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Summer Camp Safety and Injury Prevention

Mother Hugging Child

mom_hugging_childEvery summer, more than 11 million US children look forward to attending summer camp. Today’s camps are unique and varied. In addition to traditional activities, such as hiking, swimming, and boating, summer camps also give 21st-century kids an opportunity to unplug from technology while they develop self-confidence and lasting friendships. But along with the many benefits of summer camp come some risks. Diligent parents are often concerned about summer camp safety and potential injuries as they prepare to send their children off to camp. The personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing want parents to know how to keep their children safe by discussing some important points about summer camp safety and injury prevention. (more…)

Maine Fireworks Safety Tips

Fire truck Maine

As communities across the state of Maine gear up to celebrate this year’s 4th of July holiday with barbecues, family reunions and fireworks displays, the personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing want you and your family to stay safe, particularly if you plan on setting off consumer fireworks as part of your festivities. Although many types of consumer fireworks are now legal in Maine (most were banned from 1949 to 2011), many Fire Chiefs and safety experts agree that consumer fireworks mus4th of july injuriest be handled with extreme caution in order to avoid serious injury accidents.

Brushing up on a few simple, common sense fireworks safety tips and reviewing some of the pertinent fireworks laws in Maine will help keep you and your loved ones safe this 4th of July.

Maine Laws and Consumer Fireworks

State law requires all users and buyers of consumer fireworks to be at least 21 years old and limits the use of consumer fireworks to cities and towns where they are approved. The law also prohibits the use of sky, bottle, and missile-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, M80s, cherry and aerial bombs, large/reload-able shells, shells, firecrackers containing more than 50 mg of powder and mail order kits for making fireworks. Sky Rockets and Bottle Rockets with more than 20 grams of powder. Mortar/launch tubes cannot contain more than 60 grams of powder.

Additionally, Maine Fire Marshal Joe Thomas says consumers should keep in mind that although fireworks are now legal in Maine, all fireworks that will be used in Maine must be purchased in the state. Consumer fireworks can also only be used on a person’s own property unless they obtain written permission or consent from the property owner. 

In many cities and towns, fireworks can be set off between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Those hours are may be expanded for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. But, as the Portland Press Herald points out, it’s not always easy to know what laws apply to your particular city or town, as fireworks laws and ordinances vary across the state. (Patchwork Maine Fireworks Laws Make July 4th Difficult). If you are in violation of any laws, you are subject fines of no less than $50 and no more than $500 (a civil offense). If you knowingly sell or distribute fireworks to someone under the age of 21, you may be subject to a class D crime.

Fire Chiefs point out that anyone who chooses to set off fireworks on their own or someone else’s property on the 4th of July should be courteous and mindful of their neighbors. Setting off fireworks is no different than any other loud activity that might cause a potential disturbance- if your neighbors make a complaint and you are warned for Disorderly Conduct and do not stop your activity, you may be subject to arrest.

Fireworks Statistics and Safety Information

Many homeowners mistakenly assume that if fireworks are purchased legally, they are safe. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that fireworks be ignited only by professionals. That is because fireworks, even when used with extreme caution, are dangerous and can cause serious and lasting injuries.

The majority of injuries and deaths from fireworks (66 percent) occur around the 4th of July, and most injuries occur as a result of class C (consumer) fireworks. Sparklers, which may seem innocuous to parents, cause a surprising number of injuries. Sparklers can reach temperatures up to a 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause painful burns and serious injuries to the eyes.

Fireworks Statistics and Safety Tips

  •  Sparklers and other novelty fireworks accounted for 32% of the emergency room fireworks injuries in 2009.
  • In 2002, 8,800 people were treated in emergency rooms for firework-related injuries.
  • Fifty percent of firework-related injuries happen to children ages 14 years and younger.
  • The risk of injury to children between the ages of 10 and 14 from fireworks is more than twice that of the general population.

