How to Pick the Best Bicycle Helmet for Your Child

Colorado Personal Injury Attorney

Frighteningly, head injuries are quite common in children. Sports falls, and accidents are cited as some of the most common causes of head injuries in children, especially those in their teens. Bicycle-related head injuries are most common in children aged 5 and up.

Head injuries may result in permanent disability, depending on the extent of the injury. Many head injuries result in a loss of function in the senses or in mobility. Some may even require long-term or lifelong care.

Wearing a helmet can lessen the severity of and sometimes prevent serious head injuries in children. Parents and other caregivers should always make sure that children are wearing helmets while biking, playing sports, roller skating, skateboarding, or skiing.

How Do You Pick a Helmet?

Walk into any sporting goods store or browse the internet and you will find that there are dozens and dozens of helmets to choose from. How do you make sure you pick the one that is best for your child?

First, you should pick a helmet that has a Consumer Product Safety Committee sticker inside the helmet. All helmets manufactured after 1999 should have these stickers.

Do not worry about the helmet’s price tag. In one series of tests conducted on helmets, lower-priced helmets performed just as well as their more expensive counterparts.

If you have received a hand-me-down helmet from a generous friend or relative, make sure that the helmet does not have any visible cracks or has been in some type of accident. Keep in mind that not all cracks in a helmet are visible from the outside. Bicycle helmets are designed to take only one impact and should be discarded after one crash or impact to the helmet.

The fit of a helmet appears to be the most important factor when it comes to its ability to protect the skull from injury. To make sure a helmet fits your child properly, check the following:

  • The chin strap should have a snug fit around the child’s face and jaw.
  • When the child moves his or her head back and forth and up and down, the helmet stays in place.
  • Have your child open his or her mouth. The lower jaw should pull the chin strap down.
  • The front of the helmet should come down low over the forehead. It should also be level. The lower edge of the helmet should be one or two fingers’ width above the child’s eyebrows.
  • Check to make sure that the child’s hearing and vision are not obstructed by the helmet.
  • To make the helmet fit more snugly, internal pads may be added. Check with your helmet’s manufacturer for information on where to purchase these pads.

In addition, consider purchasing a helmet that is a bright color to improve your child’s visibility to drivers and others.

If your child is between two sizes in a helmet, choose the larger one.

Helmets Save Lives in Colorado

Although helmets are not required by Colorado law, wearing a helmet can help prevent serious head injuries if your child falls or is involved in a collision. 

Experienced Colorado personal injury attorneys are able to help with accident claims, including those involving children. These attorneys know how to fully investigate a collision to show the strength and merits of their clients’ cases.

Many at-fault drivers try to shift liability to victims, even if they are children. However, skilled attorneys hold these individuals accountable for the injuries and harm they have caused and ensure that their clients’ legal rights remain protected both during a personal injury claim and after it has concluded.

Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with Jennifer Donaldson

Colorado personal injury attorney Jennifer Donaldson is a zealous advocate for her clients, especially children. If your child has been injured due to the negligence of someone else, contact our Denver bicycle accident attorney at Donaldson Law, LLC  today to schedule a free consultation and learn about your legal options.

How Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case

Social media has become a significant part of our day-to-day lives. Most teens and adults have at least one social media account, and the particularly savvy and active users have accounts on multiple platforms.

You may be used to posting daily updates or about important life events. However, when it comes to injuries you suffered in an accident, you need to think twice before uploading photos, videos, statuses, or comments. Online information can be used like any other type of admissible evidence and it has the potential to negatively affect your personal injury case.

Ways in Which Social Media Can Impact Your Personal Injury Case

Your social media posts may seem insignificant or harmless to you. However, insurance defense attorneys have learned that seemingly innocent posts have the potential to be devastating to a claim. The biggest risk is that your own content will contradict the claims you make in your case. Your pictures, photos, location check-ins, and statements may demonstrate you have different physical capabilities than you claim to the insurer or in court.

You may allege that you have undergone profound pain and suffering during your recovery. However, your virtual persona is always smiling, vacationing, hanging out with friends, or traveling. Your online activity may cause jurors or adjusters to doubt you are in as much pain as you say or presume that you are leading an active and full life, despite your alleged suffering.

Another risk is that your social media content will show that there may have been an intervening cause for your injuries or for why your condition has gotten worse. An intervening cause is another factor that occurred after the original incident and the other party can use it to say they are not responsible for your current condition. The at-fault party and their insurer can use this to claim they do not owe you compensation or that they owe you far less than you demand.

Potential Consequences of Contradictory Social Media Content

If your social media content contradicts your legal claims, various things can happen. The other party can use this evidence to ask for the case to be dismissed. The insurer may use it to deny your claim.

