DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Basic Pool and Water Safety: Keeping Children Safe

Posted in Child Safety, Community Service

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer for many families around the country. Children everywhere are sure to start pestering their parents about trips to the beach or public pool. Swimming is a fantastic source of recreation and fitness for families everywhere, but it also comes with a significant degree of risk.

As we have blogged previously, drowning is one of the leading causes of injury or death among children under age-20 in the US. A 2010 update of a study from 2006 revealed that in 2006, “unintentional drowning claimed the lives of 1,077 US children and adolescents, a fatality rate of 1.32 per 100 000 population”, with the highest rate of drowning affecting children in the “0 to 4-year age group (2.5 per 100,000).”

Even more dramatically, research published in 2012 by the New England Journal of Medicine found that “drowning is a leading cause of death worldwide among boys 5 to 14 years of age.” These tragedies are not limited by location, and take place in above-ground pools, inflatable pools, beaches, and even pools staffed with certified lifeguards. Yet with simple precautions, and mindful parenting, these devastating statistics could be significantly reduced.

“Drowning is not generally associated with a complete lack of adult supervision but, rather, with a momentary lapse in supervision.” In fact, in the same 2010 study, adults responding to a survey indicated that parents of children age 14 and younger “talk to others (38%), read (18%), eat (17%), and talk on the telephone (11%) while supervising their child near water.” These statistics are especially relevant as the summer begins, as “during warm months, lapses in supervision were responsible for 62% of nonfatal cases.”

As referenced in previous posts, and by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the following guidelines should serve as best practices for all parents taking their children to swimming locations:

• “Parents and caregivers need to be advised that they should never – even for a moment – leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas, or wading pools or near irrigation ditches or other open standing water.
• Whenever infants and toddlers (or weak swimmers) are in or around water, be it a pool or an open body of water, a supervising adult with swimming skills should be in the water, within an arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.” Supervision needs to be close, constant, and capable.
• Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should learn CPR and keep a telephone and equipment approved by the US Coast Guard (e.g. life buoys, life jackets, and a reach tool such as a shepherd’s crook) at poolside.
• Parents should be cautioned not to use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of PFDs (life jackets).
• All children should be required to wear an approved PFD whenever they are riding in watercraft. Small children and non-swimmers should use PFDs when they are at the water’s edge, such as along a river bank of on a dock or pier.
• Parents and children need to understand that jumping or diving into water can result in injury.
• When selecting an open body of water in which their children will swim, parents should select sites with lifeguards. Even for the strongest of swimmers, it is important to consider weather, tides, waves, and water currents in selecting a safe location for recreational swimming.
• When swimming or taking a bath, children of any age with seizure disorders should be closely supervised by an adult at all times.
• Counseling parents and adolescents about water safety provides an opportunity to warn them about the increased drowning rates that result from impairment of a swimmer or watercraft occupant when alcohol or illicit drugs are used.”

Above ground or in-ground pools installed on personal property must be properly enclosed or fenced in. “Compared with no fencing, installation of 4-sided fencing that isolates the pool from the house and yard has been shown to decrease the number of pool-immersion injuries among young children by more than 50%.” In the warm summer months “lack of a barrier and broken fences and gates were responsible for most (70%) of the deaths”

Listed below are other resources that are available that address water safety for children:

American Academy of Pediatrics – The Injury Prevention Program (TIPP) – materials for parents about home water hazards for children;
Safe Kids USA – information about pools and hot tubs, drain covers, SVRSs to prevent entrapment, safety checklists, links to national research study about pool safety;
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – water-related injuries fact sheet, CDC research and information on water safety and water-related illnesses and injuries;
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) – safety-barrier guidelines for home pools and brochure about preventing childhood drowning;
US Coast Guard – detailed information and tip sheets about vessel safety checks, approved on-line boating safety courses and other water safety issues.

2015 Summer Driving Season: Time for Click It or Ticket Campaign

Posted in Automobile Accidents

Summer driving season is finally here. As usual, this Memorial Day Weekend comes with a safety reminder from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On May 18th, the NHTSA kicked off its annual Click It or Ticket campaign, urging drivers in the DMV and around the country to remember the benefit of wearing a seat belt while driving.

While more motorists are wearing seat belts than ever before (87% nationally), the number of safety conscious drivers in large cities declines notably.

