Can Parents File a New Jersey Personal Injury Claim if Their Child Was Left in a Hot Car by Someone Else?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on April 11, 2024  in Personal Injury News. Updated on April 17, 2024

empty child car seat in back of car on sunny dayLeaving a child in a hot car for too long can result in severe or fatal injuries. While parents are often the ones who allow this to happen, there may be other parties at fault, such as daycare workers or childcare providers employed by a company.

In this article, Lynch Law Firm, PC discusses who may be liable when a child is left in a hot car and the injuries that could occur.

If your child was injured by the negligence of another, you may have a legal claim. Our personal injury attorneys in New Jersey offer a free case review to discuss whether victims or their parents can pursue an injury claim.

Request your FREE case review today: (800)-518-0508.

What Are the Dangers of Leaving a Child in a Hot Car?

It is never a good idea to leave a child in a hot car, even on cooler days. For example, you might think leaving a child in a car is fine if it is 75 degrees outside. However, if you are not back in 10 or 20 minutes, the temperature inside the car could rise to 100 degrees or higher. You might think leaving the windows open will help cool the car down, but this does not have much of an effect.

The danger to children increases as the temperature goes up. For example, if it is 90 degrees outside, the inside of the car can reach an unsafe temperature in just five minutes. The inside of your car can reach 93 degrees in just 10 minutes if the outside temperature is 80 degrees.

The temperature inside a car can rise even faster if the car has a leather interior, especially a black leather interior.

Parents and others who are taking care of children should never assume they will only be gone a few minutes. Something might hold you up and cause you to be away for longer than you intended. You might even forget that you left a child in the car.

What Injuries Can a Child Suffer While Sitting in a Hot Car?

A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than that of an adult. Children have smaller bodies, so it is harder for them to cool down. Within minutes, their body temperature could rise to a dangerous level – if their body temperature reaches 103 degrees or more, they could die.

The heat can also cause a child’s internal organs to swell, making it harder for them to function.

Even if a child survives the situation, they may be left with permanent damage.

Below are some of the injuries and medical conditions that children could suffer from while sitting in a hot car:

Heat Stroke

Children are more likely than adults to suffer heat stroke in a hot car because their body temperature rises faster.


The heat can cause dehydration, especially in children. This can cause long-term medical issues, like kidney damage or cognitive issues.


Extreme heat can trigger seizures, especially in children who have a history of epilepsy. Some of the physical signs of a seizure are jerking or twitching.

Sun Burns

Seats and other parts of the car’s interior could heat up enough to burn a child’s skin, even causing blisters to form.

Respiratory Distress

The air inside a hot vehicle can make it harder for children to breathe properly.

Why Do Parents and Childcare Providers Leave Children in Hot Cars?

Some people may not understand why anyone would leave a child in a car. However, a caregiver or babysitter may leave a child in an unattended car because they forgot.

There are times when people think they will only be gone for a minute or two. They assume this is not enough time to cause serious harm. However, even a few minutes could be enough to cause an injury.

Parents need to be careful about who they let watch their child. For instance, if you have a family member who has an issue with substance abuse, it is a bad idea to that person watch your child. Parents should also do their research on daycare centers or companies that employ nannies/childcare providers. You are not going to be around when these people are watching your child, so you need to make sure they will take the proper precautions to keep your child safe.

Can You File an Injury Claim if Your Child Was Injured in a Hot Car?

People who leave children unattended in a hot car may be subject to civil liability if the child suffers an injury. For instance, parents may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a daycare company or childcare agency for injuries and damages suffered by their child.

However, this is a highly complex situation with many factors to consider. For example, you would likely need to hold the negligent individual’s employer vicariously liable for damages suffered by your child. If your children were in the care of someone else who was paid to watch your children, you should discuss the situation with a licensed attorney. If this individual was a friend or family member there might not be a case.

Some of the damages that might be available in this type of case include:

  • Medical costs
  • Transportation to the hospital in an ambulance
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of wages if parents had to miss work to care for their child
  • Wrongful death damages
  • And more

Steps To Avoid a Tragedy

There are steps parents and other caretakers can take to reduce the chances of forgetting that children are in the car, such as:

  • Place important items like purses or cellphones in the back seat to make it more likely you will see the child when you get out of the car.
  • Keep a stuffed animal, diaper bag or other visual cues that remind you of your child nearby. Visual cues can help if your child falls asleep and you do not hear them.
  • Get in the habit of looking at your backseat before you leave your car.
  • Check your car when your child goes outside to play. Children can accidentally lock themselves in a parked car.

Contact Lynch Law Firm After a Personal Injury

It can be challenging to deal with the aftermath of an injury while managing the legal process on your own. At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are here to support you during these hard times.

If you or your loved ones are unsure about your legal options, we strongly encourage you to call our law offices. Our firm has a proven history of success, and we are prepared to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

Call to request a FREE case review today. If we determine that you have a case and you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs.

Call today: (800)-518-0508. We are here to help.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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