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Summer Safety Tips

With summer in full swing, many of us are spending a lot of time outdoors: swimming, hiking, biking, grilling, and just having fun with friends and family. With all the outdoor activity, it’s important to review some tips to keep you safe this summer. One of the most basic tips to keep in mind while you’re out and about enjoying the warm weather is to wear sunscreen, and not just when you’re swimming at the pool! With temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s most days, it’s important to always make sure you’re protecting your skin. I know that it’s a pain to put on and can feel sticky on your skin, but the truth is that it really only takes a few extra minutes to get on and with so many brands of sunscreen now available, you are sure to find one that feels good on your skin. It’s especially important for parents to make sure they adequately cover their children’s skin with sunscreen as well. Remember, kids are relying on you to keep them safe and part of that is ensuring they don’t end up with painful sunburns after a fun day spent outside. And while you are already thinking about protecting your skin, remember to always wear a hat when in the sun too, which will not only keep your face and scalp covered, but will help you stay cool as well!

Staying hydrated while out in the sun is also important. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be especially dangerous, but are easily prevented by continuously taking in fluids and making sure to take a break from the sun after extended periods of time spent outside. Many of us enjoy swimming all day, hiking, or taking a long bike ride and it’s important when doing these activities to always be aware of your surroundings, particularly if you are in a mountainous area. In Colorado, it’s wonderful to be so close to many amazing reservoirs and hiking and biking trails, but with that comes potentially dangerous wildlife and plants. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what poison ivy and oak look like so that you are best able to avoid these plants if you come across them on a ride or hike. You should also routinely check your body for ticks and be aware of what to do in the event of you find one. Spider bites and bee stings for certain people can be potentially fatal so if you know you have any specific allergies, make sure you always have your Benedryl and Epipen with you in the event of an emergency.

For those of you who spend their summer days and nights at the grill, be sure to keep the grill at least 10 feet from your house and always keep a fire extinguisher handy to prevent any large flames for getting out of control. Of course, never use your grill indoors or turn on the gas to the grill when the lid is closed. As for what kind of food you choose to grill, that’s your choice, just be sure to keep any raw meats separate from your cooked food and refrigerate leftovers to keep them fresh.

Happy Summer!

Every year, nearly 30 million school age children participate in youth sports throughout the United States, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control this number is only increasing. Whether it is your elementary school child participating in youth soccer or t-ball for the first time or your high school athlete playing tacking football or being a member of the cheerleading team, every parent wants to ensure their child is safe from sports related injuries. While, it’s nearly impossible to keep your child from sustaining an injury during the many years spent playing youth sports, it is possible to keep your children from suffering from the almost 50% of youth sports related injuries that the CDC considers preventable.

One of the most common injuries suffered in youth sports is simply through overuse. This is particularly true among middle school and high school age children, who are attending multiple practices throughout the week and often several games on the weekend, doing the same repetitive motions over and over. Because overuse injuries can be more difficult to spot than acute ones, such as a broken arm, torn acl, etc., it is important to watch for signs of pain in your child that can signify an overuse injury. These signs may include pain when walking, favoring certain body parts, weakness, and inability to bear weight. If you notice something is off with your child, the best thing you can do to help avoid a serious injury is to have your child take a break to rest and heal. While most kids will not want to do this, continuing to play will only worsen the injury and lengthen the amount of time missed. As the parent, you must take charge and make decisions that may leave your child and even the coach upset, but remember that your child’s health and safety takes precedence over a missed practice or game.

While overuse may be one of the more common causes of injury, the majority of parents tend to be most concerned with their child suffering a concussion injury. Of course, when we think of concussions and the types of sports most likely to result in your child getting one, football is the first sport to come to mind. With more and more information coming out regarding the relatedness between playing football and suffering from long term brain diseases, many parents are voicing their legitimate concerns about whether youth football is safe for their children to play anymore. Similarly, these same parents may allow their children to play flag football, but not tackle until they are older, if even at all. In an effort to address these concerns, the Heads Up football program has been introduced to help teach player safety when playing and reduce the number of concussion injuries.

While the decision to allow your child to play youth football is solely a parental one, it is important to note that football is not the only youth sport that results in head injuries. Both soccer and basketball rank as the number 1 and number 2 highest risk sport for concussions for girls, with gymnastics on the rise. Youth sports is an excellent way for your children to exercise, stay healthy, be part of a team, and learn about competing and being a good sport and thus, the point is not to scare parents away from allowing their children to participate in youth sports, but to be aware of the risks involved and make an effort to learn the best ways to combat and reduce those risks.

