What Are Your Child’s Legal Rights Following a Child Pedestrian Accident?
Across the United States, nearly 11,000 children suffer injuries as pedestrians each year. Of these 11,000, roughly 350 children die from on-foot collisions with cars annually. These numbers are alarming for parents, and child pedestrian accidents are a particular problem throughout Florida.
The state recorded 36 child pedestrian deaths in 2015, placing it second highest in the country behind California. In 2016, Florida’s record for child pedestrian accidents was equally serious.
The high number of incidents involving child pedestrians can be partly attributed to Florida’s temperate climate. The weather encourages children and others to walk year-round. In Florida’s metropolitan areas in particular, many children walk to and from school every day.
As the school year begins this week and next, no parent wants to consider the possibility that a son or daughter would be involved in a pedestrian accident, but if an incident does befall your family, you will want to know your child’s rights following a child pedestrian accident.
Filing a Child’s Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit
If your child is involved in a pedestrian accident, there is a good chance your son or daughter is entitled to compensation for expenses and damages, as an adult would be. However, minor children in Florida are precluded from bringing personal injury lawsuits. A parent or other guardian must file the claim on the child’s behalf.
This claim can be for damages directly resulting from the child pedestrian accident, such as cost of medical treatment, expense of emergency services or follow-up care, and pain and suffering. The guardian acting on the child’s behalf is required to obtain court approval in some situations to settle a case on the child’s behalf.
Only in Rare Instances Are Children Found Negligent
One of the biggest differences between pedestrian injury accidents involving adults and those involving children is the standard of care for comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is a term used in Florida and many other states to describe the effect on damages if both parties acted in a negligent manner.
For instance, an adult driver and adult pedestrian are involved in an accident, when the driver was speeding, while the pedestrian was jaywalking outside a crosswalk. In this instance, the driver was negligent in speeding, but the pedestrian was also negligent in crossing without a proper walk signal.
If the pedestrian brings a personal injury lawsuit, his damages will be reduced by the percentage that he is found negligent. This might be determined as 30% negligent, in which case the awarded compensation at trial would be reduced by 30%.
However, children are not held to the same standard of care as adults. Children cannot be expected to act as reasonable adults would. Their capacity for rational decisions is different. Therefore, children are expected to behave as a reasonable child of the same age, experience, and intelligence would. Very often it is difficult to show that a child acted unreasonably in the circumstances, and full damages are awarded, even if an adult in the same circumstances would be found comparatively negligent.
Even if there is a possibility your child acted negligently, under the legal standard, you may still have a case. Florida’s pure comparative liability law means damages would be reduced only by the percentage the child is found negligent, not entirely negated.
Contact a Florida Lawyer Qualified to Handle Child Pedestrian Cases
If your child is involved in a child pedestrian accident, you have a right to pursue a personal injury claim on the child’s behalf, but you may need an experienced Florida car accident injury lawyer to help navigate the filing and court procedures.
Our Miami personal injury law firm has helped guardians successfully bring suits for child personal injury and child pedestrian accidents for over 25 years. Clients and potential clients can reach our experienced accident attorneys by calling toll-free at 1-866-597-4529, locally at (305)-441-0440, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reaching us via SKYPE to arrange a confidential initial consultation.