From the time they begin walking, children are in danger of being injured as pedestrians. According to some very sad statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, one in five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic accidents was a pedestrian. Children are less experienced with road safety, less aware of the danger that cars pose, more impulsive, and harder for drivers to see. Too many children are injured or killed every year by distracted, intoxicated, speeding, or negligent drivers. When that happens, families are left reeling, devastated by the aftermath– physical, emotional, and financial—of these tragic accidents.
Adults can help protect children by being aware of the scenarios that are especially dangerous for children and by knowing what to do after a child has been struck by a car or truck. The child pedestrian accident attorneys at The Collins Law Firm can guide you through the legal process after an accident with care and compassion. Knowing the most common situations that lead to pedestrian accidents can help prevent them in the first place.
How do Children Get Injured in Pedestrian Accidents?
Every day children walk to school or a friend’s house, go outside to play, walk their dog, or ride on their bike or scooter on the sidewalk. In each of these situations, children may cross a driveway or crosswalk or enter the street inadvertently. Here are some common reasons children are hit by cars or trucks:
- Pedestrian distraction: One of the biggest contributors to child pedestrian accidents is the victim being distracted and not paying attention. Children and teenagers are increasingly glued to their phones and handheld devices–even while walking–and that means they are not paying attention to the world around them, including traffic on the road. This is a true danger for children and teens, and parents need to educate their children about this and discourage any cellphone use while walking.
- Distracted driving: Just like teens, drivers of cars regularly use their cellphones to talk or text while driving. Despite multiple states taking action to fine drivers for this behavior, it continues to be a major problem. Other distractions like eating, grooming, engaging with passengers, changing the radio station, or reaching for an item in the car can take the driver’s eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. Unfortunately, a child can be struck in those few seconds.
- Backover accidents: Backing out of a driveway or parking space is another dangerous scenario. Because children are so small they are often not seen in the rearview mirror or through the rear window. Sometimes, the driver fails to look before backing up, or a child walks behind a car unaware that it is about to back up. As a result, many children are killed. Never assume a driver can see you or your children in this situation. Fortunately, rear views cameras can help make visibility when backing up much better, but even these cameras are less than perfect.
- Neighborhoods without sidewalks: In these neighborhoods, children are forced to walk or ride their bikes in the street. This places them at risk of being hit by cars whose drivers are not paying enough attention to pedestrians sharing the road with them. It is the responsibility of the driver in these neighborhoods to slow down and be on alert for children.
- Drunk Driving: There is absolutely no excuse for drinking and driving. Intoxicated drivers may be unaware of pedestrians in the road or unable to react in time to avoid them. If the pedestrian is a child, the danger of a serious injury occurring in these situations is even greater. The CDC estimates that as many as 15% of fatal pedestrian accidents involve alcohol.
- Failure to Yield in School Zones: School zones, before and after school, are danger spots for pedestrian accidents because of the sheer number of children walking in the area. Accidents happen because drivers fail to observe lower speed limits, do not come to a complete stop at intersections, or don’t watch and wait for crossing guards to let them know the intersection is clear.
- Delivery Vehicles: With the surge of online shopping, delivery vans–which generally have more limited visibility than cars–are regularly driving through residential neighborhoods. In order to stay safe, pedestrians need to be aware of these vehicles and stay far away from them.
Are Drivers Responsible for Looking Out for Child Pedestrians?
When a child pedestrian is injured in an accident involving a vehicle, the driver is usually responsible. Regardless of the child’s actions, the driver has a duty to be aware of his or her surroundings, and that includes being aware of pedestrians. Especially in areas where there are likely to be children– near schools, in residential areas, and near parks–it is the responsibility of the driver to slow down, look out for children, obey crossing guards, and keep his eyes on the road.
Even when a child pedestrian is engaging in behavior that may have partially caused the accident, it is likely that the driver who hit the child was also partially at fault. Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1) states that:
“Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human power and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.”
An experienced child pedestrian attorney can help sort out the facts of the case and make sure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected. Many pedestrian accidents involving children are quite serious, complex, and far from clear cut; it is critical that you have good legal counsel on your side.
Attorneys Protecting Children Injured in Pedestrian Accidents
If the unthinkable happens and your child has been injured, or a beloved child has been lost, in a pedestrian accident with a negligent driver, we can help. Our compassionate Naperville/ Lisle child pedestrian accident attorneys can guide you through the process of recovering compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, mental anguish, or long-term disability. We can give you some peace of mind knowing we are fighting to get you justice. Call us at 630-527-1595 for a confidential, free consultation or fill out our contact form here. Let us help you and your family begin the journey to healing.