Recently in Injuries to Children Category

May 10, 2013

Children on Summer Vacation can Mean More Injuries on Amusement Rides

The June 2007 amusement park accident at Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville that severed a young girl's feet brought national attention to the safety of amusement park rides. Ever since the accident, her parents have been lobbying the federal government for stricter control over amusement park rides. However, even if laws are passed requiring more oversight of the nation's theme parks, it may not cover some of the other rides that kids encounter.

There are basically three types of amusement rides. "Fixed rides" are those found in amusement parks. They are built on a particular site and never move. "Mobile rides" are taken to carnivals and festivals for a week or two, then are partially disassembled and moved to another location. The last category is "mall rides," which is fairly self-explanatory. These smaller rides are sprinkled throughout malls and grocery stores as entertainment for kids who have been dragged along on a shopping trip. The last two categories of rides are generally tamer than those found at permanent amusement parks, but they can still lead to injury.

One of the leading causes of injuries on mobile rides is the very fact that they are mobile. The constant taking down and putting back up allows for plenty of opportunities for something to be incorrectly installed. It also creates additional wear and tear on certain components of a ride. Mall rides, which are generally geared toward very young children are dangerous simply because they seem so safe. Unsuspecting parents may put their child on a ride without even noticing there is no safety belt to keep the child in place or realizing that their child will hit a very hard floor if they do fall off.

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January 30, 2013

How to Avoid Dog Bites in Kentucky

Dogs are wonderful companions for adults and children alike. They offer unconditional love and are happy to see you when you come home. But what some people sometimes forget is that they are still animals and, as a result, they can be unpredictable. Two recent cases, one right here in Kentucky, illustrate this point.

On January 9, 2013, three children were playing at a home in Henderson, Kentucky. The kids were getting a little crazy, which riled up the dog living at the home, so the owner told the kids to calm down. The kids calmed down, and the dog appeared to calm down too. But when one of the children began staring at the dog, the dog attacked him, biting off his nose and swallowing it. After the dog was euthanized, the vet was able to retrieve the boy's nose and surgeons reattached it. The owner said he had owned the dog for a long time and he had never been aggressive before.

In the same week in New Athens, Illinois, a young girl was attacked by two dogs as she and her friend were walking. She suffered bites to multiple parts of her body. What is even more disturbing about this attack is that the dogs were owned by the town's former police chief, and one of the dogs was a trained police dog. That may leave some wondering how any dog can be trusted if even a trained police dog can attack without warning.

The fact of the matter is that you should never trust a dog 100%. Even the gentlest, calmest dog can have a bad moment that could end with someone being bitten. The American Kennel Club offers these tips to avoid dog bite injuries:

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January 8, 2013

Infant Recliners Recalled by Retailers, Manufacturer Refuses to Recall Product

Trying to get a young infant to sleep can be difficult and frustrating. Sleep-deprived parents often go to great lengths to get their little ones to drift off, from driving miles in the car to singing songs and pacing the floor incessantly. So when a product comes out that claims to help get babies to sleep, it can be quite appealing. One such product is the Nap Nanny, which was introduced a few years ago. The Nap Nanny is kind of a recliner for infants, which allows their heads to be slightly elevated while sleeping. The product is designed to be used only on the floor and the infant is buckled in.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is a group that monitors products and complaints to determine if products are unsafe for consumers. In July, 2010, the CPSC announced a voluntary product recall of the Nap Nanny after receiving numerous complaints about the product, including one regarding a child who died while sleeping in the product in crib. The four-month-old had managed to move herself to the edge of the recliner and suffocated between it and the crib bumper. The manufacturer recalled the product and released a new version of it with additional safety features and directions on safe usage of the product.

After the initial recall, the CPSC received reports of additional injuries and deaths to infants using the Nap Nanny. They notified the company about the issues, but the company's founder refused to recall the product. She stated that none of the subsequent injuries or deaths would have occurred if the consumers were using the product properly. Four of the five reported infant deaths occurred while the Nap Nanny was being used in a crib, which the labels on the product specifically say not to do. Several stores voluntarily recalled the infant sleepers and the CPSC has filed a complaint in an attempt to have a mandatory recall put in place. The manufacturer has also filed documents to have the complaint dismissed. In the meantime, Baby Matters, the company that makes and sells the Nap Nanny, has shut down its operations, but continues to stand by its product.

