DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Consumer Reports Reveals 5 Eye Opening Developments Regarding Child Car Safety

Posted in Child Safety, Defective Products

Back in the 1970s, parents thought nothing about letting their kids “run free” in the back seat or sleep in “car beds” – actions that today would merit a concerned visit from Child Services.

As research regarding child car safety evolves, consumers and anxious parents alike want to know what the latest, vetted scientific data say. On a positive note, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention found that the number of children under 12 killed in passenger car events has declined by a precipitous 43 percent from 2002 to 2011.

According to Consumer Reports research, here’s how our understanding of car seat safety has been evolving:

1. Safety experts recommend keeping children in rear facing seats longer.

Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should try to keep your child in a rear facing seat until he or she is at least 2-year-old.

2. Parents might want to consider investing in a convertible second seat.

Such a seat can be adjusted based on the child’s growing height to ensure maximum safety.

3. Parents should be aware of the maximum capabilities of latch systems.

If the child plus the car seat exceeds 65 pounds, the car seat should be installed with a safety belt as opposed to a latch. This change in recommendations can have implications for parents of older toddlers or children.

4. Use the top tethers.

Consumer Reports urges parents to use the top tethers for car seats that face forward. Per Consumer Reports “our testing, and that of others, shows that the simple step can significantly reduce the forward movement of a child in a crash, especially the motion of the head.”

5. New crash protocols may unlock new solutions.

Lastly, Consumer Reports and other testing groups are examining a new crash test protocol that’s supposed to be ultra realistic. This test, ideally, should lead to more accurate and precise recommendations and better engineered car seats.

5. New crash protocols may unlock new solutions.

Lastly, Consumer Reports and other testing groups are examining a new crash test protocol that’s supposed to be ultra realistic. This test, ideally, should lead to more accurate and precise recommendations and better engineered car seats.

If someone you love suffered an injury due to someone else’s inaction or wrongdoing, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can help you seek compensation effectively.

 

Another Recall Due to Defective Airbags? All About the 2011–2014 Dodge Charger Recall

Posted in Automobile Accidents, Defective Products

Our blog has spilled voluminous virtual ink covering the Takata airbag recall; fortunately for consumers, federal regulators and automotive engineers seem to be getting control of that situation and ensuring that customers are alerted and vehicles are safe to deploy on the road.

However, another (thankfully smaller) airbag debacle has consumers and consumer advocates anxious again. Per the Detroit News, Dodge has issued a massive recall for over a million Ram pickup trucks as well as over 300,000 Dodge Chargers from the years 2011 to 2014, pertaining to an issue with the side airbags. According to analysts, these airbags can be overly sensitive and can go off if someone slams the door too hard while entering or exiting.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) engineers say the airbags can also deploy if the car encounters a strong impact, such as a bump caused by a pothole. The engineers blame an overly sensitive door pressure sensor. Dodge acknowledges that there have been three injuries caused as a result of the defect but fortunately no crashes.

The Dodge airbag issue has come to light concurrently with a government investigation into the “hackablity” of 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles. According to reports, hackers managed to gain control over a Jeep Cherokee SUV and control it via the web. The National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration is investigating.

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email use today to explore your strategic options.

Takata and FCA are not the only ones to grapple with an embarrassing recall this year. See here: Repercussions of the Volvo Safety Test Debacle.

5 Lightning Safety Tips for August

Posted in Burn Injury, Child Safety

As the dog days of August sear the country with heat, humidity and mosquitoes, violent thunderstorms and the lightning that comes packaged with them will threaten a wide swath of America. Here are some savvy tips to avoid lightning risk.

1. If you are outside, be aware and vigilant, and seek shelter.

Being outside is generally, but not always, more dangerous than being inside. Know the weather forecast. If lightning is in the offing, know where you can take shelter in event of a thunderstorm. When you hear thunder, go inside. Leave open, exposed places, like golf courses. A hardtop vehicle will do if you can’t find shelter.

2. If you happen to be stuck in an open place, like a meadow or golf course, crouch down to the ground, but do not lie down on the ground.

You want to be as low as you can to avoid becoming a lighting rod, but you also don’t want to get all the way onto the ground, because lightning that hits the ground could travel through wet grass and ground to zap you. You can be electrocuted even if the bolt strikes 100 feet away from where you’re lying.

3. Counterintuitively, you want to separate from others in a group if you’re out in the open.

You want to minimize likelihood that everyone will get struck at once as well as the likelihood that your group will form a “lighting rod.”

4. Get out of the water.

If you’re swimming in a pool or lake, exit at once when you hear thunder. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and lightning that strikes anywhere in the pond can cause injury.

