Archive for August, 2013

A Child is Hurt Playing Sports Every 25 Seconds

Early this August, CBS News reported on a disturbing study that strikes fear through the hearts of parents everywhere. The study showed that youth sports can cause extremely serious injury and that severe sports injuries are very common among kids.

Our Hartford injury lawyers know that coaches, schools and professional clubs and organizations need to make sure that kids play safely when they participate in sports. It can be easy for coaches to get carried away with the game, but they need to remember that kids are just kids and that they need to be properly supervised and avoid high-risk situations that could result in serious injury.

Sports Can Create High Risks for Kids

The new study was conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide and demonstrated just how common sporting injuries are for children. According to the study:

  • Approximately 1.35 million emergency room visits each year occur as a result of severe sports injuries.
  • The most common reason for emergency room visits related to sports were strains and sprains. These injuries were followed by bruises, fractures and scrapes.
  • Severe sports injuries account for approximately 20 percent of all injury-related visits to the emergency room that are made by children and adolescents.
  • A child gets hurt while playing sports an average of once every 25 seconds in the United States.
  • A total of 163,000 of the emergency room visits occur each year because of concussions. This means that 12 percent of the total sports-related visits to the emergency room resulted from head injuries. It also means that a child gets a concussion about once every three minutes.

These injuries can have serious lifelong consequences. Concussions, especially, can have a dramatic and lasting impact on a child’s life.  Traumatic brain injury has been linked to health issues such as dementia and new studies have also suggested that a blow to the head could increase the risk of ischemic stroke.

With about half of the concussions affecting children between the ages of 12 and 15, this is a major cause for concern. Safe Kids indicates that younger children within this age group may take longer than older adults to recover from concussions and that people within this age group are also more likely to develop serious and even potentially deadly brain swelling.

Kids in their formative years, in other words, could be at risk of a fatal injury or could cause themselves harm that affects their entire future.

How Do Sports Injuries Happen?

Sports injuries can occur in any sport, the study revealed. However, football had the highest concussion rate and the highest rate of overall sports injuries.  Wrestling and cheering were also sports that had a high number of injuries, and ice hockey had the highest percentage of concussions among the injuries that players sustained. In fact, as many as 31 percent of injuries that occurred while playing ice hockey were concussions.

These injuries happen for a lot of different reasons, including simple bad luck. Sometimes, however, kids are put into dangerous situations by adults who should know better. If coaches and school teams don’t provide adequate safety equipment or proper supervision to their players, the school or coach could become liable for the harm kids suffer during game play.

If you or your child was injured in an accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, by calling  1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

DOT Taking New Steps to Help Pedestrians Stay Safe

Walking is a great way to get around. Some people walk for pleasure while others commute on foot. Unfortunately, walking can also be dangerous if city roads are not designed for pedestrians or if drivers don’t take steps to share the road safely.

Accidents end up happening far too often when pedestrians are involved, and the CDC reports that in 2010 there was a pedestrian killed in a crash an average of once every two hours throughout the year. With another 70,000 pedestrians injured over the course of the same year, there was also a pedestrian injured once every eight minutes.

Our New Haven pedestrian accident lawyers know that the number of pedestrian crashes has increased over the past several years, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting that the number of pedestrian fatalities rose eight percent between 2009 and 2011. Something needs to be done to help keep pedestrians safe and the Department of Transportation is taking steps to accomplish this important goal.

Department of Transportation Working to Encourage Pedestrian Safety

The NHTSA announced in the beginning of August that a new set of tools was being launched by the Department of Transportation to help combat the rising number of pedestrian fatalities over the last several years.

The new programs were announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who commented that everyone is a pedestrian at some point no matter where they live or how they commute. Because everyone walks at least sometimes, he said: “We all have a reason to support pedestrian safety, and now, everyone has new tools to help make a difference.”

The new tools that the DOT has made available include resources targeted towards parents; towards local leaders and city planners; and towards all others involved in taking steps to improve safety for pedestrians.

One of the tools available is a new website that has been launched called Everyone is a Pedestrian. The website offers safe walking tips, curriculum and resources for teaching about pedestrian safety, research and statistics on pedestrian accident risks, and programs and activities that can be used by safety educators.

The DOT is also making grants available to cities that have high numbers of pedestrian accidents. More than $2 million has been made available in order to provide funding for education and enforcement initiatives in states where the rate of pedestrian deaths exceeds the national average. States will have the opportunity to apply for these grants until August 30.

The money made available for grants represents a very small percentage of the money that has been dedicated in recent years to improving road safety for pedestrians. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has committed more than $3.8 billion since 2009 to complete more than 11,000 projects to improve safety for pedestrians and bicycle riders.

Hopefully, these efforts by federal transportation and highway agencies will help to make a real difference in bringing the pedestrian death rate down and in saving the lives of those who enjoy taking a walk.