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October 2, 2012

Louisville, Kentucky School Bus Accident Sends 51 Students to Local Hospitals

In 1999, the TV show "ER" staged a school bus crash in which the bus overturned near the train tracks in downtown Chicago. Students who were able climbed out of the emergency exit while others awaited medical assistance inside. Some train passengers that rode by the scene while it was being filmed were horrified by what they saw, until other passengers informed them it wasn't real.

Unfortunately, on September 28, 2012, the school bus accident that neighbors and passersby witnessed on Lower River Road in Louisville, Kentucky was not a set for a TV show. It really occurred, and numerous children were injured. It appears that a car with three high school students inside did not stop at the stop sign. Their car hit the bus hard enough that it was knocked over, sending 48 middle school children flying inside the bus. All three students in the car and all of the bus riders were taken to local hospitals, although some of those from the bus were taken more as a precaution than as a result of actual injuries. The only person involved in the bus wreck that did not go to the hospital was the driver of the bus.

This scenario begs the question: Why aren't school buses equipped with seat belts? The fact that the three people in the car had to go to the hospital makes sense because of the vast difference in size between the bus and the car. But because the bus driver who had a seat belt was the only one who wasn't taken to the hospital, it makes one wonder if fewer bus riders would have been injured if they had been wearing seat belts. Some states do require seat belts on certain buses, but it is not a requirement in Indiana or Kentucky.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) addresses this question on its website. It states that about 42,000 people are killed in car accidents in the U.S. each year, but approximately six children are killed when riding in school buses. The sheer size of a full-size school bus allegedly keeps the children safer than a regular car. In addition, the seats are placed close together and have high, cushioned backs to protect children in the event of a crash.

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June 25, 2012

Kentucky Bus Crash Lawsuits Filed

1119802_bus.jpgOn June 6, 2012, a tour bus carrying over 50 children and adults crashed in Hart County, Kentucky on its way to Washington DC. The driver had only traveled about seven miles with the passengers on board when the bus accident occurred. While the accident investigation has not been completed, it appears that the driver was speeding and lost control of the bus around a tight curve. The bus rolled over, causing multiple injuries that were fortunately not life-threatening.

Why would a driver speed around a tight curve, especially in a large tour bus? Some passengers said he was overconfident, refusing to slow down even when several of them warned him to reduce his speed because of the curvy road. Others said he had been drinking energy drinks that may have clouded his judgment. Another reason may have been because he had already driven eight hours from Chicago and he may have been too tired to realize how fast he was traveling.

Whatever the reason, it appears he was speeding, risking the lives of at least 50 other people. As a result, three families have joined together and filed a lawsuit. One child from each family was involved in the bus crash and their families believe someone should be held accountable. They have sued the driver of the bus, the bus company - Southwestern Illinois Bus Company - and Worldstrides International. The claim against the driver is fairly self-explanatory since he was the one that was operating the bus when it ran off the road and his negligence most likely contributed to the accident.

The bus company may be partially liable for the accident for a couple of reasons. It could be responsible if it is determined that the driver lacked enough experience to be driving the bus. Also, if any maintenance issues played a part in the accident, the company could be held accountable. The lawsuit alleges that the driver had already driven eight hours from Chicago to Kentucky and was setting out to drive an additional eight hours to Washington DC. If this is true and the company asked him to drive both routes without resting, it would be in violation of the federal law that states commercial bus drivers can only drive 11 hours at a time. Worldstrides International is the company that organized the trip. Its website ironically claims it is "the nation's largest and most respected accredited travel organization" and that its "programs are marked by exceptional service, a superior safety record, and a personalized approach to educational travel that is unmatched in the field." If they contracted with the bus company that employed the driver that caused the accident, they could be partially liable for the accident too.

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January 18, 2012

Louisville, Kentucky Settles More Personal Injury Lawsuits from Zoo Train Derailment

1350732_train_tracks_1.jpgOn June 1, 2009, a small passenger train that has run for many years around the perimeter of the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky derailed, spilling all of its passengers out of the cars. While there were no fatalities, 22 people, including 17 children, were sent to hospitals with injuries. Multiple personal injury lawsuits have been filed as a result of this accident.

