Putting your child in the right car seat could help prevent injuries and fatalities. All Florida parents want their children to be safe while riding in a car, and this means choosing the right-sized car seat for the child’s height and weight. Improperly-fit car seats could lead to more injuries for children hurt in an accident.
Children often suffer major injuries in car accidents when not wearing restraints, leading to pain, medical bills, and difficulty in daily life. In 2017, NHTSA data found that two children under the age of 13 inside a passenger car are in an accident every minute. One of the most effective ways to reduce the likelihood of severe injuries is to use the right car seat for your child’s height and weight.
When you or your child are injured in a Florida car accident, contact the Pensacola car accident lawyers at Stevenson Klotz for a free case evaluation.
What are Florida’s Car Seat Laws for Children?
Appropriate booster seats, seat belts, and car seats can all help save children’s lives during accidents and decrease the risk of catastrophic injuries. This is why car seat use is mandatory in Florida.
The most important laws relating to parents securing their children in car seats include that:
- Children who are six to 17 years old must wear a seatbelt
- Children who are four to five years old must be safely secured in a booster seat, built-in child seat, or separate car seat
- Children who are three years and younger must be appropriately secured in a built-in child seat or a separate car seat
- Children who are five years old and younger must be safely secured in a crash-tested and federally approved restraint device
What to Know About Fitting a Child in a Car Seat
Booster seats and car seats are most suited to younger riders since car seats are built for adults. If a child grows out of their car seat, you need to move them onto the next size seat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and all car seats with federal approval base their guidelines on height and weight recommendations for children, toddlers, and infants. This is based on height and weight rather than age because children grow at different weights.
Recognizing the weight and height requirements for the cutoff of a car seat can help you upgrade your child to something that suits them as they grow. Be careful about buying second-hand car seats, as these may have already gone through an accident and may not be rated for full safety protection.
If you’re not sure whether your child is suited to your current car seat or whether you’ve installed it correctly, there are a few locations where you can ensure accuracy. Enter your city and zip code in the NHTSA car seat check registry to find the place closest to you.
What to Know About Rear-facing Car Seats
Florida laws do not define when someone should use a rear facing car seat, but following best practices and manufacturer recommendations can keep your child safe. Your infant should begin riding in a rear facing car seat immediately home from the hospital.
There is no specific age at which your child needs to be switched from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat. National guidelines recommend that it is safest to keep your infant in a rear-facing car seat as long as the manufacturer’s guidelines for your selected car seat will allow it. This typically means that even as a toddler, your baby will remain rear facing.
Most babies will outgrow this between 20 and 25 pounds. When your child hits this milestone, you may switch them to a forward-facing car seat. Larger facing rear car seats, however, can be purchased to accommodate children up to 45 pounds.
Using Booster Seats
Florida law allows children to begin riding in booster seats starting at age four. However, experts state that your child may be able to ride safely in a booster seat when they outgrow the height or weight limit for a rear-facing car seat. Make sure that the child is at least 35 inches tall, has outgrown the internal harness of the forward facing car seat, and is not able to sit with their back against the vehicle seat with their knees bending without slouching.
Using a Seatbelt for a Child in Florida
When children turn six years old, they are able to switch out of booster seats and into regular seatbelt use. However, manufacturer recommendations and safety experts state that children should be at least eight years old and four foot nine before they start using an adult seatbelt.
You’ll want to make sure that their knees bend at the edge of the seat without their back slouching over, that their entire back touches the back portion of the seat, that the shoulder portion of the belt rests between their neck and shoulder without touching the neck, and that the lap portion of the seatbelt crosses as low as possible and touches their thighs. Many children will reach the age of 10 or 11 before they discontinue the use of a booster seat.
If you or your children have been seriously hurt in an accident and sustained injuries due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you could be eligible to recover compensation with the help of an attorney. It can be devastating to be involved in any vehicle accident, but it is even harder to cope with the severity of an accident affecting your children. This could harm their development and make it difficult for them to adjust back to life after the crash.
What to Do If Your Child is Hurt in a Crash
If your child was restrained properly per Florida’s car seat requirements but still got hurt in an accident, you may not be responsible for their medical bills.
Communicating with a dedicated car accident lawyer is strongly recommended. This could make a big difference in the outcome of your case and help you to understand each phase of a personal injury lawsuit. When someone else is responsible for your crash in Florida, Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers can advocate for your child’s right to damages in court.
Contact our Pensacola car accident lawyers to begin.