Fireworks Safety Tips and Precautions

  • Purchase fireworks at licensed stores, only in the quantity that you will use.
  • Do not allow anyone under the age of 21 to use or set off fireworks.
  • Do not set off fireworks on another person’s property unless you have their permission.
  • Wear protective eyewear when you are setting off fireworks and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for each firework.
  • Light only one firework at a time, and move back quickly once the firework is lit.
  • Keep spectators, pets, and children at a safe and appropriate distance when you are setting off your fireworks.
  • Have a water hose nearby in case of fire and a bucket of water to submerge any fireworks that don’t discharge properly.
  • Never try to relight or reignite a firework that hasn’t discharged properly.
  • If a firework does not discharge, let it sit alone for at least 15 minutes, then submerge it completely in a bucket of water.
  • When you are finished with your fireworks, make sure to clean up all the debris in the area.
  • Store unused fireworks away from lighters or matches and out of the reach of children.
  • Never buy or use illegal fireworks.

Maine Fire Chief: Education Helps Prevent Tragic Injuries From Fireworks

Portland Maine Fire Chief Jerome F. LaMoria recalls a particularly tragic incident when an 11-year-old boy was given an M-80 explosive by his father. The illegal firework exploded before the young man could throw it. In a stroke of irony, the boy and his father had attended a safety talk given by the Fire Chief at the boy’s school just before his accident. Fire Chief LaMoria recalled the boy’s father smiling when he was giving his presentation, and that the father seemed to scoff at the suggestion that fireworks were indeed dangerous.

Days after the safety presentation, paramedics were called to the over-confident father’s home. The grieving father questioned whether his son would ever regain use of his hand, and lamented the fact that he hadn’t listened to the Fire Chief’s sound advice. In tears, all he could ask was, “Why didn’t I listen?”

The experienced personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing want you and your family to enjoy this Fourth of July. But don’t ruin a lovely holiday by ignoring commonsense safety rules. Be safe if you choose to set off consumer fireworks, and follow simple fireworks safety tips to keep you and your guests safe.

If someone in your family has been injured in a fireworks accident and would like to begin understanding your rights, please call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case.  Attorneys in our Lewiston,  Portland and downtown Portland law offices are available to answer your questions regarding your accident and will put our expertise and experience in the field of personal injury law to work for your family.

Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational.

Secondary or Dry Drowning and Water Safety For Children

little girl swimming in pool with float and sunglasses

secondary drowningJune is National Safety Month, and the personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing want to remind parents and caregivers to keep an eye on children anytime they are in or around water. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the second leading cause of injury and death for children five years of age and younger.  Although relatively rare, parents should also understand the signs and symptoms of dry drowning (also known as secondary drowning), which can cause a fatal chain of events within the body that can rapidly lead to death.

Drowning and Kids: Risk Factors

Although the majority of drowning deaths occur in swimming pools, children also drown in bathtubs, wading pools, buckets, and even toilets. Drowning deaths and injuries happen in an instant, and occur in as little as one inch of water. Many parents mistakenly believe that they would “hear” warning signs of a child in distress  (because their child would splash or cry out). But pediatricians and safety experts caution that drownings often go undetected precisely because they happen quickly and without a sound.

Although younger kids are more vulnerable to drowning, parents shouldn’t relax their stringent safety standards as their kids grow older.  Children who learn how to swim are not immune to drowning or injuries, and all children require proper adult supervision around water. Safety experts suggest that adults who are responsible for supervising children around water give them their undivided attention.

Ideally, parents should put away electronic devices, books, and other distractions when supervising kids who are swimming or playing in or near the water.  Everything else can wait- your child’s safety is far more important than any Facebook status update or that new book you’re reading!

The Tragedy of Dry Drowning 

In 2008, parents across the country were shocked by the tragic death of a 10-year-old South Carolina boy who died more than an hour after he went swimming for the very first time with his mother. Earlier that day, the boy’s mother said he had an accident in the pool and got a small amount of water in his lungs. But when they left the pool together and walked home that afternoon, and the boy seemed fine. Well enough, in fact,  to talk with his mother and take a bath. He then told his mother he felt sleepy (which would not be inconsistent with an eventful day at the pool) and his mother tucked him into bed. But when she went to check on him a little while later, he was unresponsive. Although Johnny was rushed to the emergency room, doctors were unable to revive him, and he later died.

