Tag Archives: child safety

Latest Posts

Archives

Categories

Tags Cloud

Dogs and Injuries to Small Children

Small children love playing with dogs. But not every dog has the temperament to tolerate rough play from a child, and sometimes a child can trigger defensive instincts even in a mild-mannered animal. Parents and caregivers who plan to have a dog around small children should take care to follow a few simple rules:

  • Supervise. Dogs shouldn’t be left alone with small children. A common mistake is to take for granted that an easy-going dog will stay that way when a child is doing things that may provoke it, like climbing on the dog’s back, grabbing at the dog’s face, ears, or eyes, or pulling on a tail.
  • Control the environment. A high-energy environment, with loud noises and lots of people running around, can overstimulate a dog and lead to accidents. Bear in mind that dogs can get physical when they play: they will run around, jump, use their front paws to push and grab, and so on. A small child can be injured by playful behavior just as much as aggressive behavior.
  • Teach. Even children who haven’t learned how to speak can learn how to interact with dogs. Teaching children to pet dogs with open handed, gentle movements can help them develop a better relationship with the dog, while also reducing the chances that they’ll do something to startle the dog.
  • Intervene. Watch closely for signs that the dog is distressed. Wide eyes, lowered ears, and of course growling are all signs that the dog needs to be separated from the child. The best course is usually to simply pick up the child.

If a child is injured by a dog, seek medical attention for the child right away. Children may not be able to communicate the extent of their injuries and can suffer broken bones more easily than an adult. Children have remarkable resilience, but parents should also watch for signs of psychological harm, like lingering fear of dogs, that might need to be addressed.

Failing to take reasonable steps to keep a child safe from a dog could lead to legal liability for someone who has responsibility to keep the child safe. When a dog causes a child serious injuries that require medical intervention, the child’s parent or guardian may be forced to sue to recover compensation from the dog owner’s insurance policy or directly from the owner. To protect themselves and others, people who own dogs should verify that their insurance coverage will protect them in the event of a dog-related injury.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury cases, including injuries caused by dogs. If your child has been hurt by a dog and you are wondering about your legal options, please call us for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.

Safely Riding Bikes with Kids

Teaching kids how to ride bikes safely is a great way to encourage them to develop life-long healthy habits. Putting children on bikes also involves a significant responsibility. Preventing accidents and injuries should be a top priority. Children can be at greater risk than adults for bicycling accidents. They don’t always ride in a straight line, may not have sufficient skill to respond to changing conditions, and may be easily distracted. Bearing in mind that many accidents can be prevented even by the people who are not legally at fault, here are a few tips for keeping kids safe on bikes.

  1. Check for mechanical problems. Kids’ bikes go through a lot. They get dropped, left outside for long periods, and so on. Before going for a ride in public places it’s a good idea to always check for mechanical problems, especially with brakes and any point of contact between the bike, the rider, and the road (such as seats, handlebars, wheels). A quick tightening of a loose nut may prevent an accident.
  2. Make children wear helmets. Nevada law doesn’t require cyclists to wear helmets. Although not wearing a helmet won’t result in a citation, it could result in a serious or even fatal head injury. Bear in mind that helmets do not prevent every kind of head injury, they only reduce the likelihood of severe trauma.
  3. Teach traffic safety. Bicycles are not regulated in the same way as cars in Nevada, but they are subject to traffic rules. Kids who will ride in public need to have a basic working knowledge of what signs mean. It’s especially important that kids know when they must stop. They also need to know to stay within designated lanes and when it is ok to leave them. When riding on roads, cyclists are required to stay within designated bike lanes if they are present, unless roadway conditions in the bike lane makes it unsafe to do so.

If a child is injured while riding a bike and someone else was at fault, there may be an option of suing for compensation for the child’s injuries. The facts of the accident will be vitally important for determining the outcome of the case. After an accident it is important to gather as much information as possible about the event, including the time of day, the location, details about the people involved, and so on. Of course, this is easier said than done when a child has been injured and needs medical help.

In any ensuing litigation the central question probably will be whether the person responsible for the accident was negligent. If the child was riding recklessly—for example, by running a red light into oncoming traffic—that may offer a partial or complete defense.

Talk to a Las Vegas personal injury firm about your case

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and accident cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about an accident involving a child on a bicycle, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Keeping Kids Safe While Riding in a Boat

In some ways, the pleasure of riding in a boat can bring out the kid in all of us. Children are naturally drawn to water and riding in a boat is undeniably fun. Owners and operators of boats who plan to take children aboard still need to think carefully about how to best keep their little passengers safe during the trip. Here are a few basic principles:

  1. Comply with floatation device requirements.

In Nevada every boat must carry life jackets that comply with U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) guidelines for personal flotation devices (PFDs). There are a number of specific rules for PFDs.

