Walking After Dark: The Rights of Pedestrians in Nighttime Car Accidents
Posted in: Legal Blog
KNR Legal Blog
Schools are starting across Ohio, and the nice weather makes for a pleasant walk to school. But negligent motorists are still a source of worry.
Hopefully, by understanding what to do if your child is the victim of a pedestrian accident, you can reduce the effect of a potentially traumatizing event and better protect them from reckless drivers.
Not everyone lives in a district where school buses are an option. And if you live close enough to a school, walking is a practical and generally safe option.
Children are incredibly vulnerable to car accidents during school hours. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 181 child pedestrians were unfortunately killed in traffic accidents in 2019. About 29% occurred between 3 and 5:49 p.m., with another 18% between 6 and 8:59 a.m. These are the peak times when children walk to and from their schools.
You may have grown up walking to school and home without fear. But times have changed. Children are navigating busier roads, schools are farther away, and school buses are not what they used to be.
The unsettling reality is that accidents can and do, happen on children’s commute to school. This guide provides a step-by-step approach to navigating the aftermath of such a traumatic event, offering clarity during an undoubtedly distressing time.
Prioritize your child’s health. Ensure they receive medical attention promptly. Even if they seem okay or their injuries appear minor, get them checked out by a doctor. Serious injuries can develop later, and the full effects of an accident may not be evident immediately. This safeguards their well-being and establishes a record for any potential legal proceedings.
You likely were not at the scene at the time of the accident, but collecting all available facts is paramount. Accurate and comprehensive information not only aids in understanding the sequence of events leading to the accident but also plays a critical role in any potential legal proceedings. You’ll want to talk to the school, any adults who may have witnessed the event, and information about the driver involved.
The legal process after your child is hit by a car can be intricate. An experienced Ohio personal injury attorney can guide and advise you regarding your rights. Your attorney can assess the details, help identify the at-fault party, and recommend the best way to secure the financial compensation you’ll need to care for your child adequately.
In Ohio, a parent or legal guardian can file a claim for a child under 18. You can likely file against the at-fault party’s insurance or your own policy in certain situations. A claim against their parents’ insurance might be necessary if the driver is a minor.
In many incidents, drivers may be at fault, especially if they’re distracted, speeding, neglecting crosswalks, or ignoring crossing guard signals. However, in Ohio, the comparative negligence rule might apply. If a child is found to be somewhat responsible (say, darting out suddenly into the road), compensation could be reduced based on the child’s degree of fault. However, young children may be exempt due to their inability to comprehend dangers fully.
The school might also have a share of responsibility. If, for instance, a school crossing is inadequately supervised or fails to provide appropriate safety guidelines to students, they might be partly at fault.
However, since public schools are governmental entities with sovereign immunity, it can be challenging to sue one for damages. Speaking with a knowledgeable car accident attorney will clarify how Ohio’s negligence laws might apply to your situation.
It’s crucial to arm your child with knowledge and respect for cars on the road. Teach them fundamental safety rules like looking both ways before crossing, using crosswalks, making eye contact with drivers, staying aware of their surroundings, and not playing near roads.
With the right education and vigilance, children can walk to school safely. But if you find yourself facing the aftermath of your child being injured in a car accident, remember that seeking the counsel of a dedicated personal injury lawyer can offer peace of mind and is a step toward financial relief.
Some car accident damages you and your child may be entitled to after a car accident where your child is hurt may include:
Also, remember that car accidents involving your child can cause lasting injuries. You’ll need to consider your and your child’s long-term needs and interests before accepting a settlement or deciding to forego legal action. To secure the full and fair compensation your child may deserve, it is best to consult their doctors about ongoing medical care and your attorney about your options.
For example, a settlement may be insufficient to cover future surgeries if your child is hit by a negligent driver who only carries minimum insurance. But if you have additional underinsured coverage or the accident would never have happened if a crossing guard failed to supervise your child, you may be able to recover more.
Parents may feel helpless after their child is struck by a car on their walk to school. But there are ways to hold the right party accountable and get the financial compensation your child needs. The Ohio car accident team at KNR can help.