Ten-year-old Johnny was a victim of the relatively rare phenomenon called dry drowning or secondary drowning.  According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, of the 3,600 people who drowned in 2005 (the most recent year on record), 10 to 15 percent of those deaths were classified as dry drowning.  Dry drowning occurs when a person inhales a small amount of water or other liquid. The inhaled liquid then causes a spasm of the airway, called a laryngospasm. The spasm creates a partial vacuum and even the hard, rapid breathing which results cannot adequately fill the lungs.

Dry drowning can take place up to 24 hours after a person has aspirated water, which is in part what makes it so difficult for parents and medical providers to detect. The mechanism for dry drowning involves only a tiny bit of water. When a child aspirates a small amount of water into the lungs, it can cause respiratory arrest. This can lead to an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood, cardiac arrest and eventually brain death. Dry drowning can also be caused by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is “an acute injury to most or all of both lungs or electrolyte abnormalities resulting from a dilution of the blood after aspirated water is absorbed into the blood, leading to heart rhythm abnormalities.”

Dry drowning can occur after a child inhales water at bath time, or if they aspirate any other liquid into their lungs. Parents should be aware of the symptoms of dry drowning because although it is rare, the series of events which follow can prove deadly if not recognized and treated immediately. Doctors say that inexperienced or first-time swimmers may be at a higher risk for dry drowning, along with children with underlying breathing/lung disorders (such as asthma).

Signs and symptoms of dry drowning include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, pain in the chest or a marked change in mental status following the inhalation of water or an accident while swimming, bathing or drinking (child seems foggy or unusually lethargic). Parents should note that they might not have observed their child inhaling the water.

If you are concerned about your child or suspect dry drowning, seek immediate medical attention or call 911 right away. If caught early, doctors say that dry drowning can be treated. Doctors can administer oxygen, which is supplied to the lungs. When the breathing process is restarted, children can heal from the trauma/damage to their lungs.

Water Safety Tips

  • Do not leave your child unattended around water. This includes swimming and wading pools but also includes leaving a child unattended in a bathtub or bathroom. Because kids can drown in as little as one inch of water (most commonly babies), parents should supervise them around all water (buckets, sinks, etc).
  • If you are using a wading pool, empty it as soon as you are finished and store it upside down so it doesn’t collect water. Don’t store buckets or other containers where children can reach them.
  • Child safety experts suggest using child safety locks on bathrooms and utility rooms (anywhere kids could enter and turn on the water). Also, consider using child safety locks on toilets.
  • Take a certified first aid course which teaches you how to perform child and infant CPR. If you know how to handle an emergency it will not only give you peace of mind, you’ll be more likely to react swiftly, calmly and appropriately if a child is injured.
  • If you are a pool owner, safety experts suggest installing four-sided fencing with a self-locking gate. This has been proven to decrease drowning deaths. Above ground, inflatable pools also need suitable safety fencing.
  • Make sure pool or hot tub/spa drain covers are not damaged, cracked or missing parts.
  • Have appropriate life-saving devices (floats, reaching poles, life rings, etc) within easy reach near a pool should an emergency occur.

If someone in your family has been injured in a pool accident and would like to begin understanding your rights, please call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case.  Attorneys in our Lewiston,  Portland and downtown Portland law offices are available to answer your questions regarding your accident and will put our expertise and experience in the field of personal injury law to work for your family.

Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational.

Texting While Walking: A Dangerous Combination

teens texting and driving

474680727While most Americans are aware of the dangers inherent in distracted driving, few realize the dangers of distracted walking (also known as texting while walking or TWW). For some, the phrase ‘distracted walking’ conjures up images of comedic pratfalls. But, as emergency rooms physicians can attest, distracted walking is no laughing matter.