  • Every boat must carry at least one life jacket per passenger. Larger vessels (16 feet or larger) must carry additional floatation equipment. When considering whether sufficient PFDs are on board, take into account the size requirements of different passengers. Children and infants have very different sizing and fit requirements when compared to adults.
  • Children under 13 years of age are required to wear a PFD at all times while a vessel is underway unless the child is fully confined inside the boat. A child may not need to wear a life jacket while below deck on a sail boat, but would need to wear one on a power boat with only a partial enclosure.
  • Life jackets need to be in good condition. If a life jacket has a damaged buckle or frayed material it should be replaced.
  • Life jackets must be legibly marked with the applicable USCG approval number.
  • PFDs must be accessible, which means that it is being worn or can be reached and is ready to wear. A life jacket that’s kept in a box, especially if the box is locked, doesn’t meet this requirement.
  1. Know your passengers.

Take a moment to find out how much experience your young passengers have with boats. Children who have never ridden on a boat before probably don’t know what to expect if, for example, the boat hits waves while under power. Know whether your passengers can swim so that you can anticipate the kind of intervention that might be required in an emergency.

  1. Talk about boat safety.

Children should be taught how to respond in the event of an emergency on the water. In a real emergency, such as if the boat flips over or the child falls overboard, an adult may not be able to reach the child right away. Especially on boats that are prone to tipping (canoes, sail boats) it’s important to teach children to stay with the boat in the event of a capsize. Have a plan if the child falls overboard. Ideally, the child has spent time in the water wearing a lifejacket, so he or she knows what to expect.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury cases. If you have been injured in a boating accident we are happy to discuss your case with you. Call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

Rat Poison Can Seriously Injure Children and Pets

Rat Poison Can Seriously Injure Children and Pets

Despite the extensively documented dangers pellet-type rat poisons pose to pets, children, and wildlife, they continue to be a readily available and popular solution to a ubiquitous urban problem. Parents of small children or owners of dogs or cats that are allowed to roam outside should avoid using poisoned baits. But what if a neighbor uses them and poisoned rats begin showing up in your yard? There are a few things to bear in mind.

How rat poison works

There are several types of rodent poison common in the United States. A common feature of all of them is that they are designed to kill a small mammal. Even if a dog, cat, or child is substantially larger than a rat, the poison works in much the same way on their systems as it does on a rat’s. Even if it doesn’t kill, it can cause serious injury. Here are the four common types:

  • Anticoagulant rodenticides (ACR). These chemicals cause severe internal bleeding, effectively causing the rodent to bleed to death. In sufficient quantities they can cause bleeding from the nose or gums, coughing (bleeding in the lungs), and other severe symptoms.
  • Cholecalciferol. This type of poison causes kidney failure through a buildup of calcium in the body. It can be very difficult to treat due to the challenge of getting calcium out of the kidneys. Its symptoms can include lethargy, increased thirst, and tremors.
  • Bromethalin. This poison causes brain swelling, leading to vomiting, seizures, and other severe reactions.
  • Phosphides. These poisons are typically used to control larger pests like moles. They create a poisonous gas in the stomach.

Each of these poisons can be treated to various degrees, but the goal should really be to avoid having them in the environment at all. There are effective alternatives to poison, including “zap traps” that use electric shock and traps that kill the rat with a powerful blow to the spine.

Potential legal problems with using rat poison

In addition to the physical risks to pets and children, using rat poison can create legal risks as well. The more serious one is if a child gets ahold of poison that hasn’t been adequately childproofed. In some situations a person who does so may be committing negligence. This can be true even if the child was trespassing on the property at the time. For example, if the property has a trampoline that is accessible to children in the neighborhood, one should anticipate children being around rat traps left nearby.

A less costly but still serious risk is that the poison will hurt or kill a neighbor’s pet. Even if poison can’t be reached by pets in the containers where it’s left, a dog could easily find a dead or dying rat and eat it. Even though there are limits on how much a person can recover in a lawsuit for injuries to pets, it is better to avoid the problem to begin with.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have questions about a potential legal issue related to rat poison, call us today for a free attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Legal Considerations When Hiring Minors to Babysit Children

Legal Considerations When Hiring Minors to Babysit Children

Hiring a neighbor’s teenager to look after kids is a familiar way for parents to free up an evening and kids to earn some spending money. Assuming the babysitter is responsible and able to address the typical kinds of problems that can come up—a scrape or a bruise—there’s probably little risk involved in these informal arrangements. But if a child is seriously injured while being watched by a minor, questions can come up about how legal liability applies in these situations. In thinking about how a minor’s liability for injuries to a child while babysitting it’s helpful to separate potential scenarios into two categories: negligence and willful acts of misconduct.