If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, by calling  1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

Woman Arraigned in Deadly Accident Highlights Teen Driving Risks

According to the Hartford Courant, a 19-year-old Connecticut woman was recently arraigned on two counts of manslaughter for an accident that occurred in South Windsor. The 19-year-old is allegedly responsible for causing the death of two passengers in her vehicle: a 15-year-old sophomore and an 18-year-old senior.

Our Hartford accident lawyers know that car accidents are the leading causes of death for teen drivers. Unfortunately, it appears that this car accident exemplified virtually all of the dangerous behaviors that put teens at such high risk of dying in auto accidents.

Deadly South Windsor Crash May Have Been Caused by Dangerous Driving Behavior

In June of this year, our Hartford accident lawyers discussed the accident that led to the new filing of manslaughter charges, indicating that it occurred at a dangerous South Windsor spot.  At the time immediately following the crash, the father of one of the victim’s had spoken out and said that he himself had been an accident at the same location decades earlier.  While a bump in the road was suspected of being the cause of the crash, the accident was still being investigated.

Now, however, the Hartford Courant has reported much more information on the crash and the information seems to suggest that there were a great many dangerous choices made that led to the accident.

According to the Courant, the driver was speeding along Abbe Road in order to try to get the “roller-coaster feeling” as the car went over a hill. The 19-year-old woman on trial for the accident said that the other passengers in the car were urging her to go fast and that she saw the speedometer was over 80 miles per hour prior to the accident. Police estimate that the vehicle was going as fast as 84 to 90 miles per hour although the speed limit was just 30 miles-per-hour on that road.

The driver also reportedly had the radio blasting at the time of the accident and witnesses indicate that they had seen her smoking marijuana prior to getting in the car and driving.

When nearby local residents came to offer aid at the accident scene, the woman who is on trial for the crash reportedly told them that she thought she killed her friends. When they asked her why she had sped up, her answer was, “They [her friend’s] told me to. They kept telling me to go faster.”

Teen Behavior May be High Risk

This accident perfectly illustrates three key risk factors for teen drivers: speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and having too many passengers in the car.

For young people, having multiple passengers in the vehicle can significantly increase the chances of an accident happening. This is why so many states have instituted graduated licensing laws, limiting the number of passengers who can be in the car at one time. With multiple passengers, kids may be more likely to do incredibly dangerous things like the behavior that allegedly led to this crash. Limiting the number of passengers in the car at one time can reduce the chances of this occurring and help to avoid tragedy.

If you were injured in a car accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, by calling  1-800-WIN-WIN-1.

New Hours of Service Aim To Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue

Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes limits on the number of hours that professional truckers can drive without a break. Even with these limits, however, our New Haven accident lawyers know that an FMCSA study shows around 6,000 truck accidents each year can be attributed to tired drivers.  

To try to reduce the number of accidents and make the roads safer for everyone, the FMCSA instituted changes to the hours-of-service rules in 2011. After a two-year delay and a court battle, these new hours of service rules went into effect on the first of July and the court ruled in early August that the new FMCSA regulations would stand.

The New Hours of Service Rules

The FMCSA made several key changes to the hours-of-service rules that affect long and short haul truck drivers.

One of the changes involved reducing the average weekly hours that a trucker can work. While previously a driver could operate his vehicle for 82 hours in a work week, the new rules reduce the limit to just 70 hours. After the 70-hour limit has been reached, drivers must take a 32-hour continual rest break that includes two full overnights of rest before they can drive again.

Another change that was made mandated that drivers take a 30 minute break within the first eight hours of driving. This is essentially a meal and rest break that ensures drivers can stay focused and avoid fatigue during a day of driving.

The FMCSA first passed the new regulations in 2011 but mandated they would not go into effect until July 1, 2013 in order to give truckers time to make changes. The hope is that now that these rules are in effect, they will make the roads safer for everyone.

Some professional drivers, however, are not happy with the new limitations the FMCSA has passed. The American Trucking Association expressed its concern with how the FMCSA made the new rules, calling the process agenda driven and raising questions about the research that had been done. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), on the other hand, has long been an opponent of changes limiting hours of service because of a belief that truck drivers need flexibility to do their jobs.

Because of their concerns, professional trucking groups challenged the FMCSA regulation in court with the hope that the regulation would be struck down. In early August, however, Truck News reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit retained almost all of the rules and only struck down the 30-minute meal break requirement for short haul drivers.

This means that the regulations are now in effect and will likely stand as the law of the land. OOIDA has indicated that they’ve given up the fight, suggesting they will now get on with training drivers. Hopefully, now that these rules are in place, the number of truck accidents caused by fatigued drivers will be on the decline.

If you were injured in a truck accident, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, by calling  1-800-WIN-WIN-1.