The first catastrophic plaintiff’s case I handled involved brain injury to a toddler in a condo swimming pool that was fenced an nominally locked, though not well enough to keep out a toddler who strayed from her mom who was momentarily distracted with care of a newborn sibling.  My own kids were little then, so I was both fascinated and horrified with the early studies on the epidemiology of childhood injuries.

Now the Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta has just released an interesting study on fatal childhood injuries. Researchers at the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, over on Buford Highway, report that

In the United States, unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide are the first, second, and fourth leading causes of death among persons aged 1–19 years, respectively; the highest rates have occurred among minority populations. The effects of age on the difference in rates between white and minority children and the mechanisms of injury that contribute most to that difference have not been previously reported.

During 1999–2002, among infants aged <1 year, American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) and blacks had consistently higher total injury death rates than other racial/ethnic populations. Both populations had more than twice the rate of injury death compared with white infants. Black infants had the highest rates of unintentional suffocation and homicide, whereas AI/AN infants had the highest rate of motor-vehicle (MV)–traffic death. Among children aged 1–9 years, AI/ANs and blacks had the highest injury death rates. AI/ANs aged 1–9 years had the highest rates of MV-traffic death and drowning; in contrast, blacks aged 1–9 years had the highest rates of homicide and fire/burn death. Among children aged 10–19 years, AI/ANs and blacks consistently had higher total injury death rates than whites. AI/ANs aged 10–19 years had the highest rates of suicide and MV-traffic death, and blacks aged 10–19 years had the highest rates of homicide. The disparity in injury mortality rates by race/ethnicity during 1982–1985 had not declined by 1999–2002.

I commend the study to educators, youth program leaders, parents of young children to raise their awareness of risk factors and means of prevention.  Some key points include:

  • Importance of seatbelt and passenger restraint compliance. 
  • Motor vehicle fatality rates higher in rural than non-rural areas, possibly due to lower rate of seatbelt and child safety seat compliance.
  • High risks related to drunk driving.
  • Prevent drowning and near-drowning injuries through water safety measures, e.g., swimming instruction,  childproof pool fences and gates, personal flotation devices, teaching teens and adults the danger of alcohol use around pools and boats, etc.
  • Prevention of burn injuries through use of home smoke alarms, fireplace guards, and lower water heater settings.

The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.