A recent decision by automakers could mean that the number of children killed in hot cars will soon be on the decline.
A total of 20 automakers have agreed to install electronic alerts to remind people of children in back seats. These child alarms will be available in cars by the 2025 model year, according to The Associated Press.
Hot Car Death Statistics
Every year, an average of 38 children under 15 die in the United States after being trapped in hot cars, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Consider these disturbing figures:
- Hot car deaths reached a record high in 2018, with 53 children dead.
- Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash-related vehicular deaths in children under 15.
- Since 1998, almost 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke.
- More than half of all hot car deaths occur because parents and caregivers forgot the child was in the vehicle.
- A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body does.
- A child can have a heat stroke when the temperature outside is only 57 degrees.
Tragic Mistake Vs. Wrongful Death
While many people are quick to claim they would never forget their child in the car, a psychology professor recently told Consumer Reports that forgetting a child “is not a negligence problem, but a memory problem.”
It’s true that a busy schedule or change in routine could cause a parent to mistakenly leave a child in a car. There are also tragic instances where parents deliberately left their children behind. However, there are cases in which negligence does play a role.
For example, the family of a child who dies after being left in a daycare bus or private school transportation vehicle may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person entity left in charge of that child’s welfare.
Preventing Leaving a Child in the Car
To help reduce your chances of accidentally leaving a child alone in your vehicle, you should develop a system of safeguards to remind you before exiting your vehicle.
- Putting visual reminders in the front seat (e.g., diaper bag, child’s jacket, hat, etc.).
- Placing essential items in the back seat (e.g., purse, wallet, lunch, briefcase, laptop, etc.)
- Setting a cell phone alarm for the time when the child should be dropped off at school or daycare to ensure that you don’t forget.
- Asking your child’s daycare about the protocol for making children aren’t left behind in vehicles.
It’s also important to keep your car locked at all times when you are not in it. More than one-quarter of hot car deaths occur when children crawl inside vehicles and could not get out, according to the NSC.
Can a Lawyer Help in a Hot Car Death Case?
Unfortunately, there are times when a child’s death in an unattended vehicle could have been prevented. That’s when it’s time to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney like the ones at Bence Law Firm.
Although wrongful death compensation can never make up for the loss of a child, taking legal action against the negligent party may make it possible to prevent such a tragedy from befalling someone else.
If your child was injured or passed away after being left alone in a car, contact us today for a free consultation.