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Most Common Causes of Severe Injuries in Children

Accidents and injuries are always a risk as we go about our busy lifestyles. Parents do their best to shield their children from these hazards, but even the safest families can fall victim to accidents each year.

Maison Law of California commissioned a study to find out what dangers in everyday life posed the most danger to young lives. The idea is to present a visual representation of the threats that most often harm children each year. The troubling statistics will hopefully remind adults of the consequences of acting carelessly or recklessly anywhere that children may be.

The Biggest Child Injury Threats in the United States

Children can develop debilitating and life-threatening health problems. Unfortunately, these medical issues are usually impossible to prevent. That’s how they differ from childhood injuries, in most cases, these injuries are preventable with a little more care and caution.

The CDC finds that in the United States…

  • Every hour, one child dies from an injury.
  • About 1 in 5 child deaths is due to injury.
  • Every 4 seconds, a child is treated for an injury in an emergency department.

Those injuries can be caused by just about anything in our homes, schools, at stores, and on car rides.

The CDC closely examined the childhood accident rates in 2009 to find out what hazards claimed the most young lives in the U.S. each year.

Accidents involving motor vehicles were the biggest threat to children by far. Crashes were responsible for almost half of all deaths resulting from childhood injuries.

Suffocation was another deadly contributor to the loss of life. Poisonings claimed 9% of child victims for the year. That includes overdoses that contributed to an 80% rise in childhood poisoning deaths over the previous decade.


49% of child injury deaths were cause by motor vehicle accidents.


The CDC also found that suffocation deaths in children rose by 20% for infants between 2010 to 2019. Suffocation deaths were most common in children under one year old. Drowning was the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 to 4 years old.

Who Is Most at Risk in Childhood Accidents?

All young people face these risks as they grow. Yet, some important groups face more risks than others. Additional research finds more data each year that shows that certain vulnerable children face more risk of accidents than others.

In one CDC report, childhood unintentional injury death rates were highest among…

  • Male children
  • Babies under 1 year old and teens age 15–19 years old
  • American Indian and Alaska Native children and Black children
  • Unintentional injury death rates in rural areas were higher than in urban areas

What’s more, motor vehicle accident fatality rates for black children increased by 9% over the 2010s. Deadly incidents involving poisoning and overdose deaths for Hispanic children also saw a heartbreaking rise of around 50%.

Unfortunately, injuries suffered in the early years tend to cause the most issues. Children’s bodies are still growing throughout this period and an injury early in life can affect their wellbeing down the road. A broken arm that healed years ago might suddenly cause problems for a teenager as they mature into adulthood. They’ll need extra medical care and financial support to make sure their growth stays on track.

Children At Risk in California Traffic Accidents in 2023

Motor vehicles are such a big part of our everyday lives. It’s no wonder traffic accidents are the number one cause of unintentional injuries for adults and children. We hop in our cars to go to work, to go to the store, and to take our kids to school without thinking about the harm a single careless driver could cause.

Busy California roads and reckless motorists result in frightening risks for every age group. Children can be hurt in and out of car seats in major traffic collisions. They might also be struck while riding bikes or walking to school. Children can be hurt on ATV adventures and while on scooter rides.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded almost 45,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2021. Tragically, 1,184 of those victims, around 3%, were under 15 years old. That figure was about an 8% increase from 2020 numbers.

Across the U.S. just over 162,000 children were injured in car accidents in 2021. The NHTSA found that California was behind only Texas in the number of children killed in motor vehicle crashes.

It may be helpful to zoom in on the problem and look at the accident rates for crashes involving children in California’s biggest county and a smaller city. According to California’s Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS), the number of accidents involving injuries to a child has remained fairly steady over recent years.  Los Angeles County sees thousands of accidents that endanger the lives of children. Fresno and Fresno County see hundreds of accidents each year that result in at least one young person being injured.

Los Angeles County saw almost 4,000 accidents that resulted in child injuries in 2022. Fresno saw 372 collisions that involved at least one child injured.


Sadly, the rates that motor vehicle accidents claimed young lives remained high in California cities. Los Angeles County tragedies only fell back during the pandemic year of 2020, likely due to reduced traffic levels.


Protecting All Children By Exercising Caution Everywhere We Go

It’s a good time to take a breath and ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can to protect children. There are plenty of hazards out in the world, but the biggest risk to children is the careless and reckless behavior of adults. It’s the one thing we can change. Slowing down in school zones and covering up pools when they are unattended are just a few ways we can give children a better chance at reaching adulthood.

Children who are injured by the mistakes of others must get the support they need to heal. That support should include compensation to be able to afford the best medical care if an injury gives them trouble in the years ahead.

If your child is hurt in a California personal injury accident, please contact Maison Law of California for a free legal consultation to discuss how to proceed. You should know about every benefit available to you and your family after a serious accident that involves a child. Our California child injury lawyers are ready to compassionately represent you and your child and safeguard your rights.


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