Although there is no reliable way to track the extent of TWW injuries, estimates suggest that approximately 1,500 people were treated in emergency rooms for distracted walking injuries in 2012. But emergency room physicians say that number is a gross underestimate because injured patients are reluctant to report the real cause of their TWW accidents out of embarrassment. (more…)

Children and Traumatic Brain Injury

traumatic brain injury lawyer Maine

personal injury - brain injury 1According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability and death for children and adolescents in the US. Children and adolescents receive a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of car accidents, child abuse, falls and sports-related injuries.

(more…)

Bounce House Injuries On The Rise

Bounce house injuries

bounce house injuriesChildren of all ages love inflatable bounce houses. With brightly colored exteriors, some of the newest inflatable bounce houses come tricked out with slides, obstacle courses, basketball hoops, and even water slides.  Although they are often touted as safe and fun for all ages, recent news stories have brought to light the risks inherent in using bounce houses, and new data suggests that bounce house injuries are on the rise.

Bounce House Injuries In the News: New York and Colorado

In upstate New York, three children (ages 5, 6 and 10) were recently jumping in an inflatable bounce house which was staked to the ground when a wind gust blew the bounce house into the air. As witnesses stood by helplessly watching the scene unfold, the terrified children fell out of the bounce house as it flew 15 to 20 feet in the air.

According to onlookers, one of the children fell onto a parked car while another child fell onto the street. While the oldest child involved in this accident came away with only a few scrapes and a minor injury to her shoulder, the younger boys weren’t so fortunate. Authorities reported that the younger boys were treated at a local medical center for more serious injuries, including a serious head injury and broken bones.

In a second bounce house injury incident, this time near Denver, Colorado, two young children were injured when an inflatable bounce house was lifted into the air by a sudden wind gust. According to witnesses, one child was immediately thrown from the bounce house when a 30 mph wind gust lifted the bounce house into the air. The other child stayed inside as the bounce house as it rolled 200 feet.  Miraculously, authorities didn’t report any serious injuries in this case, although the ordeal must have been terrifying for both parents and the children involved.

ER Doctors Say Bounce House Injuries On the Rise

Emergency room doctors report that injuries from inflatable bounce houses are on the rise. Parents should be alert to potential dangers when their children use bounce houses. In order to reduce the potential for injury, safety experts suggest that children should always be supervised when playing in bounce houses. If possible, children should also use bounce houses one at a time, and children should not use inflatable bounce houses in windy conditions.

According to recent reports, there are approximately 11,000 injuries as a result of bounce houses every year. Tracy Mehan, a health educator with the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, is sounding the alarm about the rise in bounce house injuries. According to a 2012 study in Pediatrics, there was a 15-fold increase in bounce house injuries from 1995 to 2010. Mehan   points out that, “[i]f this were a disease, it would be considered an epidemic.”

Safety experts surmise that bounce house injuries may be on the rise because they are being used more frequently (e.g. rented for parties or purchased for home use) and are now widely sold in stores for use in backyards.

To help prevent injuries, the Child Injury Prevention Alliance suggests that bounce houses only be used for children over the age of 6 and that only one jumper be allowed in the bounce house at a time. Unfortunately, parents and bounce house owners don’t always hold to these guidelines, and serious, costly injuries can be the result.

The personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing have over 35 years experience with personal injury law. We can help your family understand your rights if you or a loved one has been involved in a bounce house accident. Our Lewiston, Portland and downtown Portland law offices are here to answer your questions and will put our expertise and experience in the field of personal injury law to work for your family.

If you have been injured in an inflatable bounce house accident, please call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case. Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in a bounce house accident and would like a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.

