It happens every year. Someone is careless with fireworks and ends up seriously injured. Someone falls and breaks an arm or leg at the company picnic. Worst of all, someone is careless at the pool and a child is injured or drowns. This year make sure you and your family stay safe with these tips on how to avoid injuries on the 4th of July weekend.

Firework injuries are common on Independence Day. Did you know that the most serious injuries are caused by the small fireworks? According to a VFIS insurance infographic, the small firecrackers cause 32% of the injuries including lacerations, eye injuries and severe hand damage. To avoid the most serious injuries:

  • Keep a bucket of water handy to douse out of control fireworks;
  • Never pick up a “dud” or try to re-light one in case it’s still burning inside; and,
  • Hold the firework away from your face when lighting and back up right away after it’s lit.

Avoiding falls and risky activities is another way to stay safe on Fourth of July. Some things are obvious—you don’t want to jump off a high cliff into a lake when you don’t know what’s under the water. Severe head injuries and paralysis could be the result. The most common injuries like broken arms and legs can be avoided. When at the family or company picnic, avoid these behaviors:

  • Don’t run across uneven ground, e.g., across roots and rocks in the woods;
  • Don’t carry too many lawn chairs and bags down to the sand—get someone to help; and,
  • If you overindulge on the liquor, choose to avoid physical activities. Alcohol slows your reactions to dangers resulting in injuries.

Swimming injuries usually occur when someone is inattentive. Don’t let your kids dive into pools—they are sometimes too shallow and could result in a head injury. Watch your kids—especially if the pool doesn’t have a gate. Take a look at the the American Red Cross’s water safety tips.

Take a few minutes to read these safety tips to keep yourself and your family safe and secure over the holidays.

This year National Burn Awareness Week is February 1 – 7. This is the 30th anniversary of this important week, which was developed as a vehicle to promote burn awareness and prevention among the general public, as well as high-risk groups, like children and older adults. The goal is always to spread a common message of awareness and prevention, and this year’s message is Scald Prevention. The American Burn Association and National Scald Prevention Campaign provide a wealth of information on this important issue.

High-Risk Groups

Young children and older adults are at particularly high risk for burn injuries. Children have immature motor and cognitive skills, strong dependence on adults for supervision and danger-avoidance, and an inability to self-rescue. Older adults often have decreased reaction times, impaired mobility and may suffer from the effects of a pre-existing health condition.

Furthermore, young children and older adults have thinner dermal layers of their skin compared to members of other age groups. This leads to deeper burns at lower temperatures and shorter exposure times. When exposed to the same quantity of hot liquid, a child will likely suffer burns over a larger percentage of her total body surface than an adult.

Scald Statistics

In 2013, an estimated 68,536 scald burn injuries were seen in hospital emergency departments in the U.S.; 15,588 (23%) occurred to children under age 4 or younger.

Water does not have to be boiling to cause a severe burn. The boiling point for water is 212° F. It takes just 2 seconds of exposure to 148° F water to cause a burn sever enough to require surgery. Hot water heaters should be set to 120° F, or just below the medium setting. A safe bathing temperature is 100° F.

Continue Reading National Burn Awareness Week: February 1-7, 2016

Snow Removal Law

Now that the temperatures outside have started to dip and the winter driving season is upon us, it is time to remind you of New Jersey’s ice and snow removal law. Remember to remove all ice and snow from your vehicle before driving, especially from the hood, windows, and roof. Motorists who fail to obey this law face fines of $25 to $75 for each offense, regardless of whether the ice and snow is dislodged from the vehicle. If flying ice or snow causes property damage or injury to others, motorists face fines of $200 to $1,000 for each offense.

Also keep in mind that flying ice or snow can cause a car accident, resulting in injury or death to anyone on the roadway. If you cause an accident and injure or kill someone, you could be sued and your assets could be at risk. So be safe and remove all ice and snow off of your car every single time before you drive. It could be the difference between causing an accident and getting home safely. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident as a result of snow or ice that became dislodged from a vehicle on the roadway, see legal counsel immediately.

Winter Driving Tips

The State’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers some winter driving tips, which are worth repeating here. Read them over, and always remember to drive safely and follow all motor vehicle laws. The State’s winter driving tips are:

  • Drive slow (at or below the posted speed limit) and adjust your speed for the changing road conditions.
  • Turn on your headlights, using low beams when traveling in snow.
  • Increase your following distance. In winter weather, travel at least eight to 10 seconds behind the car in front of you.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room to work. Don’t tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution in doing so. Remember, a snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see him, but they don’t always see you.
  • If you skid, don’t brake or accelerate. Remove your foot from the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction of the skid (the direction the rear of your vehicle is sliding.) When your car starts heading in the desired direction, carefully straighten the wheel.
  • Slow down before exiting the highway. Exit ramps often have icy patches, sharp curves and stalled or stopped vehicles.
  • Have a personal safety kit easily accessible in your vehicle that includes: an ice scraper/brush; shovel; jumper cables or battery starter; blanket; sand, salt or kitty litter for traction; lock de-icer; flashlight and new batteries; extra windshield wiper fluid; safety flares/warning device; cell phone with spare battery; water and non-perishable food (i.e., granola or protein bars); and paper towels or a cloth.
  • If your vehicle does become disabled, pull off the road as far as possible and turn on your emergency flashers. Remain with your vehicle until help arrives. If you can’t get your vehicle off the road and are uncertain about your safety, do not stay in your vehicle or stand behind it. Proceed carefully to a safe location away from traffic.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident caused by someone who wasn’t paying attention, you should contact legal counsel immediately. Stark & Stark is dedicated to helping injured people and we can make sure that your rights are represented. The insurance companies have people working hard on their side, and so should you.

