Florida Seeks to Put An End to Wrongful Death of Kids inside Cars with this New Law

Wrongful Death of Kids

Did you know that we are in the final stages of a law project that seeks to create awareness around the hazards of leaving kids unattended inside vehicles?  Also known as Ariya´s Act, it was already approved by Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis. 

Senate Bill 554, also called “Ariya’s Act”, would designate April as “Hot Car Death Prevention Month” in Florida. It also calls for the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, local governments, and other agencies to sponsor events that educate the public on the danger of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. This bill will also include penalties for leaving children inside vehicles and additional steps for passersby to take action in these situations.

Here at Louis Berk Law Firm, we deeply care about you and your family´s welfare. If your kid suffered personal injuries or, in the worst case, died due to the negligent act of an adult, we can help you achieve compensation for the damages with the help of legal experts.

Let´s take a deeper look at Ariya´s Act.

Ariya´s Act – a Proposed Law to Create Awareness

This act is named after 10-month-old Ariya Paige, who was left in her babysitter’s Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) for five hours before she died on one of the hottest days in July 2023. Investigators of the cases determined that Rhona Jewell, the 48-year-old babysitter of Paige was babysitting other children when she forgot Ariya was left in the car. 

After the tragic incident, Ariya´s family reached out to lawmakers to propose a bill (the draft of a proposed law) that would help prevent other children from suffering the same fate as Ariya. The grandparents of Paige indicated that if at least one child is saved because of Ariya´s Act, then her death was not in vain. 

Furthermore, the law encourages governments and local agencies, such as the Florida Department of Children and Families, to promote public events to raise awareness about the potential hazards of leaving children inside a vehicle exposed to high temperatures. 

Why is April the awareness month?

Ariya´s family explained because it is a sweltering month and when these accidents are more likely to happen, in hot seasons when children suffocate faster. “it’s when you want to get the public education, awareness, and get the word out to shed light on it,” said Ariya’s grandmother Pamela Paige. 

In what type of case are these situations included?

These accidents are catalogued as personal injury accidents if the children inside the vehicle survived; things can change if the kid did not, and we would talk about a wrongful death case:

  • Personal Injury Case

If the children in the car suffered any harm before they died (such as heatstroke or suffocation), then this would be considered a personal injury case. 

  • Wrongful Death Case

When children die due to the negligence of another person (in this case, the adult who left them unattended), the surviving family members (parents, siblings, etc.) can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This lawsuit seeks compensation for the damages caused by the death, such as:

  • Loss of financial support the children would have provided.
  • Medical and funeral expenses.
  • Pain and suffering of the surviving family member

Can a Car Accident Attorney evaluate this case?

Motor Vehicle legal professionals like Car and Truck Accident Attorneys are not considered to take these kinds of cases because they are not considered “traditional” car accident cases. 

Car accidents typically involve collisions between vehicles or between a vehicle and another object. In this situation, there is no collision. However, despite it could be arguments that can connect the accident to a car accident (For example, the car rolled away with a child inside and led to a crash), these situations still fall under:

  • Child Neglect Case: Leaving children unattended in a car, especially in Florida’s heat, can be considered neglectful and lead to criminal charges.
  • Wrongful Death Case: If the children lose life, the case would most likely focus on wrongful death caused by the adult’s negligence.

For example, Rhonda Jewell, the negligent babysitter, was arrested on a charge of aggravated manslaughter of a child. Her bond was set at $25,000 with GPS monitoring upon release during a court appearance.

According to Kids and Car Safety, an organization advocating for the prevention of hot car deaths, this tragedy marks the 14th time this year in the US that a child has died after being left in a hot vehicle. In Florida, it was the sixth hot car fatality this year.

Our Experienced Attorneys at your Service

An attorney can be your best option in navigating the complexities of a wrongful death case. Here’s how they can assist you with:

  • Investigating the Circumstances:

An attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident that led to your loved one’s death. This may involve gathering evidence from the scene, reviewing police reports, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with accident reconstruction experts.

  • Determining Liability:

They will work to identify the party or parties responsible for the death. This could be another driver, a product manufacturer, a property owner, or even a government agency.

  • Building a Strong Case:

Wrongful death cases can be emotionally draining for families. Here, your attorney can provide emotional support and guidance throughout the legal process.

Contact us now!

What did you think about Ariya´s act? Parents must be more aware of their children and see how well their babysitter is, silly errors can lead to the death of a kid, and all these situations can be prevented by always staying alert if a kid is left behind inside a vehicle. 

If you have a case similar to the one from Ariya or another one like any other case that resulted in personal injuries, call us now. We will give you legal advice on your case and will proceed with you in achieving fair compensation.

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