According to KidsandCars.org, since 1970, there have been at least 260 trunk entrapment-related deaths. 37 of these victims were kids under age 15. However, the average age of children killed in accident trunk entrapment accidents is four.
Fortunately, since September 2001. automakers have been required to make sure that their new autos come with a “glow in the dark” trunk release inside the compartment so that someone who gets stuck in trunk can get out. Older vehicles also can now get a trunk release mechanism retrofitted in their vehicle. That said, not all older autos have this device, which can prove detrimental should trunk entrapment result.
If you believe that your child’s trunk entrapment injuries or death occurred from this type of auto defect or any other motor vehicle deficiency, do not hesitate to contact The Gilbert Law Group® today. There also may be other liable parties involved, such as a negligent driver or some other person that could/should have prevented the trunk entrapment accident from happening.
Common Causes of Trunk Entrapment
How does someone get trapped in a car trunk to begin with? There is accidental entrapment, which can happen when kids are playing or exploring. They also might fall inside while climbing on or around the back of the vehicle while the trunk’s lid is open.
Trunk entrapment may also happen during an unintended prank, with the child involved not realizing how dangerous the game has turned. A loose or open rear-fold-down seat (which can occur because a consumer failed to secure the seat or because of an auto lock defect) in the back of an auto can make it easy for a young child to crawl into a trunk.
Then there are also the incidents involving intentional entrapment. A teen or an adult may decide to get in the trunk because the car is already full of passengers or for a “joy ride. Kidnappings, carjackings, abductions, and murder can also be a factor in causing trunk entrapment.
Unfortunately, the majority of accidental trunk entrapment incidents tend to occur during the summers, when rising temperatures can up the chances of hyperthermia, which is also known as heat stroke. The temperature inside a shut vehicle can go up rapidly (within minutes), sometimes to over 100 degrees. Because kids’ bodies overheat easily—babies and children under age 4 especially, this can cause permanent injury or even death. That said, even when the temperature outside the auto is cooler, the inside of a vehicle can still heat up pretty rapidly. Emotional trauma and suffocation also can result. Should the latter happen, the brain my be deprived of oxygen, and the victim may end up suffering brain damage.
Meantime, there are preventive measures that parents and caretakers can take to decrease the chances of a trunk entrapment accident:
• Always know where the kids are when they are playing in or around
• Educate them about the dangers of hiding or playing in the trunk.
• If a child goes missing, check the inside of a trunk right away.
• Make sure the rear folding seat is closed and locked.
• Show older kids how to find and activate the emergency trunk release.
• If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk release, get your auto retrofitted with one.
• Make sure that all of the doors, including the trunk, of your vehicle are locked when it is parked and unsupervised.
• Keep your car keys away from your kids.
Our child injury lawyers represent the families of kids injured in auto accidents and other auto-related incidents caused by vehicle defects and others’ negligence. Your case evaluation with The Gilbert Law Group® is free.