Seat belt use isn’t just common sense. It’s the law. Thirty-four states, including the District of Columbia, have in place “primary seat belt laws” allowing drivers to be pulled over for failure to wear a seat belt. Many also have secondary laws, which allow stops for unrestrained minors or other passengers. From May 18th to 31st, law enforcement nation wide will be “cracking down on seat belt violations” with added units and increased patrol presence.

Why is there a need for constant reminders, especially during holiday travel seasons, to drivers about seat belt usage? According to the United Stated Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “It’s simple: seat belts save lives. Thousands of Americans are alive today because they were wearing theirs during a crash. But thousands more would be with us if they had buckled up, and we will continue to urge every driver and passenger to use a seat belt.”

Enforcement will be stepped up both day and night, underscoring the sad reality of car crash statistics:

  • “Nearly half of the 21,132 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed on our nation’s roadways in 2013 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crashes, according to the NHTSA;
  • More unrestrained crash fatalities happen at night (between 6:00 pm and 5:59 am) compared to daytime crashes. In 2013, of those killed in nighttime crashed, 59% were not wearing seatbelts (compared to 40%…during daytime hours);
  • …Of passenger vehicle occupants 13 to 15 and 18 to 23 years old who were killed in crashed, 61 percent were not buckled up

These statistics are so excruciatingly painful and disturbing because they could be so easily eliminated. All drivers need to be more safety aware, particularly the most impacted demographic of 18-34 year old males.

The 13% of the population that does not remember to buckle up represents a staggering 27.5 million people that put themselves at far greater risk everyday. This summer, heed the advice of the Click It or Ticket campaign. You could avoid a costly ticket, but more importantly, you could avoid becoming another deadly statistic.

The Dangers of Letting Baby Sleep in a Car Seat

Posted in Child Safety

Car seats are designed to keep babies safe, but a new study has found when used improperly – specifically, as a napping place – these seats can pose deadly dangers.

Conducted by researchers at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, this study looked at 47 infant deaths that occurred in sitting and carrying devices. Researchers found that 31 of those deaths involved napping in car seats. Of those deaths, 52 percent were due to strangulation from straps, and the remainder resulted from asphyxiation from improper positioning. Some deaths occurred when babies were not strapped in correctly, enabling them to slide down against the straps and harness locks; others occurred when babies’ slumped positions blocked their airways, preventing breathing.

Does that mean you shouldn’t use a car seat? Absolutely not – but you do need to use it safely. Here are four essential tips for safe use:

  • If you buy a used seat, make sure you know its history. Once a car seat has been in a crash or damaged in some way, it can no longer be used.
  • Don’t use it as a substitute crib outside of the car. Infants need to be on their backs in a crib to ensure they can breathe properly.
  • Make sure it’s installed correctly. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, and don’t take shortcuts. Check out the CDC’s brief pictorial of proper positioning as your child grows.
  • Once installed, shake the seat at the base to make sure it can’t move more than an inch in any direction.

Car seats can play a vital role in terms of ensuring your child stays safe. Just be sure you follow safe practices to avoid potentially disastrous outcomes.

Call our Washington D.C. car accident attorneys if you believe injuries in a recent accident might have been caused by a damaged car seat.

Car seats aren’t the only common household danger for children. Here’s A Quick Primer on Dangerous Toys.

NTSB Investigations of Amtrak Derailment Continue – More Mysteries

Posted in Consumer Safety, Wrongful Death

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Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

As investigations continue into determining the cause(s) for Amtrak’s tragic derailment on Tuesday night, the Washington Post reports that NTSB investigations have discovered that less than one minute prior to the crash, the train actually sped up from 70 mph to over 100 mph before derailing. According to the forward-looking camera recovered from the train, the speed jumped from 70 mph to 80 mph twelve seconds later, then to 90 mph within the next twelve seconds and 100 mph sixteen seconds later. The images below, copied from the Washington Post, indicate how dramatic such a speed increase is compared to other train speeds along that same stretch of track. No reasons have been discovered for the acceleration yet. Although investigations are still in the early stages, excessive speed is an obvious factor in causing this tragic incident.

Amtrak’s President, in making his first public appearance since the accident, echoed others in saying that “positive train control” would have automatically slowed the train and prevented the accident. Amtrak has installed the positive train control system along other sections of the Northeast Corridor, but problems with funding and radio frequencies has delayed testing and implementation throughout the track network.

