What Should a Parent Do When a Child Is Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?
Pedestrian injuries involving cars are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 6,283 pedestrian deaths in 2018, which represents a 3 percent increase from the previous year. These numbers do not include bicycles, electric scooters, or a skateboard that a child may be riding.
While adults are expected to follow traffic laws and cars are expected to yield to a pedestrian, the same thing cannot always be expected of a child. Jumping out behind a school bus; following a ball in the road; riding a bicycle too close to cars might be something an impulsive child might do to his own detriment.
It is imperative that we all be on the lookout for children in our streets and crosswalks.
What to Do Following a Pedestrian Accident
First and foremost, get any injured person out of the road and safely away from moving vehicles. Contact 9-1-1 and get an ambulance if there are any injuries. Do not attempt to administer medical treatment yourself with the possible exception of CPR, if you know it.
- If a child is injured at the scene, take care of him/her but also be aware of who else is at the scene.
- Are there any witnesses? Get their name and contact information.
- Can you safely take photos with your cell phone? Make sure you get contact information for everyone involved in the accident. Take photos of their car and license plate.
- Avoid engaging in conversation with anyone on the scene, especially if you feel you might have made an error. Do not say anything like “I’m so sorry, it was my fault” because that will eventually be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit.
- If the other party’s insurance representative arrives, avoid speaking with him until you have contacted your own attorney.
- When the police arrive, be sure to make truthful statements attesting to only what you “know” not what you “think” happened.
Who is at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?
Under the law of negligence, the person who fails to exercise reasonable care may be considered negligent. If that negligence led to your injury, they are the at-fault party.
Alabama is unique though. Under Alabama’s contributory negligence doctrine, adults are barred from recovery if they contributed, even one percent, to causing their accident.
The same is not true for children in Alabama. Alabama law presumes that children do not have the same judgment as adults. Under the age of seven, the law presumes young children cannot contribute to negligence and they can seek recovery.
Older children, from the ages of 7 to 14, can be barred from recovery if the other side shows they understood the nature of the danger or if they contributed substantially to their own injury.
Under Alabama Code 32:
- Pedestrians are expected to exhibit care when walking near cars. For example, they should follow the rules of the road and obey traffic signals, use a sidewalk and crosswalk.
- No pedestrian is expected to suddenly leave a curb or run into the path of a vehicle. If a child darts out behind a school bus, it will be up to the court to determine if that child was negligent or if the circumstance indicates a poorly designed area for children to be let off the bus.
- In the case of a child pedestrian injured at school, the school could be considered negligent if the bus driver was poorly trained or the bus had malfunctioning equipment.
- Cars are expected to stop at a marked crosswalk and no other vehicle should attempt to overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.
Also, if a pedestrian is crossing the street while jaywalking from between parked cars, the driver of the vehicle could not reasonably be expected to avoid hitting the pedestrian. In both cases, the pedestrians will likely be considered at fault for the accident.
Your Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Under Alabama law, children cannot bring a personal injury claim. Their parents or guardian must bring the civil action. Guardian Ad litem will be appointed by the court to oversee the proposed settlement to ensure it is in the best interest of the child.
If a loved one has been involved in a life-altering pedestrian accident, an experienced Alabama pedestrian accident law firm can help your family recover expenses and damages for medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages and even wrongful death. Chip Nix will be by your side to help you navigate your pedestrian accident case. Call him at 334-279-7770 to start the conversation.