Articles Tagged with personal injury

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.

Swimming-Pool-Safety-150x150During the spring and summer months, there is an increase in the number of reported drownings and near drownings throughout the United States.  For many warm weather States like California, Texas, and Florida, there are risks of drowning just about year round due to the climate and the abundance of swimming pools, water parks, canals, rivers, and other water ways. Tragically, Texas holds the distinction for being the number one State for child pool drownings.  Children can be especially at risk for drowning when there is a lack of adult supervision.  Certainly, adult supervision should be provided any time that a child is in or near a swimming pool or other accessible swimming area or water way.
While it is difficult to believe or understand, many child drownings and near drownings take place when there are a number of adults in or near the swimming pool area.  How can this happen? How can a child drown with adults just feet away from the swimming pool area?  A drowning can take place in a swimming pool when the adults in the area are otherwise occupied in the acts of talking, eating, drinking, sleeping, surfing (the internet), texting, web browsing, watching a sporting event, or simply talking on a mobile phone.  The presence of adults in or near a swimming pool area is not the same as watchful and attention adult supervision.  As such, it is important to make sure that adult supervision is in place any time that a child is in or near a swimming pool.
Certainly, if a school, summer camp, or day care center is in session and swimming is a current activity – there should be designated and trained staff members in place to watch over the children and to place safety above all other concerns and distractions.  A swimming pool or swimming area is not a good place for multi-tasking.  As such, a person should not have a mobile device in hand and in use while assigned or engaged in the act of supervising children in or near a swimming pool area.

Stroller - Child Safety - Personal Injury
During the summer and other months in warm weather States, children are at risk for heat related illnesses including by not limited to hyperthermia.  It is important that summer camps, schools, day care centers, and other child care providers understand that children respond and handle the heat much differently than adults.  Furthermore, a child does not necessary verbalize or even recognize himself or herself when there is a risk of serious complications from the heat. This is especially true for infants, toddlers, and special needs children who are not communicative.   According to Dr.  Ross Tobleman, an emergency medical director based in Texas, “Little children can certainly get into trouble very quickly without having us recognize the signs that they’re getting trouble.”  This is a reference to heat and medical complications.   It should be noted that the metabolism and body of a child works much differently than that of an adult.  You can read more about this topic at Heat Related Illnesses Harder to Detect in Children.

In this article, it is interesting to note that strollers and other confined spaces can present a real risk of danger, medical complication, and even death to children in the heat of summer and other months.   Since children do not sweat or control body temperature the same as an adult, a glance at a child may lead a child care provider to believe that all is well because the child is not sweating profusely or appear to be that hot or overexposed to the heat.  The truth is that child care provides, on many occasions, do not and cannot see that a child is truly a risk and approaching a critical overexposure to the heat.   Some times, it is only the child’s outward signs of trauma, arrest, or other significant issues that finally alerts the child care provider that there is a problem.

In Florida, child care providers, summer camps, day care centers, schools and other entities have a duty to keep a child out of harm’s way.  One known risk is the Florida heat.  Make sure that a child – especially infants and toddlers – are provided with proper ventilation when in confined spaces like a stroller. Furthermore, as we have seen far too many times, a child should not be left unattended on a school bus or school van without air conditioning.   Let’s make sure that this point is clear.   A child needs to be supervised at all times and should never be left on a bus or van alone – air conditioned or without air conditioning.

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.

Bicycle Injury Rider.001In every community, there are cyclists and bicyclists of all types and ages.  It is important for drivers to slow down any time a cyclist is on or near the roadway.  Let’s face it.  A bicyclist, even an experienced one, is no match for a vehicle that crashes into or cuts off the bicyclist.  The result of such an incident or crash can be devastating and tragically ends of the life of far too many bicyclist.  Many bicycle accidents are preventable with safer and more attention driving.   Drivers should slow down and be respectful of bicyclists and cyclists.  Many injured cyclists are children who lack the safety awareness and motor skills to avoid impact with a vehicle that is heading straight for the bicyclist or cuts off the bicyclist.
This leads to a question that is common in bicycle accident cases.  What the value of a bicycle accident case?  While this may seem like a simple question, there is no simple answer to such an question. There are a variety of factors that are considered when properly evaluating a bicycle accident case.  For instance, the value of a case depends in part of the seriousness of the injuries.  An abrasion to the shin that heals in a weeks is evaluated much differently that a fractured leg that requires surgery.  Another factor to consider involves the amount and type of automobile insurance coverage in place.  Let’s say that a cyclist is hit by a vehicle through no fault of the cyclist.  The cyclist was wearing a bicycle helmet but still suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that required 1 year of treatment and the bicyclist now has ongoing headaches, memory problems, and cognitive problems.  One would think that this case has a significant value.  Let’s assume that the at-fault driver had $1,000,000 (One Million Dollars) in insurance coverage.  Then, yes, the case would have significant value and there is a good amount of insurance to cover the injuries.  One could even argue that the injuries exceed $1,000,000 (One Million Dollars).  For most injured bicyclists, the amount of automobile insurance coverage is much less than $1,000,000.  Let’s say that there is $25,000 in coverage.  Let’s further say that the case has a value from an injury standpoint of $750,000.  Even though the injuries are quite significant from a medical and value standpoint, the case may utimately be resolved (for practical reasons) for the Inusrance policy limits of $25,000.
Before making any decisions as to the settlement or a resolution of a case, the injured cyclist and his or her family should have an experienced Florida Personal Injury to evaluate the case and to provide advice, guidance, and legal representation.

