Articles Posted in Child Safety

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As parents, we do our best to protect and care for our children. In the modern day era, it is impossible and impractical to watch over a child on a 24 / 7 basis. Children are at risk for abduction any time that they are in a public place. A parent can put one safety measure in place that may ultimately prevent an abduction. It is called a code word. It is a unique word or phrase that only the parents and select people know. As such, if a child is approached by an adult who the child does not know, the child can ask the adult for the code word. If the adult does not know the code word, this can be a warning sign that the adult has no ties to the child. At times, a bona fide emergency can occur in which the person does not know the code word. However, for others, it is just a stranger intending to do harm and abduct a child.

A situation in Arizona exemplifies the efficacy of code words. Reports indicate that a forty-year-old man in a white SUV approached an eleven-year-old girl to tell her that she needed to leave the park and come with him because her parents had been in a serious accident. The young girl refused to go with him due to his lack of knowledge of her family’s safe word. The man drove off immediately without abducting the girl.

Occurrences of this nature demonstrate the great importance of parents teaching their children precautions to prevent kidnappings. As evidenced in Arizona, code words remain an effective tool for ensuring the safety of children. Kids Health, a division of a children’s hospital, recommends additional safety precaution to teach children, including: never accept candy from strangers, never go anywhere with a stranger even if they promise something fun, say no if anyone ever asks them to do something they think is wrong, how to call 911, and emergency procedures in case they ever get lost or feel unsafe. See Kids Health – Abductions.

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There is a common danger in homes, day care centers, schools, and other facilities.  The common danger is in the form of window blinds.  There are injury risks associated with window blind cords including those related to bruises, cuts, scrapes, and most significantly strangulation.  While it is well known and widely reported that window blind cords represent a significant risk to small children, reports of injuries continue to take place because safety precautions were not taken by the applicable child care provider.

It is estimated that approximately 17,000 children under the age of six years old were admitted to a hospital between the time period of 1990 and 2015 due to window blind related personal injuries.  The same report estimated that one child per month died as a result of window blind cord strangulation during this time period.  Toddlers and small children have poor safety awareness.  As such, what appears to be fun to a toddler can actually pose a significant danger.  The report on window blind injuries gathered together data from emergency rooms.  As such, there are most likely more injuries that took place than were part of this study.

While there have been proposals and recommendations by the United States Product Safety Commission as to standards to make cords covered and / or unreachable by children, these recommendations have not been approved or placed into law as of yet.

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Halloween is a holiday mostly celebrated by children and for children. There are also adult parties and adult participation; however, the core part of Halloween is the journey through the neighborhood engaged in the tradition of visiting houses and collecting candy just by virtue of the statement “Trick or Treat”.  Let’s face it, there is a certain paradise for children on Halloween which is in the form of “Free Candy”.   Dressing home and pretending to be a favorite Disney character or super hero is pretty cool as well.  For most children, Halloween evening / night is just about the best night of the year.  For others unfortunately, Halloween night can be the time in which a child suffers a serious personal injury or even dies due to the negligence of others.

Some tragic events that take place during Halloween can be avoided.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.  Some are fairly basic and well know.  Nevertheless, it is important to keep these tips in mind and actually follow them to make Halloween night as safe as possible:

