Friday, July 31, 2015

What If Your Child Is Injured at Camp?

According to the American Camp Association (ACA)1 summer camps bring in an estimated 15 billion dollars every year. While both day camps and sleep-away camps can be highly rewarding experiences for children, sending your child to camp puts your child at risk of several types of serious injuries. Camps should always maintain the highest safety standards possible for children and, when they fail to do so, you may be able to recover financially for certain injuries suffered by your child. The following are some of the most common injuries sustained by children at summer camp:

Burns – One of the most symbolic parts of the camp experience is the campfire. Campers not only gather around a large fire to roast marshmallows and sing songs, but may also use grills and other types of flame for cooking, camping, and other activities. Unfortunately, where there is fire, there is the chance to get burned. Burns from open flames can be serious and require immediate medical attention. Serious burns may lead to infections or may require procedures such a skin grafts to repair the damage skin and tissue. Some burns may lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement. Camps have the responsibility to teach proper fire safety and closely supervise children around flames, as well as provide adequate medical attention if a child is burned.

Collisions and falls – Camp involves many different types of activities, including ropes courses, obstacle courses, trust exercises, playground equipment, and more. It is possible in all of these activities for kids to fall down or collide with an object or another camper. While some falls and collisions simply happen and cannot be prevented, other such accidents occur due to inadequate supervision during activities or due to counselors who are not properly trained on certain pieces of equipment or who push kids beyond their skill or age limits.

Cuts – The ACA reports2 that cuts by knives or other sharp objects account for 15 to 17 percent of camp injuries. Many activities may involve sharp objects and it is absolutely imperative that counselors teach proper knife handling, use, and storage in order to limit the amount of cuts that occur. If a camp fails to supervise kids using knives or does not teach proper safety skills, it may be held liable for the injuries to the camper.

Brain injuries – With their still developing brains, young children are particularly susceptible to traumatic brain injuries. Even a slight bump on the head can result in a concussion and more severe brain injuries can cause long-lasting symptoms and challenges. Whenever a child is involved in contact sports, bicycling, or other activities that may lead to a blow to the head, children need to be provided with adequate safety equipment and supervision. Additionally, if they do hit their heads, children need immediate medical attention and should not be allowed to resume activities until cleared by a medical professional.

Sunburn and heat stroke – Camps naturally involve spending a significant amount of time outside in the sun. Camps should always ensure that campers apply adequate sunscreen or wear clothing with full coverage if they are susceptible to burning. Serious sunburns can have complications including allergic reactions and later skin conditions. Additionally, counselors should always be aware if a child is becoming over-exhausted or dehydrated in the heat and should not allow them to get to the point of heat stroke.

Assaults – Camps have the duty to hire individuals who are qualified and safe to be around children. This means that all counselors should be subject to a background check to ensure they have no history of inappropriate behavior around children. If a camp negligently hires a dangerous individuals and that individual assaults a camper, the camp should be held responsible for all of your child's resulting physical and emotional injuries.

Contact an experienced premises liability attorney for a free consultation today
If your child suffered injury at camp and you believe the camp was negligent, you should not hesitate to discuss a possible case with our skilled Clearwater premises liability lawyers at Dolman Law Group. Call today at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756


Friday, July 10, 2015

Negligence Can Lead to Swimming Pool Accidents

Going to the swimming pool should be fun and enjoyable. Unfortunately, any time your family is around water, there is the chance for serious accidents, specifically drowning. Most drowning accidents end in tragedy and, even more tragically, most drowning victims are children under the age of 14. Even if a drowning victim survives, they often suffer brain damage due to oxygen deprivation or due to hitting their head on the side or bottom of the pool.

Drowning accidents can leave family facing extensive financial and emotional losses and many families wonder how they can recover when a loved one drowns in a swimming pool. The experienced wrongful death lawyers at the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater can evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options.

Negligent acts of pool owners
Pool owners—like any other property owners—have the duty to keep the area in and around the pool safe for visitors. Unfortunately, too many pool owners fail to uphold this duty and it leads to drownings and other types of accidents. Some examples of negligent acts by pool owners can include:

·       Having sharp or rough surfaces inside the pool or around the pool edges that could prevent   someone from putting their feet down or grabbing the edge.
·       Leaving tools or debris out that could cause people to trip and fall into the pool.
·       Having slippery surfaces around the pool that could cause someone to slip and fall into the pool.
·       Not having the appropriate depth markers and leading an inadequate swimmer to wander or jump into water that is too deep for their swimming ability.
·       Not having necessary “No Diving” warnings when appropriate causing someone to dive into too shallow water and hit their head on the bottom of the pool.
·       Failing to have a proper barrier surrounding the pool with a self-latching gate, which may allow small children to wander into the pool area unattended and drown.
·      Having drains and drain covers that do not comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act,1 which could lead to a swimmer becoming suctioned to a drain and may even lead to evisceration.2
·      Not properly warning swimmers that there is no lifeguard on duty.
·      Allowing swimmers to have glass containers or other objects that may cause injury.
·       Using the incorrect amount of chemicals, expired chemicals, or otherwise dangerous toxins in the pool that may cause infection or exposure injuries.

