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Category Archive: Law Blog

Category Archive: Law Blog

  1. Trampoline Safety Guide

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    Thousands of families may have trampolines in their yards, but that doesn’t mean this piece of play equipment is safe for use. Despite warnings from several organizations regarding the dangers of at-home trampoline use, families continue to use these products every year. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were almost 286,000 trampoline injuries in 2014. More than 90% of victims were children. The majority of these injuries occur with at-home trampolines, but trampoline parks are becoming a significant source of youth injury around the nation. Use this safety guide to help prevent trampoline injuries in your family this summer.

    Safeguard Your Trampoline

    The most common trampoline injuries are sprains and fractures, often from falling off the trampoline or landing wrong on the mat. More severe injuries from children performing tricks and landing on their heads and necks have also occurred. Help prevent these types of injuries by investing in a trampoline net. Most modern trampolines come equipped with built-in safety nets. You can also find them sold separately.

    Don’t rely solely on the net – the majority of injuries occur from incorrect landings on the mat, frame, or springs. Take further steps to ensure your child’s safety. Provide a soft landing area around the trampoline in case a child falls off. If your lawn doesn’t have a soft area available, invest in a trampoline pad. This accessory can soften the area around a trampoline, and is available on many online sites. Properly maintain your trampoline, and retire it if you notice dangerous wear and tear, such as spring deterioration.

    Establish Ground Rules

    Before letting your child play on a trampoline, establish some rules with him or her. Jumpers should not perform high-risk stunts such as flips without proper instruction and adult supervision. The only time children should perform trampoline stunts is with the assistance of a harness. Only allow one child at a time on the trampoline. This will prevent contact injuries, such as children jumping on one another.

    Do not let children under the age of six jump on a trampoline. Supervise children at all times while jumping, and assign spotters for increased safety. Place your trampoline at ground level, not on a deck or raised surface. This will only lead to the risk of falls from greater heights. Remove trampoline ladders or close trampolines off while not in use to prevent injuries from children sneaking onto the equipment.

    Prepare for the Trampoline Park

    Trampoline parks are indoor amusements that are swiftly rising in popularity around the country. Unfortunately, this has led to a spike in trampoline-related injuries. Before taking your child, teach him or her how to prevent injuries in these unique settings. Here are three general tips:

    1. Stay a safe distance away from other jumpers. Contact between participants is a leading cause of injury. Teach your child never to jump on top of another child, and to stay at least arm’s length away from fellow jumpers at all times.
    2. Don’t do any risky tricks. Children can get hurt showing off for friends and trying dangerous trampoline flips and tricks. This can lead to the child landing wrong on his or her head, neck, or limbs.
    3. Avoid jumping between trampolines. Trampoline parks are relatively safe environments for jumping from heights – but the frames of the trampolines are still metal. Landing between trampolines can cause serious injury from impact with the hard frame.

    Look into the reviews and safety checks of a trampoline park before taking your children there to play. Tell your child to obey all of the facility’s rules at all times. Your child can jump to his or heart’s content at home or at the trampoline park without worry this summer when you follow these safety tips!

  2. Summer Camp Safety Tips

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    It’s that time of year again – time to send the kids to their favorite summer camps! Houston is home to several popular youth camps, from art and theater programs to overnight sports programs and outdoor camps. Summer camps present a number of excellent opportunities for children, but they can also be hotspots for injuries. Protect your child by staying informed, prepared, and ready for anything. This summer, send your kid off in confidence with this safety tips list.

    Get to Know Where Your Child Will Be Staying

    There’s no such thing as asking too many questions when it comes to your child’s summer camp experience. Thoroughly research the camp before making your decision. Check for accreditations through the American Camp Association to ensure quality of care. Look for reviews from parents who have sent their children to the camp in the past. Visit the camp yourself and have a look around in person. Red flags may include:

    1. Property hazards. Sharp objects, rusty playground equipment, lack of security, and unsecured pools are all potential property risks that could injure your child. The campground should remedy these hazards before you allow your child to stay.
    2. Inadequate supervision. Does the camp have an inadequate number of supervisors for the amount of children who will be camping? Do supervisors appear too young, inexperienced, or poorly trained to handle kids? These are warning signs for a potentially unsafe camping experience. The younger the children, the more supervisors necessary. The ratio should be higher at camps for children with special needs.
    3. Improper emergency preparedness. Ask about the camp’s emergency plans in the event of a natural disaster or an intruder. Look for emergency devices such as first aid kits, EpiPens, and flotation devices as appropriate. Staff should have some sort of CPR and First Aid training.

    Go with your gut when it comes to choosing your child’s summer camp. If you have a bad feeling about the camp, its managers, or the staff, keep searching for a different camp. If you send your child to the same place every year, visit the property each time to ensure consistent safety and quality. Voice any concerns you may have about the safety of the camp with its owners.

