Children can be unpredictable, but drivers are often still held responsible when they hit young pedestrians. Drivers are required to slow down in areas where children are known to frequent so they are prepared for the unexpected.
This abundance of caution is meant to make the likelihood of a child being hit that much less. Children struck by a car can suffer much more severe injuries than adult victims. They may also see unique injury complications in the years ahead as they start to develop into teens and adults.
California’s Duty of Care For Young Pedestrians
No driver intends to hit a young pedestrian, but just hoping something doesn’t happen sometimes isn’t enough to clear motorists of blame when a child is struck. Drivers are held to a higher standard when relating to pedestrians they may see. They must go above and beyond to avoid an accident, especially when it’s a child that’s in the road.
Drivers owe all pedestrians, especially young children, a “duty of care.” California motorists are required to slow down after spotting someone on foot to make a collision nearly impossible.
The standards that Fullerton motorists are held to are laid out in California’s vehicle codes:
CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE – CVC 21950.
“(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”
California enforces these strict pedestrian traffic laws. They require motorists to monitor all lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks for pedestrians at all times. When a pedestrian is spotted, even outside a crosswalk and in the middle of the street, they must brake and make every effort to avoid a collision.
Of course, even more care is expected when children are involved. Drivers and adult pedestrians are expected to both use reasonable care to prevent accidents, but young children aren’t considered mature enough to be able to make reasonable decisions. They don’t always have the awareness to make safe choices.
For this reason, the driver bears much more of the burden of care. They must slow down and anticipate seeing children in areas like school zones or public transportation routes. This means slowing down as a precaution. They must allow time and space to brake in case a child runs out into traffic. Looking at a cellphone screen or fiddling with a sandwich shouldn’t be an option for a driver when children could be nearby.
The Risks for Child Pedestrian Victims
The extra protections that California affords to pedestrians are due to the extreme vulnerability of any person’s body when up against a heavy, fast-moving vehicle. That danger is all the more important to keep in mind where children are concerned.
The risks for children in a pedestrian accident are so much higher for several reasons:
- A child’s smaller body is less able to withstand and recover from an impact.
- A child’s head and internal organs are closer to a car’s body and tires in a collision.
- A child’s injuries can have longer-lasting effects. Bones and muscles may not develop correctly in the teen years if children suffer an injury at such a critical time in the maturation process.
Drivers won’t be cited for every pedestrian accident involving a child. But the standards they’ll have to meet to prove the accident couldn’t have been avoided will be much higher than in any other pedestrian accident case.
Drivers often claim that they didn’t see or couldn’t avoid a pedestrian, but that’s not always enough to protect them from liability when someone on foot is struck, especially a child.
Determining Fault in a Fullerton Pedestrian Accident Involving a Child
Investigators and insurance adjusters would be looking at several factors when determining how much blame a driver should be assigned in a tragic child-involved pedestrian accident:
- Was the driver traveling in an area where the presence of children should be expected? This includes around schools and playgrounds, in residential neighborhoods, and within city limits. Did the driver take proper precautions while traveling through this area?
- If the driver was paying proper attention to the road at the time.
- If the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Was the driver breaking the posted speed limit? This is an important factor in neighborhoods where reduced speed limits are often ignored by drivers.
- Was the driver traveling at a speed safe for conditions? Sometimes conditions change, such as weather factors or when children are seen playing near a roadway. The posted speed limit is suddenly not the real speed limit, because reasonable drivers would assess what’s happening and reduce speeds to prevent the chance of a collision.
In California, investigators have the option to only place a percentage of the blame on a driver. A child may run out into traffic and leave a motorist little chance to avoid a collision. Yet, an investigation may show the driver should have been more aware of the surroundings and should have been traveling at a slower speed regardless of who was nearby.
A driver may be assigned 25%, 50%, or any other percentage of the liability. This would mean that the driver would only be responsible for the assigned percentage of the settlement or judgment awarded to the victim and the family of the victim.
Compensation Available for Victims After a Fullerton Child Pedestrian Accident
Just as extra caution is required of drivers when a child pedestrian is nearby, extra support is often needed from auto insurance providers when a child victim has been hurt.
A Fullerton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer would be fighting to get a family full compensation for medical bills and rehabilitation costs. The costs of care in the future must also factor into any pedestrian accident settlement check. A child may have a broken bone heal the wrong way and need surgery in the weeks ahead.
Additional support should also be put away for young victims in case childhood injuries begin to affect their growth and development during their teen years.
A child pedestrian accident claim must also seek support for the physical pain and emotional trauma a young victim is put through. These frightening incidents can have long-lasting effects on a child’s mental development. Children can struggle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms after such a traumatic event.
There are also benefits available for families who have had a child tragically taken from them due to a careless driver’s mistake. A skilled Fullerton pedestrian accident lawyer can represent family members through such a difficult time and make sure justice is served.
Contact a Fullerton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
At GK Legal, we’re fully aware of how a pedestrian accident can change the course of a child’s life. Child victims will need special medical care now and perhaps additional care in the years ahead. A skilled Fullerton pedestrian accident lawyer would make sure these concerns were addressed in any offer of support and reject any offer that didn’t go far enough and demand more.
Contact us as soon as possible to find out how to hold an at-fault driver’s car insurance company responsible for what you and your child have been through. Our Fullerton pedestrian accident lawyers offer a free, confidential consultation to all local accident victims. We can handle the stressful parts of an accident claim while giving your child the time needed to focus on healing.