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Who is at fault if a child runs into the road and is hit by a car in California?

Drivers are often cited when children are hit in a heartbreaking pedestrian accident. Drivers are expected to show extreme caution in areas where children might be playing. They must slow down enough to make a collision impossible.

This high standard of care is due to a child’s vulnerability to traumatic injuries. It’s also in place because children can’t be expected to have good judgment when near a road or trying to cross a crosswalk. The motorist has the responsibility to monitor for children and act to avoid an impact.

California Vehicle Codes and Child Pedestrian Accidents

California’s vehicle code CVC 21950. explains how motorists should proceed on California streets in order to keep all pedestrians as safe as possible.

According to state law, they must slow down upon spotting a pedestrian approaching a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk. Drivers are expected to reduce speeds upon spotting a potential pedestrian and do everything else in their power to avoid hitting a defenseless pedestrian.

When pedestrians are struck, even when they are crossing the street illegally, drivers can still be held liable for injuries in a collision.

Where a vulnerable child is concerned, the burden of responsibility is even heavier for the driver. Children aren’t considered old enough to act reasonably in such a dangerous situation. That’s why drivers bear more of the legal duty to prevent a collision when a child is in or near the road. In essence, they must slow their vehicles in case a child decides to enter the boulevard.

Driver’s Fault After a Child Pedestrian Accident

Not all drivers will be instantly cited for reckless driving after hitting a young person. The circumstances of what happened could show that a driver did everything possible to avoid a tragedy.

In an investigation into a pedestrian collision involving a child, these and other factors would be examined by local officers and insurance companies:

  • The child’s age and experience.
  • Was the child hidden?
  • The location of the accident. Was it in an area where the driver should have reasonably assumed that children were around? This would be an area like a playground or a school zone.
  • Was the driver focused on the road properly? Was the driver distracted?
  • Was the driver breaking other traffic laws like speeding or driving while impaired?
  • Did the driver try to avoid the accident by slamming on the brakes or steering away from the child?

Comparative Liability in a California Child Pedestrian Accident

California also follows the legal concept of comparative liability. This means a motorist and a pedestrian can share blame for an accident. In this case, a child wouldn’t really be held accountable for their reckless actions, but the driver might only be assigned 50% of the blame in a collision.

This becomes important as car insurance companies and personal injury lawyers negotiate to determine the support the injured child and the child’s family will be provided with.  A judge and jury could also be asked to decide who bears the most blame. A child may end up with 50% of the fault. This would mean that they could still receive compensation for injuries from the driver’s insurer, but the award would be reduced by 50%.

Child Pedestrian Injuries and Additional Insurance Compensation

Children require more alertness and caution from California drivers, but they also often require more intensive medical care to fully recover after an impact.

A child is usually going to be of shorter and smaller stature than an adult. They are also closer to the tires of the vehicle when a collision occurs. In an accident with a car, they can suffer much more serious injuries. Those injuries might also cause more issues down the road.

As a young pedestrian accident victim grows, those injuries suffered could affect the maturation process during young adulthood. A teen may experience developmental issues that require extensive medical attention and even surgery. These additional future hardships must be factored into any child pedestrian injury settlement check.

These and other damages would be considered when deciding how much support a child and a child’s family would receive after a California pedestrian accident:

  • The child’s current hospital bills and the costs of any care expected to be necessary for the future.
  • Estimated totals for lifelong care associated with permanent disfigurement or permanent disability.
  • Wrongful death benefits. A family that’s tragically lost a child in an accident must seek support to avoid a financial crisis. A claim asks for help with funeral costs and remaining medical bills.
  • Pain and suffering. These are the non-economic damages a child suffers. Including the emotional trauma that may leave a child with PTSD symptoms from memories of such a frightening event.
  • Travel costs when taking children to doctor’s appointments.

Seeking Support After a California Pedestrian Accident Involving a Child

It’s not hard to figure out that children will need additional support as they recover from a careless driver’s mistake. But insurance companies can make things difficult for families who are facing massive medical bills. A personal injury lawyer can help you figure out what your child will need to recover and then fight to get the maximum in compensation available for a young victim.

Contact a California pedestrian accident lawyer with Maison Law of California for a free, no-obligation consultation. It’s a no-risk way to find out what your pedestrian accident injury is worth and what you should demand from an insurance company for the benefit of your child.

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