Minors are often shielded from liability for ordinary negligence

Negligence is the most common cause of action in personal injury lawsuits, in part because it offers relatively low requirements for attaching liability to the defendant. In a negligence case the defendant owed the plaintiff (or the plaintiff’s child) a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and as a consequence the plaintiff was injured (in legal terms, the plaintiff suffered damages). By accepting responsibility for a child, especially for pay, the babysitter undoubtedly has a duty to provide for the safety of the child.

There are several problems with trying to pursue a negligence action against a minor. The first is that the minor probably doesn’t have much in the way of financial resources to pay a judgment, so even a successful outcome won’t help pay for an injured child’s medical bills. A second problem is that minors are generally given greater leeway to make mistakes, and a minor may present a sympathetic case in the courtroom.

That leaves the possibility of suing the babysitter’s parents. But in Nevada a minor’s parents normally can’t be sued for the ordinary negligence or even recklessness of their minor children except in cases where the minor negligently causes an injury using a firearm. Rocky Mountain Produce Trucking Co. v. Johnson, 78 Nev. 44, 51-52 (1962), NRS 41.472.

Willful misconduct by a babysitter

The legal analysis changes if a babysitter deliberately acts wrongfully and as a consequence hurts a child. Parents of a minor are jointly and severally liable for damages caused by the minor’s acts of willful misconduct, up to $10,000 per act. NRS 41.470. What might constitute willful misconduct? Here are some examples:

  • Deliberately harming the child (hitting, choking, sexual assault).
  • Using illegal drugs that cause the babysitter to not be aware of risks to the child.
  • Intentionally placing the child in harm’s way as a stunt or joke.

The damages limitation placed upon actions for a minor’s willful misconduct forces a plaintiff to get creative when analyzing the facts of the child’s injury. Given the right set of facts the babysitter may have committed multiple separate acts of willful misconduct, allowing for the $10,000 cap to be multiplied according to the number of acts. The challenge is often that the only reliable witness to the wrongful acts is the babysitter. A skilled attorney can explore these issues.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation. If you have questions about your legal options to respond to a child’s injury caused by a babysitter, call us today for a free attorney consultation. Reach us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Childproofing a Home to Protect Little Ones and Prevent Liability

When a small child will be present in a home it’s vitally important that the homeowner take stock of potential hazards and, to the extent possible, remedy them. Many childproofing steps are simple—outlet covers, for example—and can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury to a child. Failing to address hazards could lead to a child’s serious injury or even death. Such tragedies can also create legal liability for an adult who hasn’t taken proper care.

Childproofing recommendations

The National Safety Council is one of many organizations focused on providing helpful guidance for people looking for ways to improve the safety of their homes. They identify a range of important issues to consider when evaluating a home’s potential hazards for children. Some examples include:

  • Keeping firearms out of reach of children.
  • Examining places of high risk for ways to limit a child’s access to them. Such places include areas with water (pools, spas, kitchens, bathrooms), heat (fireplaces and stoves), toxic materials (cleaners and medicines), and places with fall risks (stairs).
  • Securing heavy furniture to the wall or other stable feature, especially tippy furniture like tall dressers (such as the popular Ikea “MALM” dresser, which the company has repeatedly recalled following the deaths of several toddlers) or televisions.
  • Covering wall outlets and ensuring that electrical plugs are well-seated.

The steps a homeowner takes to childproof a home will vary depending on how frequently children will be present, how practical it is to address each hazard, and other personal factors. Someone who is only occasionally visited by their small grandchild may see little utility in securing every kitchen cabinet, while the parent of a small child probably should take the steps to secure as much as possible.

Childproofing and the law

There are no particular laws requiring individuals to childproof their homes. As a practical matter such laws aren’t necessary. Parents and other caregivers have plenty of incentive to keep their little ones safe without needing the state’s intervention.

The absence of specific laws places childproofing into the broad category of negligence. The key question in a typical negligence case is whether the person responsible for a child’s injury breached a duty of care owed to the child. Such duties include things like ensuring that a backyard pool can’t be accessed by children passing by the property. Whether an individual is committing negligence for failing to add locks to medicine cabinets or cover wall outlets will depend on the facts of the situation: the relationship of the homeowner to the child, the foreseeability of the child’s injury, and other factors.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has provided personal, caring service to clients in personal injury cases for over 45 years. If you have questions about an injury to a child caused by inadequate childproofing of a home call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.

