There is nothing in Arizona law that specifically makes leaving your child in a car illegal. However, if circumstances are likely to cause injury or death, placing an adolescent in that position can result in the minimum charge of a Class 6 felony. Because Arizona is known for its extreme heat and leaving someone alone in a hot car greatly increases the possibility of heat stroke, leaving a child unattended in a car will almost certainly lead to a penalty.

Consequences for Leaving a Child in a Car

The least someone who leaves a child in a car in Arizona could be charged with is a Class 6 felonyfor a “criminal negligence” circumstance, where the danger is clear, but the person simply does not recognize it. If the child was injured or died as a result of this negligence, the driver could be charged with a Class 4 felony instead.

Behaving “recklessly” is a step up in severity from criminal negligence. Here the person recognizes the danger but does not care. If no significant harm resulted, a charge of recklessness is a Class 5 felony – one classification higher than criminal negligence. If the child is injured or dies, the charge is further escalated to a Class 3 felony.

Obviously, performing an action “intentionally” carries even more severe penalties. Intent not only recognizes the consequences, but actively pursues them, which would result in a Class 4 or Class 2 felony charge, depending on the child’s health afterwards. Further charges can also be added, depending on how severely the youngster is harmed.

Preventing Accusations Related to Negligence

Even the best parent can forget a child is in the car, particularly if his or her routine has been interrupted. To avoid the severe emotional and legal consequences of a tragic accident, there are certain steps you can take. Consider the following safety measures:

  • Check the car as part of your routine. Make inspecting the car’s passenger seats a habit. If you happen to be in charge of driving the child, you will look to guarantee the seats are empty. Putting an object in the child’s car seat when you do not have him or her and moving it to the front passenger seat or dashboard when you do is another way to account for everyone in your vehicle.
  • Take precautions if your child has to travel in someone else’s vehicle. When your routine has been disrupted and you need to have someone else take your child to a particular place, call to make certain he or she has arrived on time. Even if the other person has forgotten, your call will serve as a reminder about the child and can hopefully prevent a tragedy.

Working With an Experienced Legal Team

If your child suffered heatstroke or died as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact Wattel & York. Our experienced Phoenix injury lawyers will pursue every possible legal option and consideration to the fullest extent of the law. With over 25 years of combined experience in litigation, we understand how to prove whether an individual’s actions can be considered negligent. Let us put this accumulated skill to work on your behalf.

With events as serious as the loss of a child, everyone wants justice. Our auto accident attorneys in Phoenix, AZ will work to establish negligence under the law and take the case as far as necessary to get you the compensation and closure you deserve, up to and including seeking punitive damages by establishing the mental state of the perpetrator at the time. Do not stand alone in light of such a strategy. Contact our firm for details on your legal options.





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