Keeping Children Safe and Advocating for the Youngest Car Crash Victims
There are few things as tragic and as heart-breaking as the death of a child. According to the Center for Disease Control ("the CDC"), car accidents are the leading cause of childhood death in the United States. In our work as a Panama City child injury law firm, we see the faces of the grieving parents behind this statistic. We also see the parents trying to cope with an accident that caused their child severe, life-altering injury. While we can't rewind time, we are honored to help represent both parent and child car accident victims.
We also want to remind caretakers that safety seats can help prevent injury, or even save a child's life. These precautions aren't perfect, and we see many parents who did everything possible to keep their child safe, but safety seats do help and they prevent a lifetime of wondering "what if" after a tragedy.
Statistics on Children, Car Crashes, and Child Safety Seats
In 2009, per CDC figures, 1,314 children died and approximately 179,000 were injured before their 15th birthday while they were occupants of motor vehicles involved in a crash. The CDC estimates that using a proper car seat or booster seat can cut the risk of death or serious injury by more than 50%. For the youngest children, the reduction in risk is even greater, with safety seats reducing the risk of infant death by 71%.
Overview of Child Safety Seat
Safety seats are only effective when used appropriately and correctly. In one study, researchers found 72% of child restraints examined were misused in some manner that diminished the effectiveness of the seat. Using an age-appropriate restraint is also key, with the CDC making the following recommendations (ages are approximate):
- Ages 2 and under - Use a rear-facing seat, placed in the back seat, until the child reaches the weight and/or height limits.
- Ages 2 through 4/Children under 40lbs - Use a forward-facing child safety seat, placed in the back seat. Only move to the next stage when the child exceeds the seat's size limits.
- Ages 4 through 8/Under 4'9" - Use a booster seat, placed in the back seat, to properly position the car's safety belts. Use the booster seat until adult seat belts fit properly.
- Ages 8 through 13 - Use adult seat belts, with the child still in the back seat. The lap belt should sit across the child's upper thighs (not stomach) and the shoulder harness should sit across the chest (not neck).
We highly encourage parents to follow all of these recommendations despite the fact that, as noted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Florida is one of only two states that does not have a booster seat law. We also encourage parents to set a good example by buckling up themselves. The CDC notes that child restraint and adult restraint are highly encouraged, with nearly 40% of children in vehicles with unbelted drivers also riding unrestrained.
Representing Injured Children and Grieving Parents in Florida's Panhandle
If your child was injured or killed in a car accident in northwest Florida, we can help. When a child is seriously injured, he or she may face a lifetime of medical bills and other costs. In these cases, we will work to ensure your child receives the monetary damages necessary to cover a lifetime of consequences, as well as compensation for the emotional aftermath of the injuries.
When a child dies, our Panama City child wrongful death law firm will work to recover damages to cover financial costs as well as compensation for the parents' loss and emotional suffering. Parents can also recover damages reflecting the financial contribution the child would have made to the family in later years.
We recognize that such damages can never bring back a lost child or heal a severe, life-altering injury. We promise to always respect your grief. Attorney Pittman is the proud father of three and knows the immeasurable love of a parent for a child. As a small firm, we see our clients as people, not as case file numbers.