Holiday Safety Tips

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time for decorating, celebrating, and spending time with loved ones. Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, it’s especially important to be mindful of safety this time of year. For many of us, it’s a holiday tradition to decorate the house, whether it be with a Christmas tree, a Menorah, or outdoor lights strung on trees or the house. When thinking about where to put your tree, be sure to place it far away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, holiday candles, etc. And for those of you that enjoy a real tree, always keep it well hydrated. Not only does a dry tree look bad, but it’s a real fire hazard. If your holiday tradition includes lighting the candles on the Menorah, or for those of you who simply enjoy burning holiday candles, be sure to never go to bed with candles still burning. Unfortunately, thousands of fire related injuries occur every year as a result of candles. To ensure this does not happen in your home, remember to never leave a candle burning unattended, keep candles on flat surfaces, and most importantly, keep candles out of reach of children.

When putting up holiday lights, take the time to check for any damaged bulbs and ensure that the bulbs you purchase have been lab tested and are safe for both indoor and outdoor use. Just as important as making sure your bulbs are in working order, is being cautious when actually hanging them, particularly on the outdoor perimeter of your home. You will likely be using a ladder, and when doing so, always make sure to wear the proper footwear to avoid slipping or falling and that the ladder is firmly on the ground before climbing up. You should never try to hang your lights, or use a ladder, during inclement weather and of course, make sure your ladder is in good working condition and is not worn or damaged. And, just like holiday candles, please turn off all your holiday lights before going to bed.

The holidays are also a time of travel for many of us. Whether it’s traveling to visit family out of state or simply driving to holiday parties, it’s important to be extra careful on the roads this time of year. When driving long distances, make sure you have performed the necessary maintenance on your vehicle to ensure it’s functioning properly. Always keep an emergency kit in your car in the event you do experience vehicle trouble or are involved in an accident. Depending on where you live, you’re likely to be driving on snow and ice covered roads so exercise caution and adjust your speed accordingly. In celebrating the festivities this season, many of us will enjoy an alcoholic drink (or several). If so, make sure you have a designated driver and never drive impaired. With the abundance of Uber and Lyft drivers available, it’s easy to make the right decision.

Happy Holidays!

Whether you are searching for a medical provider for yourself or a loved one, it is extremely important to take time to research the potential provider prior to receiving medical treatment from that person. The vast majority of people will see multiple medical providers throughout their lifetime and while many of these visits will be routine well-check exams or for the common cold, many of them will be for far more serious ailments. Researching your medical provider beforehand will ensure that he or she is qualified to handle these serious medical issues just as competently as the simpler ones.

When most patients think of “researching” a potential medical provider, they think of asking a friend, family member, or current physician for a recommendation. While this is certainly an important step in the process, and one I would recommend, it does not inform you of the potential provider’s disciplinary background, whether he has ever been deemed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners to be unfit to practice medicine, or if he has been the subject of previous litigation related to his practice of medicine. While not all this information may be available to the public, much of it is and can be found on the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies website: https://www.colorado.gov/dora. This site is very simple to navigate and will allow you to enter a provider’s first and last name to obtain any available public disciplinary information on file regarding the provider. More often than not, you will see no disciplinary action on file and can rest assured that your chosen provider is competent to treat you. However, with the minimal amount of time it will take you to perform the search, it is an important and valuable step in your research process.

In addition to the above, I would encourage you to meet with the medical provider in-person prior to signing on as his or her patient. It is important for you to feel that your provider knows you as a person, and not just a patient. It is equally important for you to actually like your provider and feel comfortable describing your medical concerns in detail with him or her. The good news is that there are more than enough medical providers to choose from and if you don’t click with one, you will have no trouble finding someone better suited for you.

Lastly, when dealing with a serious medical issue, always get a second opinion. Even if you have the utmost confidence in your doctor and a terrific rapport, no one provider knows everything and you have nothing to lose by seeing someone else and getting his or her thoughts on your diagnosis and provider’s proposed treatment plan. The health of you and those you care about it not something to take lightly, so take the time to ensure you are receiving the best medical treatment available to you.

Back to School Safety Tips

With the summer coming to a close and school quickly approaching, it’s important to start thinking about how to keep your kids safe as they head back to school. If you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of your child’s school then you likely spend a lot of time with your child walking, biking, or using a scooter going to and from school multiple times a week. While this is a great opportunity to spend time with your child and also get exercise, it’s also a good time to review safety rules with your child. If you walk to school, let your child know the importance of always walking on the sidewalk and using the crosswalk when crossing the street. If a sidewalk is not available to walk on, teach your kids to walk facing traffic so they are visible to oncoming vehicles. For younger children, it is helpful to review looking both ways when crossing the street to see if cars are coming and to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before crossing in front of them. For older kids who are attached to their cell phones, make sure they know to pay attention to traffic and not be looking down, using their phone when crossing the street.