Shortly after the accident, lawsuits were filed by multiple plaintiffs against different defendants, including Chance Rides Manufacturing, Mary Coffey, and the Louisville Zoo. The first defendant, Chance Rides Manufacturing, is the company that manufactured and sold the train to the zoo. Claims against the company are likely product liability claims, which state that a company knowingly has manufactured and distributed a dangerous or faulty product that has caused property damage or personal injury. Mary Coffey was operating the train when it derailed. She has been charged with negligence in some of the cases based on reports that the train was going too fast and that she was not experienced enough to be running the train when the accident occurred. The lawsuits against the Louisville Zoo could contain a variety of charges including negligence for allowing Ms. Coffey to operate the train without proper training and not properly maintaining the train or the tracks. A couple of the lawsuits also included restraining orders in an attempt to prohibit the zoo from moving the train before it could be examined by experts hired by the plaintiffs.

Over $500,000 has been paid by the city of Louisville to settle 23 claims, including $150,000 this month. This amount does not include legal fees, which are upwards of $175,000 already. Some of the largest claims are still to come, including one filed by a family that had four individuals injured. The father suffered serious injuries to his legs and has already incurred over $350,000 in medical expenses. Damages in this type of case typically will not only include medical expenses, but also lost wages, loss of future earnings, and compensation for emotional distress for both the victim and his family. Considering the extent of injuries and number of people involved, the award in this case may end up being in the millions. This claim is one of six remaining claims that will most likely be mediated and settled without a trial.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture investigated the accident. The department's final report noted excessive speed, an inexperienced driver, and the poor condition of the train as the most likely causes of the accident. The Louisville Zoo has purchased two new trains since the accident and hopes to have them running in the spring or summer of 2012.

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November 10, 2011

Kentucky School Bus Accident Injures Nineteen

911468_school_bus_with_child.jpgOn November 3, 2011, two school buses full of students and adults from Louisville Collegiate School in Kentucky were headed to Mammoth Cave on a field trip when one of the buses left the road and rolled over near Glasgow, Kentucky. Of the passengers aboard, 16 children and 3 adults were admitted to a hospital in Glasgow. Their injuries ranged from broken bones and cuts and bruises to a potential back and head injury. Lawrence Austin, the bus driver, stated that the trailer of a truck hit the side of the bus, causing the bus to leave the roadway and roll down the embankment. The driver of the truck did not stop and investigators initially saw no signs of collision on the bus.

Kentucky State Police completed their investigation of the bus accident and released their findings earlier this week. They did discover some white paint on the on the left side of the front fender of the bus, which confirms the bus driver's account of being hit by a white semi. The damage was so minimal the truck driver may not have even been aware that he struck the bus, so he did not stop. The search for the truck driver was called off just hours after the accident because there was no evidence of a collision found initially and the description of the truck was very limited. Kentucky State Police spokesman Jonathan Biven said searching for the truck would have been like "looking for a needle in a stack of needles."

What caused the truck trailer to veer into the other lane and hit the school bus will probably never be determined. Investigators believe the weather may have been involved because it was raining. Other factors such as the condition of the truck, the weight of the load in the trailer, and the truck driver's driving record and attention to the road will never be known since the driver did not stop and the search for the truck was called off before it was found. Charges are not expected to be brought against Mr. Austin, the driver of the bus. He has no known driving issues and the bus was recently inspected over the summer and had no mechanical issues.

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September 15, 2011

Crib Standards Raised to Keep Sleeping Babies Safe

Many parents feel, and rightfully so, that their babies are safest in their cribs. They are in their own homes, unable to get into unsafe situations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Between 1990 and 2008, over 7500 infant injuries involved cribs. As a result, new federal rules have been enacted to make cribs safer for babies.

One major culprit has been drop-side cribs, responsible for up to 32 infant deaths. The movable sides of drop-side cribs have been shown to drop unexpectedly, causing a baby to become trapped or suffocated by the crib side, or allowing an infant to fall. As of June 28, 2011 manufacturers are no longer allowed to make drop-side cribs. Although over 11 million of the cribs have been recalled, many are still in use by daycare centers and hotels, which have until December 28, 2012, to replace drop-side cribs with those with stationary sides. To see if a crib has been part of a recall, individuals can check, www.keeping, or Parents who own a drop-side crib that was not recalled can contact the manufacturer to see if an immobilizer is available. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that these immobilizers are not subject to the more rigorous standards, so it would be better to replace the crib.