Don’t Trick or Treat at All.  Find alternatives to the door-to-door trick or treat journey.  Have a party.  Have the neighbors gather together in one place for a candy distribution.  While it does seem counter intuitive to discourage traditional trick or treat activities, having children remain in one general area or home can avoid many accidents or incidents from taking place.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/08/Day-Care-Center-Hot-Van.001-150x150.jpegIn Florida and other warm weather States, the same tragic story seems to be reported every Spring and Summer.  A child is left by a day care center in a van or bus and dies as a result of hyperthermia.  The name of the child is different but the story seems to be the same.  The child was forgotten in the van or bus because roll call was not properly taken and double checked. These “Hot Car” or “Hot Van” deaths are among the easiest to prevent.  It does not require the investment of millions, thousands, or even hundreds of dollars to prevent.  It only requires a pen, paper, and the attentiveness of one staff member to prevent these deaths from taking place.  While it may be tedious to check and double check when children get on and off of a day care center or school bus – the mundane and tedious work is well worth the fact that the lives of children can be saved with this due diligence.  The fact is the we live in a world of distractions and multiple responsibilities on the part of day care centers and child care centers.  However, the fact that there are distractions and multiple responsibilities are never ever an excuse or defense to leaving a child alone in a hot van, car, or school bus.
A recent death of a 3 year old child in the Orlando area is yet one of many deaths reported when roll call or a head count was not properly completed.  When the temperature outside is in the 80s or 90s, the temperature inside in the vehicle can be 40 to 50 degrees or even hotter inside the vehicle.   In just a few minutes, a small child can go from healthy to dead when left alone and unattended in a hot day care center van, bus, or vehicle.  It was reported that Myles Hill, a 3 year old girl, was left on a day care center vehicle operated by Little Miracles Academy.  Following the death of the child, criminal charges were filed in the form of aggravated manslaughter by the State Attorney’s office.  You can read more about this topic at  3 Year Old Child Dies in Orlando Florida – Day Care Center Hot Van Death. 
When a child dies as a result of the negligence of a day care center, child care provider, summer camp, school, or other third party, the parents can file a wrongful death case against the responsible party, individual, and business.  In Florida, wrongful death cases are governed by both case law and statutes as set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 768.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/07/Red-Vehicle.001-150x150.jpegIn the State of Florida, it is a crime to leave a child unattended in a vehicle that is turned off.  Pursuant to Section 316.6135, Florida Statutes, it is a misdemeanor to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes.  It is a felony if the child suffers significant bodily harm, permanent injury, or disfigurement as a result of being left unattended in the vehicle.  It is also a misdemeanor leaving a child unattended in a vehicle that is still running if the health of the child is put at risk OR the child appears to be in distress. 

The statute as it currently reads is a bit troublesome in that a child can suffer serious personal injuries or even death by being left in a hot car or day care center van in less than 15 minutes.  Some lawmakers in the State of Florida are pushing for changes to this legislation / Florida law to better protect children and to serve as a reminder to parents, guardians, caregivers, and day care centers to stop putting children at risk by leaving children in a vehicle.  

David Wolf – Personal Injury Attorney – is based in Jacksonville, Florida and handles child injury, automobile accident, day care center, and related cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 11 books including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. You can get these books for free by visiting the Personal Injury Book Section of the Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. Law Firm Website. 

Fractured-Arm-150x150In Florida, working parents rely on day care centers to provide supervision and education in a supportive environment. When there are issues or problems with a day care center, parents often question whether there is a case or claim to pursue on behalf of injured child. It should be noted that there may be a legal case or claim to pursue yet the practical considerations, costs, and risks may end up deterring some parents and attorneys from formally pursuing a case.  There are four essential elements of a day care center case as follows: 1 – Duty  2 – Breach of Duty  3 – Causation  4 – Damages
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a partner in the law firm of Wood, Atter & Wolf.  As a child injury attorney and advocate, David Wolf handles cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 10 books including books that focus on child injury matters.  He is the author of the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. For over 26 years, David Wolf has represented injured children and their families in the aftermath of an accident or incident causing personal injuries. Read more about the books written by David Wolf at Personal Injury Books and Resources for Clients and Prospective Clients.
In evaluating the potential elements of a case, it is important to consider the particular facts, circumstances, evidence, and law on point.  It should be noted that all four elements must be established to pursue a case on a behalf of an injured child.  From a practical standpoint, the case or claim may not be pursued if the injuries were minimal and do not require much in the way of medical intervention and treatment.  Of course, each claim or case should be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.

Pedestrian-Triangle-Sign-150x150In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities, drivers should be on the look out for pedestrians and bicyclists especially those who are young children.  Drivers should slow down in school zones, residential areas, crosswalks, and anywhere else there may be a child pedestrian or child bicyclist.  It should be noted that Florida is a comparative fault state.  As such, the injured child and / or parents of an injured child can bring a legal action for personal injuries or wrongful death even if the child may have been partially at fault for the incident or accident.  It should also be noted that children under the age of 6 years old cannot be held to be negligent or at fault as a matter of law in the State of Florida.

