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Special duty of care to children

Each year, thousands of pedestrians are injured in pedestrian-automobile accidents. Many of these victims are children that suffer catastrophic injuries or death when struck by a vehicle. When pedestrian accidents are investigated, negligence may be assigned by weighing the pedestrian and the driver's duty of care. While neglecting these responsibilities may significantly impact an injured party's ability to recover damages, it is important for drivers to understand that when it comes to children, the duty of care changes.

In most pedestrian-auto accidents the pedestrian and driver share a responsibility to operate or behave in a specific manner. The driver of a vehicle has a duty of care to exercise responsible behavior when behind the wheel. Likewise, a pedestrian is responsible for exercising care for their own safety. Just as the driver of a vehicle is responsible for not behaving in a negligent or reckless manner, a pedestrian is also expected to anticipate and avoid danger.

By assigning a duty of care to both the driver and pedestrian, the responsibility is equally distributed. When it comes to children, however, a driver has a special duty of care above and beyond the normal standard. This is because children are not expected to exercise the same level of responsibility as an adult. Children are smaller, more unpredictable and less visible than their older counterparts. When children are present, a driver is expected to exercise a greater level of care. Reminders of this responsibility can be seen outside of schools, around parks, and within residential areas where caution signs are present.

Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare. To avoid these accidents, drivers are reminded to exercise a special duty of care when it comes to children. When this duty of care is neglected or dismissed, and a child is injured or killed, parents have every right to hold the negligent party accountable and recover damages for their recklessness.

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