Q: Can someone who leaves a child to die in a hot car be sued?
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and one of the issues that sparks intensely emotional debates: an adult inadvertently leaving a baby or child unattended in a hot car and the resulting child’s resulting death. Sometimes it is a parent; other times another relative or caregiver. In hot climates like California, it can be an issue year-round.
The temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes. It isn’t safe to briefly leave a child, or a pet for that matter, in a car even when the temperature outside is 60 degrees because the windows act as a greenhouse and it can get to 110 degrees inside rather quickly. While children can die when their body temperatures reach 107 degrees, they can suffer other heat-related damage and injuries at temperatures lower than that.
Since 1998, over 600 children have died of heat-stroke in hot cars nationally.
Recently, an 11-month old baby in the care of his grandmother was reportedly left for over an hour in a car on a warm California day with the windows closed and engine off. Tragically, he was found dead and unable to be revived. An investigation is ongoing as to whether heat stroke was a factor or cause.
The California laws regarding Child Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment provide that a parent or other caregiver who willfully exposes a child to the likelihood of physical harm or death, or who knowingly endangers a child by placing the child in an unsafe situation, may be guilty of a crime. Further, the willful infliction of any cruel or inhumane bodily harm or injury may constitute physical child abuse. In fact, it may still rise to the level of child abuse even if the harm was unintentional.
If your child has been abused or injured as a result of the actions of another, or you suspect abuse, it is important to consult attorneys experienced in child abuse, neglect and abandonment cases. Depending on the circumstances, relief may include protective orders, monetary compensation past and future medical and psychological treatment, medication expenses, the child’s pain and suffering, and even punitive damages.
The J&Y Law Firm has compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys ready to help protect the rights of your child and get you the compensation to help you get through this tragic incident, all while respecting your child’s privacy. We serve clients throughout California. Call 888.806.6722 or contact us here for a free consultation.