Child “Dart-Out” Cases

From the Beckley Register-Herald today:

11-year-old struck by car sustains minor injuries

The Register-Herald
An 11-year-old boy struck by a car in Beckley Friday afternoon sustained only minor injuries and the driver will not be charged, city police said.

About 12:30 p.m., the boy, believed to be from the Oceana area, was struck by a Honda Accord on North Eisenhower Drive near Beckley Produce, Patrolman B.L. Fuller said. The boy was taken to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, which included a broken nose.

Witnesses said the boy darted into traffic as he was crossing the street with his father, Fuller said. The female driver of the Honda was driving at a low rate of speed because of heavy traffic.

The driver, who Fuller said did nothing improper, will not be charged.

— Amelia A. Pridemore

Note: This is a common, but difficult, situation. You have a child on the side of the road who is subsequently hit by a passing car. In some situations, drivers, even if obeying the speed limit, are charged with being more cautious when there is a child on the side of the road, because children are known to “dart-out” in the road suddenly. In the above case, the child was crossing the street with his father. There are several factors that would determine liability in that case, such as: where was the father? What was the speed limit? Was it a crosswalk? Was there a crosswalk nearby? Was the driver on a cell phone? In other words, in situations such as these, whether or not there is liability may not be known at first. Oftentimes however, such as in the above case, the responding officer likes to give an initial opinion as to liability despite the fact that they really have no idea without more investigation. More importantly, the police officer should have documented the scene of the accident, with photographs, diagrams and statements from any eyewitnesses. Them, an accident reconstruction expert and the parties themselves can determine liability at a later time. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

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