If the online content is not enough for an insurance claim denial or lawsuit dismissal, it can still be used to weaken your case and limit your financial recovery. For example, if your photos and statuses show that you are not in as much pain as you say, this can lead to a lower insurance settlement or court award.

The at-fault party and their insurer may also use your social media content to support allegations of comparative negligence. They may argue that the evidence proves you were also careless and therefore partly responsible for your own injuries. If an insurer or court agrees, this can significantly decrease your compensation.

Social Media Best Practices During Your Personal Injury Case

If you are injured in an accident and are a social media user, talk with your lawyer about how to handle your accounts during your claim.

Your attorney may recommend that you:

  • Do not post anything about being in an accident.
  • Do not post any photos or videos of the incident or your injuries.
  • Do not post any content that reflects your physical or mental condition.
  • Do not post about the insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • Tighten your privacy settings to allow only your contacts to see your content.
  • Do not accept friend or connection requests from anyone you do not know well.
  • Ask friends and family members to keep their questions and comments offline.
  • Ask friends and family members to not tag you in posts.
  • Do not delete anything without speaking to your personal injury attorney first.

Contact Donaldson Law, LLC for Help

If you were injured in an accident and are unsure of how to handle social media, or you fear your social media posts could impact your insurance claim, call the Donaldson Law, LLC right away to speak with an experienced Denver personal injury attorney.

You can reach attorney Jennifer Donaldson through the online form or call (303) 458-5000 to schedule an initial consultation.

High School Parking Lots May Be the Most Dangerous Place at School

When you consider your child’s safety at school, you may not immediately think of the parking lot. However, this is where danger lurks. Every year, an average of 50,000 crashes happen in parking lots and garages, causing more than 60,000 injuries and 500 deaths, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

In a high school parking lot, there are dozens—if not hundreds—of inexperienced teen drivers who may be in a hurry and distracted. The combination of all these factors increases the risk of teen car crashes and pedestrian accidents.

Common Teen Driving Dangers

Teens are prone to making several mistakes while driving. Many adolescent drivers get distracted by their music, talking with friends, grooming, reaching for objects, or being on their cell phones.

The National Safety Council (NSC) found distraction is a common factor in parking lot accidents. In an NSC public opinion poll, the organization found 59 percent of teens were likely to engage in grooming in parking lots and 60 percent were likely to be on their phone.

Beyond distracted driving, teens are likely to rush, speed, and make reckless decisions while behind the wheel. They may follow too closely to other cars, play games of chicken with friends in other vehicles, and overall drive their vehicle in ways that increase the risk of wrecks.

On top of teen’s risky driving, many fail to wear their seatbelts, increasing the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities in crashes.

Consider Teen’s Poor Driving Habits in the Parking Lot After School

Your teen driver and other students face risks before and after school in the parking lot. However, it is when the last bell rings the greatest risks arise. At the end of the school day, a majority of student drivers hurry to the parking lot and try to leave at the same time. Students are vying to pull out of their parking spots and get in the long line to leave as soon as they can.

These teen drivers also may be competing for space with parent pickups and buses. Not only is the student parking lot busy, but the roads surrounding the school likely have heavy traffic.

Vehicle crashes are not the only concern. Vehicle-pedestrian collisions are a serious issue. While the first wave of teen drivers is backing out of parking spots, there are other teen drivers and passengers walking to their cars. If teen drivers are not careful about checking behind them and in their blind spots, they could easily back up into another student.

Safety Tips for the School Parking Lot

As a parent of a teen driver, you can’t be there every minute. You can’t control everything your child does behind the wheel. What you can do is talk with your teen about the risks of car crashes in the parking lot before and after school and ways to avoid a collision.

Talk with your teen about:

  • Choosing a parking spot further away from the school. Your child may benefit from getting to school a little earlier so they can grab a spot that is easy to leave at the end of the day. If the spot is further from the school, it may have less foot traffic around it.
  • Backing into the parking spot. Another benefit of arriving early to school is that it is easier to back into the parking spots. Then, at the end of the day, your teen can pull forward to leave and avoid backing up into another vehicle or student.
  • Always checking behind them. Reversing into a spot every day may not be possible. If your teen needs to back out, make sure they know to always check behind them and be mindful of their vehicle’s blind spots.
  • Being patient at the end of the day. Encourage your teen to wait until traffic has died down before leaving the parking lot.
  • Minimizing the distractions. Tell your teen to put away their phone and leave the music off while they are driving in the parking lot.
  • Following the flow of traffic. Your teen may have a route in mind, but traffic may have other thoughts. Your teen should follow the established traffic patterns of the parking lot.
  • Never speeding. Parking lots call for slow speeds and patience.
  • Wearing their seatbelt. Remind your teen that they and their passengers should all have their seatbelts on before putting the car in drive or reverse—even if they are driving a short distance.

