Articles Posted in Child Safety

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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acknowledges that fans that are not protected by netting are at a much higher risk of injury, which goes to show how outdated the Baseball Rule is.

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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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Bounce-House-Injuries-300x148

Summer is filed with fun and play for children. For some, the bounce house is a great place for children to exercise, move around, and socialize with friends.  The bounce house can also the scene of a serious injury especially for small children and toddlers.  Just because a bounce house is padded and filled with air does not mean that a bounce house is a safe place.

Bounce house play can be a fun time for your children this summer, but repeatedly jumping up and coming down in various ways come with inherent risks. While it is difficult to completely ensure your child’s safety within a bounce house without being over-protective, measures can be taken to minimize safety risks. When buying or renting a bounce house to use for a children’s event check to make sure that the selected bounce house is equipped with safety nets and is set up as instructed by the manufacturer. This includes remembering to securely fashion the bounce house to the ground in order to account for sudden gusts of wind that may topple over the house. While most injuries suffered within bounce houses are not severe, if wind knocks the house airborne with children inside of it, the chance of serious injury skyrockets. Though it may be hard to regulate, keeping the number of children within the bounce house below its maximum capacity further minimizes risk of injury to your child.

Dr. David Foley, medical director of an urgent care centers, states that summer is the season that sees the most “slip, trip, or fall’ injuries. He goes on to state that risk of injury is inevitable in bounce houses due to promoting jumping and falling in different ways. The risk is even greater in these cases as the bounce houses allow for falls from even greater heights, generating more momentum and force as they fall back to ground which can lead to more serious injury. When setting up a bounce house outdoors, check weather reports for rain as a slippery bounce house can be a recipe for disaster, adding more risk to an already dangerous activity. According to doctor Foley the most common injuries that occur within bounce houses are to the limbs. These types of injuries include but are not limited to, twisted ankles, fractured elbows, and in the most serious of cases, head trauma. For events in which parents plan to use a bounce house, assigning supervisors to keep watch over what’s happening within the bounce house can prevent injuries that are results of negligence. See Bounce House Play – Keeping Children Safe.

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Parts-of-the-Eye-300x163Children, especially toddlers and infants, lack safety awareness. Because of this, it is important to provide close supervision of children and take reasonable steps to remove dangerous objects away from the reach of children.  For some children in schools, summer camps, day care centers, and other locations, a moment of inattention combined with a moment of danger can lead to serious and permanent eye injuries.

Summer camps, day cares, and schools contain many  items that could potentially injure your child’s eyes. When at play, children may come across potential hazards such as projectile toys and fake guns such as bb or pellet guns. Reminders to be cautious around these toys can prevent carelessness that may lead to eye injury. In sports involving small moving objects such as balls, pucks, or shuttlecocks, protective eyewear can protect your child’s during play. Be sure to only use protective eyewear that is ASTM F803 approved as the wrong pair of glasses may be more harm than good in the case of an eye injury. Certain items such as laser pointers, especially green laser pointers with shorter wavelengths, can permanently injure a child’s eyesight in a moment’s notice and should remain out of their reach. It is also important to be watchful around the house this summer as many common household items can cause serious eye injury in the hands of an unsupervised child. Paper clips, wire coat hangers, bungee cords, and rubber bands amongst others are examples of items that should be stowed away out of reach of children around the house. Chemicals and cleaners such as bleach should also be in secure spots out of reach to avoid an accidental spill that may end up in the eyes. Whenever performing yardwork, be sure to keep your child away from any flying debris involved (i.e. mowing the lawn). Even when gardening, it is wise to keep children far from and fertilizers or pesticides as they can cause severe damage if dropped into the eyes. Be wary when cooking as the kitchen also holds many an item that can cause injury to the eyes. Certain kitchen utensils such as knives should be kept in child-proof locations and shouldn’t be put down unsupervised. When cooking using hot oils, a grease shield can prevent any splashes from hitting your child in the eyes.

In the event of any eye irritation, a child care provider will need to be cautious in cleaning out their child’s eyes. Before cleaning out the child’s eyes, washing hands can prevent further irritation during the cleaning process. Avoid touching, rubbing, or pressing on the eye itself as the contact can increase irritation to the eyes. According to KidsHealth.org, flushing a child’s eyes with warm water for up to 15 minutes is a good way to try and remove any foreign bodies causing the irritation. If the foreign body still remains after 15 minutes, medical attention may be needed for its removal. Cautious preparation along with quick responses in the event of an incident may be the difference between the child suffering an eye injury so be sure to keep safety in mind throughout your fun summer activities this year!

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Pool-Safety-240x300With a mobile phone or tablet in our hands most of the day, we now live in a world of almost endless distractions. While technology is wonderful and helpful, it also makes certain activities a bit more dangerous for children.  Whenever a child is in or near water, there is a danger or risk of drowning. Adult supervision is key to the safety of children; however, the presence of an adult in the water area is a bit different than the attention of an adult.  If the adult is physically present in the area of the pool or beach, the physical presence may not mean much if the adult is otherwise engaged in the latest text, tweet, or e-mail on the phone or tablet.  Because of this, it is important to have as top of mind awareness the safety needs of the children.

Nearly 7 out of 10 drownings occur while an adult is present. In a life and death situation, people need to be alert and aware of their surroundings. However, the pool presents a myriad of distractions; if a person is swimming in the pool, they can be surrounded by splashing and other people, which could take their attention away from the child they are supposed to be watching. And, even if the watcher is out of the pool, they could be reading a book or looking at their phone at the precise moment they need to step into action and prevent a drowning. But drownings are almost always preventable; in fact, it is the leading preventable cause of death for children under the age of 5. So what steps must one take in order to prevent a child from drowning?