Trampoline Injuries and Safety Concerns

children on trampoline

gty_trampoline_mi_130819_16x9_608With summertime fast approaching, many parents are on the lookout for safe, fun activities to keep their children busy and active during the long summer months ahead. Although backyard trampolines may seem like the perfect solution for kids with a seemingly endless supply of energy, the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially discouraged children and their parents from allowing the use of backyard trampolines since 1977.  The risk of serious injuries from using trampolines are real, costly and often devastating. Children who use trampolines don’t just risk broken bones or simple sprains; they are at significant risk for serious fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, permanent paralysis, and even death. (more…)

Pedestrian Accident Prevention and Safety Tips

gavel and scale of justic

How Can Pedestrians Stay Safe?

pedestrian accident law firmAlthough Maine motorists have a responsibility to “exercise due care” when driving and passing a pedestrian by leaving a distance of at least 3 feet when they pass,  the unfortunate truth is that motorists can’t always be counted on to follow these laws; as a result, pedestrian accident victims are often left with serious or life-threatening injuries. If the driver of a truck, automobile or motorcycle is distracted or intoxicated, they may hit and seriously injure or even kill a pedestrian.

Maine law does offer specific protections for pedestrians which, if followed, can help reduce pedestrian accidents.  For example, the law requires motorists to yield the right of way to pedestrians on sidewalks, marked crosswalks and most intersections.  The law also prohibits drivers from overtaking another vehicle that is stopped for a pedestrian.  Motorists are also required to exercise special caution with children or around pedestrians who are visibly confused, intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated.

Slow Down and Pay Attention!

Although motorists are required by law yield to pedestrians, it is always wise for pedestrians who are walking, biking or running near traffic to protect themselves in case a driver isn’t paying attention, doesn’t see them or is intoxicated.

There are also commonsense ways for both pedestrians and drivers to reduce the risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. The first is for drivers to slow down. According to Safe Routes to School Online, if a pedestrian is struck by a car traveling at 40 mph, there is an 85 percent likelihood that the pedestrian will be killed. This percentage drops to 45 percent at 30 mph and 5 percent at 20 mph.

When motorists slow down, they have more time to see pedestrians and react in time to avert a pedestrian accident. Drivers moving at slower speeds can also stop over shorter distances.  A vehicle traveling 40 mph needs almost 300 feet between the car and a pedestrian to stop in order to avoid a collision.  A car traveling 30 mph needs just 197 feet to stop,  and that distance is reduced to 112 feet for a car traveling 20 mph and 77 feet for a car traveling 15 mph.

It’s also important for drivers to avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,  and to avoid distractions. Distracted drivers (who are talking on a cell phone, texting while driving, applying makeup, using a GPS, eating, etc.) may fail to see pedestrians who are walking on the street, and that’s often a cause for serious pedestrian accidents and can lead to lasting injuries and even death.

Other Ways For Pedestrians To Stay Safe

Pedestrians can help protect themselves and possibly avoid being involved in a pedestrian accident by following a few simple safety tips.  Studies indicate that the majority of pedestrian accidents occur at night, in urban areas and in non-intersection locations. Since more pedestrian accidents occur at night, pedestrians can increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing light or reflective clothing.  Pedestrians should also be careful when crossing the street, and try to use crosswalks whenever possible.  If a pedestrian must walk in the street, they should walk facing traffic if possible.  Parents can also help their children stay safe by educating them about traffic safety and practice safe walking routes to further reinforce the importance of using crosswalks and watching for motorists.

The personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing have over 35 years experience with pedestrian accidents and can help your family understand your rights following a pedestrian accident and get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our Lewiston, Portland, and downtown Portland law offices are here to assist you.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case. Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in a pedestrian accident and would like a free consultation with an auto accident attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Pedestrian Walk Sign

pedestrian accidentIf you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who is skilled in dealing with pedestrian and automobile accidents. If you or someone you love has been struck by an automobile, truck or motorcycle while walking, running or playing, the Hardy, Wolf and Downing personal injury team can answer questions about your case and maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries.

The personal attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing have recovered millions of dollars for clients injured in pedestrian accidents across the state of Maine. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights, maximize your compensation and avoid common tactics insurance companies use to deny or minimize claims following a pedestrian and automobile accident.