School Bus Accident Personal InjuriesIn St. Johns County, Florida and the other 66 counties in the State of Florida, children are transported to and from schools in school buses and vans.  When there is a crash or accident, children are often injured and require medical care and attention.  Some injuries even require the transport by fire rescue and at times by an emergency air lift.  When a child suffers personal injuries, parents are faced with the challenges of medical bills, missed school, personal injuries, permanent injuries, and a whole host of other problems.  When faced with these issues, it is often helpful to have the guidance, counsel, and legal representation by a qualified Florida Child Injury Lawyer.  Some laws and insurance regulations make perfect sense while others do not.  Certainly, school districts, schools, and insurance companies are well represented by a panel of attorneys.  Because of this, parents should act quickly to get an advocate in place to give a voice for the injured child.  Back to the question at hand, who is responsible for the personal injuries suffered by a child when there is a school bus accident or crash?

School District.   If the school bus is owned, operated, or retained by a public school district, then the school district could be held liable for the personal injuries and damages IF it can be proved that the bus driver was negligent AND / OR there was negligence involved with the maintenance of the bus that was a contributing cause of the crash.

Private School Bus Company.   If the school district contracts out to a private school bus company, the private school bus company may be liable if there was negligent driving OR negligent maintenance that was a contributing cause of the crash.  The private school bus company, if hired by a public school district, may be able to avail itself of some of the protections of the school distrct as a public entity.  As such, further evaluation and analysis are warranted under these circumstances.  If a private school retains the private school bus company, no such protections are afforded the private school bus company.

First Aid Kit - Child InjuryOver the summer and other times of year, children can spend hours of time enjoying the fun and activity in a bounce house.   It should be noted that with any bounce house activity or similar activity – a child could suffer injuries through no fault of the property owner, management company, or owner / renter of the bounce house.  Injuries happen; however, it should also be noted that many bounce house related activities result from a lack of proper set up and / or a lack of proper adult supervision. Let’s discuss an example.  Let’s say a homeowner rents a bounce house.  The homeowner’s four year old and his friend (also 4 years old) are playing in the bounce house.  The homeowner decides to leave the children alone to cook a meal and check on some e-mails.  While the boys are outside in the bounce house, another child, who is 12 years old and much larger than the other children, visits the home and bounces in the bounce house with the 4 year old boys.   The 12 year old is doing a back flip and lands on the 4 year old child who was visiting the home.   The boy suffers a fractured leg and is treated at a local emergency room and later by an orthopedic surgeon.   Under this general fact scenario, there would be a case or claim to pursue against the homeowner for failure to supervise the children.  Had the homeowner been properly supervising the bounce house area, the 12 year old would be been kept out of the bounce house until the 4 year old boys needed a break and then the 12 year old boy – who had visited the home on many occasions and was a friend of the family – could have safely used the bounce house on his owner.   Like other personal injury cases, there are essentially four elements to establish a claim or case against a homeowner for negligence:
1. Duty;
 
2. Breach of Duty;

close-up of colorful rubber ducks at the pool side (shallow depth of field)

Swimming Pool Drowning      Risks to Children

Even though the risks are well known or should be well known to all adults, some how children including but not limited to toddlers drown every year at private pools, community pools, day care centers, and water parks.  Even one child, who drowns as a result of a preventable incident, is one child too many.  There are many reasons out there for this ongoing problem during the summer months and other times of the year.  It is important to spot the problems and put preventative measures in place to prevent any further drowning incidents.

Supervision

medical_1000006509-120613intIn Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable for his or her own negligence or carelessness.  This is the law in the State of Florida.  Why is this particular law in place?  The policy reasons behind this law is based on the known fact that young children lack safety awareness and lack good judgment especially when near something interesting or fun in appearance like a body of water, pool, playground, etc . . . .
Let’s take an example.  Let’s say that a 5 year old child is enrolled in a day care center.   The child walks into an unlocked janitor / cleaning supply closet.  While in the closet, the child sees some brightly colored blue jug.  The child opens the jugs and pours the chemicals over his or her head.  The child then sustains significant and painful burns that require an extended hospitalization and result in lifelong and permanent scarring to the face.  This is certainly a tragic incident; however it is an incident that is foreseeable and preventable.   The door should have been locked and all dangerous chemicals should have been kept out of the reach of the child. Furthermore, with constant and consistent supervision, the child would have been re-directed or kept from the area of danger.   This 5 year old child was injured due to a lack of supervision. The child cannot be faulted for his actions because he was under the age of 6 years old at the time of the incident.
For children 6 and older, a portion of the fault can be attributed to the child; however, the age and maturity of the child are considered for children 6 and older.  If the same incident happened with a 6 year old, it would be my opinion that all of the fault for this particular incident would still fall upon the Florida Day Care Center which failed to properly supervise this child.

Interstate 10 FloridaIn the State of Florida like other States, there are posted speed limits.  To comply with Florida law, a driver must obey these speed limits.  However, there is more to the law than merely following the posted speed limits.  
Section 316.183, Florida Statutes provides as follows:
No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.