Check your (safety) list twice for an injury-free holiday season

December 19, 2018 | 6:00 am


As Santa checks his list, you also should be checking your list this holiday season — your safety checklist, that is.

The holidays are ripe with dangers, from roadway hazards during holiday travel, to dangers at home from keeping warm and holiday decorating. It’s important you and your family take careful steps in celebrating, and make it through the holiday season injury-free.

Take note of these important safety tips courtesy of the accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

 

Holiday Travel

California Highway Patrol is conducting a DUI “maximum enforcement period” during the holidays, and encouraging Californians to use other travel options if they choose to consume drugs and alcohol, including medications, prescription or over the counter drugs that are common during the cold season.

Bakersfield Police Department, too, is helping spread the message about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving to get impaired drivers off roads. In partnership with California Office of Traffic Safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, officers are launching the high-visibility enforcement campaign “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” through January 1. During this time, more officers will be on the streets of Bakersfield conducting saturation patrols, looking for drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, driving aggressively or distracted, and making sure drivers are properly licensed.

During the Christmas and New Year’s weekends in 2017, 25 people were killed and 643 injured on California roads, according to CHP. Don’t let yourself be a statistics this year.

“Any arrest during the holidays means a family that won’t have a loved one present during the holidays — due to an arrest or worse — because of a decision made to drive while under the influence,” said Matt Clark, attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Not only are you putting your life at risk, you are putting the lives of other innocent families at risk by driving under the influence. Just don’t do it.”

If you’re traveling long distances, plan your trip ahead of time and prepare for any potential emergencies.

 

Decorating Safely 

Decorating is one of the best parts of the holidays, but it also leads to thousands of emergency room visits every season. Here are a few tips to prevent accidents and injuries:

  • Hang breakable ornaments at top of the tree. This leaves room for kids to decorate the bottom with non-breakable items.
  • Always use the proper step ladder; don’t stand on chairs or other furniture.
  • Keep harmful plants out of reach. Some popular holiday plants are poisonous to children and pets, including mistletoe and holly berries.
  • Be aware of devices with button batteries. Keep those devices out of children’s reach.

 

Staying Warm

Thousands of deaths are caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries every year, and 12 percent of home candle fires occur in December, according to the National Safety Council, due to increased usage of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations in many homes. To prevent fires and burn injuries at home:

  • Water natural trees regularly. When needles are dry, they can catch fire easily.
  • Turn off decorative lights before leaving home or going to sleep. Regularly check lights for exposed or frayed wires and loose connections.
  • Keep candles and matches out of reach. Lit candles should be at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn, and don’t forget to blow them out when you leave the room or before you go to sleep. Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight.
  • Check smoke alarms. Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and near sleeping areas. Review your fire escape plan with family members and guests.
  • Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace.
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com

National Burn Awareness Week: Safety tips to prevent burn injuries in your household

February 8, 2017 | 9:13 am


Each year, nearly 500,000 people in the United States and Canada are treated for burn injuries caused by normal household activities including cooking, bathing and eating. Sadly, most of these traumatic burn injuries occur to young children.

This week, the Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles — with the help of U.S. Fire Administration and the American Burn Foundation — would like to raise awareness of common burn injury causes, and provide tips in hopes of preventing them altogether.

National Burn Awareness Week, observed from Feb. 5 to 11 this year, is designed to teach kids how to be responsible for their personal safety and to increase family awareness of potentially harmful situations in homes.

Most of these injuries occur due to lack of adult supervision and a failure to follow safe practices. Here are a few other facts about burn injuries in the home:

  • Hot water scalds are the leading cause of burns to young children, and almost one-third of all burn injuries occur in children under the age of 15.
  • Men are more likely to be burned than women
  • Most of the injuries occur in the home; second is work.

So what can we all do to prevent burn injuries? Here are a few tips:

  • Place objects so that they cannot be pulled down or knocked over.
  • Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
  • Use dry oven mitts or potholders.
  • Carefully remove carefully that has been cooked in the microwave. Slowly open containers, and open them away from the face.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot items.

