baby trapped in backseat of a hot car

So far, 2016 has been a bad year for child hot car deaths. According to a CNN news report, as of this month the total number of hot car deaths nationwide has soared to 26, 11 more than there were at this time last year. A number of these incidents, of course, happen in the hot summer, late spring and early fall months. June through August is the deadliest time. So safety advocates are concerned, justifiably so, that the number of hot car deaths in 2016 will likely continue to rise this these. And with this increase, it should be expected that several wrongful death lawsuits will be filed on behalf of those who are affected by the car deaths.

Why Are Young Children At Risk?

A majority of children who die in hot cars (about 87 percent) are 3 or younger. More than half are 1 or older. Kids and Cars notes that the prevalence of backseat child safety seats, especially rear-facing ones, contributes to these statistics, since the children are often out of the driver’s view. Young children are particularly prone to heatstroke because their body temperatures can rise three to five times quicker than adults. Also, the temperature inside the car can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Not many are aware that a heatstroke could happen even in the shade or in temperatures as low as 57 degrees.

child sleeping in back seat of a hot car

According to the safety organization Kids and Cars, an average of 37 children die in hot cars each year. These include instances where a child has been forgotten in a car, accidentally locked themselves in a car or trunk, or, in a small number of cases, when a child has been intentionally left in a car. Since 1998, the highest number of hot car deaths involving children was recorded in 2010 when there were 49 fatalities. 2015 had the lowest number of hot car deaths with 24.

How Do I Prevent Hot Car Deaths?

mother looking at backseat of her car for child

There are steps parents and caregivers can and should take to avoid these entirely preventable and heartbreaking tragedies. Here are a few tips:

  • Make it a habit to look in the backseat before you lock the car. Be sure that everyone is out of the car.
  • Keep something you need in the backseat such as a purse, wallet, cell phone, lunch, ID badge – just anything essential to your daily routine.
  • Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the baby is in the seat, the stuffed animal rides shotgun. This can help serve as a reminder that the baby’s in the back seat.
  • Always lock the doors. Even if your car is parked in a garage, keep the doors locked to prevent children from getting into the car.
  • Put keys and fobs away. Do not leave them lying around. Kids might get into the car with parents’ knowledge.
  • Have a plan with your childcare provider. If your child does not show up to daycare without prior notice, someone should call to locate the children.
  • If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 911.

Contact a Rhode Island Wrongful Death Lawyer

Rhode Island Wrongful Death lawyer d'Oliveira & AssociatesIf you believe you have a wrongful death case, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, among other losses. Our firm is working with experienced Rhode Island wrongful death lawyers, who handle other types of death cases such as from medical malpractice, workers compensation, etc. There are no fee unless you obtain a settlement or award. Contact us toll free or online for a free (no obligation) case evaluation.

Author Photo

Paul d’Oliveira

Attorney Paul d’Oliveira has been practicing personal injury and disability law for over 30 years. He started his personal injury law practice in 1989 with two offices in Fall River, MA and East Providence, RI. Today his firm has 16 offices in RI and Southeastern, MA.

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