5. If you are inside, take precautions.

Avoid using anything connected to an electrical outlet, such as a dryer, game system or corded phone. Using cellphones or mobile devices is okay. Likewise, do not take a shower or a bath or get in contact with water, because lightning strikes could travel through the plumbing system and cause burns and electrical injuries. Avoid lying down on a concrete or metal, particularly in places like porches, since these materials readily conduct electricity. Likewise, stay away from doors and windows, which can blow out in the event of a close strike and send glass your way.

Burns and other daily dangers don’t always make headlines, but the aggregate effects show up in 1statistical analyses, like this one: 16 American Workers Die Every Day Due To Unsafe Workplaces.

3 Campfire Safety Rules to Stay Safe on Your August Camping Excursion

Posted in Burn Injury, Child Safety

Whether your children are exploring the great outdoors at camp, or you and your family are planning a relaxing adventure in the woods, you’re looking forward to fresh air, wildlife sightings, s’mores and ghost stories around the campfire. To ensure both your safety and the safety of everyone else in the park or campground, here are 3 principles for campfire safety.

1. Do due diligence and prep work before you make the fire.

Don’t wait until the sun falls level with the horizon to gather your firewood. Dig your pit away from overhanging branches, and put a circle of rocks and stones around it. Clear away any shrubbery or debris that could catch on fire, and create a “moat” of sand and dirt (5 foot radius) from the center of the fire. Have a bucket of water nearby as well as a shovel. Keep your wood and kindling far from the source of the fire – upwind from it! – so it doesn’t accidently blow into the fire or catch flame due to the migration of heat. Also, clear the area of any food, chairs, packs and tents.

2. Light and tend the fire with vigilance.

Make sure, for instance, the match that you use to light the fire extinguishes completely before discarding it. Keep children at a safe distance, and be on the lookout for sparks and smoke blowing off the fire. For healthy adults and healthy children, a small amount of campfire smoke will usually not prove harmful. But campfire smoke contains harmful aerosolized chemicals, including carbon monoxide and dust and other organics. These can cause lung irritation and provoke asthma attacks. Be watchful. Just like you might select a designated driver to drive to you home after a party; so, too, should you consider choosing a designated “campfire watcher” who will be sober enough to ensure fire safety and put the fire out.

3. Put out the fire before going to sleep.

After long night of s’mores, scary stories and funny conversations, it might be tempting to let the fire “die out’ after you get into the tent. Avoid doing this! Make sure the fire is completely out and that the coals are cold. Just because you don’t see any fire actually actively burning in the pit doesn’t mean that the pit isn’t dangerous. The coals might still be hot; they could ignite kindling or leaves that blow into the pit overnight. Or a camper could accidently step on the uncooled fire pit during a late night bathroom excursion and get burned in the process.

If someone you love suffered an injury or illness due to someone else’s inaction or wrongdoing, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can help you seek compensation effectively.

Fire and smoke hazards persist inside the home as well. Learn what you need to do to protect your family: Smoke Alarms: The Most Efficient Way to Prevent Home Fire Tragedies.

 

 

Making the Most of Parks and Recreation Month

Posted in Child Safety, Consumer Safety, Premises Liability

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and that means it’s the ideal time to head out and enjoy all Mother Nature has to offer – and where better than your local parks? Established in 1985, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the special celebration of parks of all sizes. Before you head out to your local park, take a moment to review some safety tips and some facts about playground injuries courtesy of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Nearly half of all playground injuries are serious and include fractures, head injuries, strangulation (mostly from improper use of equipment), dislocated joints and amputations.

Nearly 150 children die every year as a result of playground-related injuries.

Climbing equipment like “jungle gyms” causes more accidents than any other type of public playground equipment.

Prevent injuries by making sure the surface under playground equipment is soft, free of debris or hidden objects like pipes or concrete footings, and well-maintained.

Make sure children – and adults – wear safety equipment for activities like skateboarding or skating.

Teach children the proper way to use each piece of playground equipment.

• Carry – and use – plenty of sunscreen.

Consider using insect repellent to keep mosquitoes and other biting pests at bay.

• If your park includes a lake, never swim alone, supervise your kids and consider taking swimming lessons before you or your child dives in.

Know when to seek medical treatment. Broken bones or swollen joints may seem like obvious reasons for a trip to the emergency room, but even seemingly minor issues like a mild bump to the head can lead to serious and even life-threatening consequences.

Parks are always more fun when enjoyed with someone else. Make your park celebration a family event so you can provide supervision and watch out for obstacles that can cause injury in addition to joining in the fun and games.

Contact our D.C. personal injury attorneys for a free consultation about your options after a park related accident.

