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At most restaurants in New York and throughout the country, children are welcome guests. When operating and managing a restaurant, it is important for the management and staff to pay attention to the needs of children as well as any dangers that may be present to a child that may not be a danger to an adult. At a restaurant, the business has a duty to act in a reasonable and safe manner. If there is a dangerous condition on the premises, the staff has a duty to correct the problem or at least put warning signs / cones around the area of danger. When serving food, it is important that the staff act in a reasonable and safe manner. At times, food is spilled, especially hot food, which, in turn, causes serious injuries to an adult or child customer of the restaurant.

An incident that took place in Queens, New York demonstrates how a  brief moment it takes for a nice outing at a restaurant can turn into a tragedy. It was reported that a seventeen-month-old baby sustained severe burns when scalding hot water fell on him at a restaurant after a waiter placed a cup containing hot water on the family’s table. The heat of the water stripped the skin off of a large portion of the baby’s stomach. It also fell onto his arms and legs. Furthermore, news reports indicate that restaurant employees initially tried to get ointment and napkins for the burns, so no one called 911 until over twenty minutes after the injury.

The burn injuries sustained by the little boy in Queens exemplify just one of the many ways that children may sustain injuries in a restaurant. Other common types of injuries to children in restaurants are: bruises and broken bones from falling out of booths, chairs, booster seats, and high chairs; lacerations and cuts from knives left near a child; injuries in play lands, play grounds, or play structures on the property of a restaurant; and slip and fall injuries from unclean surfaces or other hazards in the restaurant.

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Day-Care-Sleep-Practices-300x195One would think that the safest place for a child to be at a day care center is in a crib or sleeping area. In actuality, the crib or sleeping area in a day care center could be quite a dangerous place for a child. In fact, some children even die while being supervised in a crib or sleeping area in a day care center. Actually, the so called supervision is lacking. In addition, the term “supervision” is an overstatement in these situations. In actuality, the supervision is wholly lacking. The simple but dangerous act of putting a blanket or a soft stuffed animal in the crib or sleeping area of the child can lead to catastrophic results in the form of serious personal injuries and even the death of a child.

An incident out of Tennessee demonstrates how something as peaceful and innocent as nap time can quickly turn injurious. It was reported that a nine-month-old baby was found sweating profusely and tied up by a sheet in a pack n’ play crib at his daycare center. The day care reportedly indicated that it used the blanket to restrain the infant during nap time, in order to prevent the baby from “wallowing” around while he slept. According to the news reports, use of a blanket in the sleeping quarters of a baby violates existing safety procedures in place at day cares. The Department of Human Services found other infants napping at this day care covered in blankets upon investigating the center after the parents of the nine-month-old reported the incident.

Events like these must be taken seriously because of the dangers bedding presents to small children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, blankets and pillows present special risks to babies that they do not present to adults or even older children. For example, an average of thirty-two babies die each year from pillows because of the suffocation risk they present. Pillows can block the nose and mouth of a baby, who unlike an adult or an older child, may not be able to move or roll over to get oxygen. Accordingly, pillows are not recommended for children under one and a half years of age. Blankets and toys present a similar risk as well as the additional risk of becoming wrapped around a child’s neck. Use of pillows, blankets, and toys also create a cluttered sleeping space for a baby; studies show a cluttered sleeping space increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as SIDS, which causes infants to pass away in their sleep. Thus, practicing safe sleep techniques with infants is critical. See Consumer Product Safety Commission – Safe Sleeping Tips.

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Public-School-Negligence-300x262In Oklahoma and other states, parents rely on schools and day care centers to be places of learning and safe havens. Unfortunately, far too many teachers, day care centers, administrators, and principals misuse their positions of responsibility and end up harming children under their care. At times, the harm results from a moment of agitation and irritation on behalf of the child care provider / teacher. At other times, the abuse, neglect, and / or corporal punishment results from a more systematic and calculated form of retribution or corporal punishment. Some school districts still allow for corporal punishments, while others strictly outlaw this outdated from of child discipline. If a child has been subjected to abuse, neglect, or corporal punishment, there may be a case or cause of action to pursue on behalf of the injured child.

