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Is a Driver At Fault In an Accident When a Child Darts Out In Front of the Car?

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philadelphia child accident injury lawyer

Often times children and kids are not careful and forget that adults have repeatedly reminded them to not run out into the street. Parents worry every day about their children being struck by a car or involved in a car accident while crossing or playing near the street. Unfortunately, even a seemingly minor accident between a child and an automobile can lead to tragedy.

Drivers often ask, “Am I responsible even if the child ran in front of my vehicle or quickly darted into the street?”  Here in Pennsylvania, the answer may depend upon a couple of key factors, including:

  • where the accident happened
  • the circumstances around the accident
  • the age of the child when they were struck by the car

Under Pennsylvania law, drivers must use more caution when they are driving in an area where children play.

pennsylvania child injury lawyer

According to Edith Pearce, one of the top Philadelphia child injury lawyers, “Pennsylvania law has recognized that special care is required for the protection of children who often gather or congregate in the area of a school or park.”  The tendency of small children to dart across streets near schools or parks cannot be ignored by drivers under state law.  In fact, Pennsylvania Courts have held that a driver of an automobile must exercise the care reasonably necessary to avoid an accident when approaching a place where there is reason to anticipate or expect that children may come into a place of danger.

In a wrongful death case involving a 12-year old boy hit by a car when crossing the street from between two parked cars, the issue of the child’s contributory negligence was raised by the insurance company’s lawyer. The Court found that the Judge was correct in his interpretation of the law, instructing the jury that they could consider the boy’s age, his immaturity, where he lived, and his experiences during his lifetime, including the fact that he lived in an urban area with busy traffic.  Smith v. Stribling, 649 A.2d 1003 (Pa. Cmwlth Court 1994).  In other words, in determining whether the 12-year boy was at fault, Pennsylvania law holds that the jury must determine whether the boy or child used ordinary care, such as what should reasonably have been expected of a child of like age, intelligence, and experience.  In simpler terms, the jury was to determine what other 12-year-old children would have done if the same circumstance.

The Unique Aspects of a Pennsylvania Child Injury Case

child accident lawyer philadelphia

From automobile accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and everything in between, children are at increased risk for both physical and emotional injuries in these accidents. Choosing a top Philadelphia child injury lawyer is the best way to ensure your child’s rights are protected and that you are appropriately compensated for their care and recovery. An experienced child injury lawyer will be able to determine who is at fault, the value of your specific case, and pursue your case so your child gets fair compensation for their traumatic experience and injuries.

When children are injured in an accident, their cases are handled differently than adult accident injuries. They’re faced with the unique situation of not being able to serve as the plaintiff in their accident case. The law requires the child’s parent or legal guardian to serve as the plaintiff on their behalf. Upon settlement, the parent of the child is expected to put the child’s compensation into a trust that they will receive upon becoming a legal adult at the age of 18.

Another difference in an accident injury case involving a child is also different in the available compensation for a claim. A personal injury case for an adult would typically expect compensation for both economic and non-economic damages including lost wages and medical expenses. Because a child likely will not have economic damages, their case will look a bit different. Instead of examining lost wages, an injury case involving a child will instead evaluate the impact on the child’s education, emotional state, and overall physical and mental development.

Just like adults, when a child is injured due to the negligence of another, they are entitled to fair compensation for their damages.  From the cost of current and future medical care to compensation for the diminished quality of life, an experienced child injury lawyer in Pennsylvania will help ensure your child receives compensation for their injuries.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Child Injury Lawyer Today

If your child or a loved one has been injured when crossing the street as a pedestrian, it is important to have your case evaluated by an experienced, smart, and understanding Philadelphia child injury attorney.  Edith Pearce has successfully handled many pedestrian and car accident cases involving children and adults alike.  If you would like to talk about your unique case and your options, we are happy to give you a free and private consultation.  We are here to help.

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