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Boston Child Injury Law Update

This time of year we like to remind our clients to keep Massachusetts children safe, especially when buying holiday gifts. Last year our Boston injury blog posted a story about injuries to Massachusetts children noting unsafe toys on the Massachusetts Public Interest Group products list. It includes good instructions regarding plastic toys, plastic baby bottles and foods wrapped plastic.

Winter is the season when children suffer the most burn injuries. We have had many clients, to many unfortunately, where young children are burned in Massachusetts. Children 2 and under tend to suffer burns to their hands and wrists. Older children suffer from fire injuries. We should remember that 75% of burn injury fatalities in children are from smoke inhalation; only 25% are from actual burns. Of the children that are under 5 who die in home fires, 50% were sleeping at the time.
 
A Children’s Hospital of Boston study claims that we could reduce child fatalities by 86% from home fires if we had smoke detectors and sprinkler systems.
Most importantly, however, we need to review motor vehicle accidents. They are the number one cause of fatalities for children.
 
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration differentiates traffic accidents from non traffic accidents. In 2010 these include accidents off the road, in driveways and parking lots – 262 fatalities and 115,000 injuries. The three most common causes for non traffic accidents are backovers (34%), then frontovers (30%) and heatstroke (16%). In 2010, for example, there were 70 frontover fatalities and 66 backover fatalities. These accidents often occur to the youngest children – 70% of the victims were between one and two years old. Those children are the smallest and hardest to see for the driver. Heatstroke caused 49 deaths for children in 2010; education is needed to prevent heatstroke because it disproportionally effects the smallest children, whose body temperature raises faster than bigger kids.
 
The other causes of fatalities for children include 7% caused by underage drivers. This includes drivers under the age of 15, often kids who believe that their skills have honed playing video games. 5% of the fatalities were from vehicles in motion, 2% vehicle falls, and 2% from drowning.
 
Massachusetts drivers can follow the following tips to keep children safe: use child safety seats for small children; use seat belts for bigger children; use booster seats for kids in the middle; check around any vehicle before you get in to drive; keep children under 13 in the back seat, away from air bags; keep if there are children around, check that they are all away from the vehicle before proceeding in the vehicle; teach children that stopped cars be dangerous and that they can start at any time; keep toys, bikes, etc. away from cars and driveways; keep vehicle keys away from any child access; never, ever, leave children alone in a motor vehicle.
 
Please review our various blog articles and website postings about child injuries. Many, if not most, are preventable. We have represented many many families following injuries to children. If you have questions about how to respond, legally, when children are injured, please call our office as soon as possible – evidence can be lost, and children forget.