Pick up games at the park harbor their own secret hazards as well, as we discuss in this article: Basketball: Not as Safe as it Seems.

6 Surprising Swimming Pool Dangers

Posted in Child Safety, Premises Liability

Each day in the U.S., about 10 people die as a result of drowning, the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the U.S. The problem is biggest among the very young, but people of all ages can become unintentional drowning victims, especially if they aren’t aware of the risks.

To better help people understand the risks of drowning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released these surprising statistics:

Males are much more likely to be drowning victims than women. In fact, almost 80 percent of drowning victims, or four out of five, are men or boys, according to data from the CDC.

Preschoolers ages one to four years of age have the highest rates of drowning, and most drowning accidents occur in home swimming pools. In 2009, almost a third of deaths from unintentional injury of children in this age group were caused by drowning.

About 20 percent of all drowning victims are under the age of 14. For each child who dies as a result of drowning, another five children receive emergency care for drowning-related injuries.

More than half of all non-fatal drowning injuries require hospitalization or institutional care, compared to only six percent for all types of unintentional injury.

The risks of a non-fatal drowning accident can be severe and lifelong, and they can include paralysis, brain damage and permanent loss of basic functioning (a vegetative state).

Drowning rates are higher among blacks compared to whites. In fact, black children from five to 14 years of age are three times as likely to die from drowning as white children of the same ages overall, and nearly six times as likely to drown in a swimming pool.

Knowing the risks is just one part of the equation; make sure you and your loved ones practice safe swimming practices to reduce the risks of drowning, and never swim alone.

Call our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys for insight into your possible case.

To learn more about another scary and preventable summer danger, read this article: Hot Car Deaths, the Law, and a New Way to Prevent Them.

Independence Day Weekend Driving Dangers Linger After the Holiday

Posted in Automobile Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Independence Day weekend is one of the deadliest times of the year for DUI driving and for auto accidents in general. Hopefully, you kept yourself and family safe during Independence Day weekend. However, even though America’s 239th birthday has come and gone, road related dangers remain. Here are some tips to keep fresh in your mind as you drive this summer:

1. Avoid consuming alcohol or drugs when getting behind the wheel.

This should go without saying. When you party or drink, select a designated driver, take a cab or hire an Uber. Don’t take unnecessary risks. For instance, let’s say that you only have two cans of beer before hoping into your vehicle, and your blood alcohol concentration is “just” 0.05%. You would technically be under the legal limit, so you wouldn’t be arrested for DUI (probably!). But you might still be more prone towards getting into an accident than if you would if you drove sober. Given the diverse number of DUI drivers on the road, you want to do everything possible to stack up the safety odds in your favor.

2. Minimize ALL distractions, including chatting on the cell phone while you’re driving (even on a hands-free headset), driving while fatigued or angry, or driving while distracted by anything inside or outside of the car, including your own thoughts.

Give yourself a safety edge by being as mindful and alert as possible. Sometimes, just a millisecond of reaction time is the difference between a nasty crash and a near miss.

3. Reduce your time on the road as much as possible.

In general, the more time you spend behind the wheel, driving to and from destinations, the more your risk of a crash goes up. It’s simple statistics. The more miles you log, the more likely you are to get hurt or hurt someone else.

4. Hang out with a crowd that also has safe driving habits.

If you are partying with friends from college who like to “live life on the edge,” you may be subconsciously peer pressured by them to adopt dangerous habits, such as driving too fast, changing lanes a lot on the highway, and so forth. Don’t underestimate the power of this social pressure; try to hang out with people who share your safety values.

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email use today to explore your strategic options.

To explore this topic in greater detail, please check out this article: Quantifying the Dangers of Distracted Driving.

Fireworks Accident Prevention Tips

Posted in Burn Injury, Child Safety, Consumer Safety

Just because Independence Day — one of the most exciting and thrilling days of the year – is over does not mean that families and teens are no longer at risk of fireworks-related hazards and injuries. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, “In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.”

So what can you do to protect yourself, your children, your neighbors, and your pets from burns and other fireworks related damage?

1. Keep pets – particularly dogs – away from fireworks displays. Dogs can get incredibly spooked out by fireworks blasts, which can lead to unintended consequences, such as dogs biting neighborhood children and dogs running into traffic and causing auto accidents.

2. Keep young children away from fireworks and fireworks displays. Young kids and explosive, vibrantly colored fireworks are, to excuse the pun, a combustible mix. Fireworks use should always be supervised and conducted in strict accordance with both the law and with manufacturer instructions.