Legal Strategies to Prevent Child Abuse

Legal Strategies to Protect Children from Abuse

When a child is suffering abuse at the hands of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver it can unfortunately sometimes be difficult to end the abuse without taking formal steps to create legal barriers between the child and the abuser. Especially in cases where the abuser is violent and potentially abusive toward the person who wishes to also protect the child, taking legal steps takes real courage. Anyone who wishes to protect a a child from an abuser in Nevada has a number of legal options.

  • Seek a protective order.

A protective order is a court-issued, legally binding document that requires the individual subject to the order (the “adverse party”) to not go to designated places, not approach designated people, or not engage in other behavior that could make the applicant for the order feel threatened or unsafe. For example, a protective order could require a person to stay a certain distance away from the home where a child lives, the child’s school, or a caregiver’s home. A protective order can be requested by someone who reasonably believes that his or her child has been the victim of a crime that is “harmful to minors,” such as sexual or physical abuse. NRS 33.400.

There are a number of advantages to protective orders. A short-term (30 days) order can be requested without first notifying the abuser, giving immediate, if temporary, protection. The applicant for a protective order need only provide the court with the necessary basics to establish the necessity of a protective order. The complexity grows for a protective order that will last for a longer period. A protective order can be issued for up to one year provided that the adverse party is allowed to be present for a hearing.

  • Contact Child Protective Services.

The Nevada Division of Child and Family Services includes a special unit that responds to child abuse and neglect. Child Protective Services (CPS) invites the public to report child abuse. Based on the initial report a case worker will conduct a preliminary analysis to determine if the child’s safety is at risk and how the agency should respond. The agency also conducts investigations, including home visits and interviews to determine if the evidence substantiates the initial report. CPS has a range of options to protect the welfare of children, including removing the child from a home in some situations. Because CPS determinations can have serious consequences for children and families, their processes are subject to hearing and appeal requirements.

  • Contact the police.

In cases where abuse is severe and ongoing it can be necessary to call 911 to request police assistance. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a specialized unit that investigates criminal child abuse.

  • Sue for damages.

An abused child often needs counseling to ensure that trauma doesn’t lead to long-term mental and physical health problems. Child abusers can be sued to recover compensation not just for the child’s medical bills, but in many cases also for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other related damages. Whether a lawsuit is appropriate will depend on the circumstances.

Talk to an attorney about how to best respond to child abuse

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has provided caring, personalized service to clients in the Las Vegas area for over 45 years. We can help you craft a legal strategy to protect a child from abuse. For a free attorney consultation please contact us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats

The Risks of Using Expired Child Car Seats

Child car seats are not designed to last forever. Manufacturers label each of their car seats, as well as related equipment like bases for removable bassinets, with expiration dates past which the car seat should no longer be used. Manufacturers do this for a variety of important reasons. Parents should take expiration dates seriously.

Why do car seats expire?

If a seat were to fail in an accident the potential for catastrophic injury to the child would expose the manufacturer to expensive products liability lawsuits, not to mention a loss of confidence in the marketplace. For that reason, manufacturers of car seats put their products through extensive safety testing before selling them to the public. Manufacturers also pay close attention to how their products perform in the field and will be quick to issue recalls if something isn’t working as intended. That is why registering car seats is recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and every manufacturer.

There isn’t a hard and fast rule governing when a car seat has reached its expiration date. Instead, manufacturers determine expirations based on their safety testing procedures and engineering standards. There are a number of reasons why a car seat is given an expiration date:

  • Safety standards are constantly changing, and older seats may no longer be compliant.
  • Materials and safety technology are constantly getting better.
  • Wear and tear can make straps, buckles, and safety padding more prone to breaking in an accident.
  • Manufacturers do not test seats for an indefinite time and will stop evaluating expired seats for faults that might otherwise trigger a recall.

The risks of using an expired car seat

For all the reasons above, using an expired car seat places the child at greater risk of injury. A buckle that’s worn out could snap open in a collision, potentially eliminating the seat’s protections altogether. The seat’s impact foam could be brittle and cracked underneath the external padding, making it less able to absorb shocks. The possibilities are endless.

In the event of an accident an expired car seat that causes injuries could limit the parents’ ability to seek damages from the manufacturer on a products liability theory. In extreme circumstances where the responsible adult knew that the seat was defective but used it anyway, there may even be liability for the person who put the child in the seat. Using a seat that isn’t expired is one way to avoid making a tragic situation worse.