Call us if Your Teen Was in a Parking Lot Accident

If your teen was injured in a school parking lot accident, whether they were a pedestrian or in a vehicle, contact our Denver parking lot accident lawyer at the Donaldson Law, LLC toll-free at 303-458-5000 to discuss your options.

Colorado Ski Safety Act

Colorado is a popular destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. Unfortunately, these winter activities can be dangerous. In the 2016-17 season, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reported 33 catastrophic injuries for skiers and snowboarders and 44 fatalities.

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The NSAA only records life-altering head injuries, broken backs and necks, and paralysis. Many skiers and snowboarders suffer serious injuries that are not recorded as catastrophic injuries by the NSAA.

Snowboarders are, particularly at risk. A study performed by researchers at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University found snowboarders are three times more likely to be injured than skiers.

Given that Colorado has the fourth most operating ski area in the U.S., it is safe to assume serious injuries, catastrophic injuries, and fatalities occur here each year.  If you plan on hitting the slopes in Colorado this winter, take the time to familiarize yourself with the best safety practices. Also, get to know Colorado’s Ski Safety Act (the Act or SSA).

Common Skier and Snowboarder Injuries

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According to the Warren Alpert study’s lead researcher, Brett. D. Owens, MD, skiing, and snowboarding increase the risk of injuries to the shoulders, hands, wrists, knees, feet, ankles, pelvis, and spine. In other words, your limbs are most at risk while participating in these winter sports, although you can also experience serious injuries to your abdomen and back.

Skiers are more likely to experience injuries in their lower extremities. Knee injuries due to twisting motions are very common. Snowboarders are more likely to hurt their upper extremities when they fall on their hands.

Ski Area Operator’s Liability Under the Act

 Denver Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one are injured while skiing or snowboarding because of a condition on the slopes or the ski area’s facilities, you should talk with a lawyer right away about a ski area operator’s liability for injuries – or lack of liability. Ski area operators have immunity from injuries that arise from inherent risks and dangers associated with the sport.

Risks and Hazards under the Colorado Ski Act

Under the Act, there are seven categories of risks and hazards:

  1. The failure of a skier to ski within the bounds of their own abilities.
  2. Collisions between skiers.
  3. Variations in steepness or terrain in the ski area, such as roads, freestyle terrain, jumps, and catwalks.
  4. Impacts with natural or man-made objects that skiers commonly encounter on the slopes, including signs, lift towers, fences, posts, enclosures, hydrants, or water pipes.
  5. Surface or subsurface conditions in the ski area, such as bare spots, trees, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, and other natural objects.
  6. Changing snow conditions, including hardpack, powder, packed powder, wind pack, slush, and ice.
  7. Changing weather conditions.

In other words, there are many things that can cause or contribute to a skiing or snowboarding accident that is considered inherent to the sport and which means the ski area operator may not be liable for your injuries.

Ski Resort, Lift, and Lesson Waivers

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In addition to the immunity granted by the SSA, ski area operators can reduce their legal liability for injuries and fatalities by having you accept a waiver. When you purchase your entrance into a resort or ski area, when you use a lift ticket, or when you sign up for ski or snowboarding lessons, you often have to sign a document that waives the business’s liability for injuries.

You may not even have to sign anything to be bound by these waivers. Simply by accepting a ticket or lessons, you implicitly acknowledge the waiver, which may be printed in small print on the back of your ticket.

This can be a tough pill to swallow. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver found that these waivers are valid. If you accept a ticket with a waiver on the back, or if you sign a waiver, you are releasing the business from liability if you are hurt on the mountain.

Ski Area Operators Are Not Entirely Immune

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If you are hurt in an accident related to the condition of the ski area or facilities, you may worry that you have no recourse. However, this is not necessarily true. If you can prove a ski operator’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct, you may be able to obtain compensation.

If you file a lawsuit against a ski area operator within two years of the date you sustained your injuries, and you succeed in proving the operator’s negligence, gross negligence, or misconduct, then you may receive compensation. However, Colorado law caps the amount you can receive. Under the Act, you can obtain up to $1 million.

Duties of Skiers

Although the ski area operator may not be legally liable for your injuries, you may still have recourse. If, for example, another skier or snowboarder causes a collision on the slopes which causes injury, that person may be held liable for any injuries caused.

The SSA clearly delineates the duties of skiers, including knowing their own abilities and maintaining control on the slopes. If a skier causes a collision, he or she is required to provide their name and contact information to the ski area operator or ski patrol prior to leaving the scene.

