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Entries in summer safety (3)

Tuesday
Jun282016

Rocket's Red Glare: Burns & Other Injuries From Fireworks

Injury Attorney Los AngelesDefective Product Attorney

 

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), about 230 people are rushed to an emergency room daily between June 20th and July 20th each year, because of serious fireworks injuries. More than half of these ER patients suffer serious burns, mostly to hands, eyes and faces. Some suffer fatal injuries.

Many accidents caused by fireworks are the consumer’s fault, primarily due to inattention, inebriation, or the taking of unnecessary risks.

Just remember what happened to New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in 2015. His inattention to which firework he was actually lighting, and an attempt to light it seven times (the wind kept blowing out the flame) nearly cost him his hand, as well as his pro-football career. He spent nearly three weeks in the hospital recovering from burns, an amputated finger and other injuries.

Many times though, fireworks manufacturers are to blame because of defects in design or a lack of sufficient warning or instruction on the packaging.

Fireworks Liability & Negligence

Sometimes, a number of individuals or entities may be found negligent. The responsible party may be a homeowner hosting a party, a fireworks manufacturer, pyrotechnic company hired to set off the fireworks, or the city that hires these companies. Even the importer may be held liable, as the company buying and selling fireworks in the U.S. has a responsibility to provide safe fireworks.

For example, a serious fireworks accident injured dozens of people in Simi Valley, California in 2013. Several injury lawsuits were filed against the Rotary Club of Simi Valley which hosted the July 4th festivities, the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, the City of Simi Valley, Ventura County and the pyrotechnics company, Bay Fireworks of New York.

The family of a pyrotechnic professional killed in 2014 filed a suit earlier this year against the pyrotechnic employers as well as six Chinese companies that designed, manufactured, packaged and sold a truckload of fireworks that prematurely exploded and killed four people in Texas.

California Health and Safety Code regulates the manufacture, transport, storage, sale and use of fireworks through California’s State Fire Marshall. The County of Los Angeles has its own set of regulations with classifications, which may be more stringent than state code. Click state and county fireworks code for more information, including definitions for which pyrotechnics are considered dangerous, exempt or “safe and sane”.

Serious Burn and Explosion Injuries

The problem with serious burns and other injuries sustained around explosive devices like fireworks is the long-term recovery needed. They usually require multiple skin grafts and come with a high risk of infection. Long-term physical therapy may be needed to recover the use of limbs or hands.

Fireworks accidents in particular may require intensive psychological treatment as well, as victims may be severely traumatized when attending a public event or celebrating a holiday that so seriously goes wrong. Heavy scarring or disfiguring injuries that can’t be fixed through plastic surgery may also take a psychological toll.

Treatment, whether physical or psychological, takes time and financial resources – impacting work, family and lifestyles.

Fireworks Safety

To reduce the risk of being burned or suffering other injuries from explosions, follow these safety tips: 

  1. Purchase fireworks approved for consumer use only. If wrapped in brown paper, they’re probably meant for professionals who have the proper safety gear and training, according to the CPSC.

  2. Obey local ordinances – many cities in California will ban all pyrotechnics displays, especially in very dry seasons. (See LA County fireworks info.)

  3. Keep water on hand – buckets of it are good, garden hoses are better.

  4. Don’t let children play with fireworks.

  5. Supervise children with sparklers – festive as they may be, sparklers can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit – enough to cause serious burns when mishandled.

  6. Follow the lighting instructions carefully.

  7. Don’t modify the fireworks or experiment with homemade devices.

  8. Don’t light fireworks near homes, dry brush, or other fireworks.

  9. Light only one firework at a time.

  10. Don’t hover over the explosives. When lighting fireworks, try to do so at arm’s length.

  11. Don’t light fireworks inside metal or glass containers.

  12. Once lit, step away. The farther away you can get, the better.

  13. Don’t throw fireworks at another person. Even if you’re expecting a small explosion merely meant to scare someone, you never can predict how badly things may go awry.

  14. Just like a gas barbecue grill, don’t try to relight fireworks that didn’t light properly the first time – soak the duds in water and then throw them away. (In the case of a gas grill, turn off the gas, open the lid to allow accumulated gas to disperse for at least five minutes before attempting to relight.) 

Whether attending a city sponsored show, or just lighting up sparklers in the back yard, always be aware of the safety risks involved with fireworks, as well as who can be held liable for negligence.

The Kardashians found this out the hard way last year, when they set off fireworks and local tempers in Marina del Rey. According to TMZ, a disgruntled neighbor attempted to sue Khloe Kardashian for a permitted, eight minute pyrotechnic display at midnight that allegedly traumatized both him and his dog. When push came to shove though, the plaintiff failed to appear in court.

The lesson goes without saying: a little common sense and a lot of precaution can keep you and your loved ones safe, and out of court as either plaintiffs or defendants.

David B. Bobrosky is a Defective Product Attorney in our Personal Injury Practice Group. 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Swim Safety Tips: Pool Accident Prevention & Liability

Personal InjuryAccident & Injury Lawyer

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

School's out, temperatures are more or less climbing, and many are headed to the pool for some summer fun or just to seek relief from the heat.

But did you know that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports about 300 drowning deaths for children under five years old, annually? In addition, approximately 2,000 other small children need treatment in hospital emergency rooms because of near-drownings.


Swimming Pool Injury Lawyer

That doesn't mean older children and adults are accident proof at the pool. And it doesn't mean pool-goers are only susceptible to drowning dangers.

Accidents at pools can occur because of electrical shocks from pool equipment, underwater lights, nearby audio or television equipment, and extension cords. Speaking of extension cords, watch out for tripping hazards. Additional slip-and-fall injuries may be caused by wet decks and tiles – more serious falls can result in concussions and potential drowning.

