For most homeowners, they consider their driveway as a part of their “safe zone.” It’s an extension of their home, and the only traffic coming in or out is usually moving slowly, to pull in or to back out. This is one of the reasons that driveways are such popular outdoor areas for children to spend time and play. From playing in the water hose to shooting hoops and even drawing with sidewalk chalk.
Unfortunately, the fact is, the occurrence of driveway accidents is far too common. In fact, it’s estimated that around 2,400 children from around the U.S. are injured during a driveway accident every year. That means that 50 accidents occur each week, with two children dying because of their injuries. Smaller children are at a very high risk of suffering a serious injury and even death during a driveway accident. In fact, these account for approximately 64 percent of all non-traffic auto fatalities.
Why Florida Driveway Accidents Take Place
Florida car accident lawyers understand that there are several reasons a driveway accident may occur. There are also several factors that impact the crash. According to experts from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a driveway accident that results in an injury to a child occur in one of two main ways:
- A child shifts an idle vehicle into or out of gear
- A vehicle being driven by an adult hits a child
Many of the child-versus-vehicle crashes that occur in driveways are backovers. This occurs when the driver is attempting to back out of their parking spot and does not see a child is behind them. In some situations, this is because the child suddenly moved into that area, but in other cases, this happens because the driver is not paying close attention to their surroundings.
If a small child is in a vehicle’s blind zone, it can be easy to not see them. According to statistics, the predominant age of the children who are involved in these accidents ranges from 12 to 23 months old. These children are usually mobile but don’t fully understand the dangers of moving vehicles. They are also very hard to see both in front of and behind a vehicle.
While this is true, a driver still has the responsibility to check and double-check their blind zones and mirrors before they back up. Modern technology, like rear sensors and backup cameras, can help to reduce the chances of a driveway accident; however, this doesn’t offer a guarantee.
Who is Responsible for Driveway Accidents?
The answer to this question will depend on the facts of the case. In some situations, more than one person or entity could be considered a liability. Since Florida is considered a pure comparative negligence state, the contributing fault of the person who is injured will diminish the damages that are received.
Courts don’t weigh how reasonable a child’s actions are the way they do with adults, especially if it is a driver who owes a duty of care to the other bicyclists, pedestrians, passengers, and motorists to use reasonable care while operating a vehicle. If a driver doesn’t do this, the injury that occurs is considered negligence. Even if the child’s actions played a part in the accident, they are not usually considered liable. However, the child’s parents or caregivers may be found partially responsible if they were not properly supervising them.
While drivers are usually the ones who are liable for driveway and backover accidents, homeowners may also be considered responsible if there is evidence that dangerous onsite conditions were not addressed. In this case, the injured party (or their parents) would file a premises liability lawsuit.