What is the Law on Leaving Children in the Car?

As we wrap up Baby Safety Month, it is a good time to discuss the issue of leaving children in vehicles. Is it safe to leave a child in a vehicle in a vehicle for any amount of time? And is it legal to do so?

Kaitlyn’s Law

California law prohibits parents and anyone responsible for a child from leaving a child ages 6 or under alone inside a vehicle. The law, known as Kaitlyn’s law, specifies that caretakers are in violation of the rule “when conditions exist that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety. According to the California Highway Patrol Commissioner in 2001, the year the law was enacted, there is no excuse for leaving a child alone in a vehicle, even for a few minutes. The law applies even if the air conditioning is on or the windows are down.

Caretakers who violate Kaitlyn’s law can be punished by a fine, even if no injury results. If the child suffers injuries or dies, the caretaker can be charged with child endangerment, manslaughter or any other applicable charge.

Leaving Children in a Car for Just a Short Time can be Deadly

Researchers say that the inside of a car can reach in excess of 140 degrees in an hour on a 90 degree day. Parents should also note that a young child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s, making it even more dangerous for children to be left in a vehicle for any amount of time.

Forgetting Children in the Car is a Real Safety Concern

Oftentimes children are left in vehicles on accident. According to the National Safety Council, 718 children have died over the last 20 years because they were left in vehicles. In more than half of these cases, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car.

It might seem impossible to forget a child in the car, but it certainly happens. One way to help prevent this is to always put something important, such as your cell phone or purse, in the back seat next to your child. That way when you go to exit your vehicle, you have to check the back seat. Also make it a habit to “look before you leave,” every time you get out of your vehicle.

“With the high temperatures we experience here in the desert, there is never an excuse for leaving your children in the car, even for a few minutes,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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