According  to recent statistics from the CDC:

  • 4,2880 pedestrians were killed in accidents in the United States and another 70,000 were injured.
  • In the United States, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic accident every 11 minutes and a pedestrian dies in a traffic related crash every 8 minutes.
  • On average, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in a traffic-related crash than vehicle occupants for each and every each trip.

Although all pedestrians risk being hit by a car, truck or motorcycle,  statistics show that some populations are at a greater risk for pedestrian accidents.

  • Older adults (65 years and over)  account for approximately 19% of all pedestrian deaths.
  • Almost one in five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in 2010 were involved in pedestrian accidents.
  • Alcohol was a factor in a large number of pedestrian accidents. Alcohol impairment, for either the driver or the pedestrian, was reported in 47% of the traffic crashes which resulted in a pedestrian death.  According to the CDC, of the pedestrians involved, 33% had a blood alcohol concentration of greater than .08 grams per deciliter.

Who is most at risk for a pedestrian accident?

  • Older adults
    Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 19% of all pedestrian deaths and an estimated 11% of all pedestrians injured in 2010.1
  • Children
    In 2010, nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian.
  • Drivers and pedestrians who are alcohol-impaired
    Alcohol-impairment—either for the driver or for the pedestrian—was reported in 47% of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian deaths. Of the pedestrians involved, 33% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than or equal to .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL).1

If you have been injured in a pedestrian-automobile accident, call the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case. Our personal injury attorneys provide our blog as a service to our clients. They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in a pedestrian accident and would like a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.

Children and Car Accidents: Part 3

child crying

car seat accidentIn parts 1 and 2 of this series, children and car accidents are discussed, along with generalized suggestions for parents to identify possible emotional trauma in children following a car accident.

This post, part 3 of the series, will identify additional ways children might react to being involved in an automobile accident and discuss issues parents should be aware of when relating to children who may be suffering from trauma in the aftermath of an automobile accident.

Other Ways Children May React To Trauma

Sometimes, children feel more comfortable talking indirectly about their experience of a car accident (e.g. when mom or dad is in the next room). What’s most important about their actions following an accident is that they are expressing themselves openly, not necessarily that you are engaging directly with them at that exact moment.

Some children feel more comfortable “telling” you about their feelings when a trusted adult is within earshot but isn’t directly “listening” to their conversations. Children may want to confide in a friend, mom and dad or a teacher or even the family dog. Whoever they talk to, make sure that person knows how to respond to your child. When a child “eases” into a conversation about an accident, it’s their way of gently bringing themselves into a difficult conversation about their feelings without feeling overwhelmed.  As a parent, you can use that moment as a jumping off point for future conversations. Always rely on your instincts and cues from your child to get a good sense for when your child is ready to talk about the accident in a more direct way.

Children Who Put On A Brave Front After A Car Accident

Sometimes, children pretend to be “fine” after a car accident because they are afraid of their own “big” feelings, or because they are trying to put on a “brave face” for the sake of an already overwhelmed or traumatized family.  In some cases, another adult may have unwittingly given the child the message that they shouldn’t talk about the accident. Or,  a child may feel they can’t handle their own emotions, so they avoid the topic of the accident and their feelings at all costs.

In any case, adults should be very cautious when it comes to children who appear too happy-go-lucky after a very traumatic car accident (or any other kind of car accident) and allow those children the time and space necessary to work out their complex emotions with a trusted adult or trained counselor.

If you are a parent who is trying to help your child heal while trying to heal yourself, make sure to be extra kind to yourself.  Reach out for help, especially when it comes to the added support of friends and loved ones, and perhaps the therapeutic support of a trained professional who can help you sort out your feelings about the car accident and give you tips to help your entire family heal emotionally.

Calm Adult Reassurance Is Key After A Car Accident

Immediately following a car accident, adults should reassure any aged child that they are indeed safe, despite the fact that a car accident has occurred. Although the car accident may have been scary or upsetting to your child, take time to explain that car accidents are relatively rare events. After a car accident, children should be encouraged to discuss their feelings if they want to, and given lots of emotional and physical support. Give lots of extra hugs and reassurance throughout the day, and make it a special point to spend time together as a family so that you can talk about the car accident if need be, or simply provide your child with that all-important sense of well-being being near a loving adult provides.

