Serving Justice

Pedestrian Accidents Involving Children: Special Legal Considerations

October 30, 2023Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents involving children account for a significant portion of pedestrian injuries and fatalities each year. Children may not possess the same level of judgment and awareness as adults. As a result, there are special legal considerations in these cases to acknowledge childrens’ unique vulnerabilities and needs.

Heightened Duty of Care

Drivers are held to a heightened duty of care in pedestrian accident cases involving children. This special duty places a greater responsibility on drivers to exercise caution and take extra precautions when children are present in areas where they are likely to be. Specifically, this heightened duty of care entails the following:

  • Reduced Expectation of Child Responsibility: Drivers should anticipate that children may act impulsively, be easily distracted, or fail to fully comprehend traffic rules. Therefore, drivers are expected to be more vigilant and prepared to react to unpredictable behavior.
  • Reduced Speed in Residential Areas: Drivers should reduce their speed in residential areas, school zones, and places frequented by children. This allows for a longer reaction time in case a child suddenly enters the roadway.
  • Increased Attention at Crosswalks and Play Areas: Drivers should exercise heightened caution at crosswalks, playgrounds, parks, and school zones. These are areas where children are more likely to be present, and drivers should be prepared for sudden and unexpected movements.
  • Avoidance of Distractions: Drivers are expected to minimize distractions while operating a vehicle. This includes avoiding activities like texting, using a phone, or engaging in other distractions that may divert attention from the road.
  • Exercise of Extra Caution in Poor Visibility or Adverse Weather Conditions: In conditions where visibility is reduced, such as fog, heavy rain, or snow, drivers should reduce their speed further and exercise even greater caution.
  • Stopping for School Buses: Texas law requires drivers traveling both directions to come to a complete stop to allow children to safely cross the road when a school bus is stopped and has its stop sign extended unless a median or wall is separating the highway.

When a driver fails to exercise this heightened degree of care, pedestrian accident victims have the right to hold them liable for any injuries and related losses.

parent and child in a pedestrian crosswalk with blue umbrellas

Who Can Bring a Pedestrian Accident Claim on Behalf of a Child?

While children in Texas have the right to pursue compensation after a pedestrian accident, they must do so through a “next friend.” A next friend is an individual who brings a lawsuit on behalf of a minor or someone unable to represent themselves. This could be a parent, legal guardian, relative, family friend, or any responsible adult appointed by the court. The next friend is responsible for initiating and managing the legal proceedings.

Any settlement or judgment awarded in a pedestrian accident claim involving a child typically requires court approval. This is to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected and that the funds are used for the child’s benefit.

Statute of Limitations for Child Injury Claims in Texas

Generally, Texas places a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the injury in pedestrian accident cases. This means a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the injury, or the victim will lose out on pursuing compensation.

However, Texas law provides for a tolling (pausing) of the statute of limitations for minors in pedestrian accident cases involving minor children. In other words, the clock does not start running until the child reaches the age of 18.

While children are able to wait until they are 18 to pursue a claim themselves, it is generally not in their best interests. The longer the delay, the more evidence can disappear, and witnesses’ memories will fade, making it much harder to prove liability and the extent of the child’s injuries. Additionally, the tolling of the statute of limitations does not apply to damages the parents have suffered, for example, medical bills they are responsible for, lost income, etc.

Speak To a Trusted Attorney Today

If your child has been harmed in a pedestrian accident, contact Ramsey Law Group as soon as possible. Our Houston Pedestrian Accident Lawyer can help you advocate for your child and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.