Child Pedestrian Crashes in Florida
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016 alone, there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities nationwide. There were a total of about 129,000 serious pedestrian injuries that resulted in emergency room visits, and many of these involved children. At Roman & Roman, P.A., our skilled Clearwater pedestrian accident lawyers know just how heartbreaking it can be when a small child is struck by a vehicle, and these cases require skillful and compassionate handling from the start.
Why are Children More Likely to be Hurt or Killed in Pedestrian Crashes?
There are several important reasons why young children are at a greater risk of injury and death in pedestrian crashes. Consider the following:
- Maturity and decision-making ability – First, children under the age of about 14 are not typically able to make the same rational choices that adults make. They may be erratic or quick to cross the road, may not use crosswalks, and may not obey traffic signals. This does not mean they are careless; it just means they are kids.
- Bicycles and outdoor play – Unlike grownups, young children are far more likely to be riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters and other devices in their neighborhoods. They may be comfortable and close to adults and thus feel safe riding on the road or sidewalk, often moving in and out of the roadway with little warning.
- Harder to see – Because children are by definition smaller, they may be harder for drivers to see, thus leading to serious injuries.
Comparative Negligence and the Child Standard
Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard for deciding when an injured person may have contributed to their own injuries. Even if an injured person was partially to blame for their own injuries, they can still receive compensation. However, it will be reduced by their share of the liability. While this is a straightforward concept, it gets trickier when it comes to children.
In Florida, a minor child is under 6 years of age, the law says they are incapable of being negligent. In other words, a driver who fails to see a 4-year-old playing on the side of the road cannot argue to a jury that the child shares the blame for darting into traffic. It’s the driver’s responsibility to slow down, use caution, and be prepared to stop.
When the Child Standard is Up to the Jury
For children 6 years of age or older, it is a question for a jury to decide whether the child shared culpability. It will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The degree of care other children of the same age, intelligence, and experience would normally exercise when performing the specific task (riding a bike, walking, crossing a road, etc.)
- The child’s specific maturity level and past experience in performing the task
- Whether the child could reasonably understand and appreciate the dangers associated with the activity
What to Do After a Child is Injured
If your child has been seriously hurt by a negligent driver, you have a right to demand justice. Don’t wait; call Roman & Roman, P.A. today to get aggressive legal representation. The call is free, and our office will take no fee unless we are successful in achieving compensation for your child and your family.
We have four area offices in Clearwater, Tampa & Hudson, Florida.