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Researchers Uncover Impact of Leaving a Child Unrestrained in the Car


One of the most important lessons that parents should learn, even before bringing their child home from the hospital, is how to properly install and use a child safety seat in their car. Nevertheless, research has shown that some 75% of parents are either using their child’s safety seat incorrectly or have installed it improperly. Unfortunately, what might be an honest mistake by a well-intentioned parent can have dire consequences for their children, should an accident occur with an improperly restrained child in the car. New research shows the serious effects that failing to restrain a child can have in a serious car accident.

The recent research was conducted by a team of physicians from Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The team looked at data collected on over 18,000 fatal accidents that involved a child under age 15, all of which occurred between 2010 and 2014 across the US. The researchers compared the outcome of the accidents based on various factors, such as the type of automobiles involved; whether the accident occurred on a rural road, urban street, or divided highway; whether there was alcohol involved; the state where the crash occurred; and how the child was restrained at the time of the crash. The researchers’ results were recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Out of 18,000+ fatal accidents involving children, a child was killed in 16% of those crashes. Among all crashes studied, a child was improperly restrained in 20% of them. Among those crashes where a child was killed, the child was improperly restrained or not restrained at all 43% of the time. A further 13% of fatally-injured children had been sitting in the front seat when they should not have been based on their size or the local laws.

Not only should children be restrained for their own safety; the law requires that those transporting children use safety seats. The State of Hawaii requires that all children under age 8 be restrained in either a child safety seat or booster seat. Hawaii also imposes tough penalties on parents or guardians who do not follow these laws, requiring them to both pay a fine and take a four-hour course when found in violation of the law.

If your child was hurt in a car accident while improperly restrained, you may still be able to recover compensation from the negligent driver, but the insurance company will likely argue the child’s injuries would have been less or nonexistent if the child had been properly restrained. These arguments could reduce the value of your claim or prevent you from any recovery at all, depending upon the circumstances. These issues should be discussed at the outset with a knowledgeable and experienced Hawaii car accident lawyer.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in Hawaii, find out if you have a claim for money damages by contacting the experienced and dedicated Hilo personal injury lawyer Louis P. Mendonca for a consultation, at 808-961-6690.

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