Don’t Leave the Kids in the Car!

Don’t Leave the Kids in the Car!

Summer’s heat is in full swing, and with it comes an increased number of reports about children dying because they were left in a hot car. On average, each year 37 kids lose their lives to this senseless, avoidable tragedy. In June 2018 alone, we’ve already had two regional deaths due to hot cars: a 3-year-old in Anderson, Indiana, and a 2-year-old in Crittenden, Kentucky. To date in Indiana (late June, 2018), nine kids have suffered motor vehicle heat stroke death. In Kentucky, the number is 17 pediatric heat stroke deaths.

Within 10 minutes, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees. If it’s 90 degrees outside, that’s an inside-the-car temperature of 110, which can be deadly to a child after little more than a few minutes.

The Facts about Temperature, Cars, and Kids

It’s not only the 90-degree days you need to worry about. It’s not even the 75-degree days. Testing done by Consumer Reports discovered that the temperature inside a closed car rose to over 105 degrees in one hour when it was only 61 degrees outside. At 105 degrees, an infant or toddler is at risk of dying, because a small child’s body does not cool itself as efficiently as an adult’s does. Overwhelmingly, infants and toddlers are the ones who die in hot cars: more than half of all such deaths happen to children under the age of two. An infant in North Carolina died in a car when it was only 66 degrees outdoors.

The only safe time to leave a child alone in a car? Never.

Why Do Kids Get Left in Cars?

It’s true that roughly one-fifth of people (18 percent) leave kids in the car on purpose—generally to run an errand—and a little more than one-fourth of deaths (27 percent) occur because a child was playing inside an unlocked, empty motor vehicle. But 54 percent of deaths—approximately 400 children over the past 20 years—happened because the parent or caregiver forgot the child was in the car.

Many times, a change in routine is responsible for such a tragedy. An overtired, stressed, distracted parent or caretaker can “forget.” Rarely does a child who dies from heat stroke suffer from prior abuse.

When is it Negligence?

But sometimes, negligence is the cause, signifying that the person in charge of your child didn’t do their job. Negligent supervision means that the person who accepted the responsibility to take care of your child has harmed them due to their carelessness or lack or attention. Parties who could be considered negligent if your child dies in a vehicle from heat stroke include:

  • Churches
  • Camp counselors
  • Foster parents
  • Other parents.


In a negligent supervision case, you must prove that:

  • The party accepted the responsibility of care.
  • They improperly or inattentively watched over your child.
  • Your child’s harm was caused by their inattention or negligence.
  • What happened to your child was foreseeable. In other words, any reasonable person would have “seen it coming.”

When it comes to a child left in a hot vehicle, the harm that could befall them is well-established as foreseeable.

An example of such a case took place in Florida during August, 2017. A day care driver left a three-year-old in the van used to shuttle children from one day care location to another. It was 12 hours before the child was found; the boy did not survive. The day care center had previously been cited for non-compliance in logging the transport of children. In this case, the driver did not perform a headcount to ensure that all of the children were accounted for. The driver was taken into custody on charges of aggravated manslaughter.

What You Can Do

Norton Healthcare in Kentucky has three ideas to help prevent your child from falling victim to a vehicular heatstroke death while they are in your care:

  • Place an item you will need at your next stop—such as your cell phone—on the back seat’s floor on the same side as your child’s car seat.
  • Use your cell phone to set an audible reminder to drop off your child at day care or school.
  • Note in your phone or computer’s calendar that you need to drop off your child at day care or school. An audible reminder would help.

Successfully litigating personal injury cases in Indiana since 1982.

If someone’s negligent or reckless actions have caused injury or death to your child, it is your right to seek compensation in an Indiana personal injury lawsuit, but it is critical to have a knowledgeable and trustworthy legal professional representing you. We suggest you talk with the Indiana child injury lawyers at McNeely Stephenson. Both Mike Stephenson, with his more than three decades of experience, and Brady Rife, with his diverse experience in personal injury litigation, will commit the highest standards of client care to your case. What is your next step toward justice? You can start now by calling Mike or Brady, or by using our online contact form for a free evaluation of your claim.