Walking to school provides your child with health benefits and some independence. A 2016 report based on CDC data found that in 61.5% of schools surveyed, around 10% of kids walked or biked to school. In 22.7% of schools surveyed, 26% of students biked or walked to their school building.
Despite its benefits, walking or biking to school can put your child in danger of being hit by a careless motorist. Read on to learn what to do if your child is hit by a car while walking to school and tips you can share with your child to help them stay safe on their journey.
Who Is Liable for Your Child’s Injuries?
If a driver injures your child on their way to school, you may be able to file a lawsuit to help pay for the physical and emotional trauma your child experiences. To file a lawsuit, you must show that the other person violated a duty of care (what all people owe others around them) and that the violation caused the accident and injuries.
The driver is usually liable in pedestrian accidents, but other parties may also contribute.
The state of New York’s vehicle and traffic laws include a due-care clause. This clause requires drivers to maintain awareness of their surroundings and possible hazards, such as children walking or playing along the street. This law means the driver can be held liable in most pedestrian accidents, including:
- When drivers are distracted by food, makeup, or phones
- When drivers speed, especially in school zones
- When drivers ignore children in the crosswalk
- When drivers ignore the crossing guard’s directions
- When drivers do not exercise care in poor light
If a driver behaves negligently and hits your child with their vehicle, you can work with a child injury lawyer from Catalano Law to seek damages.
Although drivers are often at fault for pedestrian accidents involving children, some behaviors can increase your child’s risk of accident and injury. These behaviors include:
- Using phones when crossing the street
- Playing too close to the street
- Darting into traffic without warning
- Crossing outside of a crosswalk or intersection
New York uses contributory fault in personal injury cases. This doctrine says that both parties may be partially responsible for an accident, depending on their actions. If your child’s behavior played a part in their injuries—depending on their age and ability to understand what behavior is dangerous—it might affect the compensation your family can receive.
How Does Filing a Suit on Behalf of a Minor Change the Process?
The state of New York prohibits minors from filing lawsuits independently, but parents and legal guardians can file a claim on behalf of a child. The state also allows victims to delay the start of the statute of limitations until the minor turns 18, allowing additional time for them to file on their own once they reach adulthood.
If you win a claim for a minor, you will receive reimbursement for medical treatment and other expenses related to the accident. The remainder of the award or settlement will go into a court-protected account or annuity structure that remains untouched until the child turns 18. In some instances, parents can petition to use the award for specific purposes, but they cannot use the child’s settlement money without court approval.
What Should You Do After a Pedestrian Accident?
If your child suffers injuries in a pedestrian accident, you can take several steps to protect their rights and hold the negligent driver accountable.
Prepare your child for dangerous situations before they occur
You can help your child avoid an accident on the street or in the crosswalk by having them follow some simple tips:
- Keep your phone in your pocket or bag
- Do not play close to the street
- Always use sidewalks when they are available
- Always use crosswalks when they are available
- Look left, right, and left again before stepping off a curb
- Obey all traffic signals
- Make eye contact with drivers when crossing the street
You can also teach your child how to react if an accident occurs. Tell your child not to speak to a driver who causes an accident except to ask for medical attention. Give your child a phone for emergencies and teach them to call 911. Also, help them learn street names so they can give the dispatcher their location.
Seek immediate medical attention
If an accident occurs, get your child medical attention right away. Even if their injuries seem minor, visiting a doctor can help detect internal injuries like traumatic brain injuries and soft tissue damage. It also creates medical records documenting when and how their injuries occurred that can be used as evidence if you file a personal injury claim.
Save all records and receipts
Save the records and receipts from medical appointments, pharmacy trips, and any assistive devices your child needs. A lawyer can use these records to prove the severity of your child’s injuries and determine how much compensation to seek.
Get legal advice
A free consultation with a personal injury lawyer can help you decide how to proceed with your child’s injury claim. Your attorney can explain your legal options and help you build a case.
The legal team with Catalano Law has the skills and experience to handle child injury claims successfully, starting with reviewing your child’s accident to determine if their injuries meet New York’s serious-injury threshold.
Reach Out to an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer for Help
The dedicated professionals at Catalano Law have considerable experience with personal injury cases. We can guide you through the process of filing an injured child lawsuit. We have extensive experience with these cases and can tell you what to expect in a free, no-obligation consultation.
The Syracuse auto accident lawyers at Catalano Law have considerable experience with injured child lawsuits. We understand the complexities of these cases and can help you get compensation for your child’s injuries. Contact us today to get started.