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Bagen Law Blog

The Dangers of Leaving Children in Hot Cars

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Mar 16, 2015 12:00:00 PM

HotCarOn average, 38 children die each year from being left in a hot vehicle.  Most of these children were under the age of four years old.  As parents and caregivers lives get busier, the risk of leaving children in hot cars gets higher.  A large percentage of these cases are accidents and although this can happen to anyone, the price of this mistake can lead to the death of a child.

When a car is parked on a warm day in the hot sun, it can quickly turn into an oven.  Children left in a car with the heat and no air circulation, even with the windows cracked, can suffer from consequences ranging from heat exhaustion to death. Take for example that on a 70 degree day, a car’s inside temperature can reach an extreme 120 degrees.

 Recent Cases in Central Florida

Even though there has been an increase in news stories about children being left in cars to raise awareness, several incidents have already occured this year.

Some of the recent cases include:

  • Nassau County: A 25-year-old mother left her child in a car that was already hot before the sun started beating down.  The 18-month-old was left in the car while the mother took a nap, apparently forgotten. The child suffered from heat exhaustion and the mother was charged with child neglect.
  • Central Floride: A foster mother left a 15-month-old child in the car for 20 minutes with no windows left down while she went inside a supermarket.  The child was treated accordingly for heat exhaustion and the foster parent was charged with child neglect. The foster mother had four children in her care at the time and all of these children have now been placed in different foster homes.  
  • Rockledge: A father forgot to drop off his nine-month-old before heading into work, and the newborn was left in a car for around four hours while outside temperatures soared up to 80 degrees.  The vehicle had tinted windows, however the windows were rolled up and no air was circulating. Four hours later after a phone call regarding his child’s whereabouts, the father came out to find his child dead in the back seat.

 Legal Ramifications

Aside from the lethal dangers of leaving children in hot cars, there are also legal ramifications for the parent or caregivers. While each case is judged individually based on the findings, leaving a child unattended in a hot car is comitting a crime.

Charges may range from a traffic misdemeanor to charges of child neglect.  If a child is harmed, then the parent or caregiver can be looking at a jail time, probation, or community service.  The child may also be removed from primary care and sent to foster care.  Aside from the legal ramifications, those that have left a child in a hot car also face heavy feelings of guilt and regret.

Things You Can Do To Prevent Leaving Children in Hot Cars

There are some things parents and caregivers can do to make sure they don’t leave children unattended in a car.

  • Don’t start a habit of leaving children unattended in the car.  Whether it is a cool day or a hot day, children can get themselves into many dangerous situations when they are left alone in a vehicle.
  • Make yourself aware of the dangers and consequences that can happen when a child is left in the car. By knowing the facts, you are more likely to keep them at the forefront of your mind at all times.
  • Start a habit of checking the whole car before you leave, even if you are just running to the shops. This habit could save a life.
  • Put your purse, phone, briefcase, or an item that you will need to grab before you leave the vehicle in the back of the car. It is likely you won’t leave the vehicle without these things, or if you do, you will quickly remember.
  • Set up a rule with your caregivers that they call if your child is not delivered to the child care center or home by a certain time.

Liability of Caregivers

If your child was left in a car by a caregiver, that caregiver, (or the caregiver’s employer), is liable for damages to the parents of the child.  If we can help you investigate and hold a caregiver liable for damages, contact us now at bagenlaw.com and fill out our new case contact form.

Personal Injury Lawyer Steven Bagen Gainesville Ocala Florida

Topics: Child Neglect