A recent incident out of Indianola, Oklahoma exemplifies a scenario where a principal disciplined students using corporal methods in a school district that still permits punishments of this nature. News outlets reported that the principal of a public school instituted corporal punishment to  two children, ages ten and eleven, in the form of a paddle as punishment for arguing. The policy of the school district allows the school to “swat,” also known as spank, students as long as the school has permission from the parents to do so. In this situation, the parents felt the school went too far with the discipline because the children had bruises, lacerations, and welts as well as trouble sitting and standing after the discipline occurred.

While incidents of this nature may seem rare, the National Education Association indicates that nineteen states still permit corporal punishment, usually through paddling. According to statistics from the 2011-2012 school year, the National Education Association also asserts that approximately 163,000 students face corporal punishments annually. Alarmingly, statistics also reveal a racial disparity in the students subjected to corporal discipline in schools as well as a bias towards corporally disciplining students with disabilities. In some districts, students of minority races are 500% more likely to be struck than white students, even though these school districts tend to have more white students than minority students. Furthermore, students with disabilities are up to 67% more likely to face corporal punishment than other students in their school districts. Thus, corporal punishment occurs with some frequency in schools across the country and sometimes exhibits bias against protected classes of students.  See National Education Association – Corporal Punishment in Schools.

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In New York and other states, people wisely hire limousine and bus companies for parties, events, and celebrations. Rather than drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle, the safer way to travel is to have a professional, trained driver handle the transportation. However, at times, commercial drivers fail to pay attention to road conditions, traffic, traffic signals, and /or signage and end up being responsible and liable for a crash that injures and, in some instances, kills passengers. It is important for all drivers to remain alert, keep distractions to a minimum, and concentrate on the legal duties and responsibilities of operating a motor vehicle, van, bus, limousine, or other vehicle transporting passengers.

Nonetheless, even professional drivers get into accidents.

The recent tragedy in Schoharie, New York exemplifies this. It was reported that twenty people died when a limousine driver ran a stop sign and crashed into a parked car. All eighteen people in the limousine died, including the driver, as well as two pedestrians. This crash, dubbed the deadliest transportation accident in almost a decade, demonstrates just one of the many accidents involving commercial drivers in the past year.

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In Michigan and other states, parents rely on day care center to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment during the workday. Whether a child attends an in-home day care center or a commercial day care center, it is important that the child is supervised by a caring and patient adult. Unfortunately, far too many day care workers are not well suited by education, temperament, or maturity to watch young children. It is a well-known fact that infants will cry and toddlers will misbehave. If children were perfect angels who never cried and never misbehaved, there would almost be no need for a day care center. For most children, a day care center is a haven of safety in an otherwise busy world. For others, unfortunately, and in far too many cases, tragically, a day care center is the site of a serious personal injury in the form of head injury, brain damage, skull fracture, shaken baby syndrome, and related injuries.

A recent case of alleged child abuse at a home day care center in northern Michigan demonstrates the reality of these types of tragedies. It was reported that the owner of a home day care shook a seven-month-old baby in her care to the point that the baby stopped breathing. When a child is shaken, the brain can be damaged.  This mechanical / medical condition is simply referred to as shaken baby syndrome.  However simple the name, the brain damage resulting from shaken baby syndrome can have permanent affects on a child and the family caring for that child. Permanent brain damage can result after mere seconds of violent shaking by an adult or older child because of the sensitivity of infants’ softer skulls and developing brains. In the case out of Michigan, reports indicate the shaking of the baby ultimately fractured the infant’s skull, which t did not result in loss of life for the infant, but did result in long-term health consequences.

According to the New York Department of Health, one to three thousand children suffer from shaken baby syndrome each year. A quarter of those children die, and approximately eighty percent of the surviving children suffer from permanent brain damage or other lasting health complications. Injuries of this nature remain completely preventable. The New York Department of Health suggests that when caring for a child that will not stop crying, caregivers lay the child down in safe place, such as a crib or play pen, and take a break, so that they do not burn out and harm the child. See Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome. 

