Archive for June, 2013

Tired Teens at Increased Risk of Traffic Collisions this Summer

Drowsy driving is a major problem among people of all age groups, but teens are at great risk through the summer because they tend to have busy schedules and to be inexperienced drivers. Tired teens who haven’t gotten enough sleep put themselves, their passengers, and other drivers in danger.  

Our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys know that getting enough sleep is one of the most important ways to prevent drowsy driving crashes. Since teens may not be able to get the sleep they need while they are busy with school, sports and extra-curricular activities during the week, these young people may try to get “catch-up” sleep on the weekends. While some parents may view this as lazing around in bed all day and may discourage this behavior, a recent study indicates that it may be prudent to let your kids sleep in on the weekends.

Catch-Up Sleep Can Save Lives

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a recent study in JAMA Pediatrics highlighted the benefits of catch-up sleep on weekends. The study was conducted by researchers in Sydney Australia who found that early school start times and after school activities may make it impossible for teenagers to get the recommended 8 1/2 to 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night.

Researchers assessed the crash risk of drowsy driving among drivers ages 17 to 24 years of age. The findings showed that when these young people get only get six hours of sleep per night, their relative crash risk was significantly increased. Crashes among drivers who got six hours of sleep or less tended to occur most often between the hours of 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM, making this the most dangerous time for young teen drivers to get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, teens coming home from sporting events or getting to school early for activities routinely drive at these hours.

The study also showed that when teens got less sleep on the weekends, their chances of getting into a car accident further increased. On the other hand, when teenagers are able to sleep in, they can catch up on some of the rest that they missed. This effort to fight fatigue can reduce the chance of an accident happening.

Based on the findings of the study, the scientific director and founder of the Center for Injury and Research Prevention suggests that parents make the choice to let their teens sleep. The director and founder further advised that parents should give kids a ride when they know the teens are fatigued and that high schools may wish to consider later start times to ensure that young people are able to get the rest that they need in order to be safe.

Teens, too, should be sure to stop and rest when tired or to ask for a ride when they are too sleepy to drive. When a tired teen gets behind the wheel, they could make a dangerous mistake that costs them their life or that costs the life of other innocent victims on the road.

If you’ve been injured in a teen car accident, contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., at (800) 608-2965 for a free and confidential consultation.

Archive for June, 2013

Tougher Safety Standards May Reduce Child Injuries in Strollers

Strollers are supposed to be safe for babies and toddlers. Unfortunately, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 1,200 stroller-related accidents and incidents occurred from 2008 to 2012. These incidents caused 360 children to suffer injuries and resulted in four deaths. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) in order to create new federal safety standards for strollers. Manufacturers will be expected to adhere to the new safety rules within 18 months of publication of the new rules appearing in the Federal Register. However, our West Palm Beach products liability attorneys know that manufacturers may wish to incorporate new safety guidelines as soon as possible in order to prevent injuries, keep kids safer and avoid liability for harm that results from stroller accidents.

Stroller Incidents Cause Risks to Children

The new CPSC rules were passed after experts considered some of the top causes of injuries to children in strollers over the past several years. Some the greatest risks that kids faced while in strollers included:

  • Problems with stroller wheels including detachments and wheels breaking.
  • Failures of lock mechanisms or problems with stroller parking brakes.
  • Hinge problems that resulted in finger amputations or other injuries.
  • Structural integrity problems resulting in strollers collapsing or children falling from strollers.
  • Design defects that resulted in children becoming trapped inside of strollers or travel systems.
  • Problems with stroller canopies that caused head injuries.
  • Problems with handlebars or restraint harnesses that resulted in children falling.

These problems and defects in current strollers caused many children to suffer serious injuries including fall-related injuries; amputations and head injuries. Unfortunately, very young children can be especially susceptible to being hurt in a fall because the bones of the skull have not fully fused together to protect the brain from injury. Children may also be more likely to break bones and to suffer severe brain damage that leads to cognitive impairment if they are involved in accidents.

The new proposed safety standards would reduce the chances of these and other common injuries from occurring. The new proposed rule would also incorporate the current voluntary ASTM F833-13 standard with one modification. The change to the existing voluntary standard addresses scissoring, shearing and pinching dangers that are associated with strollers that fold up.

Protecting Kids from Stroller Accidents

Parents should ensure that they do everything possible to keep their children safe from accidents in strollers. This means checking recall lists to ensure that their strollers have not been subject to safety recalls. New parents may wish to purchase new strollers rather than using hand-me-downs or used strollers since older strollers may not conform to current safety standards. Finally, parents should carefully read all manufacturer instructions and manufacturer warnings on strollers in order to use them as safely as possible.

Ultimately, however, it is stroller manufacturers who have the responsibility for producing a safe product that parents can use to transport their children from point A to point B without harm. When a stroller manufacturer falls short and produces a dangerous product, then kids can get hurt and stroller manufacturers can be held legally liable for injuries they cause.

If you’ve been injured in a stroller accident, contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., at (800) 608-2965 for a free and confidential consultation.

Archive for June, 2013

West Palm Beach Boating Accidents a Summer Risk

The New Port Richey Patch reported that 10 people have already lost their lives in Florida this year as a result of boating accidents. Our West Palm Beach boating accident attorneys know that boating accidents are especially common over the summer and on holidays such as the Fourth of July and Labor Day. 

As we enter prime boating season, we urge every driver to follow safety tips provided by the Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission in order to avoid becoming the victim of a deadly boating accident.

Tips for Preventing Boating Accidents

Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission stepped up enforcement of boating safety laws in order to try to prevent boating accidents. The Commission indicated to NBC Miami that around 1,000 people are rescued each year on the water after boating accidents and that the vast majority of people who die in boating crashes lose their lives as a result of drowning.

In fact, when boating accidents happen, as many as 60 percent of the people who die on the waterways in Florida lose their lives because they drown before rescue. These deaths are easily preventable by following one simple safety tip: always wear a life jacket. Wearing a life jacket can help to ensure that you do not drown if you fall off the boat or if your boat is involved in a collision and you are thrown into the water.

Wearing a life jacket is especially important for children and for those who are not strong swimmers. However, anyone aboard a boat can be safer by putting a life jacket on. The Commission, however, recognizes that not everyone will want to keep a life jacket on at all times on a boat.  Any time when you are not wearing your life jacket, you are advised to keep it readily accessible and available so that you can grab it quickly in the event that an accident happens.

Other safety tips to prevent boating accident deaths include:

  • Ensuring that the captain remains alert at all times when operating the boat. Although it is not illegal to have alcohol on board or to have a drink, it is illegal to operate a boat while you are intoxicated.
  • Having the captain wear an engine-shut off switch whenever he is operating the boat. An engine shut-off switch is attached from the ignition of the boat to the driver who is operating it. If the switch is disconnected, then the engine will shut off right away. This ensures that a boater who has fallen overboard won’t by injured by a runaway boat or by the propeller. It can also prevent the boat from continuing to operate and crashing if something happens to the person who is driving it.

By following these safety tips and remembering to wear a life jacket at all times, you can be a lot safer on your boat this upcoming summer season.  Those who are injured in boat accidents should also be aware that the driver of the boat who is responsible for causing the accident can be held legally liable and required to compensate you for boating accident injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a boat accident, contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., at (800) 608-2965 for a free and confidential consultation.