Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death and disability among teenagers in this country. Catastrophic injuries to, or the death of, a child in a car accident is about the worst, most devastating experience that a family can endure, both emotionally and financially.
U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that, in 2005 alone, more than 1,400 children under the age of 15 died, and 203,000 were injured, as the result of automobile accidents. In the same year, 4,544 teens ages 16 to 19 died of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes, and nearly 400,000 motor vehicle occupants in this age group required treatment in an emergency department because of an accident. On average, nearly 250,000 children are injured every year in car accidents.
Children can be injured in automobiles in many ways, through traffic related accidents and through non-traffic related accidents:
Non Traffic-Related Accidents
Children can be injured in a car without being in a traffic accident by, among other things:
- Car Windows. Car windows can close on children and cause serious injury. Even though there are a number of safety features in most cars designed to prevent this, these accidents still happen, and children choke before they can be rescued.
- Trunks. Kids may get locked in the trunk of a car, unable to get out.
- Accidental backover and frontover. Children may get run over because of bad visibility in the front or rear window.
- Brake shift interlock failure. Most cars cannot be put into gear unless the brake pedal is depressed. However, this safety device can fail and some cars do not have it, causing injuries.
In automobile accidents., children are especially vulnerable. These kinds of injuries include:
- Brain Injury. This can be caused by even the lowest form of impact, if the child is not properly restrained, causing disabilities like paralysis and speech problems.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. These are some of the most devastating injuries possible for children, robbing the child of his or her enjoyment of life before that life even gets started.
- Seat belts. Not using a seatbelt can make a small accident into a huge accident, but, some seatbelts are designed so poorly that they actually cause injury. Some seatbelt design defects include an inability to adjust to a size small enough for a child, or failure of a seatbelt to properly align with the seat design.
- Air Bags Deploying Incorrectly. This has been the cause of many injuries.
- Children’s Car Seats. A substantial percentage of children’s car seats have been found to be defective through the years, including some sold today, suffering from manufacturing defects, poor construction, and bad instructions. There are far more injuries arising from this problem than most people think.
- Seatback Failure. Even at low impact the collapse of a seat back can cause devastating injury, and even death to a child. Unfortunately, the only way to know if a seat back is designed poorly is after a crash injures someone.
- Structural and Design Defects in Cars. Rear windows can be too small to see out of, and door locks, seatbelts, and airbags can be defective, among other potentially dangerous problems with cars. Defective tires may cause serious injury or death as well.
You and your child may be entitled to compensation for injuries if your child was a victim of a school bus crash, an accident caused by another driver, an intoxicated driver if the child was a passenger, injuries from defective car seats, design or manufacturing defects in the car itself, a hit-and-run accident, and virtually all car-related injuries when the child is not at fault.
Although compensation for a child’s injuries is the last thing that a family wants to talk about when going through these difficult times, it is important that you understand the legal issues involved and the rights that parents and children have under the law.
The attorneys of The Gilbert Law Group have dedicated their careers to child safety. Our team has several decades of experience in representing the families of children who have been severely injured or killed in automobile accidents. We treat each case as if it is our most important case, because it is your most important case. Contact us to notify The Gilbert Law Group about your case, or call us toll free at 1-877-431-4529 to discuss your matter. All initial consultations are free.