CAR ACCIDENTS INVOLVING CHILDREN
TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS INVOLVING CHILDREN ARE VERY TRAGIC AND INCREASINGLY COMMON.
Every day, the news media reports on another traffic accident involving young children. These accidents leave children with devastating injuries and sometimes even result in death. Parents who were expecting their children to return home from school or the library suddenly confront the reality that their children are no longer with them.
Car accident deaths involving children should be a national crisis. Unfortunately, no government agency or legislator has called for any sort of program to focus on this slowly unfolding tragedy—and there is no end in sight.
This is where everyone concerned about child safety comes in, including us. We want to raise awareness in the community so that we can begin to pare back on the number of injured and killed children in Toledo and surrounding areas.
A National Problem without an Easy Solution
Any Google search for “children car accidents” will pull up horrifying stories from around the country involving young children struck while walking or riding a bicycle. For example, here are some of the most recent car accidents involving youngsters:
- A 6-year-old child was struck by a car in a driveway in Highland, California. The child had to undergo surgery, and no further word has been provided about the child’s condition.
- A 12-year-old was hit riding his bicycle in Omaha. The child reportedly did not stop at a stop sign and was hit by a vehicle. The child suffered facial and leg fractures and was not wearing a helmet at the time.
- A 3-year-old boy was hit and killed by a car near Houston. According to police, the child’s mother struck her child who was tapping on the front of the vehicle as she tried to back up. Suddenly, she threw the car into drive and moved forward. Two of the children moved out of the way, but the 3-year-old did not. He died from his injuries.
- A 6-year-old boy was killed by a truck in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The truck hit the child who was crossing the street on his bicycle at the time along with his father. According to police, the driver of the truck said he could not see the child.
On any given day, even more children in Ohio are hit by drivers who are not paying attention. Our state has seen its share of terrible accidents involving children:
- In April 2019, a 5-year-old was struck by a vehicle in Cleveland and taken to the hospital in critical condition.
- In Willock, Ohio, two children were struck when getting off a bus back in May 2019, sending one child to the hospital. Alarmingly, the motorist did not stop after striking the children.
- A child operating a toy car was struck and killed in Hillsboro. The child entered the road while in the toy vehicle and ended up getting hit by a 40-year-old driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse. The child had fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
These accidents have involved children travelling on their own and children with adults. Traffic safety is therefore important even if you walk with your children wherever they go.
Common Car Accident Injuries
When children are hit by a moving vehicle, they can suffer many of the same traumatic injuries that adults suffer. However, children might take longer to bounce back from some injuries, and some might leave more of a lasting impression on the child.
Among the injuries we have seen include:
- Cuts or abrasions. These can leave serious scars, especially on visible parts of the body such as the face. Children and adolescents can suffer severe emotional distress when they are disfigured in this way.
- Nerve damage. Pressure on a nerve can cause constant pain and even lead to the death of nerve endings if the pressure is not relieved quickly enough.
- Fractures. Children typically have more flexible bones, so they should break less often and heal faster. Nevertheless, a serious fracture can be difficult to heal as it requires immobilizing the affected part of the body.
- Burns. Battery acid or fuel could splash on the child, causing serious burn injuries. These injuries can be disfiguring and might require painful skin grafts.
- Traumatic brain injuries. A child’s brain continues to develop throughout adolescence, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is very serious. A child can suffer a TBI when they hit their head on something or are struck directly by the vehicle. A TBI causes memory problems, impaired speech, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and impaired balance or coordination.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord relays signals from the brain to the rest of the body and back again. Any tearing, bruising, stretching, or nicking of the cord can seriously impair movement and sensation.
Children are also particularly vulnerable to the emotional fallout of a car accident. During these tender years, children might have trouble adjusting to changes in their body which are now compounded by disfiguring injuries. Children could also relive the accident at night, suffering from nightmares and panic attacks. Parents with injured children should find a doctor who will focus on treating the whole child and not simply the physical symptoms. Car accidents leave emotional scars as well.
How We Can Improve Safety
Motorists share the bulk of responsibility for making your streets safer for children. Yes, parents can teach their children to look both ways before crossing the street and to only cross when given permission to do so. However, the reality is that many children are too young to consistently follow these warnings while others will simply make impulsive mistakes. These mistakes should not cost children their lives.
It is up to motorists to make it a priority to watch out for young children. To that end, we recommend that drivers exercise extreme caution in the following situations:
- Slow down when travelling through a school zone. Children could appear out of nowhere and even run into the road. The slower you are travelling, the faster you can stop.
- Always observe the speed limit when traveling through a residential area.
- Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely. It might need to brake for children, and if you hit it you could force it to run over a child.
- Limit distractions while driving. This means putting your phone away while your vehicle is in motion. Lock your phone in the trunk of your car, if necessary, so you are not tempted to check or send text messages or update your social media accounts.
