Summer 2007 Edition

Vol.12 – No.1

The Dangers of Fireworks

Many people celebrate the summer season, especially the Fourth of July, with parades, cookouts, and fireworks. However, fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory when they cause injuries. Although legal consumer fireworks that comply with the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s regulations can be relatively safe, all fireworks are hazardous and can cause injury. Fireworks are classified as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Some fireworks, such as illegal firecracker type devices (M-80s, quarter sticks) and professional display fireworks should never be used or handled by consumers or children due to serious injuries and death that can occur. Approximately 9,600 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for injuries associated with fireworks. Over half the injuries were burns. Most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes, and head. About half of the victims were under 15 years of age. Before using fireworks, make sure that they are permitted in your state or local area. Many states, including New York, and local governments prohibit or limit consumer fireworks, formerly known as class C fireworks, which are common fireworks and firecrackers sold for consumer use. Consumer fireworks include shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman Candles, rockets, sparklers, firecrackers with no more than 50 milligrams of powder and novelty items such as snakes, airplanes, ground spinners, helicopters, fountains, and party poppers.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Camping Equipment

Each year there are approximately 30 deaths and 450 injuries caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of portable camping heaters, lanterns, or stoves inside tents, campers, and vehicles. Do not use portable heaters or lanterns while sleeping in enclosed areas such as tents, campers, and other vehicles. This is especially important at high altitudes, where the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases.

  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Low blood oxygen levels can result in loss of consciousness and death.
  • See a doctor if you or a member of your family develops cold or flu-like symptoms while camping. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which can easily be mistaken for a cold or flu, is often detected too late.
    Alcohol consumption and drug use increase the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Carbon monoxide is especially toxic to mother and child during pregnancy, infants, the elderly, smokers, and people with blood or circulatory system problems, such as anemia or heart disease.

RV Tire Failures

A growing number of lawsuits link tire failures in large “Class A” motor homes to serious and fatal accidents. Class A recreational vehicles usually seat up to six people with a kitchen, living area, bathroom and bedroom. They often contain ceramic floors, granite countertops and slide out sections that enlarge it when parked at a campground. These heavy loads, together with weight shifting inside the RV, place too much pressure on tires that are inadequate for the load, resulting in sudden tire failures. RV manufacturers are accused of under rating the axel weight of their vehicles and equipping them with tires that cannot bear the load. The tire failures normally occur in the front end of the RV, which has only single tires on each side instead of doubles. A front blow-out makes it almost impossible to steer. Additionally, due to the fact that many RVs are only used a month or two a year, the tires are often old, increasing the risk of tire separation. The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA) is investigating tire failures in Class A motor homes. The agency reported that as purchasers of Class A motor homes select an increasing number of features, such as slide-out galleys and bedrooms, the weight of the vehicles increase resulting in higher axel and tire loads. The agency has recommended that RV manufacturers install larger tires and upgrade other load-carrying components, or increase the specified inflation pressures for tires. An Alabama family was returning home from a vacation at Disney World in their 2001 Monaco Diplomat RV when the treads came off the left front tire. The RV crossed over the median, cutting across two lanes of traffic, slamming into two embankments and hitting a sign before finally stopping at a rest area. The owner was paralyzed. His wife and daughter-in-law both suffered broken backs. His son had a broken hip. The owner died seven months later in the hospital of complications from injuries sustained in the crash. The owner’s family is suing Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Monaco Coach Corporation alleging that the RV’s tires were defective and unreasonably dangerous. The case is scheduled for trial in September of 2007.

Boating Under the Influence

Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) is just as deadly as drinking and driving! Every boater needs to understand the risks of BUI. A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a car driver, drink for drink. The penalties for BUI include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms. The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. This law pertains to boats (from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships) – and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.

Child Summer Safety

A new study by Safe Kids U.S. ranks New York as the nation’s fourth safest state.

Because of the increase in outdoor activities, summers are historically the most dangerous time of year for children. An average of seventeen children a day – or a total of 2,143 children — died from May 1 to Aug. 31, 2004 (the last available reporting period) due to injuries, many of which could have been prevented. Also in 2004, 2.4 million children made emergency visits to hospitals due to accidental injuries, many of which resulted in paralysis, brain damage and other serious disabilities. The most common causes of accidental injuries and deaths involving children during summer months are: drowning (increases 89 percent in the summer over the annual monthly average); biking (increases 45 percent); falls (increases 21 percent); motor vehicle passenger injuries (increases 20 percent); and pedestrian injuries (increases 16 percent).

