Parasailing Judgement

Recently we wrote about the recent call for regulations to be imposed on the parasailing industry. Now an insurance company, Marine Specialty Management, has been ordered to finish paying $100,000 in the deaths of two people back in 2009.

president of Marine Specialty Management, Craig Reynolds, had been ordered last December to pay $100,000 as part of an insurance claim for the deaths.

Reynolds' company was ordered in federal court in Wilmington on Thursday to pay the remaining $40,000 to settle the matter.


The couple had been allowed to go parasailing even though a tropical storm was approaching. The boat was operated by Ocean Isle Beach Watersports and NC Watersports. The article can be found here.

Toy Safety Report

As the holidays approach a new report, as published by the CPSC, states toy recalls are declining however toy injuries are on the increase.

While recalls and deaths have declined, new statistics from CPSC released today show that toy-related injuries are increasing. In 2009, there were an estimated 186,000 emergency room-treated injuries related to toys with children younger than 15, which is up from 152,000 injuries in 2005. Frequently these injuries involved lacerations, contusions, and abrasions that most often occurred to a child’s face and head. Importantly many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy.


Children receive personal injuries from many different sources, it is not just limited to toys. However, a new focus has been placed on toys with hundreds of catalogs arriving in the mail and parents starting to do their holiday shopping, the CPSC has published a few safety tips in an effort to try to limit the child injuries. Some of those include:

-Choosing age appropriate toys.

-Wear safety gear

- Be aware of the child's surroundings i.e. don't play near pools, open roads, near corded blinds, etc.

Here are some additional safety steps that consumers can take while shopping this holiday season:

* Scooters and other Riding Toys – Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.

* Small Balls and other Toys with Small Parts – For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

* Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons at once.

* Magnets – For children under age six, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur. Read the full notice

If your child has suffered a personal injury in Cary, Raleigh, Durham or elsewhere in North Carolina, contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood at 919-233-0520 today!

Bike Helmet Safety

Bike Noob, a blog written by a "biking newbie", has an interesting article on helmet safety and effectiveness over here entitled "Helmets - not as safe as they're cracked up to be?"

The article discusses a study by Dr. Keatinge, who is a member of the editorial board of the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation.  Apparently in Dr. Keatinge's review of the available literature on the efficacy of bike helmets, there is "[n]o clear evidence from countries that have enforced the wearing of helmets" showing they do any real good to the wearer in an accident.

In our course of representing numerous bicycle riders who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident while riding their bike, we have found that a good number of these riders have come across the same studies and usually have a done a good deal of research into the question of whether or not wearing a helmet is even worth the trouble.  Some of them, unfortunately, have chosen not to wear a helmet, and because the literature is inconclusive, one can hardly blame them.  We've even reviewed studies suggesting that the wearing of a bike helmet makes the rider statistically more likely to be involved in an accident with a motor vehicle.

Bike Noob ends the article with sage advice:

I’ve fallen three times in the last nine months. No serious injuries, but all three crashes were my fault. That’s a pretty good indicator that I’m likely to fall again. A helmet won’t save me from my own stupidity, carelessness, or inattention while riding, but it will improve the odds that my noggin won’t be damaged if I do go down.

We agree.  Though we don't have a statiscally significant sample of bike wrecks to draw from, in our experience, riders who have worn helmets walk away from crashes that riders who do not wear helmets never get up from.  On the flip, we'll look at the standard a little more closely.

Part 1203 of Title 16 of the CFRs is entitled "SAFETY STANDARD FOR BICYCLE HELMETS" (note *pdf link).  This is a CPSC regulation, as they are the chief regulator for products like bicycle helmets and it includes a CPSC performance test in four areas: (a) peripheral vision, (b) positional stability, (c) dynamic strength, and the most important, (d) impact attenuation.