- Always stop for school buses when they have their lights on. Don’t start driving again until the school bus is in motion.
- Exercise extreme caution when backing up your vehicle, since you cannot see small children in your mirrors when they pass directly behind your car.
- Follow the directions of crossing guards who you can see around school grounds.
- Treat bicyclists with respect. They can often pull out directly in front of traffic, leading to a crash.
Parents should also realize that many children are injured in accidents while riding in a vehicle. Unfortunately, these parents have not put their children in approved safety seats while riding. Find one that fits your child and is sturdy enough to withstand an accident. Also, take the time to learn how to install the car or booster seat properly. Improper installation will render the device practically worthless and could make it even more dangerous for your child.
Raise Awareness about Car Safety
Most people are probably not even aware of the number of children who are seriously injured and killed each year in car accidents. In addition to driving more safely yourself, you should promote safety in your community. If you want to raise awareness, you can do the following:
- Speak to your local church, high school, or social club about driver safety and about the need to look out for young children.
- Gather a group of young mothers and fathers to discuss safety in your community. For example, you might want the speed limit reduced through your neighborhood, or you might believe that motorists are not slowing down as required by law. You can present your concerns to the town council or to the police.
- Form a neighborhood watch that calls the police on motorists who engage in risky driving in your neighborhood. Tell your children to remember key details of any vehicles that cut them off, such as the color of the car and the first three digits of the license plate.
- Write an article to your local newspaper or a prominent blog to raise awareness about the risks children face from car accidents.
It truly takes a village to keep everyone safe, including young children who lack the ability to look out for themselves.
How a Car Accident Lawsuit Promotes Child Safety
If your child was injured in a car accident, then you probably are staring at expensive medical care, including possible rehabilitation. If you need to take care of your child full time, then you cannot work, and you will lose out on income as well.
Fortunately, a personal injury lawsuit can help you obtain the compensation you need so that you are not forced to shoulder the financial burden of the accident when it was someone else’s fault. At Groth & Associates, we are pleased to discuss your options with you.
However, a car accident lawsuit has another role to play—it can force motorists to be more careful. Under Ohio law, the person responsible for an accident must pay compensation for injuries to victims. And drivers are responsible when they have not used sufficient care. True, their insurer will probably pick up the tab, but the driver will still see greatly increased insurance premiums.
In this way, a car accident lawsuit actually improves the public’s safety. It creates an incentive for drivers to operate their vehicles in a sensible and safe manner, thus reducing the overall number of accidents. You can bring a lawsuit if your child survives the crash but also if your child is unfortunately killed in the collision. The latter type of case is called a wrongful death lawsuit.
Speak to a Car Accident Attorney at Groth & Associates Today
If your child has been struck or killed, you need an attorney with the right approach to car accidents involving children. At Groth & Associates, our team has brought many cases for injuries sustained by young children when walking or riding their bicycles. We can help you identify the amount of compensation you are eligible to receive.
For help with your case, please contact us today.
HOW TO AVOID PREVENT CAR ACCIDENT DEATHS
Car accidents involving children have been in the news lately. Around the country, young children are getting struck by distracted and negligent drivers while walking with their families or riding their bicycles. Although the pace of modern life continues to increase, we all owe a duty to each other to be as safe as possible.
As experienced car accident attorneys, we take pride in representing car accident victims, including young children. But we also believe it is vital to increase public awareness of how car accidents can leave vulnerable children with crippling injuries.
Before heading out on your next trip, remember to drive as safely as possible. Our children are counting on it.
How to Prevent Children from Being Hit by Cars
Motorists have the primary responsibility for preventing the deaths of children in car accidents. Fortunately, with careful driving habits, you can minimize the risks to children. Remember the following tips:
- Slow Down in School Zones – Ever wondered why the speed limit drops in school zones? It is so that motorists will have more time to hit the brakes if they see children dart into the road in front of them. Even the most careful child will make a mistake now and then—they’re children, after all. So don’t be surprised if a child doesn’t look both ways as they are supposed to before crossing the road or be shocked if a child doesn’t use a crosswalk but instead decides to jaywalk. Because they don’t appreciate risk the ways adults do, children can make irrational decisions, such as running into the middle of traffic to retrieve a lost basketball or soccer ball.
By going slower, you give yourself more time to brake, which allows you to avoid collisions. The proof is in the numbers: If you are traveling 20 miles per hour, it can take 63 feet to stop. Also, if you are going 40 miles per hour, then it takes double the space to stop—164 feet.
Always remember to slow down whenever you are in a school zone, even if you don’t think school is in session. There could be extracurricular activities going on in the evening, so children could be afoot at any time of day.There’s another sensible reason to drive slowly in a school zone: If you don’t, you could be facing a hefty fine for having a lead foot.