    Give the Camp Vital Information

    Nothing is more terrifying than learning your child sustained a serious injury at camp – a week ago. Avoid this situation by making it easy for camp operators to reach you or a family member in case of an emergency. Most camps will ask for emergency information anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure they have a way to contact you, another parent, and one other non-related backup contact. The sooner the camp can notify you of an injury, the sooner you can take your child home and investigate what happened while he or she heals.

    It is also important to give the camp any allergy-related or medical information they need to take proper care of your child. If your child has a condition or health issue such as asthma, ADHD, or food allergies, send his/her medical records to the campsite ahead of time. This information could save your child’s life in an emergency.

    Prepare Your Child for Camp

    Make sure your child knows what he or she is getting into. If it’s an overnight camp, your child should feel comfortable being away from home for an extended period of time. Prior to an adventure camp, prep him/her on outdoor hikes and swimming lessons. For a sports camp, get your kid into the habit of daily activity well before enrolling. Most camps require doctor’s checkups to check for undiagnosed illnesses. Summer camp can lead to some of your child’s best memories – if an injury doesn’t get in the way. Keep your child safe this year with a bit of preparation.

  3. Who Pays for Sports Injuries?

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    Enrolling your child in a school sport is a great way to increase his or her physical activity, self-confidence, and teamwork. Unfortunately, it can also result in childhood injuries. While some sports-related injuries are assumed risks of the game, especially in contact sports, others result from negligence by the coach, the school, or another party. When a student sustains a sports injury, learn who may be liable to pay for his or her medical bills.

    Risks Posed By School Sports

    A national high school sports-related injury study recorded 3,663 injuries in the course of one year. The majority, 2,062 of these injuries, occurred in competition while the rest happened during practice. The majority of these injuries occurred on the boys’ football team, followed by girls’ soccer. Injuries to the head and face were the most common (27.4%), followed by ankle, knee, and upper leg/hip injuries. Males are more at risk than females in terms of school sports-related injuries. Sports injuries can take many shapes and forms, including:

    • Concussions
    • Broken bones
    • Sprains
    • Dislocations
    • Shin splints
    • Bruises
    • Heat-related injuries
    • Dehydration
    • Repetitive motion injuries

    It is up to the school coach to reasonably prevent injuries to students during sports practices and games. While the law does not expect a coach to prevent all accidental injuries, it does expect them to take steps that a reasonable and prudent coach would to prevent harm. This may include equipping the team with safety equipment like pads and helmets, keeping them properly hydrated during practice, and preventing heatstroke. If a coach or another party is negligent in his or her duties in keeping student athletes safe, parents may be able to file a claim against them.

    Proving Negligence in Sports Cases

    To have a case against someone for your child’s sports-related injuries, you have to prove negligence. There are four main elements involved in this burden of proof. First, that the defendant (the person allegedly responsible for the harm) owed your child a duty of care. Coaches and teachers owe duties of care to their students as their supervisors. The school has duties such as maintaining a safe premises, hiring competent coaches, and training its employees properly. A defendant might also be the manufacturer of defective sports equipment

    The second element is the breach of duty of care, or the act of negligence, that caused your child’s injuries. If the injury resulted from normal sports activities, with no involvement of someone else’s negligence, you do not have a claim and will likely have to foot the bills yourself. These fall under “assumption of risk” cases for sports injuries. On the other hand, incidents involving inadequate supervision, hazardous premises, improperly trained employees, faulty sports equipment, or insufficient onsite medical care most likely stem from someone’s negligence.

    The third element is proving that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your child’s injuries. It is not enough to have proof that the defendant was negligent, and that your child sustained an injury. The two actions must relate, with the defendant’s negligence more likely than not causing the injury. Finally, the plaintiff must show that his or her child suffered real damages because of the incident. These could be medical costs, pain and suffering, or lost quality of life.

    Who Is Responsible for Student Athlete Injuries?

    When determining who will pay for your child’s sports-related injuries, the courts consider the defendant’s liability for the incident. You could have a case against the coach, the school, a product manufacturer, or a third party. Any such entity’s insurance companies may be liable for paying for your child’s damages. Speak to an attorney for help determining the defendant in our particular situation.

  4. How Much Pain and Suffering is Enough to Sue?

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    “Pain and suffering” is a form of compensation available in many civil cases. The courts call these damages “intangible” or “non-economic.” This simply means that this type of damage did not cause financial harm, in contrast to damages such as medical costs or missed time at work.

    Physical pain and emotional suffering are just as real to the victims as economic damages, and often more harmful. Suing for pain and suffering is a possibility that can lead to a substantial award depending on the degree of harm. Find out if your case involves enough pain and suffering to merit this type of award in a Texas settlement or judgment.

    What Qualifies as “Pain and Suffering?”