The impact attentuation test derives from SAE standard J211 - OCT88, covering the instrumentation required to adequately perform this test.  The impact attentuation test seeks compliance of the helmet with a "worst case scenario" and thus it is modified depending on the helmet type.  If the helmet fails this test it may not be sold as a CPSC approved helmet.

Not to get too labored with specifics, but the test is a drop test which simulates the impact a rider would expect to receive traveling around 14mph and falling from the bike.  In addition, the test impacts different types of anvils to simulate different road conditions, including the dreaded "curb anvil" which simulates a rider falling onto a curb head first.

All impacts must fall within the range of force thresholds that are below the generally accepted head injury thresholds.  Moreover, a series of tests is done to ensure that the helmets perform routinely and consistently.  Thus the test provides for real world, foreseeable accidents, where without the device, the rider would be subject to forces on their skull above commonly accepted injury thresholds, and consequently with the device, the rider is not subject to the same force levels.

This is not to say that you can't be injured while riding a bicycle with a helmet.  But one of the most common accident situations is a low speed fall from a bike onto a curb or roadway, and without a helmet these injuries can be serious, and sometimes deadly.  This test helps ensure that the helmet can withstand this easily foreseeable accident and reduce the probability or likelihood of injury by a significant amount.

As the purpose of the rule states: the purpose and basis of this standard is to reduce the likelihood
of serious injury and death to bicyclists resulting from impacts to the head

In other words, not even the CPSC thinks wearing a CPSC approved bicycle helmet will "prevent" head injury.  But it is proven that helmets which keep injurious forces from reaching the wearer's head in foreseeable accidents will make the ride "more safe".  And that is all, at the end of the day, we can ask for... making an enjoyable activity "more safe" by the wearing of a light, non-uncomfortable safety device.

Or as Bike Noob concluded: I for one am going to strap on my $35 CPSC-certified helmet and keep riding.

If you or someone you know has been in an accident while riding their bicycle, please consider contacting the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood in Cary, North Carolina.  We have handled a number of bicycle injuries and accidents and have even successfully concluded several helmet defect cases and may be able to assist you in protecting your legal rights.  Our contact page is here.

Huffy Recalls Bikes

US Product Safety Commission released an announcement concerning a recall involving Huffy bicycles.

Name of Product: 2007 Huffy “Howler” and “Highland” Bicycles

Units: About 22,000

Distributor: Huffy Corp., of Miamisburg, Ohio

Hazard: The bicycle crank can unexpectedly come off, causing the rider to lose control, fall and suffer serious injuries.

Incidents/Injuries: Huffy has received two reports of the crank coming off, resulting in one injury. 


Read the entire release.

Football and Brain Injuries

As  we know sports injuries are all  too common in  high schools across the nation.  The injuries are not exclusive to the sport, they happen in everything, football, soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey and more.  It is a promising idea to us that there are studies such as the  this one    where there are monitors placed inside the helmets of football players.  These monitors register to a laptop on the sidelines indicating what type of blow to the head the player just received.
The purpose of the high-tech headgear, which uses six strategically placed, spring-loaded accelerometers to wirelessly beam information to a Web-based system on a laptop computer on the sidelines, is to more effectively – and more immediately – detect when blows to players’ heads may result in concussions or more severe brain injuries.

This also opens the opportunity to better pad the helmets by learning where the hits are causing the most damage. 

“We will look at how hard and where they get hit,” he said, adding that one possible outcome of the work may be determining the need to develop a different type of helmet for high school athletes.

“We may find they’re getting hit in different places and need more padding in those areas of the helmet, for example.”

This is so important, as high school students' brains may not be fully developed and furthermore,  the damage that these injuries cause could evolve over years.
Unfortunately, Broglio said, “what other researchers are finding is that people with multiple concussions have incurred Alzheimer’s Disease at a higher rate. Getting their ‘bell rung’ as high school athletes may have permanent repercussions. There seems to be a link.”
It seems this study certainly is a step  in the  right  direction to protecting our children.