Here is relevant law that is worth sharing.

According to 49 U.S. Code Section 28103 – Limitations on rail passenger transportation liability:
“(1) Notwithstanding any other statutory or common law or public policy, or the nature of the conduct giving rise to damages or liability, in a claim for personal injury to a passenger, death of a passenger, or damage to property of a passenger arising from or in connection with the provision of rail passenger transportation, or from or in connection with any rail passenger transportation operations over or rail passenger transportation use of right-of-way or facilities owned, leased, or maintained by any high-speed railroad authority or operator, any commuter authority or operator, any rail carrier, or any State, punitive damages, to the extent permitted by applicable State law, may be awarded in connection with any such claim only if the plaintiff establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the harm that is the subject of the action was the result of conduct carried out by the defendant with a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others. If, in any case wherein death was caused, the law of the place where the act or omission complained of occurred provides, or has been construed to provide, for damages only punitive in nature, this paragraph shall not apply.
(2) The aggregate allowable awards to all rail passengers, against all defendants, for all claims, including claims for punitive damages, arising from a single accident or incident, shall not exceed $200,000,000.”

If you have any questions about this post or want to discuss a potential claim against Amtrak, you may contact Mr. Zambri by phone at 202-822-1899 or click here to email him directly.  Mr. Zambri’s firm served as lead counsel in successfully representing injured parties and family members during litigation stemming from the 2009 Fort Totten Metro (WMATA) accident on the Red Line. Mr. Zambri & his firm also represent the family of the woman tragically killed as well as many other victims from the 2015 Metro (WMATA) smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers (2015) recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri.

 

 

 

May Is National Bike Safety Month

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Child Safety

As spring turns to summer, bikers will be out in full force in the Washington, DC area—where the number of workers who commute by bike is more than six times the national average. With warm weather and National Bike to Work Day approaching, bicycle safety is increasingly important for DC residents to know.

Cyclists should be knowledgeable of and obey the laws of traffic, as cycling injuries are most often caused by collisions with motor vehicles in urban areas. To prevent collisions from occurring, cyclists should ride with traffic and be predictable to others on the road.
Bikers can also prevent injury by properly using safety equipment. Helmets are the most poignant example of this and should be warn by every rider, regardless of local laws. Of those who die in bicycle accidents, 63% were not wearing helmets. However, helmets are not the only piece of equipment that can save lives. If riding at night, lights and reflectors are required on all bikes in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and bells are required on all bikes in DC. By using these pieces of equipment, riders can increase their safety while sharing the road.

Before beginning their rides, bikers should make sure to do a Pre-Ride Check. Capital Bikeshare recommends the following:
• “Air: Push each tire hard against a curb. If you can flatten it, it needs air.
• Wheel Spin: Lift each wheel up and give it a slow spin (spin the back wheel forward so the pedals don’t move). Check that the wheel spins freely and doesn’t rub against the brake pads or anything else.
• Tires: Turn each wheel slowly and look for cuts, bulges, or bubbles.
• Shifting: Try all of your gears to make sure the chain shifts smoothly between gears.
• Brakes: Check that both brakes are functional.
• Loose Parts: Pick up the bike and shake it. You shouldn’t hear anything rattling.”
Finally, bikers should take advantage of bike paths, bike trails, and bike lanes wherever possible in order to ensure a safer ride. By planning their routes with safety in mind, cyclists can have peace of mind while navigating the city.

Drivers also have an obligation to make the road a safe place for bicyclists. Laws in DC, Maryland, and Virginia require drivers to give at least three feet of space to bikers when passing, and motorists should be observant of cyclists when passing, turning, and exiting their vehicles. With all parties involved committed to sharing the road, bikers can remain safe during their commutes.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is a good resource for those interested in learning more about bicycle safety. WABA hosts classes for bikers, organizes biking events, and has a collection of laws and guidelines for those in the DC area.