According to the CPSC, crib manufacturers must also "strengthen crib slats and mattress supports, improve the quality of hardware and require more rigorous testing." Faulty crib slats and mattress supports can come loose, creating an opening large enough that a child could get trapped. Hardware can come loose and create an entrapment situation or a hole large enough for a child to fall.

A combination of these factors caused the death of a Kentucky infant when the plastic hardware holding the drop side of the crib broke, allowing the side to slide down and the infant to become entrapped between the side and the mattress. The 7-month-old's death in 2009 was one of 11 attributed to cribs manufactured by Simplicity, which no longer is in business. The parents of a Florida 9-month-old who died in a Simplicity crib settled a wrongful death lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in 2010.

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October 7, 2010

FDA Warns of Baby Sleeping Devices

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Federal Food and Drug Administration issued a joint warning on Wednesday, September 29, 2010.

The warning urges parents to avoid using devices made to keep babies sleeping on their backs. According to the warning, these devices increase instead of preventing sudden infant death syndrome. sleeping baby.jpg

Sudden infant death occurs to approximately 4,500 babies annually. There are various ways parents can help reduce the rate of sudden infant death, including having babies sleep on their backs.

In response, a number of products are on the market to wedge babies into a sleeping position on their backs. Recently, however, several deaths have occurred on account of these devices.

The report was issued after the organizations reviewed about a dozen cases over as many years which involved these products including two happening recently.

While sudden infant death is often unexplained, it is a good to review with an attorney if a defective product could have contributed to such a horrible accident.

July 31, 2010

Danny's Law Changes Recalls for Parents

Parents in Kentucky and Indiana should rejoice over Danny's Law, a consumer protection statute which recently went into effect. Starting on June 28, 2010, parents who purchase a covered product will be provided with a registration card which should be sent back to the manufacturer. In the event of a recall, the parents will be notified. The information provided to the company by parents can only be used in the event of a recall, and cannot be used for marketing purposes. Further, the product will have to be labeled with the manufacturer's name and address, model name and number, as well as the manufacture date.

This law effects eighteen product categories including:

  • full-size cribs

  • non-full-size cribs

  • toddler beds

  • high chairs

  • booster chairs

  • hook-on chairs

  • bath seats

  • gates

  • play yards

  • stationary activity centers

  • infant carriers

  • strollers

  • walkers

  • swings

  • bassinets

  • cradles

  • children's folding chairs

  • changing tables

  • infant bouncers

  • infant bathtubs

  • portable toddler bed rails

  • infant slings

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July 27, 2010

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Issues Kids Safety Education Effort

Each year hundreds of children are injured or die because of negligent safety measures in and around swimming pools and spas. This year alone, more than 210 children have died in the United States since Memorial Day in pool related accidents. A 2008 report by the Commission stated that the "average number of drowning deaths involving children younger than 5 in pools and spas has increased from a yearly average of 267 (for 2002-2004) to 283 (for 2003-2005)." Further, "the average number of emergency room treated pool and spa submersion injuries decreased from an annual average of 2,800 (for 2004-2006) to 2,700 (for 2005-2007)."

1224249_lesson_of_swimming_4.jpg In response, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has introduced a kids education program which includes a video series featured on the Safe Kids website and the NDPA website. The videos feature Ming-Na, the voice of Mulan in the Disney film.

Many pool accidents are preventable and a result of negligence. Drowning accidents can occur at public pools, rivers and lakes, in the backyard, and even in the bathtub. These accidents happen quickly; in fact, a short submersion of four or five minutes can cause lasting brain damage.

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October 7, 2009

Several Injured in School Bus Wreck

On Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at approximately 4:00pm, a school bus filled with children was involved in a motor vehicle accident with a pick up truck in Pendleton County, Kentucky. Ten students and the driver of the pick up truck were transported to the hospital for injuries they sustained in the crash. Thankfully, it does not appear that any of the injuries are life threatening. An investigation is pending to determine the cause of the crash but authorities do not expect any criminal charges will be filed. For more information on this accident please click here.

