On October 9th, a four year-old child was killed after being hit by the car her mother was driving, while her mother was leaving a parking space in front of their home. The mother did not see the child approach the car because she was speaking to the father of the child moments before the child got near the car. In a case like this, one may wonder what liability a parent of a child has in a case when they end up killing their own child in a motor vehicle accident.
It is pretty standard throughout the country and in Florida that a parent of a child cannot be sued for negligence in accidents that cause that child’s injury or death. In a case like this, the parent’s no-fault insurance would be responsible for the medical bills and bills related to the child’s death such as funeral expenses. However, there would be no one that can be sued for any pain and suffering or wrongful death damages.
The reasoning behind this is that it is the parent who caused the accident that would be the beneficiary of the estate of the child. This would mean that if the insurance company paid out pain and suffering or wrongful death damages, it would go to the very person who caused the accident in the first place, mainly the parent of the injured or deceased child. Under Florida law, a parent cannot collect from their own insurance company for pain and suffering to their child in an accident that they caused.
This is not extended to all family members however. If a grandparent, aunt or uncle were responsible for the death of a child, the parent’s would be able to sue them under Florida law for their negligence and would be able to collect in the case of a serious injury or wrongful death. This is because the beneficiary of a child’s estate is most likely the parents as it would be very rare a child would have a will.
One thing that should be kept in mind however is if there were safety features that should have been active on the car and weren’t, either by a failure in design or malfunction. In this case the car was 12 years old, so it most likely wouldn’t have included safety features that you can find on many newer cars, such as back up cameras or crash avoidance systems. If these were present and malfunctioned, or if there were required safety features that should have been on the car such as rear view mirrors that were not present, there could be a potential claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle for product liability, even if the parent was partially at fault in the accident.
It is important if your child is injured in an accident to call a lawyer right away to see if there are any potential claims arising from the accident. If you wait before calling an attorney, evidence could be lost or deadlines could be missed. If your child has been injured in any accident, call Brooks Law group at 888-WE-MEAN-IT for a free consultation and to protect your rights.