Approximately 33,000 people suffer a burn injury requiring hospital emergency room treatment annually in southern New Jersey, southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. The numbers of burn victims and the extent of their injuries can be staggering. However large the numbers may be, every burn victim’s experience is personal. What can people with severe burns expect as they work to recover from their injuries and put their lives back together?

One of the obvious results of a severe burn injury is physical pain and discomfort. Depending on the severity of the burn, physical pain can continue for weeks, months, and in some cases, for the rest of a person’s life. Physical pain can impact many aspects of a burn victim’s life. The pain can severely limit a person’s ability to work, to sleep, and to do everyday activities. Many burn victims report the pain and anger associated with constant itching as the worst part of the recovery process.

Physical pain can also have secondary effects. For instance, ongoing pain can affect a person’s mood, leading to depression and anxiety. Pain can hamper the healing process, as well. It can inhibit a person’s ability to perform rehabilitation exercises and lead to loss of range of motion.

Continue Reading Life After a Burn Injury: Physical Pain

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1.1 million people suffer burn injuries that require medical attention every year in the United States. Approximately 50,000 of these burn victims require hospitalization and 20,000 suffer major burns covering 25% of their body surface. Roughly 4,500 burn victims die annually as a result of their injuries and as many as 10,000 people in the United States die each year as a result of burn-related infections.

These statistics are scary, but they demonstrate the devastating consequences of burn injuries and the importance of prevention. There are many different types of burns, and it is important to know how each is classified.

First degree burns are burns to the top layer of the skin. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and pain to touch. There are usually no blisters, and healing usually occurs in 3-5 days. Sunburn is a first degree burn. Other examples of first degree burns include exposure to flash flames or minor scalding from exposure to hot liquid.

Continue Reading Burn Injuries: Statistics, Classifications, & Causes

Studies have shown that approximately 20 million Americans use, or have used, an e-cigarette. This particular worldwide industry is estimated to be worth over $3 billion annually, and some estimates project that the industry will be worth over $10 billion by 2017. Furthermore, the e-cigarette industry advertises their product as a “safe” alternative to actual cigarettes, and many consumers see it as a new method to quit smoking or a way to feed a nicotine habit through safe delivery.

In addition to targeting lifetime smokers, the industry is also capturing a new consumer, more specifically young adults who had never previously smoked traditional cigarettes. As a result, these non-cigarette smokers have since developed a dependence on nicotine due to the e-cigarette industry.

The e-cigarette industry marketing campaigns lead consumers to believe that their products are safe, and unfortunately young adults are buying into it. A recent survey in New York indicated that 10.5% of high school students use e-cigarettes, and 12.7% of individuals between the ages of 18-24 use them. This is almost double the rate (6.5%) of users over the age of 25.

There is no dispute that the e-cigarette industry remains largely unregulated, and the industry is growing fast. We know that e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, and we already know that nicotine is highly addictive and unhealthy, particularly for minors.  In a Health Policy Forum on e-cigarettes, a panel from the School of Medicine all agreed that anyone under the age of 21 should not use any devices that deliver nicotine into the body.

Besides being addictive, nicotine is also known to stunt cognitive growth in youth. This, of course, makes all the e-cigarette industry’s claims that its product is somehow still the “safe” alternative highly suspect.  The fact is, e-cigarettes are not safe, they’re just the better of two bad options.

If you are injured as a result of an E-Cigarette, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention and experienced legal counsel.

The answer is short: no.

At some point in every smoker’s life, we are told that smoking cigarettes are not safe and they will damage our health over time. We are told that cigarettes will damage our teeth, our lungs, and cause cancer. We are even told that the cigarettes will kill us. I myself am told this quite frequently. And to be fair, the individuals telling us this are not incorrect.

When you hear these statements from a well-being friend or relative, there is often an instinct to stop and consider the possibility of quitting. I, too, have considered quitting on many occasions, but I’m never sure where or how to begin. Quitting cold turkey isn’t an option, because that’s too difficult. However, on those occasions when I stop by the local convenience store to pick up cigarettes, I’ll inevitably walk by the E-Cigarette section.

There’s a certain lure involved with the E-cigarettes. I have tried them, and at the time I justified the purchase by reasoning that it was not an actual cigarette, and therefore must be safer. You shouldn’t believe this “safer” reasoning, however—that’s what the E-Cigarette companies want you to believe, but new evidence suggests otherwise.

