There is a different type of car accident that often occurs here in South Carolina and that includes a child being injured or killed after being left in a hot car. Accidents like these frequently lead to children dying of hyperthermia; characterized by high body temperature that occurs due to being left inside a hot vehicle.
In early August, this, tragically, happened in Colleton County, leading to two individuals associated with the Colleton County School District being arrested. This particular individual was a 13-year-old special-needs child. However, a total of six children reportedly died in hot cars in South Carolina, and 52 nationwide in 2018, with South Carolina leading the nation with the highest numbers. Five of these deaths were associated with caregivers leaving children behind in vehicles.
Justice & Options for Families
In circumstances like these, in addition to the state charging those responsible with criminal charges such as manslaughter, the families of loved ones who are harmed can sue the individuals and/or facility associated with the accident for negligence/neglect, as well as related claims such as negligent hiring and false imprisonment. Anyone who operates a facility that transports children is responsible for maintaining a driver’s log documenting all children that are in the vehicle so as to ensure that all of them are also taken out upon exiting the vehicle. Even if the temperature outside is around 70 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can easily increase 40 to 50 degrees above this. Children heat up five times faster than adults, and a car essentially acts like a greenhouse, where organs begin to shut down when one’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees.
Still, given how many children are now regularly dying due to being left in hot cars, many children’s advocates are calling for more to be done, such as mandatory alarm technology that would alert drivers to children being left in their seats; a requirement that is now the subject of a federal law, the Hot Cars Act of 2019. Still, even in vehicles that have passenger safety alarms, drivers can still exhibit negligence by turning them off without first conducting a visual inspection.
Preventing These Tragedies
Experts recommend the following to ensure that you do not forget a child in a hot car:
- Leave something with the child that you won’t leave behind, such as a cellphone
- Set a reminder on your cell phone
- Ensure that your daycare alerts you if your child is not present at certain times
- Keep a stuffed animal in the front seat with you to remind you that your child is in the back car seat
- Install car seat technology that alerts you when a child has been left in the car
Contact Our South Carolina Accident & Wrongful Death Attorneys
If you live in South Carolina and have been injured or lost a loved one due to negligence in an auto accident, contact our experienced Greenville personal injury and wrongful death attorneys today to find out how we can help.
Dan Pruitt is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from University of Georgia, and has been practicing law for 25 years. Dan Pruitt believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.