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Posted 07/20/2023 in Car Accident by Erik Abrahamson

How To Determine Liability When A Child Darts Into Traffic

How To Determine Liability When A Child Darts Into Traffic

Every parent's worst nightmare is the possibility of their child being seriously injured or tragically killed in an accident. Even with proper education about the dangers of cars and playing near the road, children may sometimes make impulsive decisions and unexpectedly dart in front of moving vehicles. In such cases, it is crucial to determine the responsibility of the driver if a child is harmed or loses their life.

It's important to note that the specific circumstances surrounding the accident are significant in these situations. If your child has suffered injuries from being struck by a vehicle, it is advisable to seek assistance from a compassionate and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. They can address any concerns you may have and vigorously pursue the compensation necessary for your family to move forward. An experienced personal injury attorney in Clearwater Florida will advocate for clients whose children have been injured, ensuring they receive the justice they rightfully deserve.

When Is A Driver Responsible For Hitting A Child That Ran Into Traffic?

When a child sustains injuries, particularly in preventable accidents, it is undoubtedly a tragic situation. Extra caution is always necessary when it comes to children and vehicles. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the driver may be held accountable for the child's injuries. These cases tend to be complex, requiring a careful evaluation of the details to establish fault. Several factors are taken into consideration, including:

  • Speed - If the driver was exceeding the speed limit, they are likely partially responsible, especially in areas where children are more likely to be present, such as school zones.

  • Distraction - If the driver was engaged in distracting activities like texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, eating, or attending to passengers or pets, their impaired reaction time makes them responsible for the collision, even if a child darted in front of them.

  • Traffic Rules - Failing to yield or stop properly at intersections can lead to liability if a child is injured as a result of the driver's negligence.

  • Sobriety - If the driver operated the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they bear responsibility. Impaired reaction times caused by substances in the bloodstream can lead to severe accidents.

Even if the driver was obeying traffic laws and traveling at an appropriate speed, they may still be liable for the accident. To determine if you have a right to seek compensation, it is advisable to discuss the specific details of your case with a child injury attorney in your area. They can provide guidance based on the circumstances and help you understand your legal options.

When Are Drivers Not Liable For Hitting A Child That Darts Into Traffic?

In cases where a child darts out in front of a vehicle, it is generally the driver's responsibility to demonstrate that they were practicing proper duty of care at the time of the accident. With the guidance of their Florida car accident lawyer, drivers will aim to provide evidence supporting their adherence to proper duty of care by:

  • Demonstrating Sobriety - Offering evidence that they were not impaired while driving, such as through witness testimonies, breathalyzer test results, or medical records.

  • Establishing Reasonable Speed - Presenting proof that they were traveling at a safe and appropriate speed given the circumstances, considering factors like speed limits, road conditions, and awareness of the child present in the area.

  • Showing Compliance with Traffic Laws - Providing evidence that they were obeying all relevant traffic rules and regulations, such as stopping at stop signs, yielding when required, and maintaining proper lane discipline.

  • Proving Absence of Distraction - Offering evidence that they were not engaged in any distractions that could have compromised their attention, such as cellphone use, eating, or other activities that divert focus from the road.

  • Demonstrating Unavoidability - Establishing that despite exercising proper duty of care, the driver could not reasonably have anticipated or prevented the child from darting out, considering factors like visibility, proximity to children, and reaction time.

By successfully demonstrating their adherence to proper duty of care, drivers, supported by their Florida car accident attorney, can potentially avoid being held at fault. It is important to recognize that drivers may not always be able to anticipate the sudden actions of a child, especially if they were unaware of the presence of children near the road.

Child Safety Around Vehicles Florida Laws To Follow 

The state of Florida has implemented various laws aimed at safeguarding children from harm in relation to vehicles. These laws include:

  • School Bus Passing Law - Motorists are required to stop at least thirty feet away from a school bus that has its lights flashing and a stop sign arm extended for the purpose of loading or unloading children. Violating this law can result in a minimum fine of $200, and if an accident occurs, the driver will be held criminally responsible.

  • Limitations on Backing Up Law - Florida law prohibits the reversal of a motor vehicle unless the driver can ensure it can be done safely. This applies to situations such as backing out of driveways, parking spaces, or any location on the roadway.

  • Crosswalk Laws - When a crosswalk signal is active or when pedestrians, including children, are using a crosswalk, vehicles must come to a stop and yield the right of way to them.

In cases involving a child darting into traffic, if any of the above laws were violated in some way, the driver may be held liable for the accident. It is crucial to adhere to these laws to prioritize the safety of children and prevent accidents.

Proper Duty Of Care Is Required When Driving

When driving in areas where children are likely to be present, such as near schools, parks, and residential neighborhoods, it is vital to exercise a heightened level of duty of care. As responsible drivers, it is our responsibility to be attentive to our surroundings and take additional precautions to keep children safe and prevent accidents. Here are some key considerations:

  • Increased Awareness - Drivers should be vigilant and actively observe their surroundings, anticipating the presence of children. Maintaining a heightened level of awareness helps in detecting potential hazards and react promptly.

  • Adhering to Traffic Laws - Following all traffic laws and signage is crucial for everyone's safety. This includes obeying stop signs, traffic lights, and speed limits, as well as practicing caution when merging, turning, or changing lanes.

  • Yielding to Pedestrians - Giving the right of way to pedestrians, especially children, is essential. Being attentive at crosswalks and pedestrian zones ensures their safety and prevents accidents.

  • Watchful for Bicycles and Child-Operated Vehicles - Children may be riding bicycles or using other small vehicles near the road. Drivers should be aware of their presence and provide adequate space and caution when sharing the road with them.

  • Slowing Down Near Children - Children may engage in play near the road, making it necessary to reduce speed and be prepared to stop if needed. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of accidents and allows for quick response times.

By practicing proper duty of care, drivers can contribute to the safety of our roads and protect children from potential harm. Together, we can prevent tragic accidents and ensure a secure environment for everyone.

Contact A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer 

If your child has been involved in a car accident or has been hit by a vehicle, it is essential to promptly seek the assistance of a Florida personal injury lawyer. This traumatic experience necessitates professional guidance and support to safeguard your child's rights and best interests. A skilled personal injury lawyer specializing in child injury cases will comprehend the intricacies involved, carefully evaluate the accident's circumstances, and help you navigate the legal process. They will serve as strong advocates for your child, managing communication with insurance companies, gathering evidence, negotiating on your behalf, and pursuing just compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Do not hesitate to reach out to a Florida personal injury lawyer who can offer the necessary guidance and representation during this challenging time.

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