How Can I Keep My Child Safe From Pedestrian Accidents?
Whether they are outside with a parent, playing with friends, or walking alone, children are at risk for being hit by a car. The Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers at Abels & Annes know this can happen anytime children are near a roadway.
The simple fact is that children are at a greater risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident when compared to adults. They don’t know how traffic works as well as an adult, they are smaller and therefore harder to spot, and they have less impulse control. Because of these reasons, we must find more ways to ensure that children are safe from vehicles while they are outside.
Unfortunately, when children are hit by cars, they are almost always injured and sometimes are killed. These tragic events are impossible to reverse, and there is no way to make it completely better. But when someone’s negligent actions cause a minor pedestrian to be injured or killed, you can work with an attorney and seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim for damages.
Pedestrian accident statistics￼
In 2011, there were 4,978 collisions between pedestrians and automobiles in Illinois. Of those crashes, 4,752 resulted in injuries. An additional 136 pedestrians were killed.
This means that in all of the pedestrian accidents in Illinois that year, 99% resulted in injuries or death. Eight of those killed were children under the age of 15.
Pedestrian safety tips for children
No parent wants to see their child injured, especially due to the negligence of a driver. So, we have compiled the following safety tips and recommendations. These are intended to increase awareness of pedestrian crashes involving children and reduce them throughout the state:
Always walk along a sidewalk and never in a street
Children should always walk in the safest place possible, and that is what sidewalks are designed to provide. It is also a good idea to tell children only to walk on streets with sidewalks. This will eliminate the temptation to walk in a street if there is not a sidewalk present.
Plan out walking routes with children
If a child is going to take the same path over and over again, it is a good idea to select a safe route. For example, while walking to school, to a babysitter’s house, or even over to see a friend.
Tell your child to take that route when walking. This can let parents pick out safe, residential streets over busy commercial areas. It decreases the amount of vehicular traffic and reduces the risk of an accident.
Always cross at a designated crosswalk
Kids do not always think of safety first. Therefore, it is a good idea to remind them to always cross a street at an intersection.
They should not cross mid-block. While this may be easy to remember on large streets, children often have a temptation to run across a road in a quieter area. Especially if their destination is in the middle of a block and they want to get there quickly.
Drivers do not expect children to run out in the middle of the road and are less able to avoid a collision if this happens. Therefore, make it a household rule that crossing is only allowed in a crosswalk.
Follow traffic signals and wait your turn
The rules of the road are there to protect everyone. This includes children, to protect them from getting hurt.
This means that kids should follow the traffic signals and only cross when they have the right-of-way. They should always walk across an intersection, never run.
That way cars have plenty of time to see a child coming. Also, they will obey any signs that apply to pedestrians.
Wear bright and reflective clothing
While it may seem simple, having a child wear bright, reflecting clothing can make a big difference to their safety. Studies show that bright clothing makes it easier for drivers to see pedestrians.
Therefore, it's less likely that a collision will occur. Further, letting a child pick out a reflective jacket can be a fun way of introducing safety topics into a daily routine and make it more fun to wear.
Never walk or play where cars drive
This is one of the most overlooked safety topics when it comes to children. Parents should always tell their kids not to play where cars drive.
This includes parking lots, parking garages and alleyways. The danger is that drivers are less likely to look for children in these places.
Further, very light vehicular traffic can give kids a foolhardy sense of safety. This is particularly true when kids play along curbs in piles of fall leaves or in snow banks.
Leaves and snow may look like a great way to have fun. However, city and county employees who clean the streets are focused on their jobs. They are not always looking out for kids who can be completely obscured from view.
Avoid pedestrian accidents by walking in numbers￼
Whenever possible, children should walk with an adult or friend who can help them follow the traffic rules.
Walking in greater numbers also increases the chance that motorists will see pedestrians. Hopefully, drivers will then yield the right-of-way, preventing collisions.
Pedestrian have the right-of-way
In many cases, pedestrians have the right to go in front of vehicles when crossing streets or roads. However, not all drivers are aware of this. Further, of those that are, many forget that they must yield to those walking.
It is always best to prevent an accident from occurring whenever possible. And further, to keep everyone, including pedestrians and drivers, safe.
Talk to your kids about pedestrian safety
The more you talk about safety with your kids, the more likely they are to remember your advice. You want them to know how to walk safely and implement safety techniques in their daily lives.
Common Injuries from Child Pedestrian Accidents
Just like adults, kids are susceptible to severe injuries, like spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. A child can also receive fatal injuries if they are struck by a car. Some deaths occur at the scene of the collision, and others happen later on at the hospital due to complications from their injuries.
Because children are so susceptible to injuries and death, drivers should be extraordinarily cautious when traveling in areas where children may be located. This includes near school zones, day cares, residential neighborhoods and parks.
Some common injuries that children suffer when they are struck by a vehicle include the following:
- A traumatic brain injury (or TBI) can be caused by your child getting struck on the head or their head getting thrown around violently. TBIs can have serious consequences for children, like emotional and cognitive disorders, injury complications, and severe pain and suffering.
- Spinal cord injuries can affect a child’s growth and development, and may leave them with life-long pain or paralysis. When a child is struck by a vehicle, their small bodies are no match for the steel and force, making spinal injuries likely.
