Each summer we hear horrific reports of children who have died after being left in hot cars. Cars pose additional dangers to young people including the soaring summer heat inside a closed motor vehicle. Thousands of children are injured in a variety of non-traffic car accidents in our country every year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says in its annual Not-in-Traffic Surveillance – Non-Crash Injuries report for 2012 that the three most common causes of injuries to children involve closing doors (53 percent), falls while entering or exiting vehicles (9 percent), and falls from the exteriors of vehicles, usually while playing on the outside of a vehicle or from a tailgate or the bed of a pickup (8 percent).

An estimated 92,000 non-crash injuries involving passenger vehicles affect children age 14 and younger every year, NHTSA says. These injuries represent about 15 percent of all of the non-traffic car accidents.

The personal injury lawyers at The Cagle Law Firm in St. Louis want all children to be safe, and for parents and others who look after children to understand that, except for normal transportation uses, an automobile is not a place for children to play or stay.

Cars, Children and Injuries

child-left-in-car-imageKidsAndCars.org is a nonprofit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and death to children in or around motor vehicles. KidsandCars.org says that, since 1996, its research has compiled information about almost 10,000 children whose lives have been endangered because they were left unattended in or around motor vehicles on private property. The organization says it has documented more than 2,450 child deaths and “knows these data vastly underestimate the true magnitude of this problem.”

Data from KidsandCars.org and NHTSA show a variety of ways children can suffer serious injury or death in a car that is supposedly parked safely in a driveway or parking lot.

They include:

  • Heat stroke / exhaustion. On average, 38 children die in cars each year from heat-related causes after being trapped inside motor vehicles, KAC says. NHTSA says from 2008 to 2010 it identified only 16 cases of heat exhaustion involving children in vehicles. In all of NHTSA’s cases, the children were treated at a hospital and released.

Kidsandcars.org says that in most cases (54.25 percent) children were forgotten and left in a vehicle. In 31.58 percent of cases, children got into cars on their own, and in 11.94 percent of cases an adult left a child in a car on purpose. Circumstances were not known in 1.82 percent of cases.

Eighty‐seven percent of children who have died from vehicular heatstroke were 3 years old or younger, KidsandCars.org says.

Internal release mechanisms are now required in all vehicles with trunks. There has not been a single fatality in the trunk of a vehicle with this glow-in-the-dark release, according to KAC.

  • Being hit by a moving part of the vehicle or striking the vehicle. This is the most common type of non-traffic car accident injuring children, NHTSA says. It includes:
    • Being injured by a closing door.
    • Being struck by a trunk lid.
    • Being struck by the hood.
    • Being injured by a closing window. KAC says that power windows in vehicles have killed or injured thousands of children. It takes just 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure an infant, while power windows can exert 30 to 80 pounds of force, the organization says.
  • Injury while entering or exiting a vehicle, such as being hit by a door, sprains or strains, or injuries from falls, including:
    • Falls from the exterior of a vehicle.
    • Falls against the exterior of a vehicle.
    • Falls inside a vehicle.
  • Being cut by a part of the vehicle.
  • Injury by a foreign body in or around a motor vehicle.
  • Fire or burns.

KidsandCars.org also addresses the dangers of “backovers” and “frontovers,” which typically happen in a private driveway or a parking lot. Each year thousands of children are hurt in accidents involving a slow-moving car and a child the driver did not see.

Parents Central is a website created by NHTSA to provide parents and caregivers with information about the potential dangers to children in and around motor vehicles. The site also has information about car seats, school bus and bicycle safety, and safety information for teenage drivers.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney at The Cagle Law Firm

If your child has been seriously injured in or around a car due to the negligence of a caretaker, property owner, auto manufacturer or other responsible party, contact our St. Louis personal injury and premises liability lawyers. You may have a right to financial compensation, but you only have a limited time within which to assert your rights.

Contact The Cagle Law Firm today for a free consultation by calling us or filling out our online contact form  or calling 314. 276.168 or toll free 1.800.685.3302..

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