Over 2,600 children under the age of 13 are involved in car accidents every day, which translates to mean that a child is in a car crash every 33 seconds in the U.S. Parents need to take care to not only drive carefully when their child is in the car, but they also need to ensure that their child is restrained properly to minimize the consequences of a car accident. You can’t always prevent what other people are doing, but you can take steps to protect your kids inside your own vehicle.
Georgia law also requires you to use safety restraints that are the right size and type for your child’s height and weight. To help, the law refers you to manufacturers’ specifications. Read the owner’s manual and do your own research to determine the safest type of car seat for your child, and keep an eye out for when they outgrow their restraint.
What are the basics of child restraint laws in Georgia?
Georgia law requires all children under the age of eight to ride in the back seat. Georgia lawmakers also recommend that any child who is 12 and under ride in the back seat, as that is the safest location for children. Children under eight years old must be in an approved child restraint system that is appropriate for their height and weight. You can use the following general information to determine what restraint system is suitable for your child, but you should also refer to your car seat’s manual for specific information about your child’s safety device:
- Newborn to 12 months: Infants should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. Using this type of restraint system decreases the likelihood that your baby will experience a neck injury if you are involved in a collision.
- 1 to 3 years: You should keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as you can, as this is the safest way to transport your kids. Once your child outgrows this car seat, use a forward-facing seat with a harness. Most children will outgrow their forward-facing car seat by about four or five years old, with the average being about three years old, but not always.
- 4 to 7 years: Once your child reaches the top weight and height limit for a front-facing car seat, switch to a booster seat. Be sure to keep your child in the backseat even in their booster seat.
- 8 to 12 years. Your child should still be in a booster seat until a seat belt fits them properly. A seat belt should go over your child’s upper thighs, not their stomach. The shoulder strap shouldn’t be across the neck or face, either. As a rule, children should remain in a booster seat until they are at least four feet, nine inches tall. Most children will not reach this height until they are at least eight years old, but not always.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that roughly 72% of all child safety restraints are not being used properly, and a big part of that problem is that parents don’t know the right type of car seat to use. Keeping your child in the right restraint can be confusing, but it’s critical. It can mean the difference between preventing severe, life-altering injuries for your child.
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How does having the right kind of child restraint affect your legal case?
If your child was in the car with you when you were involved in a car accident, and they suffered injuries, they likely have damages just like you do from the car accident. As their parent or guardian, you can get money damages to help deal with your child’s medical expenses and other losses as well. But, the amount that you can recover could be affected by how you had your child restrained at the time of the accident.
Wearing a Seatbelt Can Make or Break Your Case
In a car accident case, the defense can reduce the money that you get from a settlement or from the jury if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. The rationale behind this rule is that the belt would have prevented or decreased your damages if you were wearing it, so you were partially “at fault” for your injuries. When a child is not in the right car seat, the same rule can apply.
Using Inappropriate Restraints Can Also Hurt Your Case
Unfortunately, this general rule can still apply even when the parent makes every effort to ensure that their child was in a car seat. If it’s the wrong restraint system for your child’s height and weight, it could have the same effect in your legal case as if your child wasn’t wearing any kind of restraint at all.
We consider this a “cheap trick” used by insurance companies to reduce how much they pay — and it can be stopped. A car accident lawyer CAN fight back and help you get the full amount you deserve.
Contact Our Attorneys Today for Help Handling Your Car Accident Case
Regardless of whether your child was in the right car seat in an accident, you may still have a legal case. Having the wrong car seat doesn’t prevent you from starting a lawsuit; it will generally only have an effect on your overall recovery – and even then, it’s often a small percentage. Don’t let that factor discourage you from learning more about your legal options after an accident.
John Foy & Associates can take a look at the facts of your case and help you determine what you should do next. We have been helping car accident victims in Georgia for over 20 years, and we have the experience and know-how you need to give you the best chance of getting money damages after an accident. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.