Sadly, accidents happen even when taking precautions. Here’s what you should do in the case of a burn injury:

  • Treat a burn right away by putting it under cool, running water. Cool the burn for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cover a burn with a clean, dry cloth. Do not apply creams, ointments, sprays or other home remedies.
  • Seek immediate emergency medical care for more serious burns to prevent infection and other complications.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been devoted to providing proper care for burn victims — in and out of the courtroom. In fact, when San Joaquin Community Hospital established a burn center in 2009 to help Bakersfield and Kern County residents in need of specialized burn care, the law firm’s partners donated $200,000 toward the center and it was named the Chain | Cohn | Stiles Burn Center. Additionally, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark sits on the board of directors for Adventist Health Bakersfield, and annually helps with the “5 Alarm Barbecue” fundraiser aimed to help burn survivors in Kern County during their recovery. And you may remember this touching story of boy who was burned by fallen power lines in Ridgecrest, and whose family came to Chain | Cohn | Stiles for help.

In other burn injury cases, lawyer David K. Cohn helped resolve a lawsuit for $10 million after a man was burned over 80 percent of his body in an oilfield accident. And the law firm is currently involved in several cases of exploding e-cigarettes that caused burn injuries.

If you or someone you know has suffered burn injuries at the fault of someone else, please contact the burn injury attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Turkey time: Get to know the dangers of using fryers for the holidays

November 20, 2014 | 10:06 am


Around the holidays in 2002, Richard Hernandez was heating the oil in his Brinkmann turkey fryer he bought from Walmart when it combusted, shooting bright red flames three feet into the air.

“The best way I can explain it is, it was an eruption like out of a volcano,” Hernandez told The Bakersfield Californian in 2004. “It just shot straight up in the air.”

Hernandez then sprayed the fire with an extinguisher, but it only fed the flames. He decided to carry the flaming pot away from the house, but the pot started to implode. The flaming hot oil burned Hernandez’s arms, legs and face.

A year after Hernandez’ incident, Steven Pendergrass, a Kern County Fire Department engineer and former paramedic was frying a turkey using a Brinkmann fryer on Christmas Day. When moisture in the turkey caused oil to boil out of the pot and catch fire, Pendergrass tried to push the pot away from his house, it tipped, spilling oil onto the ground. Pendergrass slipped and fell onto the oil, burning his arms, ankles, back and face.

Both men, represented by Bakersfield personal injury and burn injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles faced several surgeries to repair damaged skin, and dealt with unbearable pain and suffering. Attorney David Cohn helped settle Hernandez’ case against Brinkmann Corp. and Walmart for $2.15 million, while Cohn settled Pendergrass’ case for more than $2 million.

The lawsuits led companies to make changes in the design of the turkey fryers, including adding more legs to make them steadier and prevent tipping, adding automatic turn-off valves if the oil becomes too hot, and other safety fixes.

Still, burn injuries continue all too often with propane-fueled turkey fryers. In fact, more than 4,000 fires occur annually around Thanksgiving alone as people deep fry turkeys, bake pies and cook other foods, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

With the holidays around the corner, the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, are reminding people about the dangers of turkey fryers, with tips provided by the Bakersfield and Kern County Fire Departments.

  • Turkey fryers should always be used outdoors at a safe distance from structures.
  • Never use fryers under patio covers, on wooden decks or in garages.
  • Use fryers on flat surfaces to reduce the possibility of accidental tipping.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times.
  • Do not overfill the fryer. This may result in a “spill-over” of hot oil.
  • Safety goggles and potholders or oven mitts should be used when utilizing the fryer.
  • Turkey must be completely thawed to avoid oil splattering and “boil-over.”
  • Turkey should be free of loose ice and water to avoid oil splattering and “boil-over.”
  • Choose a smaller turkey (10 to 12 pounds) to fry to reduce the potential for accidents.
  • Never use water to extinguish a grease fire; use an all-purpose fire extinguisher.