Although it is not clear whether the bus driver in this accident acted negligently, bus drivers carry very important cargo and must drive with the utmost care. Also, drivers of other vehicles need to exercise extreme caution when driving near a bus as any accident has the potential for serious injuries.

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September 8, 2009

Car Accident Results in Child's Death

On the night of September 6, 2009 there was a motor vehicle accident near the GE Appliance Park in Newburg, Kentucky. The accident occurred when a vehicle struck a car carrying an adult and a two year old. The adult was treated and released, but unfortunately, the two year old died the following day from injuries sustained in the accident.

Although there were no indications that the child in this accident was not properly restrained, traveling with children presents unique dangers. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children age 2 to 14. Therefore, as a parent, it is very important you take steps to ensure your child safe as possible while driving.

Using car seats is a giant step in protecting your young children while driving. In 2006, it was estimated that approximately 425 lives of children under the age of five were saved by car and booster seats. To ensure the safest ride for your child, be sure to select the appropriate car or booster seat. Your child's size and your type of vehicle are important factors in determining what seat will best protect your child. For more information on how to select the proper car seat, please refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics car safety seat website. Unfortunately, negligent drivers can affect anyone, no matter what safety measures you take.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver contact the attorneys at Miller and Falkner. An experienced attorney can protect you and your child's rights and help determine the damages you deserve.

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June 26, 2009

Large Verdict for Kentucky Toddler Injured When Attacked by Aunt's Dog

Right before Christmas in 2007, fifteen month old Jason Riley was being watched by his aunt at her house. Jason's aunt also had a 125 pound Great Dane in the house. While she was in the kitchen getting a drink for Jason, the Great Dane attacked the toddler, biting the toddler in the face and causing lacerations to Jason's eye, a fractured orbital bone, and a torn tear duct. Jason was taken to Kosair's Children's Hospital where the cuts were repaired. However, Jason's injuries resulted in scarring and an increased risk of harm related to the fracture and tear duct injury. Jason's parents filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the aunt seeking reimbursement of medical expenses, future medical expenses and pain and suffering.

At the trial, the aunt defended the case by arguing that she had no reason to think that her dog would attack Jason. The plaintiff submitted evidence at trial that the dog was involved in a prior incident regarding biting. The verdict in the case was rendered on June 24, 2009. On the issue of liability, the jury found in favor of Jason Riley. On the issue of damages, the jury awarded Jason $21,914 for his medical expenses, $30,000 for future medical expenses, and $60,000 for pain and suffering bringing the verdict total to $111,914.

The laws in Kentucky regarding dog bites hold the owner of a dog who causes harm strictly liable for the resulting injury. Strict liability is a legal term sometimes referred to as "absolute liability," and means that the owner of the dog is legally responsible for the damages or injury their dogs causes even if that person was not at fault or negligent. Therefore, in Kentucky, it is not required that a dog owner know that their dog is dangerous, it is simply enough that the owner's dog attacks and causes damages.

April 1, 2009

Yamaha to Recall Rhino ATV After 46 Confirmed Deaths and Hundreds of Injuries

On March 31, 2009 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Yamaha Motor Corporation issued a recall for more than 120,000 of its Yamaha Rhino ATVs model 450 and 660 which have been sold since 2003.  The recall is due to an inherent design flaw that makes these vehicles unstable and susceptible to low-speed rollovers.  These rollovers have resulted in 46 confirmed deaths and hundreds of injuries including the legs and arms of occupants being crushed by the roll cage as the vehicle crashes to the ground.  Many of these injuries occur even if the occupant is wearing a seat belt.  These rollovers also occur on level or near-level ground and can occur even if the driver does not turn the vehicle sharply. 

Rhino 450 without doors.jpg
Rhino 660 without doors.jpg

Yamaha Rhino 450
(without doors) 
                                                                                         Yamaha Rhino 660
                                                                                         (without doors)

Yamaha is offering a free repair of this design defect.  Yamaha has also agreed to voluntarily suspend the sale of these models starting immediately until all are repaired. The CPSC warns that consumers should immediately stop using these recreational vehicles until the repair is made by a dealer.

Yamaha is also voluntarily suspending the of sale for the Rhino 700 model and implementing the same repair program. The CPSC also warns that consumers should stop riding the 700 model until it is repaired. About 25,000 Rhino 700s are part of this repair program.

View the recall in its entirety. 

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