Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatalities and injuries in the United States. Children age 14 and under constitute a significant portion of these motor vehicle accident fatalities. Children are particularly vulnerable to death or injury in motor vehicle accidents. At age 14 and earlier, children are still developing physically, and, thus, are more fragile in the face of physical trauma. Additionally, medical treatment associated with injuries sustained by children may be more complex and, therefore, more expensive.
Victims of motor vehicle accidents face a wide range of consequences. If a victim survives the accident, the victim often suffers severe brain trauma. Treating severe brain trauma can entail millions of dollars in medical expenses. The victim’s family often feels the burden created by these costs. Additionally, severe brain trauma can leave a victim unable to function normally in their daily life. Brain trauma can lead to numerous personality disorders, which might affect the victim’s personal relations. Victims may be physically unable to attend school with their peers and participate in other activities associated with a traditional childhood. Attaining employment in the future may be impossible. Even in cases where injuries are less severe than brain trauma, victims may find themselves hospitalized for weeks and months. Thus, victims of motor vehicle accidents may be entitled to significant recovery.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that children age 14 and under accounted for 4 percent of traffic fatalities in 2010. These motor vehicle accidents resulted in the death of 1,210 children age 14 and under. An additional 171,000 children age 14 and under were injured in similar accidents.
In 2010, 41 percent of children age 14 and under involved in fatal crashes were not wearing safety belts. Research conducted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown that lap/shoulder safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury in front seat occupants age 5 and older by 45 percent. Under similar circumstances, the risk of moderate-to-critical injury is reduced by 50 percent. Child safety seats, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent in the case of children younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent in children 1 to 4 years old.
Tips to reduce the risk of fatality or serious injury to children involved in motor vehicle accidents:
- Children younger than 1 year old should be secured in a properly installed child safety seat.
- Children 1 to 4 years old should be secured in properly installed booster seats or properly installed child safety seats.
- Children age 5 years and older should restrained by shoulder/lap safety belt.
- Local fire or police departments can be consulted for proper installation of child safety seats and booster seats.
If you or someone you know has been hurt or killed in a motor vehicle accident, call a Coweta County auto accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Shane Smith at (770)-484-8999 and ask to schedule a free legal consultation.