Hot Cars and Wrongful Death Liability

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As summer approaches, parents and caregivers turn their attention to child safety in and around cars. One serious concern for children is hot car deaths. A hot car can quickly become a dangerous situation for a child. Hot car deaths continue to be a danger in Nevada and throughout the world. Here’s everything you need to know about hot car deaths from our skilled Las Vegas wrongful death attorneys.


    Child Hot Car Deaths in Nevada

    A three-year-old boy died in Las Vegas in 2017 after he was left in a hot car. Authorities say that it was the first hot car death in the Las Vegas area in two years. Temperatures inside the car reached as high as 170 degrees. The child was only in the vehicle for about an hour. Another Las Vegas hot car death occurred in 2003.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 760 children have died in hot cars since 1998. They recommend placing items that you use in the back seat, like your cell phone, laptop, or even your shoe to remind you that there’s a child in the vehicle. Parents often forget when they alter their daily routine. However, about one-third of all child hot car deaths occur when a child crawls into a vehicle undetected by adults around them.

    Is It Illegal to Leave Your Child Alone in a Car?

    It’s illegal to leave your child alone in a car if it exposes them to danger. When it’s a hot day, and you leave your child in a situation where they might overheat, you’re likely in violation of the law. In addition, if your child is so young that they can’t safely attend to their personal needs that arise in your absence, you can’t leave them alone in the car in any circumstance.

    If a child gets hurt because they’re in a hot car, you might face child abuse, assault, and manslaughter charges. In addition to these charges, your state may have more specific laws that apply to protect children from being left in hot cars. You may also face civil liability.

    It is not legal to leave your child alone in a car in Nevada if the child is seven years old or younger, and one of two conditions is present. The first condition is when being left alone in the car poses a significant health and safety risk for the child.

    The second condition is if the keys are in the ignition or the engine is running. Nevada law 202.485 makes it a misdemeanor to leave a child alone in a car in Nevada in these circumstances unless the child has supervision from someone who is at least 12 years old.

    How Many Children Die in a Hot Car?

    According to CNN, approximately 37 children die in hot cars each year. July is the month where most deaths occur. A child hot car death can occur because an adult forgets that the child is in the car, because the child crawls in the car without being seen, or because an adult places the child in the car intentionally.

    What Are the Penalties for Leaving a Child in a Hot Car?

    The penalties for leaving a child in a hot car depend on whether the child gets hurt and where the offense occurs. If the child dies, you face charges of manslaughter, child abuse, and assault. If you act intentionally to place a child in a hot car, you may face homicide charges.

    Many states have laws that specifically prevent leaving a child in a hot car. Even if a child doesn’t suffer any physical harm, you may still face criminal charges for leaving the child in the vehicle. If you’re convicted of the charges against you, penalties may include jail time, fines, probation, mandatory education, and community service.

    Nevada Child Hot Car Deaths and Civil Liability / Wrongful Death

    If your child is left in a hot car by someone else, you may have a civil claim for damages. The responsible adult may owe you or your child compensation for your child’s injuries and suffering. For you to have a civil claim, your child must suffer physical harm. Whether they suffer physical injuries or a tragic death, you may bring a claim against the adult who is responsible. If the responsible person works for a business, like a daycare, you can bring your claim against the business as well as against the individual that is responsible.

    If your child is in someone else’s care at the time they’re hurt, the person responsible may owe you damages for your child’s harm. When your child is hurt while in daycare, for example, the standards of responsibility against the daycare are very high. Businesses, such as daycare providers, have very high standards to prevent harm to children. When a child hot car wrongful death occurs in daycare, the standards of liability against the daycare operator provide strong accountability for the daycare and the individuals responsible for harm to the child.

    Nevada Vulnerable Adult Hot Car Deaths and Civil Liability

    Not all hot car wrongful deaths involve children. Vulnerable adults can also be the victims of hot car deaths. People who care for vulnerable adults must be careful to ensure their safety when sitting in a parked vehicle. Physical harm or the wrongful death of a vulnerable adult in a hot car can be the basis of a civil action in Nevada.

    Nevada Attorneys and Wrongful Death

    Has your child been hurt by being left in a hot car? Do you know a vulnerable adult who was hurt in a hot car? Our Nevada wrongful death lawyers can help. Our attorneys can help you investigate the case and explore your right to claim compensation on your child’s behalf.

    We know how devastating it can be when a child is harmed in a hot car. We offer compassionate and aggressive legal services aimed at helping your child get the justice that they deserve while ensuring accountability for those responsible. Contact us today for a confidential, free consultation about your case.

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    Adam S. Kutner

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