And if you are injured or burned throughout the holidays, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com for more information on the following:

Chain | Cohn | Stiles represents victims in explosive accident garnering media attention

August 6, 2014 | 12:00 pm


UPDATE: Arrests have been made in this case. See the news stories below for more information. 

Russell Lester and Bryan Walls were attending a party on Fourth of July in west Bakersfield, celebrating our nation’s independence and wedding reception. By the end of the night, they were in local hospitals.

The two arrived at the party where party-goers were allegedly setting off illegal fireworks and explosives. Lester and Walls were asked to hold the balloons while they were filled with acetylene gas, which is very unstable, highly flammable gas. The balloons were being taped to a pole when they exploded. It’s possible static electricity ignited them.

Four people were severely injured in the blast, including Lester and Walls. The two suffered burns to their face, chest and arms. Lester lost all the hearing in his right ear and partial hearing in his left ear, and lost peripheral vision in his left eye. Walls suffered hearing loss, too, and Lester’s burns were so severe that he was taken to a Fresno burn center. Others were taken to San Joaquin Community Hospital‘s Grossman Burn Center.

Bakersfield personal injury attorney David Cohn, with the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, is representing Lester and Walls, who continue to receive medical treatment.

The incident has been covered by local media in recent days. The case was publicly revealed by KERO Channel-23 News on Aug. 4, a month after the actual accident.

Jim Trino, who allegedly was igniting the bombs, told KERO he was celebrating his wedding reception that night. He told KERO that he had been setting off legal and illegal fireworks for more than 30 years, including the acetylene bomb which he pumped the gas into balloons, hung on a metal pole in the middle of a field, and ignited.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Kern County Fire Arson unit are now investigating.

The Bakersfield Californian also covered the case, including an article by Californian columnist Lois Henry, who argues that local safety agencies failed to inform the public properly about the incident. She calls it “a communications and training failure, something that can only be fixed from the top down.”

To catch up on the news coverage, click the links below:

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The personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles are major proponents of fireworks safety and providing burn victims with world-class care. Go HERE for tips on celebrating the Fourth of July safely. And read about our $200,000 donation to the Grossman Burn Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital HERE.

If you’ve been burned in an accident, contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps family of boy severely burned from downed power line

April 8, 2014 | 3:28 pm


In June 2012, David N. was watering his yard in Ridgecrest when he heard a sizzle and a pop sound. A raven had landed on a power line, which then failed and caused the electrical wire to fall on a fence three houses away. As the fence caught fire, David ran to try to put it out, not knowing a power line was down in the area. 

While focused on fighting the fire, David didn’t notice that his son, 3 years old at the time, followed close behind. When he noticed his boy, David ran to move him away, but it was too late. The boy tripped over the electrical wire, which caused an electric jolt that burned both of his legs

The treatment that followed was long and painful for the boy, his mother Challice said. Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which represented the family, was there to support them, while they stayed at the Grossman Burn Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital and the courtroom.   

Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner Matthew C. Clark explained in easily understandable way to David and Challice, who had never been involved in the legal matters, how the legal process would work, Challice said. Clark gave them enough information to know what to expect and to make decisions, she said.

Plus, the family could focus on their son’s recovery without having to worry about their personal injury case, she said.

“We felt we could trust (Matt Clark) and the law firm,” Challice said. “It’s important to have a really good relationship with your lawyer. When we discussed the case, it was like chatting with a friend who was helping you through your life. Having that atmosphere really takes off a lot of stress.”

Recently, Clark and Chain | Cohn | Stiles helped settle the family’s lawsuit, which argued that a connector on the power line failed when the raven landed near it. The failure caused the wire to fall to the ground, putting residents there in danger.

Earlier this week, the family received our flier in the mail, which came with their AltaOne Federal Credit Union account statement. The boy, now 5, noticed Matthew Clark’s picture on the flier, and asked his mom if he could make it into a sticker.

“He’s now walking around with Mr. Clark’s photo on his chest,” Challice said. “He thinks he’s pretty cool now.”

She added: “Matt just treated us like family, and we appreciate that.”