Articles Posted in Injuries to Children

Summer camp operators, and in some case property owners, have a special duty to consider the safety of campers in their care. Although summer camps generally aren’t expected to guarantee an injury-free experience, they are responsible for exercising reasonable care to avoid situations that are foreseeably risky. Camp operators must also take into consideration that children by nature do not practice the same level of care as adults when it comes to avoiding injury. Counselors, trainers and program organizers should take extra care to prevent contact with certain hazards with campers that, for adults, would be considered open and obvious. Failure to do so could lead to a claim for liability from any resulting injuries. Personal injury attorneys in Maine can help parents determine these claims.

Summer Camp Statistics

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), an estimated 14,000 camps operate in the United States. This is an $18 billion industry, employing 1.5 million people, with more than 14 million children and adult campers. Of ACA-accredited camps, about 45 percent offer specialized programming for individuals with disabilities. Roughly 80 percent say enrollment has either increased or stayed about the same in recent years.

The manufacturer of a popular infant jogging stroller model was the subject of a Washington Post investigation shedding light into how the company resisted a product recall despite more than 100 reports of serious stroller injuries (adults, infants and children) over six years, along with U.S. regulators demands that the manufacturer warn consumers and remove the product from shelves. As longtime Bangor child injury attorneys, such revelations are deeply troubling, but not wholly surprising. The report indicated that shifting federal policies toward more relaxed regulatory standards have the potential to allow manufacturers of dangerous products to go unchecked by public and consumer safety agencies for longer stretches at a time.

Our Maine defective product attorneys help equalize the playing field between huge corporations with an army of defense attorneys and individual consumers harmed by unsafe, defective products. It’s important to note: a product doesn’t have to be recalled in order for someone to file a lawsuit, particularly when there is an extensive on-the-record pattern of severe injuries involving similar causes over a period of time, as was allegedly the case here.

Often one of the biggest issues in these cases is whether a defendant adequately warned the public about a danger they knew/reasonably should have known about. If they actively tried to conceal it, this can even be grounds for punitive damages (intended to penalize a defendant for egregious wrongs, versus compensatory damages intended solely to make a person “whole” for losses sustained).

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One of the best lines of defense in preventing youth sports injuries are certified athletic trainers, per the American College of Sports Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. An athletic trainer is someone who is certified and licensed in the health care field of sports medicine, and has been recognized by the American Medical Association as an allied health care professional since 1990. Portland injury lawyers in Maine know that while it’s generally difficult to hold a school district liable for an athlete injury, courts have identified a number of areas of potential liability in the context of organized athletic events at the high school level.

A 1997 ruling by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Searles v. Trustees held that colleges, private schools and public schools owe a legal duty to exercise reasonable care toward their students. This duty encompasses the responsibility of coaches and athletic trainers to exercise reasonable care for the health and safety of their students, which means conforming to the standard of care required of an ordinary and careful trainer.

But what if there is no certified athletic trainer at the school? A recent report by The Portland Press Herald revealed Maine is behind other states in New England and nationally for hiring athletic trainers to help prevent serious student injury. Of 143 public and private high schools in the state, only 51 have full-time athletic trainers attending after-school practices (where 40 percent of student athlete injuries happen) and games. The problem is most acute in school districts that are rural because they lack funding and also student participation is lower. Of the 33 schools that don’t have an athletic trainer, sports enrollment is at less than 150 each.

Bangor personal injury lawsuits don’t typically stem from high school dramas. However with an increased awareness of bullying and a number of school districts embracing “zero tolerance” policies, the question becomes to what extent is a school responsible for a student-on-student attack? What preventative action should be considered “reasonable”?

Two high school students in Maine didn’t like each other. They started exchanging texts that insulted one another. It ended in a physical confrontation into which the older brother of one teen inserted himself, resulting in a head injury to the other student. This led to more than 200 students of the school engaging in a walk-out and rally – in support of the teen whose older brother carried out the assault. Although the older brother faced criminal charges, the Bangor Daily News reported he’d been defending his brother from being bullied for his sexuality. But questions still remain about exactly who was bullying whom.

The parents of the student who suffered a head injury are suing the school district as well as the parents of the other teen and his older brother. In that lawsuit, plaintiffs allege their son, who had special protected status as a result of a disability  (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety) was not granted the occasionally necessary “quiet space” to help him ward off anxiety attacks. His parents had also requested other changes to his education plan in light of fear to address the “growing concerns for his physical safety.” Since middle school, he’d purportedly been the subject of taunts from the other student (who identified as homosexual) on the basis of his perceived non-conformance with certain gender stereotypes and norms. The two started exchanging text messages and other students joined in, with much of it being offensive.  Continue reading

The town of Kittery is now facing nearly half a dozen Maine injury lawsuits following a van crash in which nearly a dozen children, ages 7 to 9, were injured when the driver, employed by the town, crashed due to a medical emergency. Plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages for medical expenses incurred in the weeks following the crash.

Injuries included a fractured leg, head injuries, facial scarring and emotional trauma. According to The Portland Press-Herald, the driver, 21, did have a commercial license, but had disclosed in a previous court case (which was public record) that he suffered from epilepsy and seizures, and he also had an extended history of previous criminal driving infractions. An internal review by the town revealed officials there did not check the man’s prior driving record before he was hired.

This case raises a number of legal issues, some of which, like the sudden emergency doctrine, we touched on previously. However, it also raises the common issue in Maine crash case which is one of respondeat superior, or employer liability for employee negligence.