    Since pain and suffering are intangible damages, some plaintiffs try to take advantage of the system to make these harms seem real when they aren’t, or more dramatic than they are in reality. Some plaintiffs may exaggerate the pain injuries caused, or the emotional trauma accidents left them with. The courts will look at a few main factors to decide whether pain and suffering truly exists in a case:

    1. Type of injury. Catastrophic injuries are those that cause the victim lifelong pain or disability. They include most spine and brain injuries, as well as amputations, scarring, or permanent disfigurement. The courts will award pain and suffering for most catastrophic injuries. Those that cause chronic pain or permanent disability will garner larger awards.
    2. Age of the victim. Younger victims typically receive greater pain and suffering amounts, since the courts assume the victim will have to live with these harms for a longer amount of time than older victims. This is only the case if the nature of the injuries means lifelong pain or disability.
    3. How much the injury affects the victim. The courts will examine the probability of past, present, and future pain and suffering in determining this type of recovery. If there is certainty of future pain, with evidence from a medical examiner or expert key witness, the courts will almost certainly award this recovery.

    The courts will not award pain and suffering damages if the plaintiff merely experienced irritation or inconvenience from a minor injury. For example, missing a yoga class because of a broken bone will not qualify as significant enough suffering to demand recovery through this outlet. A broken bone that results in chronic pain, however, may qualify as a serious enough injury to recover pain and suffering damages.

    How Do Courts Calculate Pain and Suffering Damages?

    If you are eligible to sue for pain and suffering, the courts use a special equation to calculate how much you will receive for theses non-economic damages. Since it isn’t possible to place a dollar amount on an individual’s physical pain and emotional suffering, the courts will multiply the amount of special damages (medical bills, lost income, property damage, etc.) by a number between 1.5 and 5, with 5 representing the highest possible seriousness of injuries.

    The courts may alternatively use the “per diem” method instead of the multiplier method. With this type of calculation, the courts will decide on a dollar amount to award the plaintiff “per day” of the injury. The courts may look at your actual daily earnings to come up with this amount, as it deems that the pain your injuries cause is at least comparable to the cost of going to work every day. The courts typically don’t use the per diem method for permanent injuries.

    In Texas, there is a cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice claims. A plaintiff cannot receive more than $250,000. There are also total claim caps if the case involves a government entity as the defendant. Always equip yourself with a skilled attorney to fight for pain and suffering damages after any type of accident in Texas.

  5. When Pranks Cause Serious Injuries

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    An “innocent” prank can quickly turn sour when someone sustains a serious injury. It can be easy for someone to take a practical joke a bit too far without recognizing the potential ramifications of the action until it’s too late. One example is the “popcorning” trend from a couple of years ago – a prank involving an unexploded airbag that led to serious injuries. One young man suffered a broken spine because of the seemingly harmless prank. If you or someone you know received an injury because of someone else’s prank, talk to an attorney. You may be eligible for compensation.

    Grounds for Prank-Related Lawsuits

    When a prank results in injuries, it can be difficult to determine who might be responsible for paying the victim’s damages. As in the popcorning case above, the victim sustained a permanent injury and had to pay hefty medical expenses. In this case, however, the victim knowingly assumed the risk of injury. For all intents and purposes, he performed the prank on himself. The victim in this situation likely could not sue. When victims are innocent, unknowing players in a prank, on the other hand, it may be possible to sue on a few different grounds.

    • Gross negligence. If the prankster’s actions were so wanton as to suggest that the person had no regard for the safety of others, the victim may be able to sue for gross negligence. Any prank that injured the victim could be negligence if the courts deem that another reasonable and prudent person would not have committed the act in the same circumstances. The courts might award punitive damages in addition to typical damages for cases involving someone’s gross negligence.
    • Fraud or breach of contract. Some pranks and jokes are malicious enough to be grounds for fraud or breach of contract lawsuits. There have been a few examples of this throughout history. In 2002, a Hooters waitress won the company sales contest – one listing the prize as a “Toyota.” When she won and received a “toy Yoda” doll instead, she sued the company for breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. She received a settlement that entitled her to pick out any Toyota she wanted.
    • Some pranks may make the victim feel frightened, threatened, or at risk of bodily injury. In these cases, the victim may be able to sue for harassment. The victim could sue for emotional injuries in these circumstances. An example could be if someone prank calls a victim several times every day with joke threats or heavy breathing. If the prank calls caused emotional or mental trauma to the victim, he or she could sue despite having no physical injuries.

    A prank can quickly go wrong and end in a lawsuit, especially if it involves a stranger. If someone else’s idea of a practical joke resulted in physical injury, emotional suffering, or property damage to you, consult with an attorney. The individual’s actions may constitute grounds for a personal injury lawsuit or civil action. You can sue for personal damages while a criminal case is pending against the prankster.

    Suing for a Prank

    There are many situations in which a prank victim could sue for damages – the prank might have occurred on someone’s property, opening the door to a premises liability lawsuit. An insurance policy might cover the event. The item used for the prank might have a defect, causing your injuries. If you believe you have grounds to file a lawsuit against someone who organized or carried out a prank, or a third party, speak to an attorney in Texas. An attorney can help you fight for damage recovery for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.