In fact, the safety of an E-Cigarette was recently questioned in a civil lawsuit in California. While headed to the airport with her husband, Mrs. Jennifer Ries made the decision to charge her E-Cigrette via the USB port in her vehicle. While it was charging, Mrs. Ries observed a liquid dripping from the battery, and stated that it smelled like nail polish remover. She claimed that, without further warning, the E-cigarette battery exploded, and caused chemicals from the battery to land on her skin. As a result, she suffered from second degree burns to her legs, buttocks, and hands. These burns also resulted in permanent scars to her body.

During the trial, evidence was presented which showed that the E-Cigarettes failed to warn consumers that plugging into a USB port with too much voltage could cause the chemicals in a lithium ion battery to explode. The jury returned a $1.9 million verdict on behalf of the Ries family.

Unfortunately, what happened to Mrs. Ries can happen to any of us. The E-cigarette industry has only been around since 2007, and still remains largely unregulated. These E-Cigarette manufacturers want us to buy into their logic: it’s not a cigarette, so it must be safe. The Ries’ case is the perfect example to prove that this is false logic.

If you are injured as a result of an E-Cigarette, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention and experienced legal counsel.

Even though autumn is upon us, the ongoing pleasant weather often allows us to continue to have parties, picnics and carnivals outdoors for at least another few weeks until the temperature drops. While these events are typically fun and enjoyable, it is important to note that accidents can happen at such events, and sometimes the consequences are quite serious.

In one such recent accident, a man was attending his wife’s company picnic in New Jersey. The company holding the picnic had rented a Eurobungy bungee-trampoline device for the event. The device consists of a trampoline base and a harness with bungee cords on each side, which are attached to poles extending from the trampoline’s base. A user is strapped into the harness, hoisted into the air, and encouraged to jump on the trampoline while holding onto the bungee cords. From there, the operator of the device can control how high the user is lifted into the air.

While the rider was descending from a jump, the operator began lifting him again before his feet had a chance to touch down on the trampoline. As a result, the rider’s left arm took the full force of his descent. The man immediately felt severe pain in the arm and was diagnosed with a hyperextension injury and a rupture of the distal biceps tendon, which required surgery to repair. He then had physical therapy and incurred about $8,500 in medical expenses. He continues to suffer from pain, weakness and a reduced range of motion in the arm. He also has two large scars on the arm from the surgery.

Continue Reading Be Aware of Potential Hazards at Outdoor Parties & Events

Many people know who Ralph Nader is as a political activist, but few would know that he recently opened a Tort Museum in Connecticut. “Tort law” is a legal phrase that gets tossed around a lot, but not many people understand what it truly entails. Tort law is the part of our judicial system that governs claims for wrongdoing, whether the wrongdoing is something done by a corporation or an individual. If you are injured by the acts or omissions of big business, or by the negligent driver of a car that ran into you, you have the right to participate in tort law by filing a law suit in the appropriate court.

This summer, Mr. Nader opened a museum in Winsted, Connecticut to address the history of tort law and the important cases where consumers have been helped by someone filing a law suit against “big business.” Recently, he participated in an interview where he stated that the judicial system in the United States is the only part of our government where one individual acting on their own can change the way business is done.

Continue Reading Tort Law and the Judicial System

The New Jersey courts, like the court in South Dakota, tend to focus on whether horseplay constitutes a major deviation from work when assessing compensability of injuries. In Trotter v. City of Monmouth, 144 N.J. Super. 430 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 73 N.J. 42 (1976) the Appellate Division addressed the issue of major deviation.

In Trotter, the petitioner was a county road department worker. During a break from cutting grass in the summer heat, the petitioner and several co-workers began throwing water at one another to cool off. The petitioner interrupted this water fight by driving a co-workers motorcycle that had been parked nearby on and off county property. The petitioner eventually drove the motorcycle up a hill, lost control of it and crashed suffering various injuries. The employee’s petition was denied by the Appellate Division because:

  1. The motorcycle was not supplied by the employer;
  2. The motorcycle was not equipment used in the course of the employer’s business; and,
  3. The petitioner’s conduct was so far a deviation as to constitute an abandonment of his employment.

When discussing the Trotter case, the Appellate Division turned to Professor Larson’s Workmen’s Compensation Law guidebook, which assesses the gravity of a deviation from employment based upon the following factors:

  • The extent and seriousness of the deviation;
  • The completeness of the deviation (whether it related to petitioner’s performance of duty or involved an abandonment of duty);
  • The extent to which the practice of horseplay had become an accepted part of the employment; and
  • The extent to which the nature of the employment may be expected to include some such horseplay.

Unfortunately, the application of the major/minor deviation test is inherently subjective and doesn’t add much order to the chaos. Regardless of the occupation or working conditions, a certain amount of horseplay is always to be expected in any workplace. If the horseplay rises to the level of a major deviation, like it did in Trotter, you can expect workers’ compensation benefits to be denied.

If you have been injured at work, regardless of the cause, and have questions about your rights or what benefits you may be entitled to, please speak with an attorney right away. At Stark & Stark, our experienced attorneys and legal staff can help you understand your rights.