This advice is especially important to keep in mind when considering whether to buy or accept a used car seat from someone else. Most thrift stores don’t take used car seats because the risks are too great, but they are often available for sale or for free through channels like Facebook and Craigslist. Used car seats may have hidden defects, may have been subject to a recall, or may be past their expiration. When it comes to safety equipment, it’s always better to buy new.

GGRM is a Las Vegas car accident law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in auto accident and products liability cases. Contact us if you have questions about how your car seat may affect your legal rights. For a confidential, no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Reasons to Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Parked Car

Reasons to Never Leave a Child Unattended in a Parked Car

Parents are often tempted to leave their children in the car while they run a quick errand. Many parents remember their own parents doing this to them when they were kids. But our current understanding is that leaving kids in cars is dangerous. Not only is it a crime to leave kids unattended in a car, it also exposes them to a number of potential dangers.

  • Heat injuries.

Nevada’s hot weather makes cars especially dangerous places for small children. In addition to the highly publicized problem of children being killed when trapped in cars, children can suffer lasting health effects from heat stroke and sunburn. A parent who leaves a child in a hot car may face charges of child endangerment or even manslaughter.

  • Risk of mechanical injury.

Even if a car is parked where it won’t get hot in the sun, a child who is allowed to freely roam inside a car can fall or get trapped in various ways. A child who is trapped inside a car with no way to call for help could suffer injuries that are only made worse by the length of time it takes to discover them and seek medical help.

  • Exposure to predators.

A child left alone in a car becomes an easy target for someone who would seek to do them harm. With child trafficking an increasingly significant problem, it’s wise to not discount the threat of kidnapping. Infants and very small children are especially vulnerable.

  • The rights of rescuers.

If someone spots a child trapped in a parked vehicle and calls the authorities, police or other first responders are allowed to break into a car to rescue the child. They may do so without liability to the owner of the vehicle. Imagine coming out of the grocery store to find a squad of firefighters smashing your car’s windows to get to your child.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury, workers’ compensation, and other cases. For a free attorney consultation please contact us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in Nevada

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in Nevada

It’s extremely dangerous to leave children for any significant amount of time in a hot car. Even on cloudy days the sun’s heat can rapidly raise temperatures inside a car to unsafe levels. Each year an average of 37 children die from heat-related injuries after being left in hot cars. More suffer from heat stroke and other complications, which at a young age can have lasting consequences. Because of the risks, many states, including Nevada, have adopted laws that provide for criminal penalties for responsible adults who leave children unattended in cars.

Nevada’s unattended child law

Nevada’s “hot car” law was passed in 2005. It provides for criminal penalties for people who violate the law. It applies to parents, guardians, or other people who are responsible for a child who is seven years old or younger. It is a crime to knowingly and intentionally leave such a child unsupervised in a vehicle where “conditions present a significant risk to the health and safety of the child.” It is also unlawful to leave a child under the age of eight unattended in a car if it is running or if the keys are in the ignition.

The parameters of this law are in fact quite narrowly constructed. Whether someone can be criminally prosecuted for violating the law will depend on the state’s ability to prove a number of things:

  • Intent. It isn’t enough that a parent or other responsible adult accidentally leaves a child in a hot car. The decision to leave the child in the car must be knowing and intentional. This gives an otherwise liable adult a potentially strong excuse that he or she simply forgot that the child was in the car. This brand of forgetfulness is more common than one would expect.
  • Conditions were unsafe. This piece of the puzzle may be relatively straightforward: the outside temperature was over 100 degrees, the car was parked in the sun, and all the windows were rolled up. But if the car was parked under a large shade structure, perhaps the child was not particularly at risk. Note that risk involves more than just heat. Leaving a child unattended could increase chances of other kinds of injury and could expose the child to kidnappers.
  • The child was unsupervised. If the responsible adult left the child in the car but was standing a short distance away within visual contact, a crime probably wasn’t committed at least with respect to the hot car law. However, the adult who ignores the risks of the hot car may have broken other laws, such as negligent supervision or child endangerment.

Pursuing civil action

Whether or not a crime was committed, parents of a child who is injured in a hot car may wish to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death claim against other adults who were responsible at the time of the incident. If the responsible adult was violating a law at the time of the event a plaintiff will have a relatively easy road to making a successful claim. A criminal conviction creates a presumption of liability in the civil context.

Why would someone wish to pursue a civil case in these cases? One reason is that criminal prosecution, even if it is successful, cannot grant the scope of damages that is available in civil trials. When a child is injured or killed a parent’s pain and suffering can be a significant component of damages, but pain and suffering is only available through a civil trial.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has prided itself on providing compassionate, personalized services to clients in personal injury cases. If your child has suffered an injury in a hot car and you would like to discuss your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.