The Auto Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of an Alachua County crash, which serves as an important reminder of the benefits of proper use of child safety restraint systems. The accident occurred on April 22, 2014 at the intersection of Newberry Rd and NW 98th St. in Gainesville.
Officials say that the accident occurred as 24-year-old Matthew Stout, of Newberry, along with his 2-year-old and an 11-month-old passengers, were traveling east on Newberry Rd. As Stout approached the intersection of NW 98th St., a 1995 Honda Civic, driven by 26-year-old Mauro Peralta crossed into Stout’s path, thereby resulting in a T-bone collision between the two vehicles. Peralta, who was identified by authorities as the cause of the incident, was issued a citation for making an improper left turn.
All parties to the accident, including Peralta, Stout, and the two small children in Stout’s vehicle, were transported to UF Health Shands for treatment for non-life threatening injuries. Fortunately, both children involved were properly secured in car seats at the time of the collision, according to Florida Highway Patrol, and suffered only minor injuries.
While any injury to a child is certainly concerning, we are also drawn to the consideration that this accident could have been much worse, had Stout not taken the appropriate safety precautions in restraining both children. Young children, in particular, are far more susceptible to sustaining catastrophic injury or fatality as a result of an auto crash. We must commend Stout, because, our Accident & Injury team has witnessed, far too often, the devastating consequences that can occur in an accident where children are either unrestrained, or have been restrained in an improper manner.
The failure to use child safety restraint systems is a leading cause of death or injury among children involved in motor vehicle collisions. According to seatcheck.org, child safety seats can reduce the incidence of fatality by as much as 54% for children between the ages of 1 and 4, and up to 71% for infants. Issues regarding the use of car seats, are such a significant concern, that special language has been specifically included within Florida’s Child Restraint Device Law, denoting such concern. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. §316.613(4):
It is the legislative intent that all state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, and safety councils, in recognition of the problems with child death and injury from unrestrained occupancy in motor vehicles, conduct a continuing safety and public awareness campaign as to the magnitude of the problem.
Although the use of a child safety seat is vital to the safety of children, it is also necessary to take into consideration that their effectiveness is also dependent on whether the proper type of seat is being used and in the appropriate manner. In addition to selecting a car seat in accordance with the age and size of the child, the child restraint device must also meet federal approval and crash-test standards. However, choosing the right restraint system is only the first step in the restraint of a child. It is equally important that car seats be placed into use according to the manufacturer guidelines applicable to the specific device being used.
The Personal Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC also remind parents that car seats should always be replaced following an accident. In fact, replacement of child restraint devices is generally covered under the property damage coverage included within an auto insurance policy. As a final note, we also encourage parents to register devices with the manufacturer, so that they can receive notification in the event of a safety recall.