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Bounce houses are commonly seen in neighborhoods, amusement parks, fairs, parties, and other events. On most occasions, a bounce house is a great way for a child to play, get some exercise, and interact with friends. Unfortunately, bounce houses and similar recreational structures can be the site of a very serious injury and even the death of a child if safety precautions are not followed, including but not limited to, the anchoring of the bounce house. Furthermore, adult supervision is always key to protecting children from injuries. Kids will be kids. They lack good safety judgment and when there is no adult around – accidents and injuries can and do happen.

A recent accident in Nebraska exemplifies the instantaneous moment where fun on a bounce pad can turn injurious and deadly. A two-year-old boy died and his five-year old sister sustained a broken arm when a strong breeze uprooted the anchoring stakes of the moon bounce they were playing in at a Halloween pumpkin patch. The little girl was thrown from the bounce pad as it blew over, which saved her from serious injury. Unfortunately, the little boy tumbled with the bounce house as it blew over, which caused fatal head injuries. This tragedy in Nebraska demonstrates only one of the multitudes of ways in which a bounce house can cause injuries.

According to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, other common injuries from trampolines and moon bounces are head trauma, neck injuries, and broken legs. Suffocation by the plastic of a bounce house poses additional risks, such as lung or brain damage from a lack of oxygen. Furthermore, the children’s hospital also indicates that over 10,000 children a year sustain injuries in moon bounces and that over a third of those injuries occur in children younger than five years old. See Bounce House Related Personal Injuries to Children.

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ABC-Blocks-300x290In Arkansas and other states, parents rely upon day care centers to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment during the workday. For those who choose to own a day care center or work in one, it is important that safety needs of all the children, especially infants and toddlers, are met. Unfortunately for far too many children, injuries and incidents take place that are otherwise avoidable and preventable. In particular, injuries and incidents tend to take place when older children are permitted to play in an area occupied by much younger children. For instance, a 10 year old who has issues with hyperactivity and space issues should not be placed in the same room with an infant or toddler. Most states have rules and regulations in place regarding staff-to-child ratios and the proper supervision and separation of children by age in the day care setting.

Despite these requirements, injuries to children in day care centers still occur. As recently reported in the news of Arkansas, bite injuries are an example of potential harm that can come to children in day care. According to Mayo Clinic, human bite injuries can be even more dangerous than animal bites because of the differing strains of bacteria and viruses contained in human mouths. Correspondingly, children who sustain these types of injuries should seek medical attention because a tetanus shot may be necessary or an infection may arise. See Mayo Clinic – Risks of Infection – Human Bites. Therefore, biting is a potentially serious problem and should be avoided through consistent supervision and the following of the applicable rules and standards for day care centers.

With this in mind, a day care may be liable for a bite injury sustained by a child in its care. Though a day care center is not the absolute insurer of a child’s safety, day cares do owe their charges a duty of reasonable care. This means that day care centers should take reasonable precautions to safeguard the children in their care. Because biting is a common behavior in children, day care centers should take reasonable precautions to prevent it. For example, in the situation out of Arkansas, it was reported that caregivers laid down a 10-month-old baby for tummy time when an older child bit him. Reports also indicate that the older child was not supposed to be in that area and was known to bite. While it would probably be unreasonable to expect that the day care provide one to one supervision for every child, it would likely be reasonable to expect that the day care follow procedures about separating age groups, especially with a child with a known history of biting.

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Pool-Safety-300x280There is a common risk to children in the form of swimming pools.  Without proper supervision and safety devices like pool gates, fences, and alarms, children – especially toddlers – are at risk for drowning. In Australia, a coroner / medical examiner recommended that pools, spas, and other water hazards be banned at family day care centers. This recommendation follows the investigation into the death of a toddler – Lachlan Mitchell. The coroner opined that a swimming pool presented an unacceptable drowning risk to children.  While the coroner’s recommendation is not being adopted by the local child licensing agency, the recommendation aptly points out the significant risks posted by swimming pools in small day care centers as well as any day care center for that matter.  Yes, a swimming pool can be a wonderful activity to small children enrolled in a day care center.  Furthermore, teaching small children including toddlers how to swim can be quite beneficial as an essential life and survival skill for children.

