Children Who are Hit by Cars – Who is at Fault in Washington State?

April 1, 2018

Summer vacation is coming, and more kids will be on or around streets more often. They might be crossing streets, bicycling in them or even playing in them. Children are unpredictable. When drivers see children, they need to remain aware of them. Sometimes drivers see kids, but that fact doesn’t really register in the brain. That’s when the chances of a pedestrian or bicycle accident increase. The injuries suffered in child pedestrian and bicycle accidents are usually serious, even at low speeds.

A Local Accident in Clarkston, Washington

A girl five years of age was hit by a Jeep Cherokee in Clarkston after she reportedly ran into the street in a residential area. She was flown to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane where she remains hospitalized. To date, no charges have been filed against the driver who hit her. The investigation into the accident continues. This terrible crash which occurred in March 2018 should remind everyone to watch out for children. There have been multiple pedestrian types of injuries in Clarkston so far this year already.

Children and Comparative Negligence

The Supreme Court of the State of Washington has ruled that due to a lack of mental capacity, a child under the age of six can’t be determined to be negligent. Even if a child who was hit by a car was over six at the time of the accident, he or she still isn’t going to be judged by the same standard of care as an adult. The standard of care that applies to that child would be that of a ordinary and reasonable child of the same age under the same or similar circumstances. Determination of that standard of care is a fact question for a judge to decide in a bench trial or a jury to decide in a jury trial.

The Driver’s Duty

The general rule is that if a driver is operating a vehicle in a safe and careful manner and following all of the rules of the road, he or she likely isn’t guilty of negligence if a child suddenly darted out into the roadway and was hit. On the other hand, if a driver knew or should have known that children were around, he or she should expect childish behavior. And in some cases this may be a question for a judge or jury.

Children Darting Out In Front Of Cars

The typical scenario for a child dart-out case involves a residential neighborhood and a child running or bicycling out into a road consisting of two lanes. The driver is going straight, and the child suddenly runs into the path of the car. That child is often coming from between two parked cars or the front of a single parked car. Sometimes the driver is even aware of the presence of the child, but the driver misinterprets the child’s intentions.

Investigation of the Case

Of course, the adverse insurance company is going to argue that the impact between the vehicle and the child was unavoidable because of the child darting out. That’s primarily why these types of cases must be carefully investigated. We leave no stone unturned in our case investigations. The following are just a few of the things that we review:

  • Statements of the parties.
  • Statements of eyewitnesses and post occurrence witnesses.
  • The findings of investigating police officers.
  • Paramedic and emergency room records.
  • Road, light and weather conditions at the time.
  • Photographs of the scene.
  • Any camera footage.

The visibility of the child and the visibility of the car immediately before impact are at issue in a dart-out case. How quickly the event occurred, any movement, change of direction or speed of the vehicle or the child can all be potentially determinative. These cases are difficult, and that’s why we pour over every fact and detail. You’ll need experienced and effective lawyers to build a dart-out case.

Be sure to speak to a lawyer

If your child was hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian or bicyclist in Clarkston, Spokane, or anywhere in Washington State, contact us right away to arrange for a free consultation and case evaluation. We’ll carefully listen to you and answer your questions. Then, we’ll advise you of your legal alternatives. If we’re retained, there won’t even be any legal fees unless we obtain a settlement or verdict on behalf of you and your child. Even if not retained, the input an experienced personal injury attorney has may drastically affect the outcome of your case and care and rehabilitation options your child receives.

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