Personal Watercraft

Over one million personal watercraft (PWC) are used in the United States. Accidents are caused by off-throttle steering hazards, user inexperience, lack of adequate regulation and lack of specific design standards. The most dangerous aspect of the PWC is the lack of directional control when the throttle is released, known as an absence of off-throttle steering. When an operator instinctively releases a throttle in an attempt to avoid a collision, the water jet is disengaged and the driver’s ability to steer effectively is lost. Collisions are the most prevalent type of PWC accident and are the leading cause of fatalities. The majority of PWC operators involved in accidents were between the ages of 16 and 21. Inattention, inexperience and inappropriate speed were the leading causes of accidents. While all states have minimum age requirements for operating a PWC, in several states PWC operators can be as young as 12 and are not required to have any training. Some states allow operation of a PWC less than 100 feet from each other or from other craft.

Injury Victims’ Rights

The Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. Ten Point Pledge to Accident/Injury Clients is:

  • To communicate with you in plain language that is easy to understand.
  • To promptly return your telephone calls.
  • To quickly and thoroughly investigate and analyze your case. Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. does not accept every accident case.
  • To have your case personally handled by an attorney. Michael H. Ranzenhofer will personally handle your case.
  • To keep you informed of the progress of your case at all times.
  • To show you the personal care, concern and attention which has been the hallmark of our law firm since 1955.
  • To not handle your case in an “assembly line” fashion.
  • To accommodate the needs of you and your family during the handling of your case.
  • To vigorously protect your legal rights.
  • To never release your name to the media after your case has been completed, except with your written permission.
  • Free Consultation! Call Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. at (716)542-5444 if you or a friend or relative have been injured.

Medicaid Seminars

“Fourteen Ways to Preserve Your Assets with the New Medicaid Laws” will be presented at Hospice Buffalo, 225 Como Park Boulevard, Cheektowaga on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM and at Hamburg Middle School, Room 117, 360 Division Street, Hamburg on Thursday, November 6, 2007 from 6:30 pm to 8:00pm. The following topics will be covered: powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills, wills, trusts, annuities, long term care insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, reverse mortgages, prepaid funeral accounts, caregiver agreements, IRAs, pensions, life estates and gift-giving. Speakers at the Hospice seminar are Attorney Robert Friedman of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC; Mary Kneeland of M&T Bank; Gina Fedele of Hospice Buffalo; and Colleen Fitzhenry of New England Financial. Mr. Friedman and Ms. Kneeland are the speakers at the Hamburg Middle School seminar. To register for the free Hospice seminar, call (716)542-5444. To register for the Hamburg Middle School seminar, call (716) 646-3306. The registration fee for the Hamburg seminar is $5.00/seniors $2.50.

Nursing Home Pays For Not Honoring Living Will

A Florida jury has found that in trying to keep a 92-year-old Alzheimer’s patient alive, a nursing home failed to honor the patient’s living will and advance directive and must pay $150,000 in damages. The jury determined that the nursing home had breached its contract with the patient by not honoring her wish that she not be sustained by artificial means. When the patient suffered a seizure, the nursing home called rescue workers. She was rushed to a hospital, where she died six days later, but not before a number of lifesaving measures were tried, including the insertion of a breathing tube in her throat. Contact Friedman & Ranzenhofer, P.C. to have your living will/health care proxy prepared.

Friedman Appointed to Clarence Senior Citizens Board

The Clarence Town Board appointed Robert Friedman to the board of directors of the Clarence Senior Citizens, Inc. It’s mission is to provide social, recreational, educational and nutritional programs as well as opportunities for volunteerism, to persons in the community who are ages 55 and older. Mr. Friedman also serves on the board of directors of the Clarence Rotary Club and the Prosecutors’ Association of New York. He is legal counsel for the Clarence Rotary Foundation, the Apartment Council of New York and the Akron/Newstead Senior Center, Inc.

How To Leave A Legacy To Your Community

Dr. Thomas Coseo and Robert Friedman, Attorney recently presented “How to Leave a Legacy to our Community” to the meeting of the Rotary Club of Clarence. Dr. Coseo is president of the Clarence Rotary Foundation and Mr. Friedman is it’s legal counsel. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation founded in 1988. It’s mission is to provide financial support for worthy local charitable community and educational projects. In addition to writing a check to the foundation, there are six ways to make donations: (1.) leave a bequest in your will; (2.) name the foundation as a sole or partial beneficiary of your life insurance or donate an old or new policy, in which case the premiums are deductible; (3.) name the foundation as a beneficiary of your IRA or if you are at least 70 1/2 years old donate required minimum distributions up to $100,000; (4.) gift appreciated assets, stock or real estate to the foundation to avoid capital gains; (5.) create living trusts such as charitable remainder annuity trusts, charitable remainder unitrusts or charitable remainder lead trusts; or (6.) name the foundation on your bank account or stock account as payable on death.

Boating Under the Influence

Boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) is just as deadly as drinking and driving! Every boater needs to understand the risks of BUI. A boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a car driver, drink for drink. The penalties for BUI include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms. The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. This law pertains to boats (from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships) – and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.

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