Pool chemicals can cause problems too – 25 children were injured recently, because a water park employee shut down a pump but did not turn off the chlorine system, causing a massive dump of chemicals into a wave pool.

Pool Accident Liability

When someone is hurt at a pool, whether public or private, the pool owner may be held liable because of premises liability, negligence, or products liability. The owner or operator must take reasonable precautions to prevent drownings and other injuries.

These precautions include installing complete fencing, posting warning signs, providing proper supervision and the proper maintenance of the pool, equipment and surrounding areas to keep visitors safe.

Many California cities have special ordinances requiring specific standards be met by pool owners. In Los Angeles, for example, there are city requirements to be met for zoning, building and glazing pools. Fencing must resist certain wind and seismic loads; drains more than 12 inches wide must be covered by approved anti-entrapment grates.

If the above requirements are not met by a pool owner and a drowning or other accident occurs, the owner may be liable for negligence per se, or negligence involving a violation of specific laws.

Pool Safety Tips

There are a number of steps both pool owners and pool users can take to avoid accidents and injuries. The basic ones include alert supervision, minimizing alcohol use, and learning CPR. But here are some more specific ones:

1. Watch, WATCH, WATCH! Children can go underwater very quickly, and can drown in less time than it takes to answer a phone call. Seventy-seven percent of drowned children were reported out of sight for less than five minutes, according to the CPSC.

Additionally, children should be supervised by swimmers. A mother in Texas recently lost three children because she couldn't save them from drowning at an apartment complex pool.

Pool Safety2. Ensure the number of people supervising is proportionate to the number of people swimming. A four year old in San Diego died after a pool party at a yacht club, where only one life guard was on duty for a kindergarten class.

3. Watch for Dry Drowning symptoms: Hours after a near-drowning incident, the victim may later succumb to "dry drowning" or "secondary drowning".  What's happening in these situations isn't an actual drowning, but a form of pneumonia – the inhaled pool water irritates the lungs, which then produce fluid.

Nearly drowned victims, or parents of these victims should pay close attention to someone having difficulty breathing, coughing or vomiting. The symptoms may appear shortly after the near-drowning incident, as in the case of a 10 year old boy who died of dry drowning recently; or up to 48 hours afterwards, according to some medical experts.

4. Keep children away from pool drains, which can create strong suction forces.

5. Ensure all pool equipment is properly maintained, and that all surrounding areas are free of obstacles that may cause pool users to slip, causing injuries to the back or limbs, head concussions and subsequent drownings.

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3230, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Friday
Jun122015

Summertime Safety: Rollercoasters, Bounce Houses and Other Dangers

Injury Attorney Los AngelesPersonal Injury Attorney

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

Amusement parks are supposed to be amusing – filled with family fun and a great place for older teens to meet up with friends without hovering parents. Unfortunately, they are not always what they are supposed to be, and sometimes, they are downright dangerous.

On May 1, 2015, two people died and two others were injured because a rollercoaster began moving before all of the passengers were buckled in. They were thrown from the ride. The park was in China, and the owner of the facility has been detained. It was opening day for the park.

Unfortunately, this incident is not as uncommon as you might think – nor do these accidents only happen in other countries.

You may recall the tree limb that fell on the Ninja coaster at Six Flags in Valencia, California last year where four people were injured.  A woman died by falling out of the Texas Giant coaster in Arlington, Texas, also last year. This death was blamed on a failed safety system, and a lack of safety belts. The park and the ride manufacturer sued each other, each blaming the other for the accident. A settlement was reached with the victim's family, and there was no determination as to who was ultimately responsible for the death. But both parties contributed to the settlement.  

Sometimes, it's not the ride itself that is to blame for accidents.

Recently, Universal Orlando installed metal detectors at three attractions to keep riders from taking their phones, keys, selfie sticks and other metal items on the ride in response to an incident in 2011.

The park had two coasters that sped past each other a mere 18 inches apart. Some riders were hurt by objects flying out of other riders' hands or pockets. Even park visitors walking near the coasters can be injured in this way.

 

Proper training of park employees could have prevented these injuries, had the operators been taught to prohibit riders from taking these items onboard. The metal detectors should prove to be an additional safety measure.

Alarming Amusement Park Statistics

According to Nationwide Children's Hospital, about 20 children and teens in the U.S. are injured each day between May and September, by amusement park rides. These dangerous rides include the mobile, or travelling rides to be found at carnivals and county fairs, mall or arcade rides, and fixed site rides like Goliath and Ninja, found at major amusement parks around the world.

The above-mentioned 20 injured people every day in the summer only include the ones that received treatment in American hospital emergency rooms. Numerous others endure less serious injuries.

Injury claims can be brought against the park owner, ride manufacturer or designer, or the ride operator, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

California Law Regarding Amusement Parks

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates accidents involving mobile rides. There is no federal regulatory organization overseeing rides to be found at permanent amusement or water parks. Those are overseen by state and local government.

In California, permanent rides are subject to building codes. Permanent parks like Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags undergo yearly inspections by the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA).

According to the CPSC, park dangers are not the only amusements harming children. Over a ten year period, there were over 113,000 injuries requiring emergency treatment because of inflatable amusements – 90 percent of those attributed to dangerous bounce houses, or moon bounces—the type of amusement many parents rent for a child's birthday party.

Summertime SafetyHowever you plan to spend your summer, whether vacationing abroad or enjoying California's many amusement and theme parks, fairs or neighborly social gatherings – it is important to spend quality time with family and friends, but also to be aware that sometimes, risks escalate with the fun factor.

David B. Bobrosky is a Shareholder in our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com, or by phone: (818) 907-3254.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120