Child Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise in Florida

A Ford Mustang involved in a fatal crash in Tampa, Florida, has been found to have been traveling much faster than a witness previously reported. Evidence obtained from the Mustang in a search warrant revealed that the car driven by Cameron Herrin was traveling at approximately 102 miles per hour when he struck and killed Jessica Raubenolt and Lillia, her 2-year-old daughter.

The mother-daughter duo was legally crossing the street in May when they were struck by the Mustang that was involved in a street race with another vehicle. Herrin has been charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter.


Child Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Florida

Because the weather remains mild year-round, Florida is particularly inviting for people to walk. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2015 there were over 600 pedestrian fatalities. The only state to have more than that is California. Surrounding states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia do not have that many pedestrian fatalities combined. Children are particularly at risk because of their size. They are often less visible, making them harder for drivers to see. Statistics show that children under the age of 14 are also less experienced in walking near traffic, making them even more at risk for accidents and injuries.


Factors that Lead to Child Pedestrian Accidents

Florida ranks as one of the deadliest states for pedestrians already, but children are even more at risk. These types of accidents, if they do not result in a fatality, may cause mental and physical disabilities for the injured child that could last a lifetime. The most common child pedestrian accidents involve the following:

  • Walking to School: Children walk to school several days out of every year, and even children who ride buses to school may be struck while walking to a nearby bus stop. One of the ways to minimize the risk is by having younger children walk to school with an older child. The older children can help protect smaller children by preventing them from forgetting to look both ways or acting impulsively.
  • Backover Accidents: Children less than 3 years of age are frequently the victims of backover crashes. These crashes occur when someone is backing out of a driveway or parking place. The driver is not able to see the toddler through the windows or mirrors, especially if fences or bushes are in the way. In some of these cases, a construction company or municipality could be responsible for designing a dangerous area or roadway.
  • Sudden Movements: Children are prone to acting impulsively and that may include sudden movements into the street. They may run to chase a ball, friend, or pet and not check to be sure the road is clear before they do so. Hiding between two parked cars is often a cause of this type of accident, as well.
  • Visibility Problems: Drivers often use the excuse that they did not see a child when they are involved in an accident involving a child pedestrian. Parents should take precaution to do everything possible to make sure their child is visible to drivers by having them wear brightly colored clothing and only traveling on sidewalks that are not overgrown by nearby brush. The child’s clothing should also be taken into consideration when it comes to visibility. Make sure that items like sunglasses and bicycle helmets do not impede a child’s ability to see his or her surroundings.
  • Distracted Pedestrians: The news is full of distracted driving stories, and unfortunately, pedestrians can be distracted, too. Children who are walking may be listening to music, watching videos, or talking to their friends on a portable device. This prevents them from paying full attention to what is going on around them. Children should be taught to keep their portable devices in their bags while walking or riding their bikes.
  • Moving Outside of Crosswalks: Young children are often poor judges of the distance and speed of the cars that are moving toward them. This means that children may make the choice to cross an intersection at the wrong time. Drivers should be aware at all times and children should be taught to only cross at crosswalks.
  • Parking Lot Accidents: Children who are walking ahead or behind an adult are more likely to be less visible by drivers in a parking lot. Drivers, however, still have the responsibility to exercise caution when driving in and out of parking spaces and around in a parking lot.
  • Exiting a School Bus: When a bus has stopped to let children get exit, drivers are required to stop and be patient while the children get to safety. Kids will naturally assume in these situations that cars will stop, but that does not always happen.


Liability for Child Pedestrian Injuries

In many situations, drivers try to place the blame on the child when there is an accident involving a car and a child pedestrian. They rarely claim that it was their own carelessness that resulted in the accident. Of course, children do sometimes contribute to the accident, but a driver is still expected to exercise caution and yield to a pedestrian. When a driver fails to exercise caution that results in injuries to a child pedestrian, the driver can be proven negligent. When fault is determined, damages could be awarded to the family for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other costs relating to the child’s injuries. If the child dies as a result of the accident, the parents may also file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive compensation for other expenses such as funeral and burial costs. Florida has a comparative fault statute when it comes to awarding damages. This means that each party is assigned a degree of fault. In many situations, however, a lesser standard of care will apply to children because the law recognizes that children lack the same maturity and knowledge as an adult.


Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If your child has been injured or died as a result of the negligence of a driver, you may be eligible to receive compensation for his or her injuries or death. An experienced personal injury attorney like those at Brill & Rinaldi have decades of experience representing Florida families that have been injured at the hands of another party. They will review your case and determine the best course of action for your claim. Contact them today for a consultation at one of their convenient Florida locations.