children.  It can also be a dangerous one. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is listed as the top cause of death for children ages one to four years old.  For older children ranging in age from five to nineteen years old, drowning is listed as the third leading cause of death.

There are several precautions a parent can take to protect their children from drowning. Children near open bodies of water, like lakes or beaches, should wear life vests. However, of the almost one thousand child drownings each year, the majority of these occur in home backyard pools. First, there should always be a supervising adult near swimming children. Many parents and homeowners decide it is best to construct a fence around their pool in order to physically separate young children from the water, and studies show that “four-sided fencing with a locking gate… prevents more than half of swimming pool deaths in children.” The CDC recommends a fence at least four feet high. In the event of a child falling into a pool or other body of water, parents should take care to learn CPR.

One preventative measure which has garnered a bit of attention in the last few years is youth swimming lessons—starting as young as a year old. The reason for this early start is twofold—first, infants can drown in bodies of water much smaller than a swimming pool, like a bathtub or even a bucket of water, and, second, the lessons prepare young children in case they accidentally fall into a swimming pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says almost seventy percent of drowning victims under the age of five were not expected to be in the water. For this reason, youth swimming lessons are focused on familiarization with water, being able to breach the surface and tread water or looking for floatation devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons for children between the years of one and four, and the USA Swimming Foundation reports that lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by almost ninety percent. Parents should make sure that, when enrolling their children in a swimming course, the teachers are properly trained and that there are lifeguards on duty.

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Campground-300x239Parents enroll children in the Boy Scouts to learn life lessons.  For most scout members, activities are filled with fun and meaningful times. At times, scouts are subject to abuse and neglect by the very adults / scout masters who are supposed to supervise and protect the scouts.

While the Boy Scouts of America is intended to foster the growth and development of your child there is always the possibility that injuries are sustained. Just recently in Nassau County Florida, there was a case wherein a scout master was arrested for assaulting one of the children in the program. After the mother reached out to the BSA, the BSA released a statement denouncing the scout master’s actions and assuring the public that due to their mandatory reporting policy, their children’s safety remained a priority of the organization. So, what happens in the case of your child being injured during a Boy Scouts of America event? The BSA provides comprehensive general liability insurance for cases where a child may be injured. This provides coverage to scouts in any case involving negligent actions of a third party resulting in personal injury or property damage. The BSA also offers coverage for accidents and sickness, offering medical reimbursement I case of death, accident, or sickness within the policy’s amounts (www.scouting.org/health-and-safety).

As mentioned earlier, the BSA has a mandatory reporting policy, but what are the resources offered in order to handle serious cases. On their website, the BSA offers reports for both incidents and near miss situations. The BSA asks that these reports are completed immediately after the occurrence of the incident in order to get as many facts down as possible. Risk management bases these policies off of the facts provided in the initial incident report, so they stress the importance of including evidence and details of what took place. While this may not prevent every scenario, the BSA attempts to expand its safety policies in accordance to the reports they receive.