- Obey the Crossing Guard – Many schools have a guard stationed at crosswalks to help shepherd children safely across the street. When the guard tells you to stop, you should stop. Don’t try to edge into the crosswalk and scoot on by, even if you think there is enough room and time. Children can dart out into the crosswalk when you least expect them to.Instead, always following the guard’s directions, even if it makes you a little late for work. It is much safer that way.
- Drive Slower in Residential Neighborhoods – Residential neighborhoods are just as dangerous as school zones, especially in the evenings and on the weekends. You need to practice the same vigilance when passing through a residential neighborhood that you show when driving through a school zone. Keep your eyes peeled for someone to enter the street and look further ahead than you normally would.
- Avoid Passing a Stopped School Bus – The law requires that motorists stop when a bus comes to a stop with its lights on. You can’t pass the bus even if you are coming in a different direction. There is a very simple reason for this—young children are either getting on the bus or getting off it and might not be checking for traffic.
As soon as you see a bus put its lights on, hit the brakes and wait for the bus to turn its lights off and start moving before you begin to move.
- Watch for Children at Intersections – Intersections are dangerous because they bring together a large number of vehicles, which increases the chances that they will hit each other. You also face the risk of hitting a pedestrian, who might be crossing in the crosswalk.When cars are at a standstill, some children take this as a license to cross the road while avoiding the crosswalk. It isn’t unusual to see children threading their way through traffic, wrongly believing that the traffic will remain standing for the full amount of time that it takes them to get across the road.Always be very aware of your surroundings when you are stopped at a red light or stop sign. Children can pop out from anywhere and might even be crossing the road behind you. Before shifting into drive and hitting the gas pedal, make sure that there are no children around you.
- Check Around Your Car Before Backing Up – This is an amazingly simple task that will only take a few seconds to accomplish. Walk around your vehicle and make sure there aren’t any children nearby. While you are at it, you can check for debris, rocks or any other obstructions that you may risk backing into.
- Back Your Car Up Carefully – Another situation where motorists can run over a child involves trying to back up your vehicle, whether out of a driveway or in a parking lot. Young children are very hard to see, since they may be shorter than the height of the trunk. This means that even if you use your mirrors when backing up (like you are supposed to), you might not see the child when he or she is directly behind your vehicle. And you can’t expect a very young child to appreciate that you are backing up because your lights have come on.So what can you do? Well, if you have a passenger with you, you can ask him or her to stand out behind your car as you back up. That way, they can see if anyone (including a child) is about to cross behind your vehicle. Your passenger can then tell you when it is safe to back up before hopping into the car once you have pulled out of the parking space.If you are alone, then you need to back up slowly, which is a good habit to get into anyway. In a congested parking lot, you won’t be able to see if anyone is about to walk past your vehicle, unfortunately, so tap your horn once to signal that you are about to move.
- Avoid Distracted Driving – It is very easy to hit someone, including children, if you are not paying attention when your vehicle is in motion. Far too many motorists drive while distracted. There are many distractions, but some of the most common ways motorists use include:
- Reading or composing a text message when your vehicle is in motion
- Having an argument with someone in the car, often causing you to turn around
- Drinking or eating, which increases the risk you will spill something on yourself and take your eyes off the road
- Applying makeup or brushing your hair while stopped at an intersection, which makes it easier to miss someone entering the crosswalk
- Not having your pet properly restrained, which increases the chances you get a surprise visitor as your dog or cat lunges into the front seat
By reducing distracted driving, you can helpfully reduce the incidents of any car accident taking place. This protects everyone, including children.
- Use Your Horn
Cars come with horns for a reason—and it isn’t to show displeasure at someone who is driving too slow. Instead, a horn helps to alert someone to where you are. Children might not be paying attention when they are walking or riding their bikes. (In fact, children get “tech neck” just as much as adults!) Use your horn to get a child’s attention. Remember, you don’t need to lay on the horn. Instead, a quick tap can warn a child that a motorist is in the vicinity.
Let’s Protect Our Children Together!
As fathers and mothers, the attorneys are Groth & Associates plead with you to help us keep our children alive and safe! Parents and members of the public can improve the safety of our children by following the common-sense safety tips above. If we all work together, we can dramatically reduce the injuries and deaths that befall far too many children on our streets and roads.
If you were in an accident, or if your child was, you should contact Groth & Associates today. We are an experienced law firm that has represented the interests of many injured people. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED TOLEDO CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER TODAY
Being injured because of the actions of another is a very scary experience. And in some cases, injuries may be so severe that you are permanently prevented from returning to work, doing the things that you once loved and enjoyed, or even caring for your family physically or financially. When you find yourself in this type of dire situation, you need an experienced legal professional who is willing to do what it takes to help you and your family get back on your feet again. To schedule your free consultation with our law firm and learn more about the personal injury claim process, please call us today at 419.491.7362. You can also use our online form to write us a message and request your consultation.