Don’t Pressure Your Child To Talk After A Car Accident

Although children should be encouraged to discuss their feelings about a car accident, don’t pressure your child to talk about their feelings if they aren’t ready or don’t want to discuss the accident.  Children, even if they appear fearful or upset, can become more traumatized if they are forced to talk about their feelings before they are ready.

Allow your child to approach you with their feelings about the car accident by giving them opportunities to discuss their feelings, but only when they are ready. This may happen when you least expect it: young children may act out their feelings during playtime, and older children may want to draw pictures. If a child appears so traumatized that they can’t bring themselves to discuss the events of a car accident, yet they are clearly emotionally distraught for a significant length of time after the event (2-4 weeks), or if emotional symptoms suddenly appear, seek professional guidance from your pediatrician or other trained healthcare professional.

Stick To Your Routine After Your Car Accident

If at all possible, maintain your normal routine after your car accident. Although your child might be afraid to get back in the car after an accident, don’t allow them to avoid the car for too long. Getting back to normal activities within a safe and reasonable amount of time is a good idea because it helps signal to your child that although being in a car accident might feel scary, those feelings are normal and they don’t mean something bad is going to happen again.

Helping guide your child past his or her fears gently and lovingly as a parent or caregiver is important; never tease or minimize your child about their fears, but don’t allow them to take over and run away, either. Let your child know you are going to help them stay safe and deal with their fears respectfully and naturally, and that you’ll do everything within your power to keep them safe.

NHTSA Car Seat Recommendations After A Car Accident

After a car accident, even a slow speed car accident, the NHTSA recommends that all child restraints be replaced.  Tell your child that you understand the latest safety recommendations of the United States Government. This is one way to help reassure them that you as a parent understand how to keep them safe. Perhaps you can involve your child in the purchase and installation of their new new safety seat. Let your child know you have installed their new booster or car seat properly and have gone to great lengths to purchase the right safety seat that will protect and help keep them safe. Use your instincts as a parent. Depending on your child’s age and personality, this might be a good tactic. For others, too much talk of car seats or safety may bring back memories of the accident.

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First: Parents Need Help Too

If you have a child who wants to talk about a car accident often, it can pose unique challenges for a family who was involved in a car accident, particularly if an accident was traumatic for both the caregivers and children.  If this happens to be the case in your family, it is extremely important that both the adults and the children find supportive professional help.

As any good airline attendant will tell you, when you are a passenger on a distressed plane, you must help yourself before you even begin to think about helping anyone else. A struggling passenger can’t help anyone until they have put on their own oxygen mask!

When it comes to emotional trauma, the same holds true. As a parent or caregiver, you’ll be in a much better position to help your child heal emotionally if you are in a healthy place. So, don’t put yourself last, thinking your child is the only one who deserves help. If you feel overwhelmed, frightened or depressed after your car accident, seek the guidance of a trained professional.  Extend the same care and concern to yourself that you would to your child and you’ll both be better off and stronger emotionally and physically when all is said and done.

Our Attorneys Are Here to Help After Your Car Accident

The personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing are here to assist your family after your car accident. We make it a point to see our clients wherever they need us, whether that be in their homes, the hospital, or in one of our three office locations (Portland, Downtown Portland or Lewiston).

As parents, lawyers and citizens of Maine, we treat the people who call us asking for help and guidance with the utmost care and concern because above all, we know that our clients are people who have been injured and hurt. They are worried parents, partners, spouses and family members who have been hurt in accidents that they didn’t cause. We treat each and every client as we would want to be treated if we were standing in their shoes.  It’s what matters in life,  and it’s what makes us the best choice to represent your family.

The Maine car accident attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing provide our blog as a service to our clients.  They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in an accident or has been involved in a crash and would like a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.