Like any large city, Chicago experiences tragic car accidents every day. These accidents increase around times of increased pedestrian activity, like Halloween.
The Causes of Halloween Car Accidents
Chicagoans were reminded of the dangers associated with holiday traffic when a tragic accident occurred on Halloween 2016. NBC Chicago reports that a three-year-old boy was struck by a hit and run driver on the south side of Chicago. The driver did not stop, and the boy ended up in the hospital, fighting for his life.
There are many reasons why car accident rates can increase on Halloween. Children tend to react unpredictably in the roadway. This problem is exacerbated by their excitement for the holiday, the effect of being in a large group, and the potential for impaired vision or movement by their costumes. Drivers must use particular caution on Halloween. Slow down, and watch especially carefully for children in dark costumes which are difficult to see. Be prepared to react to unexpected movements by children near your vehicle. Weather can also make it more difficult to avoid children in the roadway. Always slow down when there are slick roads or reduced visibility due to snow, sleet, rain, hail or other weather conditions.
Other Types of Halloween Accidents
Halloween presents the potential for contact with many flammable products. Open flames in pumpkins and luminaries should always be closely supervised. Set them on study table or surfaces which are out of reach of children or pets. Ensure that curtains, costumes, fabrics, and other materials are clear of the flame area. Consider safer alternatives, such as battery-operated LED lights, flashlights, or glow sticks. Check to be sure your child’s costume is flame resistant or flame retardant. At the least, it should be made of non-flammable materials. Teach children to stay away from any open flame, and provide other fire safety tips.
Pumpkins can also pose safety hazards. Children should never be allowed to use sharp knives to carve pumpkins. If an older child is able to safely use the knife, close adult supervision should still be utilized. Open flames in jack-o-lanterns pose a fire hazard. Consider flashlight, glow sticks, or LED battery-powered candles instead. Pumpkins which are smashed, spoiled, or otherwise spilled can be a hazard for pedestrians, bikes, and cars passing over them. Make sure that all pumpkins are promptly picked up and disposed of after October 31.
Aside from being a tripping hazard, there are many other ways in which a costume can pose dangers to children. Prop weapons can injure children if they are not designed safely. Masks can obstruct breathing. (The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends using safer alternatives to masks, such as non-toxic makeup and decorative hats.) Many costumes are made out of flammable material.
Contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney as soon as possible after any Halloween accident. The statute of limitations on injury claims in Illinois is two years, per 735 ILCS 5/3-202, but often the sooner your injury lawyer can begin investigating your claim, the better your odds of gathering key evidence.