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Home and car accidents: Others may disregard your child’s risk

Most moms and dads are careful drivers, especially when their children are riding in the car, too. New Jersey, as in other states, has specific safety rules and guidelines that apply to drivers and passengers. They are especially stringent regarding children. Accident injury risk, however, apparently increases when children are away from their parents. It's likely not an intentional action or inaction that might cause the problem. Rather, a recent survey has found a less diligent approach to safety might be to blame.

Parents are busier than ever, and children are involved in more activities than they used to be. To relieve some of that pressure, parents often set up carpools and play dates, sharing the responsibility of transport and supervision. Sounds like a good plan – up to the point of an accident. Then the question of liability coverage presents itself. More than half of research participants are unaware of insurance ramifications in this situation.

Parents of an injured child are entitled to seek compensation if that injury occurred due to the negligence of someone else. According to an insurance study, nearly one-third of parents don't regularly crack down on home safety rules, and more than three-quarters of those surveyed admit to distracted driving behaviors while the children of other families are present.

One theory is that parents don't really understand their insurance policies' limitations. They might know they have liability coverage but are unaware of how much protection they have if others are injured in their cars or homes. The study shows 20 percent of parents who drive other children don't have proper car seats for all of them. Most know of updated regulations, but more than 25 percent aren't really familiar with them. Among other findings, it's revealed that 57 percent of homes keep unprotected poisonous chemicals and 53 percent store prescription medications in unlocked locations. With 82 percent of parents hosting up to four children at a time, these numbers warrant consideration.

Families need to interact and rely on others. It's not necessarily about trust but could be a lack of awareness that precipitates an accident. Nonetheless, the liability for compensation might rest with the caretaker, and the accident investigation will spotlight any gaps in his or her safety precautions. A careful review of that information will then allow for choosing the right legal remedy.

Source: Claims Journal, "Many Parents Unaware of Every Day Insurance Risks When Hosting Kids: Survey" Nov. 18, 2014

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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