Automobile Accidents and Children

The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that during 2011, more than 650 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes. More than 148,000 children were injured. An automobile accident can cause life long disabilities to a child and in some cases death. Driver negligence, recklessness or the malfunction of a car part can cause an automobile accident. Cases can be difficult to prove and often require expert witnesses and professional investigations. The automobile accident attorneys at Farris, Riley and Pitt, are familiar with Alabama laws and have a team of reliable resources in place to help win your case.

 

Texting While Driving

Your child may be the victim of a driver who causes an accident while texting or otherwise using a cell phone. Cell phones can be used to surf the Internet, watch a movie, and find directions in addition to talking and texting. According to statistics, distracted drivers caused about 14,000, or 10%, of the car accidents in Alabama in 2010. The University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety estimated that out of the 14,000 accidents, 132 people died, and 4,380 were injured. In a study about texting and driving, it was determined that drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds per text. At 55mph, this translates to driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. A lot can happen when a driver goes for even a few seconds without looking.

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The experts concluded that the use of a cell phone while driving was at least as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Although Alabama law forbids the use of a cell phone while driving, the fines for violating the law are low. Texting and cell phone use continues to be a problem on the rise.

If a distracted driver caused the accident and your child suffered injuries, or worse, contact Farris, Riley & Pitt. We can help you determine who is at fault and begin to process your claim for damages. We can do the legal work while you work toward healing your family.

 

Pedestrian Accidents

When a car hits a pedestrian, injuries can include paralysis, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, amputation, coma and often death. Clearly a child walking or riding a bicycle is no match for the negligent driver of an automobile.

Accidents involving pedestrians are a serious and growing problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA), 4,432 pedestrians were killed across the country in 2011. This number represents a 3% increase from the number reported in 2010. That same year, car accidents caused injury to 69,000 pedestrians. During 2011, motor vehicles killed 84 pedestrians and injured 589. Most of the accidents occurred in urban areas at night. The NTSA reported that in 2011, almost one- fifth of the children between the ages of 5 and 9 killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Pedestrians, especially children, can be hard for drivers to see, and there are some safety rules that, if followed, can reduce the risk of being hit. Children should try to wear reflective clothing at night and wear light colors that increase their visibility. They should also cross streets in designated crosswalks. Children should walk facing traffic so as to have a full view of oncoming cars and should never wear headphones that can block out the sound of an approaching car.

Of course, even if your child is cautious, negligent drivers can still cause serious injuries to pedestrians. If a car hits and injures your child, chances are you are entitled to recover damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering. Caring for a child who is severely injured by a car can be life changing and the damages you receive should reflect that. You may have a claim against the driver and the city or town in Alabama where your child’s accident occurred. The child accident attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt, can analyze your specific case and help you with their expertise and compassion to obtain the proper outcome.

 

Drunken Driving Accidents

There are few things more senseless and devastating than your child being injured or killed by a drunk driver. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, there were 257 alcohol-impaired related driving fatalities in the State of Alabama in 2012 alone. Drinking driving is a crime. The driver who hit your child will undoubtedly be arrested and prosecuted under Alabama criminal law. However, criminal prosecution will not provide you with the money to pay medical bills and other expenses needed to care for your child properly.

The child injury attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt are compassionate and have years of experience pursuing personal injury cases on behalf of parents and children who have been hurt by drunk drivers. In auto accident cases, you can seek compensatory damages to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and emotional distress. In an alcohol or drug related accident, you will likely also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the person who injured your child. They are usually awarded when the driver acted recklessly. Punitive damages can run as high as ten times the amount of your compensatory damage award.

You need an attorney who is extremely experienced in pursuing drunken driving claims in Alabama and who can obtain the largest damage award that you are entitled to. The money will not diminish the pain of watching your child suffer, or bring your child back in the event of a fatal injury. After a senseless drunken driving accident, however, any compensation can help with expenses and peace of mind as you and your family begin to heal.

 

Automobile Defects

There are accidents that are not caused by negligent or reckless drivers. Some cars are made and sold with manufactured or design defects which can cause serious accidents. Examples of defects that can cause injuries or death include structural issues, poor rollover protection (particularly for SUVs), defective airbags or seatbelts, faulty wiring or brakes, and dangerous fuel tanks or tires. This list of problems is only a partial list of manufacturing or design defects that can turn a routine drive into a horrific injury to your child.

Car manufacturers have a responsibility to provide the public with safe products. If a product, including a car and its parts, is inherently unsafe and injures your child or infant, you can likely pursue a legal action against the manufacturer. This liability exists regardless of who is driving a vehicle. A lawsuit against the manufacturer of a faulty or defective product is called a product liability action.

If you think the accident that injured your child was caused by a defective or malfunctioning car part, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt. We can determine which parties may be responsible for your injuries. We have the experience to handle and win a case against a large car manufacturer or other corporation. The tenacious attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt will work hard to obtain the best outcome possible that compensates you and your child.

 

Fatalities

Unfortunately, a large percentage of automobile accidents result in fatalities. In 2012, there were 865 fatalities as a result of car accidents in the State of Alabama, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One study ranked Alabama as the third most dangerous state for automobile accidents. If a child was killed in a car accident in the State of Alabama, you might be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit as a result of that car accident.

In the case of an automobile accident fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate if the death was a result of the other driver’s negligence or criminal behavior. This might include a driver who is intoxicated, distracted by texting or disregards traffic laws. If the death occurs due to a defective vehicle, there can be negligence on the part of the car manufacturer. Regardless of the cause, the death of a child in a motor vehicle accident has devastating effects on the family.

Alabama wrongful death law is different than the law of most other states. It places restrictions on who may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit and the types of damages surviving family members can collect. For example, in the case of wrongful death, only the estate representative of the deceased individual can pursue a lawsuit. In the case of the death of a minor child, the custodial parents may sue. Only punitive damages are allowed in a wrongful death suit in Alabama. That means, for example, an estate cannot collect damages for lost wages for the number of years the deceased was expected to work. Also, for example, parents cannot seek damages for the emotional distress caused by the loss of a child. Nor can survivors seek compensation for funeral or medical expenses resulting from an accident.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party for their behavior and deter them from repeating it in the future. Punitive damages can be substantial.

If your child is killed in an automobile accident, it is crucial that you consult attorneys who know the specifics of Alabama state wrongful death laws. The attorney you choose will help you seek damages for the tragic loss of your child. The attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt have experience with child wrongful death cases and can assist you down the difficult road ahead. We will determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, navigate the intricacies involved in filing a lawsuit, and get you and your family the justice you deserve.

 

Statute of Limitations

Every state has what’s called a Statute of Limitations. A Statute of Limitations dictates the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. The time varies depending on the type of lawsuit and particular facts of the case. However, the time periods with which to bring certain lawsuits are often relatively short. If an automobile accident has injured your child, and you think you might file a lawsuit for damages, consult attorneys as soon as possible. Do you still have time to recover damages? The attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt can look at your case and figure this out. Swift action and meeting with us as soon as possible will help you to avoid losing your rights to sue.