3. Take proper first-aid and fire prevention precautions. If you and some neighbors want to put together a neighborhood fireworks display, obtain proper permits, and make sure that everything you do is up to code. You should also have first-aid supplies nearby as well as fire safety systems in place, in case a rocket lands in a wood pile or something along those lines.

4. Avoid using off brand, old, warped or broken fireworks or firework supplies. Check to make sure that no recalls have been issued for your fireworks. In the best case scenario, a dud firework will not go off at all. In the worst case scenario, the firework could be defective in a way that creates fire and burn hazards that you might not be prepared to handle.

5. Avoid mixing drugs and alcohol and fireworks. Even if you have the proper set up and structure to handle a neighborhood fireworks display, the addition of alcohol or drugs could lead to dangerous unintended consequences. Just like you might elect a sober person to be your designated driver when you go out partying; so, too, might you elect someone to be a sober fireworks monitor for the evening.

6. Clean up your fireworks display in the surrounding area. Prevent old, unexplored fireworks from getting in the hands of children or polluting the area.

Please get in touch with our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys today to explore how you can obtain fair compensation and justice in your potential case.

Here are some more critical safety insights for summer: 2015 Summer Driving Season: Time for Click It or Ticket Campaign.

Repercussions of the Volvo Safety Test Debacle

Posted in Automobile Accidents

Despite the hype over automated safety features on today’s automobiles, the recent debacle over a demonstration of Volvo’s automatic stopping feature shows just how far the industry still has to go in reaching its goals: During this particular test, a dealer attempted to show off the safety feature by heading directly into a group of people, two of whom were struck when the vehicle failed to stop. Understandably, this very dangerous glitch went “viral” and prompted a national, frenzied conversation over social media about automated auto safety features in general.

The ultimate in automated car technology, of course, is Google’s self-driving car, which is still in its prototype stages. Although engineers have logged well over three-quarters of a million miles, their self-driving vehicles still have a long way to go, a fact that even Google’s developers admit. According to Chris Urmson, lead developer for Google’s car, the technology still has plenty of kinks that need to be worked out. An article in MIT Technology Review highlighted a few of them:

  • Detailed maps are required of the entire route – even driveways and parking garages – in order for the car to operate properly. On a national scale, that would mean continual updates to millions of miles of roadways as well as individual and privately-owned features.
  • Self-driving cars haven’t been proven in snow and heavy rains. These conditions pose a real problem with visibility, which is obviously necessary for the car to navigate.
  • Although Google’s car can detect different traffic light colors, it can be blinded when the sun is too near the light.
  • Construction zones have been proving particularly difficult for Google cars to navigate.
  • So far, the car cannot detect potholes or uncovered manholes. As a result, it simply plows over them. It also has difficulty differentiating among types of road obstacles, and it will veer around any object – even a small piece of crumpled paper.

Still, Urmson says he’s shooting for a ready-for-prime-time target of five years – when his 11-year-old son will reach driving age in California.

Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email use today to explore your strategic options.

When does a defective car part become an issue? Explore this discussion here: “Does a Vehicle Recall Mean Emergency? Sometimes, But Not Always.”

June is National Physical Safety Month

Posted in Burn Injury, Child Safety, Consumer Safety

The National Safety Council (NSC) exists for one purpose only: To promote health and safety among all residents of the U.S., at work, at home and on the road. Every June, the NSC asks Americans to celebrate a month of safety, raising awareness of some common yet preventable dangers that can pose risks to health and life. In honor of National Safety Month, here are five quick tips to help you stay safe this summer:

  • Beat the heat and avoid heat-related illness by avoiding prolonged periods in the sun and taking plenty of water breaks. Check out these tips from the Mayo Clinic on how to avoid heat stroke.
  • NEVER leave children or pets in an unattended vehicle – even with the windows “cracked,” temperatures can soar to deadly levels in a few minutes.
  • Be smart about the sun. Use plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it throughout the day. Don’t forget your ears, the back or your neck and your feet. Wear a hat with a wide brim and protect your eyes with UV-rated sunglasses.
  • Stay safe on the 4th. Fireworks – even seemingly harmless ones like sparklers – can injure kids and pets. Plus, pets frightened by the noise and sound of fireworks are much more likely to run away or become injured on the 4th of July holiday. Practice safety when handling fireworks or attending displays, and leave your pets indoors with the TV on to mask the noise.
  • Don’t rely solely on lifeguards to keep an eye on your kids at pools or at the beach. Enroll your kids in swimming lessons when they reach age three.

Want more tips? The NSC website has plenty of free resources; all you have to do is register.

Here’s a more detailed exploration of Independence Day safety tips: A July 4th Fireworks Safety Reminder.