7 Rules for How to Draw Up a Contract with Your Teen for Prom

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Child Safety

Prom is an exciting time for teens, but it can also be nerve-wracking for parents who worry about impulsive behavior that could lead to serious accidents. Developing a prom night contract is one way to make sure your teens understand your concerns and take them seriously. Here are a few guidelines to help you draw up your own contract:

Be clear about the dangers of drinking and driving, and make sure your teen knows there will be serious consequences for violating these terms.
Keep a list of the passengers of the car or limo. Include phone numbers for all the teens’ cell phones as well as their parents’ phone numbers and their home addresses.
Limit the number of passengers to avoid rowdy behavior that can distract the driver.
Require your teen to wear a seat belt at all times. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says more than half of teens involved in fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts.
Contact other parents to plan after-prom events that don’t involve alcohol.
Be sure your teen understands cell phones are not to be used in the car – by anyone, not just the driver. Eliminating cell phones removes temptation for the driver to talk or take part in selfies.
Let your teen know you’ll be available to get them if they need a ride, and that they shouldn’t be worried about calling you.

Once the contract is drawn up, review it carefully with your teen and add both your signatures. Prom contracts may seem “lame” in abstract, but if you approach this process compassionately and jointly, it can send a clear message that can go a long way toward helping those you love stay safe.

Our Washington D.C. car accident attorneys can help you determine whether you might be able to obtain compensation for injuries and damages sustained in a prom-related crash.

Thinking of using a car service for your teen’s prom? How Safe Are Uber and Lyft, Exactly?

Amtrak Train Derailment Investigation Continues

Posted in Consumer Safety

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Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

More than 200 passengers were injured and eight people were killed in Tuesday night’s Amtrak crash along one of the busiest stretches of passenger train corridors in the country. According to the Washington Post, as the investigation of the recent Amtrak derailment continues, two key questions surrounding the crash are still unanswered:

  • Why was the train moving at twice the speed limit when it entered the curve? The speed limit at that location was 50 mph. Records revealed that the train was moving at 106 mph when the brakes were applied. Even after the brakes were applied, the speed only decreased to 102 by the time the crash occurred three seconds later.
  • What can be learned from the train’s engineer? As of today, the engineer has not provided much information. According to his attorney, the engineer was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and his cell phone was turned off and stored per regulations.

A board member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made the point that Positive Train Control, a technology that prevents trains from exceeding speed limits is available and mandated to be installed on all U.S. rail systems by the end of the year.  However,  the particular section of track where the derailment occurred did not have the system installed yet.

Investigators are conducting additional tests to examine the tracks for “witness marks” that show where the train wheels dinged the tracks while derailing, whether the brakes were operating properly, “survivability of individual cars” to determine why some cars were heavily damaged and others were not, whether emergency exits worked properly, and why windows broke as they did. As the examinations continue, factors such as speed, potential engineer errors and equipment failures will hopefully answer some questions about this tragedy as well as offer insight in prevention of future tragedies.

If you have any questions about this post or want to discuss a potential claim against Amtrak, you may contact Mr. Zambri by phone at 202-822-1899 or click here to email him directly.  Mr. Zambri’s firm served as lead counsel in successfully representing injured parties and family members during litigation stemming from the 2009 Fort Totten Metro (WMATA) accident on the Red Line. Mr. Zambri & his firm also represent the family of the woman tragically killed as well as many other victims from the 2015 Metro (WMATA) smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri

 

 

Amtrak Train Traveling at 100 mph in a 50 mph Zone at Time of Derailment

Posted in Consumer Safety

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Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

In follow up to my earlier post today about the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia,  I wanted to share some significant news about the early progress of the investigation.  The data recorder from the Amtrak train that crashed in Philadelphia last night has been recovered.  Lab analysis showed that the train was traveling at 100 miles per hour, twice the speed limit allowed at the turn where the crash occurred.  Although the train’s engineer was interviewed by the police, the results of his interview have not been released.  A press conference has been scheduled for 5:00 pm today, which may provide further insight into this horrific accident.

According to the Washington Post, “The city of Philadelphia and all other entities involved in determining the cause of the derailment have been made ‘parties to the investigation’ by the NTSB. That means they have signed an agreement with the federal investigative agency that limits what they are permitted to say publicly.

The NTSB has full control of the investigation and has, in the past, shut out access to key partners who leaked information in violation of that agreement.”

Besides the speed of the train, other factors that are expected to be examined include the condition of the engineers, condition of the tracks and rail bed, review of the video from the scene, and operator control issues.