A recent tragedy was reported in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was reported that a child was hit by a vehicle while attempting to cross a street with other children at the intersection of A1A and the Wonderwood Connector in Mayport – Jacksonville Florida.  It was reported by the local media that the driver continued through the intersection on a yellow light.  It was also reported that the child, who ultimately died as a result of the pedestrian – vehicle accident related personal injuries, was in the sixth grade. You can read more about this story at Boy Hit While Crossing the Street in Jacksonville, Florida (Mayport).

The wrongful death of a child has a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, school, and community.  It is heartbreaking for the parents and extended family.  It is extremely upsetting for the school.  It can be quite a bewildering experience to have a friend / classmate sit in front of a student one day and then never to return because of a tragic pedestrian accident.

Florida Pool.001In Florida, it is common to see swimming pools in most neighborhood.  It is somewhat of a luxury to have a swimming pool right there in the back yard.  Swimming pools can add to the aesthetics of the house and surrounding.  Swimming pools can also provide for a great deal of fun and relaxation for adults and children alike.  Unfortunate and tragically, swimming pools are also the site of horrible tragedies that despite laws, common sense, and the general knowledge of other similar tragedies continue to take place.  It has been reported that Florida leads the nations in drowning for children under the age of 5 years old.  Florida has ranked second in drownings the age group of 1 to 14 years old.  Florida’s weather allows for swimming almost year round.  During Spring and Summer months, it is tragically predictable that additional drownings of small children will take place.
Florida has adopted a swimming pool act that applies to all homeowners with a swimming pool.  There must be a barrier that is at least 4 feet high on the outside.  There should not be any gaps, openings, or structural components that would allow a child to crawl or squeeze through the barrier or enclosure.  You can read more about these regulations at Section 515.29, Florida Statutes – Residential Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements.
Can a homeowner be held liable or responsible with a child neighbor or child visitor drowns in the swimming pool in Florida?  The answer to this question like most legal question is “It depends.”  If the homeowner failed to follow the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Act and these violations were the proximate cause of the drowning – then the homeowner may be held liable or responsible for the drowning.

Red Bicycle.001In the State of Florida, a bicycle can be operated on a street, sidewalk, and crosswalk.   Pursuant to Section 316.2065 (9), Florida Statutes – Bicycle Regulations:

316.2065 (9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

As such, a bicyclist is essentially considered a pedestrian when operating a bicycle on a sidewalk and crosswalk. It is important for all drivers to be on the look out for bicyclists in the community whether the bicyclist / cyclist is a toddler, child, teen, adult, or competitive cyclist of any age. Florida weather permits bicycle riding year round.  As such, drivers should always be on the lookout for cyclist at all times.  Unfortunately, far too many bicyclist are injured every year due to the negligent driving of others and / or distracted driving of others.

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In the State of Florida and across the nation, one of the leading causes of death for small children, and especially toddlers, is drowning. In Florida, there are private residential swimming pools, public swimming pools, and hotel/motel/resort swimming pools in just about every community. It is important for property owners, business owners, home owners, and government entity to properly safeguard the swimming pool and aquatic area for the protection of children. It is well known and expected that a child, especially one of tender years, under the age of 5 years old, to be curious and inquisitive about interesting areas and what is deemed under Florida Law to be an “attractive nuisance.”

Unfortunately and tragically, there are reports of drowning incidents every summer, spring and the rest of the year in Florida. Many such incidents are preventable with the proper implementation and maintenance of swimming pool fences and barriers, swimming pool alarms, proper adult supervision, proper lifesaving equipment, and the posting of trained and attentive life guards when appropriate. When a child suffers personal injury or dies as a result of a drowning incident there may be a case or claim to pursue on behalf of the child and the family. To establish a legal claim r case, there must be proof and evidence of the following four elements:

1. Duty;