Children account for a large portion of pedestrian injuries and deaths nationwide. Although drivers have a heightened duty of care in school zones and in places where children may be present, drivers will often ignore traffic signals or fail to look for small children in crosswalks or driveways, causing accidents that are entirely preventable.
Locations Where Children Are Often Struck by Cars While Walking
Even if children are partly at fault for causing an accident, many courts do not assign the same level of responsibility to a child that they do to a driver. Children are often too inexperienced to judge a car’s speed and distance, do not fully understand the rules of the road, or not know how to make themselves readily seen by drivers. As a result, parents of children who have been struck by cars have the ability to bring a claim on behalf of the minor child.
Common factors involved in a child pedestrian accident include:
- Crosswalks. Children are often taught that crosswalks are the only safe place to cross the road, but many do not understand that crosswalks are not completely safe. Children may run or walk across the street when the sign says they can cross—without looking for oncoming traffic first. Children are also less likely to check for vehicles that could be entering the intersection (such as those speeding toward them or turning from a different lane of traffic. Finally, children may step off of the curb too early or wait for the signal to change while standing in the street.
- Parking lots. Adults and children alike are at risk of being struck by speeding cars in parking lots. However, children are much shorter than adults and are less likely to be seen over a driver’s front bumper or in his rearview mirror.
- School buses. Children may be standing near a school bus at several points throughout the day, and a bus driver who pulls out or backs up may strike a child as he or she approaches the vehicle.
- After-school accidents. Children who walk to and from school or who walk to the bus stop are at daily risk of being struck by cars. The majority of fatal child-related pedestrian accidents take place during after-school hours when children are returning home. Kids who are talking to their friends, excited to be out of school, or are looking at their phone screens may fail to check for cars before crossing the street.
- Walking or riding in the road. Some rural roads don’t have sidewalks, forcing children to walk at the side of the road and even cross the street where there may not be a crosswalk. Children on city streets may ride their bikes in the road or on sidewalks, both of which can force a car to take evasive action to avoid a crash. Even if a road has a proper sidewalk, a vehicle may veer off the road and strike a pedestrian.
- Driveways. Children may be struck by cars that are backing out of a driveway. In many cases, the child is out of sight of the driver’s mirrors, appears suddenly from being an obstruction (such as a tree or hedge), or ride their bikes on sidewalks that intersect with driveways.
Child Pedestrian Accidents Require the Help of an Attorney
In some ways, a child injury case is similar to any other personal injury lawsuit. Parents will be required to establish that someone else was negligent and that the negligence directly resulted in harm to their child
Parents may need the help of an attorney when it comes to:
- Bringing a legal claim. Children under age 18 cannot file a lawsuit on their own behalf. If they are injured, the child’s legal guardian (or guardians) will need to file a legal claim on behalf of the minor.
- Proving fault. An attorney can help parents gather evidence to show that a driver was negligent based on the driver’s behavior. Speeding in school zones, driving while distracted, failing to look for child pedestrians, neglecting to stop at stop signs, or failing to yield to a crossing guard can all constitute driver negligence.
- Estimating damages. Your attorney can be invaluable in estimating the amount of damages your child and your family are owed for a permanent disability, past and future medical care, reduced earning capacity, or wrongful death.
If you are struggling after a car accident, we can take over the fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you are owed. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.