If you have any questions about this post or want to discuss a potential claim against Amtrak, you may contact Mr. Zambri by phone at 202-822-1899 or click here to email him directly.  Mr. Zambri’s firm served as lead counsel in successfully representing injured parties and family members during litigation stemming from the 2009 Fort Totten Metro (WMATA) accident on the Red Line. Mr. Zambri & his firm also represent the family of the woman tragically killed as well as many other victims from the 2015 Metro (WMATA) smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri

 

 

 

Philadelphia Amtrak Crash Investigations Launched

Posted in Consumer Safety

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Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

Last night’s deadly Amtrak crash near Philadelphia is the latest transportation disaster to make the headlines. Investigations are now under way to determine the cause of the derailment as quickly as possible. Agencies involved in the initial investigation include the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to a former chair of NTSB, black boxes and possible video cameras should provide critical information. “The black boxes will tell them things like speed, throttle position, braking… But also there are often inward and outward facing video cameras that will tell them a lot of information about the track conditions and the environmental conditions. The key to the team is going to be grabbing those recorders right away.”

Obviously, it is much too early to determine the reason for the crash. We will follow the developing story and update our readers as we learn more about the circumstances surrounding the Amtrak train derailment.

If you have any questions about this post or want to discuss a potential claim against Amtrak, you may contact Mr. Zambri by phone at 202-822-1899 or click here to email him directly.  Mr. Zambri’s firm served as lead counsel in successfully representing injured parties and family members during litigation stemming from the 2009 Fort Totten Metro (WMATA) accident on the Red Line. Mr. Zambri & his firm also represent the family of the woman tragically killed as well as many other victims from the 2015 Metro (WMATA) smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Tips to Avoid Becoming a Prom Statistic

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Child Safety

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Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

From promposals to prom themes to after-prom parties, the hype to create the perfect prom memory continues to grow. Unfortunately, proms also lead teens who are normally very mature and level-headed to participate in risky behavior.  All too often, the excitement of prom night ends abruptly with a tragic event and new prom statistics.

The Talk, The Connection, The Offer includes a set of dramatic statistics about prom-related concerns and some reasonable advice to prepare for prom pressures. “It’s become the night where teens’ poor judgment and dangerous choices have become institutionalized. For far too many years, prom night has been synonymous with teen alcohol-related car fatalities and serious injuries, sexual assaults, date rapes and crime. Add to that sobering list the irresponsible parents who host after-prom parties where under-age kids are served alcohol.”

  • “Teen traffic deaths during prom season weekend are higher than at any other time of the year.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for the past several years during prom weekend, approximately 300 teens have died in alcohol-related car accidents.
  • Also according to the NHTSA, one in three children under age 21 who died in alcohol-related accidents died during prom and graduation season.
  • An American Medical Association study reported that 10% of parents believed it was appropriate and safe for underage teens to attend both prom and graduation parties where alcohol is served, if a parent is present.
  • Most date rapes and sexual assaults against girls are alcohol and drug-related.
  • A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey reported 39% of high school senior boys considered it acceptable to force sex on a girl who is intoxicated by alcohol or high on drugs.”

As frightening as the statistics listed above may seem, there are sensible guidelines that can help both parents and their teens create a memory to be cherished.

The Talk — Begin your pre-prom talk with your children by emphasizing that you want them to have a wonderful, memorable prom. Keep that wish as a central focus throughout your discussion. They need to give you their complete itinerary for the evening, including whom they will be with, where they’ll be going before and after the prom and the phone numbers where you can contact them. “We’ll just be driving around,” is not an acceptable response.

The Ride — Regardless of how many times you have talked about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, emphasize that these dangers are particularly high on prom night. Your children cannot drink or take drugs and drive. If they’re not driving themselves, you must know who’ll be driving them. They must be driven by someone who has not and will not drink alcohol or take drugs. You need their promise on these rules. These rules are non-negotiable.

The Connection — If your children are not returning home right after the prom, you need to be able to contact them at all times until they return home. You also need to be reachable at all times as well. There can be no doubt where your kids will be and with whom throughout the evening and morning. Post-prom, parent-child check-in calls make sense. Establish a few mandatory call-in times with your kids. Make sure they leave with a fully charged cell phone, thereby establishing a guaranteed connection.

The Offer – Give your children the unconditional option of calling you at any time for help or advice. That includes and offer to pick them up at any time of day or night, with a promise not to shame or humiliate them in front of others, nor to condemn or shame them once you get them in the car or back home.”

For a number of years, we have posted articles about how to keep teens safe on prom night. It’s an important issue that cannot be taken lightly. Please be safe and enjoy your prom celebration.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”.  Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.