Negligence in Children’s Pedestrian Accidents
Determining the at-fault party is an important part of any personal injury case. Whoever was at-fault for the accident is who you will pursue for compensation. In most cases where a driver is found responsible, that driver’s insurance company is the one that will pay for the damages. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to make sure that your child’s injury claim is handled properly and investigated thoroughly.
Negligence, for the purpose of personal injury, refers to failing to take proper caution for those around you that results in an injury or death to someone else. These acts aren’t necessarily malicious or purposeful. But the individual whose negligence caused injuries should still be held responsible for the role they played in the incident. This is especially true in situations involving vulnerable children.
Negligent actions that can lead to a child being hit by a car include:
- distracted driving (such as texting, eating, adjusting navigation, or anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road)
- speeding (especially recklessly while in a school zone)
- aggressive driving
- running red lights or stop signs
- not stopping or yielding at crosswalks when people are crossing
What to Do After Your Child is Injured in an Accident
The steps you should take after your child’s accident depends on whether you were at the scene of the accident.
If you aren’t at the scene of the incident, you will likely be called to the scene or even to the hospital, where you will then be informed of what happened. At this point, you should try to find out if anyone was with your child when they were hit. This could be friends, a school administrator or a crossing guard. You should try to obtain all the information that they can provide so that you have a clear understanding of how the accident occurred.
Be sure to collect contact information for any witnesses.
You should then speak to an attorney as soon as practicable to discuss your legal options.
If you are at the scene of the incident, the first thing you should do is call 911 so emergency medical services and police will come to the accident scene. You should do this even if the child’s injuries seem insignificant. Anytime a kid is hit by a car it could be a serious situation, no matter the details.
When the police arrive, file a police report. This is a crucial step in any personal injury claim, as it creates a record of the accident. Additionally, a pedestrian accident involving a child is sometimes criminal and needs to be reported to the appropriate authorities. For example, a DUI or reckless driving.
You should also exchange information with the driver of the vehicle and any surrounding witnesses.
Next, take pictures of the vehicle and of your child’s injuries. You should also take pictures or video of the accident scene so it is easier later to establish what happened.
After gathering evidence at the scene, you should head to the hospital to have your child examined. Like we said before, this is important even if the child appears on the surface to not be badly injured. They could have internal injuries and not know that they are injured, or their injuries could be masked by the adrenaline.
Finally, contact a personal injury attorney. Anytime there is a situation in which negligence causes an injury, a lawyer should be consulted. This is especially true in cases involving children. A good Chicago child injury lawyer can evaluate your claim, explain to you what your rights and options are, and help you move forward with your child’s injury claim.
What Compensation Can You Receive on Behalf of Your Child?
If your child is injured due to another person’s negligence, you probably have a lot of questions about recovering compensation. Two of the most common questions are “how can I recover compensation?” and “what can I get compensation for?”
How can I recover compensation?
The answer to the first question is that you seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. This is usually done through a personal injury lawyer. They work with you to recover damages from the driver’s insurance company on your (or your child’s) behalf. Most child injury cases settle during this process and never make it to a formal lawsuit or courtroom. Statistically speaking, 95% of child injury cases settle before a lawsuit is filed, so you will likely not need to worry about you or your child having to go to court.
What can I get compensation for?
What you and your child can recover damages for is also important to understand. After your child’s accident, you may be overwhelmed by the stress, the medical debt you’ve accumulated, and the time you are missing from work. Working with an experienced child injury attorney gives you the best chance of recovering the compensation that you need to get your and your child’s lives back on track.
Generally, a child has the right to be compensated for the same damages as an adult, with a few key differences.
What damages can injury victims recuperate through a personal injury claim?
Damages for a child pedestrian accident claim generally fall into two categories: economic damages (or special damages) and non-economic damages (or general damages).
Economic damages refer to any monetary damages suffered because of the injury. These may include:
- A child’s medical bills ( for ambulance, doctor’s visits, emergency room, hospital visits, surgeries, or physical therapy)
- Parent’s lost wages (if the parent or guardian had to miss work to take care of the injured child or miss work to take them to medical appointments)
Non-economic damages are meant to cover losses that do not have a clear monetary value but that still affect the injured victim. These may include a child’s:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Compensation for disability or disfigurement
- Other losses specific to the case
Mainly, non-economic damages are calculated based on how much the child’s life has been affected by their injuries. Will the injuries affect their life in a major way moving forward? Will they be able to work and function as they did prior to their injury? And will they be able to grow and develop into an independent and well-functioning adult? Did they suffer because of the severity of their injuries? Do they have permanent disability or disfigurement?
In a few injury cases, the compensation amount is mostly based on the economic damages. For example, a child getting checked out at the ER and everything is fine. However, in cases of serious injury or death, non-economic damages may play a major role. Your attorney will advise you on what damages can and should be pursued.
Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C.￼
If your child has been injured in a pedestrian accident due to the negligence of a driver, there may be a claim for damages. The Chicago child injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., our Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers understand that each case is different and unique.
We have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day to discuss the facts involved in your case. Call and let us help you today.
If your child is the victim of a pedestrian accident, call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free case consultation.