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Heat Stroke, Cars and Kids


It has happened again. Another infant has suffered vehicular heatstroke. In a recent infant heatstroke death, a dad was supposed to take his infant to child care, but went to work and forgot the baby was in the car. His wife usually took the baby to child care. In another recent case in South Carolina, a fatal error was made by a loving family. The baby’s aunt thought his older brother had taken the baby out of the car. His older brother thought his aunt had taken the baby out of the car, but that was not something he had ever done before. The baby was in the car for four hours in high heat. It is difficult to imagine the pain and suffering all the parents and families of these children must be feeling now.

As the temperatures rise, so does the danger of serious injury or death and the likelihood that more young lives will be lost in this way. Although the law in about 20 states prohibits leaving a child alone in a vehicle for any reason, several more are considering this legislation. Thus far, Georgia has not enacted laws  prohibiting this. However, if a parent or caregiver leaves an infant or child in a hot car, and the child is injured, other laws could be applied. Child endangerment or even murder charges can be brought as we have seen in the past in our state. No law can bring back a forgotten or left baby. Most of these situations are simply tragic mistakes. Rarely, this is an intentional act.

It is hard to imagine leaving a child in a car and not realizing it. But it happens often enough that we think it is wise to remind everyone about this danger. More often these small victims are in rear-facing car seats which makes it easier to avoid seeing them. And most often they are very young, under three years of age. Over the past decade, an average of about 40 kids have lost their lives in hot vehicles. Most often they have been forgotten by a family member or caregiver who might be distracted until it is too late. Other tragedies have occurred in heated cars after children have locked themselves in the car or climbed into the trunk. One expert claims that Forgotten Baby Syndrome is a real issue when we do something out of the ordinary and break our patterns, like when a dad forgets the baby in the car when the mom usually drops the baby at child care.

There are technologies that could save infants and children from heatstroke. The detection system would be similar to that of an alert for an open door. If a child is left in a car seat there could be an alert to the driver as a reminder. Some vehicles already have this rear seat reminder and other stand alone products are out on the market that parents can use. Child advocates want to see this technology in all cars. They have advocated for, and secured, back up cameras in many vehicles so this is a real possibility and a welcome one. Scholle Law hopes that this danger can be eliminated from motor vehicles with new technologies to protect little ones.
If you need help after an accident or injury, contact our law firm for guidance and support. We will help you navigate the legal process with compassion and tenacity.