A ban on swimming pools in day care centers can be seen by the day care operators as a drastic move or a somewhat draconian law.  Nevertheless, absent a ban – there will always be some risk by having a swimming pool on premises at a day care center.  Adult supervision is key.  While gates, locks, and alarms all serve a purpose, there is no substitute for the proper, ongoing, and constant supervision of the children enrolled in the day care center.  It is well known that swimming pools are attractive nuisances to children. In other words, children see the pool as a big playground and adventure rather than a danger.  Furthermore, children especially infants and toddlers have poor to no safety awareness when it comes to swimming pools and other waterways.  In addition to adult supervision, gates should be installed and maintained.  In addition, alarms should be put in place to alert day care center staff members when a child is in or near the pool area.  Video surveillance would also be helpful in detecting the presence of children in the pool area and in making sure that the children are properly supervised.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control, there is an average of about 3,500 fatal unintentional drowning deaths per year.  This is the average for the time period between 2005 and 2014.  Children under the age of 14 account for 1 in 5 of these deaths.  Furthermore, for every child who drowns – there are statistically 5 more children who are seen in an emergency room for non-fatal drowning related personal injuries.

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Summer is filled with outdoor activities and fun.  Many such activities take place on or around lakes, rivers, waterways, oceans, beaches, and water parks.  With any aquatic related activities, it is important that due care is taken and that all available safety precautions are in place to avoid accidents, incidents, and injuries from taking place.  While not all injuries can be avoided, many accidents and / or the severity of the accidents that take place during aquatic related activities including boating, swimming, jet skiing, tubing, and other pursuits can be avoided or lessened with due care, caution, and safety precautions. When an incident takes place on or in a waterway, certain laws, regulations, and procedures are analyzed to determine the civil, criminal, and / or administrative legal proceedings / actions that may be pursued in the aftermath of the boating / swimming / aquatic related activity.

A tragic accident was reported in Velva, North Dakota on Strawberry Lake. The Minot Daily News reported that four children were being pulled on two inner-tubes which were carrying the riders.  The rider of the jet ski was ejected from the 2003 Kawasaki brand jet ski but the jet ski continued to be in motion.  The jet ski ultimately struck two of the children who were on the inner-tube.  Both girls suffered significant head injuries and related personal injuries.  Due to the severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the boating / jet ski related accident, local and state official swill conduct an investigation as to the details of the crash, the safety measures put in place, and the preventability of the incident.  Certainly, it is quite troubling that the jet ski continued in motion even after the rider was ejected from the jet ski. You can read more about this story at Girl Killed as a Result of Jet Ski – Inner Tube Accident on Strawberry Lake. 
When a person suffers injuries as a result of a boating / jet ski accident, there may be a case or claim to pursue for the personal injuries.  Generally, there are four elements of a personal injury case as follows:
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Toys-on-Shelf-297x300When a child is enrolled in a school, day care center, summer camp or other program, it is important that the child be supervised in a safe environment.  While a typical toy does not at first glance appear to be a dangerous object, the wrong toy in the hands or within the reach of a child can lead to serious personal injuries and even the death of the child.

It is important for all child care providers be aware of the risks and dangers of toys.  Furthermore, the child care provider should be on alert and pay attention any time that a child is playing with a toy. Many personal injuries can be avoided with consistent supervision and common sense on the part of child care providers.

Toys Needs to be Age Appropriate.  Small children including those under the age of 5 years old tend to put small pieces or toys into their mouths.  This can present a significant choking hazard to a child.  If a toy has small pieces or is susceptible to being pulled apart into small pieces, there can be a choking hazard to a small child.