If your child bikes to school, be sure a helmet is always being worn and that it is properly fitted. A secured helmet is imperative in the event of an accident. Teach your children the rules of the road and ensure they know to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and to get off their bike and walk it in the crosswalk. For those kids who ride the bus to school, make sure you have made certain that they know how to get to and from the bus stop on their own or that you have dropped them at the stop and know they are safely there.

Safety extends to school hours as well, particularly for younger children who are constantly climbing on and jumping from playground equipment. Make sure they know to stay on their age assigned playground and only play on equipment they have proven to be competent playing on. For older kids, talk with them about safety when leaving school grounds during off periods and for lunch. This is especially important for teenagers who may have recently started driving and are giving friends rides. They need to understand the responsibility that comes with driving and be 100% committed to driving safely and text-free. In this regard, parents are the best examples of safe driving, so be sure to be an attentive driver and keep your phone put away!

The importance of having uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage on your auto policy cannot be stressed enough. Having this type of coverage is the best way to protect yourself in the event you are injured in an accident caused by a driver who either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages. For example, if an insured driver caused damages to you of $125,000 and he had limits of only $25,000, then you could recover the other $100,000 from your own company so long as your own underinsured coverage limit was at least $100,000. If your underinsured limit was less than $100,000, say $50,000, then you would only be able to recover an additional $50,000 above what the other driver’s insurer paid you. Similarly, if the at fault driver had no insurance at all, then you could recover $125,000 from your own company so long your own uninsured coverage limit was at least $125,000.

A lot of people resist adding UM/UIM coverage to their policy, or only add the minimum $25,000, because they think it will cost too much. However, the majority of the cost of UM/UIM insurance is built into the first $25,000 of coverage and it costs very little to increase your UM/UIM coverage to $100,000 or more. In fact, many insurers will include UM/UIM coverage in umbrella policies providing a $1,000,000 in coverage for a small additional premium.

The concept of stacking is another factor to keep in mind when making a UM or UIM claim. Stacking allows you to stack the UM/UIM limits of various policies covering you so as to provide you with more compensation for the damages an uninsured or underinsured driver caused you. For instance, suppose you are a passenger in a friend’s car and are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver and suppose you have $50,000 UM coverage and your friend has $50,000, you are able to stack those policies so that you have $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. Then if you lived with someone who had $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage on their own car, you might be able to stack that on as well, so that you would then have $200,000 in UM/UIM coverage. You can even stack where you have insurance covering multiple vehicles you, your spouse, and resident child own so long as they are each insured under a separate policy. Many times you can even stack where you are not listed as an insured under the policy. Also, remember that if you have an umbrella policy with UM/UIM coverage, you can stack that onto your auto policy’s UM/UIM coverage.

You can add this type of coverage to your policy at any time, so don’t wait until your next policy renewal, protect yourself today!

While negligence will likely be the principal cause of action for most cases arising out of a motor vehicle collision, it may be necessary to plead other associated causes of action. For example, the Federal Tort Claims Act provides the cause of action based on the negligence of a federal governmental employee. A claim involving the negligence of a state, county, city or political subdivision employee is brought under Colorado’s Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) to the extent that act waives sovereign immunity pursuant to C.R.S. §24-10-106(1). If you are bringing a claim under the CGIA, it is important that you file a written notice pursuant to C.R.S. §24-10-109 within 182 days after the date of the discovery of the injury. This must be done regardless of whether you knew then all of the elements of the claim or cause of action. Failure to file a written notice within the 182 day time frame will bar any action you may have had.

Usually claims involving the negligence of a public employee under the CGIA are brought against the employee’s governmental employer under a vicarious liability theory. However, the CGIA also allows claims to be brought individually against the employee when the employee acts willfully and wantonly in causing the injury. But, think twice before alleging as part of a cause of action that a public employee acted willfully and wantonly, since if proved the employee’s governmental employer is not itself liable for or obligated to pay on behalf of its employee a settlement involving the employee or judgment against the employee. Furthermore, if a plaintiff does not substantially prevail on a punitive damage claim against a public employee, the court shall award attorneys’ fees
against the plaintiff and/or the plaintiff’s attorney.

A claim for wrongful death is a cause of action that is made in conjunction with the negligence or other cause of action regarding the cause of death. This cause of action includes claims for the survivors’ economic losses and certain non-economic losses. A punitive damage claim can also be made in lieu of having to prove non-economic damages, a cause of action for solatium can be pled that entitles the plaintiff to non-economic damages in a fixed amount. During the first year following death, only the spouse may make a wrongful death claim, unless the spouse elects to allow the decedent’s heirs to join in the claim or to pursue the claim without the spouse. A survival cause of action also should be pled to recover the loss of earnings and expenses, such as medical expenses, the decedent incurred prior to death.

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