If you or someone in your family has been the victim of an accident, it is important to consider explore your legal options. You have rights which should be defended. Here at Hastings and Hastings, we have over 35 years of experience in personal injury law. We have fought for the rights of accident victims in a wide variety of cases, from dog bites to slips and falls, to automobile accidents, to wrongful deaths. Our highly experienced legal team is adept at handling every aspect of a personal injury case from initial consultations to finally closing the book on a successful settlement.
However, as a community focused practice, Hastings & Hastings places as much emphasis on accident prevention as well. While we always fight our hardest to ensure that accident victims are awarded the financial compensation they are entitled to, we acknowledge that nothing can fully erase the harm caused by an accident. With that in mind, we like to use the Hastings & Hastings blog as a resource for accident prevention. Over the months we have addressed such topics as slips and falls, dog bites, summer safety, and vehicle safety. Today, we are going to discuss one of the most important topics off all, child safety.
It is our duty as adults to care for others, particularly children. They do not have the decades of experience that we do when it comes to navigating the native dangers of the world. In today’s blog we will discuss specific safety concerns facing children at home, on the road, and when out and about in the world. We will also cover parental responsibility laws. Without further ado, lets dive into it.
Child Safety in the Home
Until they are old enough to head off to elementary school, children will spend a majority of their time at home.
Babies (0-12 Months): Being a new parent can be very scary. It is easy to think that the entire world is out to get them. Babies are much tougher than you would probably imaging, however, they still require constant, careful supervision. It is important to give them toys and other items to interact with to help them build their fine motor skills. Make sure you are only giving them appropriate toys. Carefully read the instructions and warning labels on any toys you bring into the home. If a toy is labelled as a potential choking hazard, don’t bring it into the home! To not let them play with any toy small enough to fit in their mouth. Make sure babies are supervised at all times when playing with toys.
Little Kids (1-4 Years): The toddler years are particularly chaotic at home. Little kids are full with a terrifying combination of boundless energy and endless curiosity. Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are common. While we do want to prevent this minor injuries, we should be more mindful of major health risks. Your best tool here is education. Teach them about the most dangerous area of the home such as the kitchen, bathroom, backyard, and pool. Teach them about fire and electrical hazards. And as always, supervise, supervise.
Big Kids (5-9 Years): This is the age when kids begin to develop some independence. The lessons you taught them when they were little kids should all be deeply ingrained by now, which is good, because it is time for new lessons. This is the age to teach them about topics like bicycle safety, stranger danger, playground safety, and how to cross the street. By arming them with knowledge and by showing them the importance of personal responsibility, you are given them the tools to stay safe for years to come.
Child Safety on the Road
Every year, thousands of children end up in the emergency room, injured or worse because they were in a car accident and were not properly secured in a child safety seat. In Arizona, child restraints are required for any children under the age of 5. Children between 5 and 8 years of age who are 57 inches or less in height must use a booster seat. These are vital safety laws designed to keep children safe. Arizona laws do not state any preference as to whether safety seats should be affixed to the rear seat, although most studies show that rear-facing, rear seats are the safest. Violating child restrain laws is a primary offense. Using the right safety seat, for the right age, in the right location WILL save your child’s life in an accident.
As an additional concern, you should NEVER leave children unattended in a parked car. Every year children die as a result of heatstroke suffered while being left alone in the car. Even a minute is too long. During an Arizona summer, the interior temperature of a parked car can soar above 120 degrees. If you see a child left alone in a parked car, call the authorities. Time is of the essence.
Child Safety on the Playground
Where else do kids love to spend more time than at the playground? You probably still remember your playground days vividly, running around with your friends playing tag, swinging across the monkey bars, and digging in the sand. What a blast! However, it’s is not always fun and games at the playground. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 200,000 children a year are treated in hospital emergency rooms as a result of playground-related injuries. These injuries can be severe, ranging from broken bones to concussions and dislocations.
Playground injuries are most commonly caused by poorly design or inadequate maintained playground or lack of supervision.
If playground equipment is not properly maintained it can become dangerous, ropes may fray, metal rusts, wood rots, wear and tear exposes nails, sharp edges, and screws. Playground should be designed with soft surfaces under all playground equipment to protect children in the event of a fall. Before let the kids loose to run around and have fun, inspect the condition of the playground. Once you are certain it is safe, stand back and let them have their fun! Don’t forget to get in the mix yourself! This is time to make memories that will last a lifetime. Remember, even if you don’t decide to play around yourself, supervision is essential. Keep an eye on them at all times.
Parental Responsibility Laws
Every state has a set of statutes known as parental responsibility laws. Generally, these laws attach financial liability to the parents or guardians of children for any damage or harm they cause. Arizona’s parental responsibility laws can be found in Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-661. It states:
“Any act of malicious or wilful misconduct of a minor which results in any injury to the person or property of another, to include theft or shoplifting, shall be imputed to the parents or legal guardian having custody or control of the minor whether or not such parents or guardian could have anticipated the misconduct for all purposes of civil damages, and such parents or guardian having custody or control shall be jointly and severally liable with such minor for any actual damages resulting from such malicious or willful misconduct.”
Arizona’s parental responsibility laws may only hold a parent or guardian responsible only while a child is legally a minor (below 18 years of age). Much like Arizona’s dog bite statutes, parental responsibility laws are ruled under strict liability which means that parents will be held accountable for the actions of the minor even if they had no prior reasons to anticipate misconduct.
If you or your children have been injured in any way, it is important for you to explore your legal options. You have rights as an accident victim. Let Hastings & Hastings help you explore those rights. To learn more or to schedule a free legal consultation, call (480)706-1100 or click HERE.