Allowing your child to walk to school can help give him a sense of independence and help teach him personal responsibility. However, you may wonder if walking to school puts your child at risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident.
Pedestrian Safety Tips for Children
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in every five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic crashes is a pedestrian. Pedestrian accidents are the third leading cause of nonfatal injuries. The government doesn't specifically track how many of these children are injured or killed on the way to school; however, there are important pedestrian safety tips to teach your child:
- Look both ways before crossing the street, looking left-right-left for moving cars.
- Always use the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far to the left of the street as possible.
- Use the crosswalk whenever possible. If there is no crosswalk, use the nearest well-lit intersection, and apply extra caution when crossing.
- Do not use smartphones or other electronic devices while walking to school. Always remain alert to potential hazards.
- When traveling in the early morning or evening hours, wear bright colors or reflectors to improve visibility.
- To reduce the risk of tripping or falling, wear shoes with a good grip, and don't run.
Deciding If Your Child Is Ready to Walk to School
Developmentally, children cannot accurately judge the speed of moving vehicles until they are about 10 years of age. To stay safe, have children younger than 10 walk to school with an adult or an older child.
If you are questioning whether your child is ready to walk to school, accompany her for a few mornings to see how safety hazards are handled. You can also ask your child detailed questions about different safety scenarios, and wait for an answer in her own words.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Pedestrian Accident
Although teaching your child the basics of pedestrian safety can reduce the risk of accidents, injuries may occur despite your best efforts.
If your child is injured due to another party's negligence, you can file a personal injury claim on her behalf. A personal injury claim is a civil action seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages or loss of future earning potential, and pain and suffering.
Normally, Louisiana law allows you one year after the date of injury to file a personal injury claim. However, in cases involving children, the clock is paused until the child reaches her eighteenth birthday.
Another important difference between cases involving adults and claims involving an injured child is that young children are not held to the same standards of reasonable action. A child is only expected to take developmentally appropriate safety precautions, which means a child is less likely to be found partially at fault for the accident.
To protect your child's right to compensation, it's best to seek the services of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can focus on building the strongest possible case while you focus on helping your child heal from her injuries.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's award-winning legal team is dedicated to protecting the rights of injured Louisiana residents, including children who have been involved in pedestrian accidents while walking to school. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.