Among the most important preventions one can take is to have a Designated Watcher whose sole purpose is to keep an eye on the people in the pool. These people are reminded to not look at their phones or other distractions and not leave the pool area unless another person replaces them. While a Watcher is the best preventative measure, there are other choices one can make to improve pool safety. Installing a gate around the pool would keep small children from running into the water and drowning before an adult can intervene. It also helps to have a number of flotation devices, like pool noodles or kickboards, that can be thrown into the pool for a child to grab onto. If these measures are implemented, children will be markedly more safe in the pool this summer.

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Hospital-Injuries-from-Fall-300x231There is a dangerous location in homes and day care centers that may not be so obvious. The location involves soft furniture like a sofa or bed. An infant or toddler left on a bed or sofa can suffer a fall, which can result in head injuries, extremity injuries and other injuries. The statistics from such injuries are quite alarming. Unfortunately, many parents, babysitters, and child care providers do not recognize the dangers of a fall from soft furniture until there is an injury or incident.

Newly released statistics demonstrate that falls from seemingly safe, soft furniture—like couches and beds—have now become the number one cause of injury for children ages four and under in the United States. Falls from soft furniture also present the leading cause of trauma for infants in the United States. These statistics, originally presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics’ annual conference this year, come from an aggregation of data from emergency rooms over the past decade. Analysis of these statistics reveals that injuries from soft furniture falls occur at more than double the rate of the second leading cause of injury to children younger than five years old—stairs. Analysis also indicates that boys tend to sustain these injuries more frequently than girls and that younger children present a greater risk of injury than older children.

Despite these alarming statistics, precautions can help reduce the rates of these injuries. Kids Health, a division of Nemours Children’s Hospital, recommends various techniques to reduce the likelihood of a child sustaining injuries from beds and sofas. These recommendations include: never leaving children unattended on soft furniture, removing children from soft furniture if one must leave for even a moment, holding children while on soft furniture if one uses a phone or another object that may distract from complete supervision, implementing bed rails, and teaching children how to properly climb on and off of soft furniture safely once they reach an appropriate age to learn this. Adults should also learn CPR and keep a first aid kit handy, just in case a child falls and sustains injuries. See Falls from Soft Furniture – Safety Precautions. 

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School-Bus-Safety-300x126In Georgia and other states, there is a daily weekday routine that all drivers should be well aware of – children crossing the street prior to loading a school bus OR after unloading from a school bus. Most buses are a bright yellow color with stop signal arms and flashing lights. Despite the obvious visual presence of a school bus, school bus zones, street signage, and traffic signals, there are still pedestrian accidents and school bus accidents that cause serious injuries to children. Tragically, some children die as a result of these incidents.

A recent accident in Georgia demonstrates the unfortunate reality of these tragedies. News reports indicate that one child died and another child sustained serious injuries when a car hit them as they crossed a road to board their school bus. It was reported that the car hit the two brothers because the driver attempted to pass their idling school bus even though the school bus had its stop signs out.  It was reported that the driver had a suspended license.

Unfortunately, incidents of this nature occur all too frequently. According to statistics released by Stanford Children’s Hospital, twenty-four percent of all school bus injuries occur when students enter or exit a school bus. Additionally, the ten-foot radius around a school bus constitutes a “danger zone.” In the danger zone, children are two times more likely to die than they are likely to die in a traffic accident on the school bus. Thus, it is more dangerous for a child to be near a school bus than it is for them to ride a school bus. See Stanford Children’s Hospital – How Safe Is School Bus Travel. 

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 By David Wolf, Child Injury Lawyer
Boy-Jumping-227x300There are a number of businesses in communities that not only anticipate that children will visit but encourage children to visit.  However, these same businesses fail to put safety precautions, rules, protocols, and staffing in place for the protection of the children who visit the trampoline park.  As a result, children are often injured and required medical care.  If a child is injured as a result of the staff of a trampoline park, a legal case or claim can be pursued on behalf of the injured child.
It has been reported that children under the age of 6 years old are at the highest risk of injury than other children and adults.  Furthermore, because of coordination issues, many child safety advocates recommend that toddlers stay off on trampolines and especially those with other larger and older children at play.  It is well known that children have poor safety awareness.  Without proper safety precautions and adult supervision, children are often injured at trampoline parks and bounce house locations.
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By David A. Wolf, Child Injury Lawyer Blog

Crayons-175x300Working parents rely upon day care centers so that the family can be supported and the child can be properly cared for during the work day.  Many day care centers do an excellent job of educating, supervising, and caring for the children enrolled in the child care program.  Other daycare centers, however, cut corners and end up harming the children that they are responsible for supervising.  It is certainly unfortunate and tragic in many cases when a child suffers personal injuries in a day care center.  While government monitoring and regulation can help weed out and close down bad day care centers, it is impossible for any form of governmental regulation to prevent all injuries from taking place.

One article mentioned that a single state had 115 instances where day care centers were not meeting the minimum child to staff ratios, thereby leaving young children unattended and increasing the likelihood of harm. See Mississippi Increases Oversight of Day Care Centers. Many day care centers are underfunded and simply cannot afford to maintain the appropriate number of employees to adequately supervise the number of children at the center. This problem is very serious for young children of all ages. Infants need constant supervision to prevent accidents such as rolling off of changing tables or swallowing small objects, and toddlers need constant supervision to ensure that they are learning how to share and play well with others as well as to prevent them from injuring themselves or others or trying to run away.