The families of Maine children injured in a van crash across state lines on I-95 in New Hampshire have filed notice they intend to sue a town government for negligence to recover compensation. Although this case has been filed outside of the state, it’s worth discussing because not only does it involve residents of this state, van crashes are not isolated incidents, and nor is the failure of employers to properly vet employee drivers (as is alleged to be the case here). If you have questions about a vehicle accident, reach out to a Maine personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

According to the Portland Press Herald, eleven summer campers were aboard the passenger van owned by the town, operated by a town employee and headed to Candia Springs Adventure Park in mid-August when the driver crashed into a large tree alongside the highway. Several of the children, ages 7 to 9, were injured and transported to a children’s hospital for treatment. They were ultimately released. Traffic investigators say the driver, a 21-year-old, suffered a medical emergency just before the wreck. Police investigators haven’t elaborated, but journalists reported the driver disclosed in a prior unrelated court case that he suffers from epilepsy and had experienced grand mal seizures in the past. He also had a long history of previous traffic violations as well as a long criminal record.  Continue reading

Hospital emergency room doctors in Maine and throughout the country are once again seeking a ban on infant walkers, saying that as an “inherently dangerous object” these walkers have no benefits to young children and should never be sold in the U.S. Spurring this renewed call is a new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics, revealing that 2,000 babies and toddlers every year are treated at hospital emergency rooms in infant walker accidents – often with serious and life-altering injuries like skull fractures, broken bones and concussions. Between 1990 and 2014, there were reportedly more than 230,000 injurious infant walker accidents among children under 15 months who were treated in hospital emergency departments.

As Bangor child injury attorneys may note, these types of cases would be based on the laws of product liability. Depending on the circumstances, one could allege defect in design, manufacturing and/or marketing/breach of warranty. When products are sold in the U.S., consumers are given an implied and often express assurance that they are safe when used as intended. This is especially true for products used by infants and children. Maine Title 14 S221, state law on defective or unreasonably dangerous goods, states that anyone who sells goods or products in defective condition or that are unreasonably dangerous to the user can be held liable for resulting injuries. Defendants can include the manufacturer, seller or supplier.

In instances wherein products prove unsafe, resulting in injury, it’s important to discuss legal options with an attorney or law firm with experience in handling Maine product liability lawsuits. Breach of express or implied warranty is often the grounds on which product liability plaintiffs present their case. Depending on where the incident occurred and who was caring for the child, there may also be claims of premises liability and negligent supervision (for example, against a daycare). Accountability is important for parents of young children injured in these preventable incidents.  Continue reading

The recent injury of a Sanford girl in a UTV accident highlights the risk of these and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as we head into autumn.About 500 people a year are killed in ATV accidents, according to federal statistics, and more than 100,000 are injured seriously enough to seek treatment in hospital emergency rooms. About 25 percent of victims are under 16 years of age. In all, nearly 15,000 riders have been fatally injured since ATVs became popular in the 1980s.

CBS13 reports hundreds participated in a Sanford fundraiser for the 8-year-old girl, who broke her neck and jaw and suffered numerous skull fractures after falling from her UTV. The local Maine ATV Club sponsored the event.

Autumn is the most dangerous time of year for accidents involving utility and all-terrain vehicles for various reasons. Experience and familiarity bring more aggressive riding, often on newer, larger, and more powerful ATVs. The ground is hard, and vegetation is reaching maximum growth, which reduces visibility and creates hazards of its own.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently granted partial summary judgment in a case against a Portland High School after a mother alleged her teenage son fell and struck his head while apparently tussling with an older boy at a school sporting event.The court dismissed the claims against the older boy’s parents. The case against the defendant teen and the school district will proceed separately from this ruling.

The mother claimed the incident occurred at Cheverus High School in Portland, where a number of youths had been attending a sporting event. She filed an injury lawsuit against the school district, as well as the older boy and his parents, bringing counts for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendant parents requested summary judgment for both negligent infliction of emotional distress and causes of action under state negligence laws.

Summary judgment is a legal term that means a plaintiff has failed to bring a case in which there is a genuine issue of material fact for a jury to decide, so the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Essentially, this means a plaintiff failed to bring a case sufficient for a jury to decide upon matters of fact, and the defendant otherwise prevails as a matter of law. Summary judgments are frequently filed by law firms defending corporations and large insurance companies. It means an unprepared injury attorney could find his case over shortly after making it to the courtroom.

Rabid wildlife has attacked two Brunswick residents and two dogs in recent days. While references to Stephen King’s “Cujo” will no doubt abound, the fact remains summer is already the most dangerous time of year for Maine dog bite injuries; confirmed cases of rabies in the area will only serve to increase the risks. While Stephen King’s 1981 classic depicted the horror faced by a mother and son held captive in rural Maine by a rabid dog, the truth of the matter is that mandatory pet vaccines throughout the majority of the country have drastically reduced the risks.

However, Maine is among the states that still report the most cases each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports rabies is a preventable disease of mammals, transported most often through the bite of another rabid animal. The vast majority of reported cases each year occur in wild animals, including raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks. Untreated, the virus infects the central nervous system and leads to brain disease and death. Death occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.

In the Brunswick case this month, the Bangor Daily News reports a 72-year-old woman was bitten by a gray fox. A 27-year-old neighbor was also bitten while trying to detain the fox for authorities. In a separate incident, two dogs were bitten by a rabid skunk. As of June, Maine has had 18 confirmed cases of rabies reported statewide.

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