Any of the above dangerous conditions can lead to serious injuries and often to fatal drowning. Though pool owners have a lot to inspect and maintain, it is their duty to thoroughly do so to keep swimmers safe. If they fail to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition, they can be found negligent and responsible for any injuries or deaths that result from their negligence.

Wrongful death claims after a drowning
Tragically, many pool accidents result in fatal drownings. Suddenly losing a child or another loved one in a drowning accident is obviously devastating to surviving family members. Though no amount of financial compensation can ever bring your loved one back, filing a wrongful death claim can not only help you cover unexpected expenses related to the death but can also give you a sense of justice by holding the negligent party liable for their actions.

Florida wrongful death law3 can be complex, however, and has its own deadlines for filing a claim and often involves unique legal issues. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group understand how to apply this law to your case to help you obtain the maximum recovery possible for your tragic loss.

A qualified Clearwater, Florida wrongful death attorney can help you
Many people who have unexpectedly lost a loved one in a drowning accident do not know where to turn. At the Dolman Law Group, our wrongful death lawyers understand that you are going through a difficult time and will guide you through the legal process if you choose to pursue a claim. We offer free consultations with no obligation, so please call today at 727-451-6900 for assistance.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756


Friday, July 3, 2015

Playgrounds Can Be Dangerous Places and a Playground Injury Can Be Severe

Playgrounds are supposed to be designed as safe places for children to play without getting injured. Unfortunately that is not always the case. According to the National Playground Institute over 200,000 playground injuries are reported each year, nationwide. Of these 45 percent are considered severe. 75 percent happen in public playgrounds such as schools, parks, and daycare centers. 60 percent of those accidents are caused by falls from playground equipment. Falls also account for over 80 percent of home playground injuries.

S.A.F.E Standards
The National Program for Playground Safety created S.A.F.E. which separates the safety of playgrounds into four separate categories to create and maintain a safe playground design.

- Supervision – Lack of adult supervision leads to many serious playground accidents. Children should be in clear visibility of parents or adult supervisors at all times. The parents should check the area frequently for dangers of faulty equipment, trip and fall obstacles and even aggressively behaving children.

- Age appropriate design – Playgrounds should have separate areas for children from 2 to 5 years old and 5 through 12.

- Fall Surfacing - Surfaces that are considered acceptable for placing beneath and around playground equipment include mulch, sand, rubberized mats and materials, wood fiber and pea gravel.

- Equipment design and maintenance – All equipment should not have any loose or unanchored parts, sharp edges or protrusions and should be functioning properly according to design.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains a set of standards which are updated bi-annually.  The Americans with Disabilities Act put forth a standard providing for all children to have accessibility and the opportunity to play. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has issued a set of quality standards for playgrounds.

Be Diligent for Safety
Assuming that any playground is a safe play haven for kids can be a critical mistake. Dangers can be lurking anywhere in the form of faulty equipment, poorly padded surfaces, bullies or understaffed or untrained adult supervision. Falling from a piece of playground equipment can result in injury but add to that equation, steel equipment parts and a hard landing surface and the resulting injury may be critical. Some playground injuries are minor and part of growing up like bruises and scrapes, but others may be severe or even grave. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, strangulation and broken bones are all disturbingly too common on playgrounds.  

Who is Responsible?
It is the responsibility of the supervisory team that oversees the operation of a playground, to be sure that it is safe at all times when children are or may be present. Florida’s Childcare Standards (F.A.C. 65C-22.003) encompasses playground safety in the list of required courses for childcare providers. If a child is on a playground where there is a childcare staff member present, that supervising adult must have passed a course in playground safety. This Florida Standard is in addition to the abovementioned National standards.

If you have a child that was injured, or even died, while playing at a public playground, such as a school, daycare or public park, there may be compensation available. A Florida playground accident attorney will be able to thoroughly investigate what caused the accident and determine who was at fault. It could be the equipment manufacturer, the school or daycare, the department of parks and recreation, a supervisor or even another child who was not properly supervised by a parent. It takes an experienced playground accident lawyer to determine the actual facts in these cases. Sometimes the injured child will not recollect what happened but others may have seen. Children can make excellent witnesses and the attorney knows this.

The attorneys at Dolman Law Group have the experience and skill to develop a case when a child is injured on a playground. Do not wait until the facts become clouded and difficult to find. Contact Dolman Law Group today and speak with an attorney who really cares about you and your child.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765