Do Not Hesitate to Talk to a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer

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After a skiing or snowboarding accident, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Denver. An attorney can investigate whether a dangerous condition existed in the ski area or facility or whether the ski area operator was negligent. Then, your lawyer will explain your legal options, including the likelihood of succeeding in a claim against a ski area operator.

If you or a loved one are hurt while skiing or snowboarding in the 2018-19 season, do not hesitate to contact Donaldson Law, LLC at (303) 458-5000 to learn more about your rights and legal options.

Colorado Car Seat Laws

Colorado Car Seat Laws

If you are expecting a baby or are a new parent, it is time to brush up on Colorado’s car seat laws. There are suggested guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for how long your child should remain in certain types of safety seats. Colorado also has a law requiring appropriate safety restraints for infants and children. As your child grows, you need to be sure they are in the proper safety seat for their size and in accordance with the law.

Colorado’s Child Car Seat Laws

Colorado’s child safety seat laws are found in C.R.S. 42-4-236 & 237. Based on these laws, your child should be in a rear-facing child restraint system in the rear seat of the vehicle until they are 1 year and weigh at least 20 pounds.

Keep in mind, this is a minimum requirement. Your child can and should be in a rear-facing car seat longer. The AAP recommends that your child remains in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. You should keep your child in the rear-facing car seat until they reach the limit specified by the manufacturer, which may not be until they are between 2 and 4 years old.

Child Is between 1 and 4 Years Old

When your child is between 1 and 4 years old and between 20 and 40 pounds, Colorado car seat laws require that your child is in an appropriate rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint system. You are required to keep your young child in a safe seat.

However, the car seat laws do not specify which kind. If you adhere to the AAP recommendations, then your child should be in a rear-facing seat until they weigh too much. Then, they can be turned around and placed in a forward-facing seat that is appropriate for their height and weight. Most seats are appropriate to about 60 pounds; However, always be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

After Child Outgrows Car Seat

At some point, your child will outgrow a car seat yet will be too small to properly wear a seatbelt. Colorado car seat laws require that your child use a booster seat until they are 8 years old.

After your child’s 8th birthday, Colorado requires your child to use a lap and shoulder seatbelt in the vehicle until they turn 16 years old. However, review the booster seat’s instructions and your child’s weight and height. If your child is on the smaller side, they may need to continue using a booster seat a little longer.

Your child should not be without an appropriate safety seat until the vehicle’s shoulder belt can cross their shoulder and chest—not their neck—and the lap belt crosses their upper thighs—not their stomach. Also, your child’s knees should bend at the edge and their feet should touch the floor.

Summary of Colorado Car Seat Laws

In summary, Colorado car seat laws require:

  • Less than 1 year, Less than 20 pounds: Rear-facing car seat in the rear seat of the vehicle.
  • 1 to 4 years, 20 to 40 pounds: An appropriate rear- or forward-facing child safety seat based on your child’s size.
  • Up to 8 years old: An appropriate child safety seat, which is typically a booster seat.
  • 8 to 15 years: The vehicle’s seatbelts or an appropriate booster seat, depending on your child’s size.

Have Someone Check Your Car Seat Installation

There are several places you can go to have your car seat installation inspected in Denver. You can find Inspection Stations through the Colorado Department of Transportation. One of these stations is at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, where you can receive an inspection by appointment. You also can visit Arvada Fire Protection Districts, Stations 1-8, for an inspection without an appointment. Other options are Aurora Fire Rescue, Aurora Police Department, and Children’s Hospital Colorado, by appointment only.

Were You in a Car Crash?

If you were in a crash, your car seat may need to be replaced. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends you replace the seat after a moderate or severe crash. You can keep your car seat after a minor crash, which means all of the following are true:

  • Your vehicle could be driven away from the crash;
  • The vehicle door closest to the car seat was not damaged;
  • None of the passengers in the vehicle were injured;
  • None of the vehicle’s airbags deployed in the crash; and
  • There is no visible damage to the car seat.

If all of these elements are not true, then it is considered a moderate or severe crash. You need to replace the car seat, which should be covered by the relevant auto insurance policy.

Contact a Trusted Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If your child was injured in a car crash and was correctly placed in his/her car seat, call an attorney as soon as you can to find out your rights from Colorado’s car seat laws. If there is evidence that another person or business was at fault for the incident and your injuries, then you may have the right to pursue compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial injuries.

The best way to learn whether you have a personal injury claim is to talk with a Denver car accident attorney. Call, or text, Donaldson Law, LLC at (303) 458-5000 to schedule a free consultation.