Hot Car Deaths – Everything You Should Know

A kid stuck in a hot car death scenario

The number of child heatstroke vehicular deaths (hot car deaths), which has increased almost every year since 1998, hit an all-time high in 2018 and again in 2019. Infants are especially vulnerable to serious injury, including heat-related injury.

A kid stuck in a hot car death scenario

Law enforcement agencies often press criminal charges against the individual who was responsible for the child in the car. However, criminal cases usually do nothing to compensate the survivors and victims. These individuals need this compensation to pay the staggering medical bills and other expenses associated with the accident. They also deserve compensation for emotional distress and other noneconomic damages.

The legal rules are a little different for pets left in hot cars. In many cases, the loss of a pet is like the loss of a family member. Unfortunately, New York law normally limits compensation in these cases to the pet’s economic value, which is negligible (monetarily) in many situations. However, the law is changing in this area, as federal regulators have recognized the value of emotional support animals.

Whether the death in a hot car was a pet or a person, a New York personal injury attorney helps victims and survivors carry on with their lives in these cases.

What causes death in a hot car?

Heatstroke begins when a person’s core temperature reaches 107 degrees. The core temperature is already almost 99 degrees, so there isn’t much time. At this point, the brain begins shutting down parts of the body. This organ and function loss is usually permanent. Heatstroke is fatal at 110 degrees.

How long is it safe to be in a hot car?

A child in a hot car could suffer heat stroke in as little as ten minutes. Leaving the air conditioner on may give the child a few more minutes, but it doesn’t prevent heatstroke. Other shortcuts, like cracking the window, are almost useless.

What is vehicular heat stroke?

Car glass intensifies the sun’s heat. The intensification is even worse if the vehicle has a dark interior than soaks up heat.

How hot do cars get in the sun?

Generally, the inside of a car is forty-three degrees hotter than the outside temperature. Therefore, a child or pet could suffer vehicular heatstroke even if the outside temperature is in the low 80s. When the outside temperature reaches 90, the inside temperature is 138, which is hotter than any temperature ever recorded anywhere on earth.

What happens to a person left in a hot car?

As mentioned, when core body temperature reaches 107, the brain begins shutting down parts of the body, because there isn’t enough oxygen in a hot car to satisfy all bodily requirements. Normally, heat stroke is a little like frostbite in reverse. Fingers and toes are the first things to go, and the shutdown process quickly accelerates unless the pet or person cools off quickly and completely.

Can you suffocate in a car?

For breathing purposes, a heat-filled car is almost like a car on fire. The heat, like the flames, soaks up the oxygen in the air, leaving nothing for the body to use.

How do you prevent death in a hot car?

No one can prevent death in a hot car. At most, people can delay vehicular heat stroke. Never, ever leave a pet or a person in a car, even if it’s “just for a minute” and the outside temperature is barely warm.

On a related note, about a quarter of these incidents occur because a child plays in a car and gets trapped inside.

Why do people forget their kids in cars?

People who made terrible mistakes, normally because they aren’t used to transporting children in their vehicles or they’re so stressed out that they forget.

For more information about other potential unintentional injuries, contact the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC.