January 27, 2010

Birmingham Injury Lawyer Update: Unseasoned Hunters Most at Risk in Alabama Tree-stand Accidents

Hunting season is a time for many Alabama residents to take some time and enjoy nature and the out of doors. Residents of large cities, such as Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Huntsville and Birmingham, as well as smaller towns and communities, can find themselves a quiet place to hunt here as well as in nearby states. But as an Alabama personal injury attorney, I know that hunting does not come with a guarantee of safety.

Whether a hunter uses a bow, rifle, shotgun or any other weapon, accidents can and often do happen, even to seasoned hunters. Fatal or life-threatening gunshot wounds are common, as are “friendly-fire” incidents. Surprisingly, tree-stand accidents apparently take one of the largest tolls on younger and many times less-experienced hunters around our state.

According to a recent article, hunters between the ages of 15 and 34 years old are most likely to suffer serious injuries in tree stand-related incidents. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Injury Sciences provided data collected from the 2000-2007 National Electronic Injury Surveillance System established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Based on their research, the center reported that the number of Americans engaging in hunting has remained stable over the past 10 years -- 12.5 million hunters were registered as of 2006. In the study presented online in the Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection and Critical Care, researchers reported that men were twice as likely as women to be injured in a hunting accident.

In this same study, the data collected apparently showed that there were 46,860 reported injuries related to tree stand use between 2000 and 2007. Of these injuries, the most common were fractures usually of the hip or lower extremities. Injuries to the trunk, shoulder and upper extremities were less common. Head and spinal cord injuries were even less common, but still frequent enough to be considered significant.

Hunters between the ages of 15 and 24 years old had injury rates of 55.7 per 100,000; those hunters in the 25- to 34-year age range averaged 61 injuries per 100,000. Hunters over 65 years of age had injury rates of only 22.4 per 100,000.

It has been suggested that younger hunters may have higher injury rates because they may be more willing to take risks. Additionally, they may have less exposure to safety information and spend more time hunting than older hunters. In any case, safety campaigns to remind hunters to use safety harnesses and to be certain that tree stand equipment is well-maintained could help prevent future injuries.

Young hunters most likely to be injured using tree stands, study says, OrthoSuperSite.com, January 4, 2010

Tags: Accidental Shooting, Alabama personal injury attorney, Birmingham Injury Lawyer, Death, Fall, Firearm Safety, Fracture, Friendly Fire, Gun Deaths, Gunshot Wound, Hunting Accident, Personal Injury, Spinal Cord Truama, Traumatic Brain Injury, Tree-stand Injury

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July 1, 2009

Alabama Gun Owners: Avoid Injuries and Accidental Deaths by Locking Up Firearms

Looking around Alabama, I see many opportunities to reduce the number of injuries and even deaths that occur in the course of our daily activities. From Huntsville to Birmingham all the way down to Mobile, I’ve heard so many personal injury horror stories it’s amazing that more people aren’t hurt or killed simply by going about their life.

From cleaning gutters without taking the proper safety precautions to home electrocutions as a result of not installing ground fault circuit interrupter devices, many of these accidents can be prevented with a little forethought. And I won’t even go into industrial accidents and work-related injuries.

Even with all this, something got me thinking the other day when I heard a very grim statistic in the news. Did you know that Alabama is number two in the nation when it comes to gun-related deaths? We shouldn’t be surprised, since the number of gun accidents directly correlates to total gun ownership. Although most gun owners in our state are conscientious, we could still do a better job in regard to gun safety.

As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I must state that there are few events more devastating to a family and a community as a child hurt or killed by a family’s firearm. These are not toys, though kids don’t always know the difference, especially the young ones. Gun ownership is a right, but that right comes with a huge responsibility to your family, your neighborhood and society in general.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the statistics. According to the National Education Association Health Information Network, the rate of firearm deaths among children under the age of 15 is nearly 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized nations combined. And sadly, American children are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than in all these other countries combined.

Some people may say they can’t prevent gun-related homicides involving kids, but there is an area that needs real attention. Deaths from family-owned firearms. Fact: American kids under 15 years old are 11 times more likely to commit suicide using a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in those other industrialized countries.

How do the numbers stack up? Louisiana has the highest rate of gun deaths -- almost 20 per 100,000 of the population -- with Alabama a close second at about 17 gun-related fatalities per 100,000 people. No surprise there, since 57.2 percent of Alabama households have guns, according to a spokesperson for the Violence Policy Center. Alaska, Mississippi and Nevada are the runners up in this gloomy assessment of firearm safety.

The bottom line, Alabama: Unload your guns and lock them up when not in use. Gun owners are the first line of defense against the senseless tragedies we read about in the news every day.

Alabama ranks second in gun deaths, TimeDaily.com, June 16, 2009

Tags: Accidental Shooting, Children, Death, Firearm Safety, Gun Deaths, Gunshot Wound, Personal Injury, Teen Suicide, Toy Gun

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