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When Children are Left in Hot Vehicles: Accident or Homicide?

In the past five years, there have been approximately 165 deaths resulting from children being left in cars. Such a tragic circumstance begs the question: Should these deaths be ruled as an accident or a homicide?

According to the founder of KidsAndCars.org, the number of convictions has gotten higher in recent years, concluding that in cases where parents were being charged, many of the grieving parents/caregivers pled guilty before their trials even began.

Looking at the individual cases, babysitters and childcare workers are more likely to be charged and convicted for causing a child’s death by leaving them in a hot vehicle than parents. However, parents are more likely to see jail time if they are convicted.

How Do Children Die in Cars?

Jan Null, a meteorologist from San Jose State University, recently explained to reporters how cars left in the sun are like greenhouses. As they heat up, the energy from the sun heats whatever is inside to reach temperatures in upwards of 200 degrees. Moreover, the air inside the car reaches such temperatures very quickly—often within just 30 minutes.

Accident or Homicide?

The question of whether such tragedies should be considered wrongful death accidents or homicides is a difficult conclusion to reach. Typically, these types of deaths are sorted into four categories:


In those cases where a caregiver purposefully leaves a child in a car, homicide would clearly be the right charge. However, the other categories are harder to determine and are often left to attorneys, judges and a jury to decide on a case-by-case basis.

If such a tragedy does occur, you may require the expertise of a personal injury and wrongful death attorney who can skillfully represent your family’s rights in and out of court. For these and other cases of personal injury in Colorado, contact The Babcock Law Firm to schedule a free case evaluation.

While you’re here, navigate over to our blog and knowledge center for more information about personal injury, wrongful death and more legal issues.

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Categories: Wrongful Death
Tags: car safetypersonal safety
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