Independence Day Safety!
Have fun and stay safe on Independence Day!
Even though the 4th of July is very fun, it’s also a dangerous holiday. I know, I sound full-on paranoid. It’s because I’ve read too many legal cases about horrific injuries and accidents to be calm anymore. 4th of July may involve such hazards as drunk drivers, ‘sploding fireworks in your own backyard, and eating BBQ that may or may not have been prepared with food safety in mind. I’m not saying you should stay in your house for America’s birthday… but maybe you should exercise a little caution. If, God forbid, an accident does happen? Calling a good personal injury lawyer might be a great step to take after your Independence-Day-fail ER visit. Below, the 4 top July 4th accidents and a little information about each one.
1. Car crash
People are frequently traveling on the 4th, and also unfortunately drinking and driving, so it stands to reason that there would be more car accidents on that date. If you are traveling around the holiday, drive carefully, don’t text and drive, and make sure you have a designated driver.
What if you are in an accident? No one knows how they will react in an emergency situation, and it can be hard to stay calm and focus if you are in shock. However, we have the following tips:
- Carry emergency flares/collapsable caution sign in your car. Setting these up on the road will alert other drivers of the crash and prevent another accident from happening and potentially further endangering you.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver. They may want to handle the matter without going through insurance, but if the accident is anything more than a slight ding on the car, insurance is the safest option.
- Get a copy of the police report. If the police come out (and you should ask them to come out for anything more than a very minor fender bender) they will write a report. You can request the report from the police department where the accident took place, or from the DMV – see directions here. The crash report will be essential evidence in any litigation scenario.
- Document your damages and injuries. Take pictures at every step of the process: the accident scene, your car, and your injuries. Continue to take pictures of your injuries as you heal, and save your medical records and bills. If you decide to sue the other party, you will already be ahead of the game. If you decide not to sue, you have lost nothing by documenting everything that happened.
2. Fireworks accidents.
As you might expect, fireworks are a frequent cause of accidents on the 4th of July. Just look at the fireworks accident that nearly destroyed the career of NY Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The biggest tip for firework safety is obviously to keep a good distance away from where they are going off, watch children closely around them, and make sure any embers or ashes are completely snuffed out. You do not want to become liable for injury to yourself or others!
I stumbled across this interesting fireworks case while researching for another matter. In this case, Beulah Slaughter was babysitting her young grandchildren one night at their parents’ home. Her son-in-law thought it would be funny to set off some firecrackers in the dark next to a window to scare his kids. So he did so – and terrified his 67-year-old mother-in-law in the process, causing her to fall and fracture her hip and fibula. This is the kind of firework accident no one expects (well, except maybe the guy setting them off next to his window to scare his kids). It doesn’t involve fireworks hitting anyone’s face or hand. This case determined that practical jokers could be liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Something interesting to consider on a day when so many people are setting off fireworks!
3. Pool safety.
Pools are so much fun. When I was little kid I wanted nothing more than to have a pool! But, pools are incredibly dangerous, especially for young children. There are some very sobering statistics about pools. On the 4th of July, many people are swimming, partying, and drinking which can lead to even more drownings. You can find some great pool safety tips here and here are a few more to keep in mind:
- Always watch children near pools! This is self-explanatory. It only takes a few minutes for someone to drown.
- Teach children how to swim from a young age.
- Make children use flotation devices in a pool.
- Learn CPR!
- Remember that drowning doesn’t always look like we picture it in our heads – wild flailing and yelling in the water. Often, people who are drowning just begin to bob up and down in the water, silently and without raising their hands, with a vacant look on their face. This is because their body is trying desperately to get enough oxygen and stay afloat. If you see a child begin to behave this way, pull them out of the pool.
- “Dry drowning” is a thing, and it’s scary! If someone nearly drowns, they may seem fine as soon as they cough up the water. But, enough water still may be in their lungs that they could die later on, even if they seem fine! It’s better to be safe than sorry, and take them to the doctor if they have nearly drown and inhaled a lot of water.
Pool owners may become liable if their pools are not surrounded by a fence and otherwise secured, and a child drowns in their pool. Pool owners must be extra careful to make the pool safe, even from children who may wander in from the neighbor’s yard. If the worst has happened and you lost someone to drowning, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover.
4. Food poisoning.
Your uncle has a habit of not washing his hands after using the bathroom – and now he’s in charge of grilling hot dogs for the Fourth of July party! Gross. This may or may not be an option for litigation, but basically you should wash your hands and be careful what you eat, especially on a day when so much suspicious potato salad could be flying around.
So there you go: your 4th of July safety tips. Stay safe out there and enjoy the holiday!