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Keeping your children safe is one of your most important jobs, and that includes keeping them protected while in the car. Child car seats are designed to protect babies, toddlers, and children as you drive them from point A to B. And in the event of a crash, your child’s car seat is designed to keep your most precious cargo safe and unharmed. However, many parents use the wrong car seat for their child or have installed the safety seat incorrectly.
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Work With Experienced Defective Car Seat Lawyers in the Carolinas
In some cases, faulty car seats may also malfunction due to the manufacturer’s negligence. If you have children, it is of the utmost importance that you make sure they are buckling up correctly to be protected if the worst should happen.
At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, our car accident attorneys understand how crucial it is to keep your children safe. We have more than 100 years of combined experience, and we have the legal skills necessary to help you get the results you need if your child is wrongfully injured in a crash.
Keeping Your Kids Safe
Even though most people know using a car seat is the safer choice, many children still go without one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 636 children who were 12 years old and younger died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018, and more than 97,000 were injured. Of the children 12 years old and younger who died in a crash in 2018 (for which restraint use was known), 33% were not buckled up. While it can’t be confirmed that those children would have survived had they been using a car seat, other research reveals the importance of such safety precautions. A study conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration found that 325 children were saved by their car seats in 2017. This data tells us that children should always use car seats, no matter what the circumstances are.
Car Seat Laws In The Carolinas
Understanding the specific car seat laws in your state is an integral part of protecting your family. Here are some guidelines for car seat and seat belt usage in North and South Carolina:
North Carolina Car Seat Laws
Children who are younger than eight and weigh less than 80 pounds must be secured in a car seat. For ages 8 through 16, children must be secured in a car seat or with a seat belt. And if your vehicle features a passenger-side airbag and a rear seat, then your child must be placed in that rear seat (unless your car seat is specifically designed for use with airbags).
South Carolina Car Seat Laws
Children who are two or younger must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until they have outgrown the manufacturer’s height and weight limits. If your child is between the ages of 4 and 8, you may use a forward-facing car seat. Once they outgrow a forward-facing car seat, then you must use a booster seat with lap and shoulder belts through age 8. Finally, children over the age of 8 (or at least 57 inches tall) must be restrained using a seat belt.
Which Car Seat Should I Use for My Child
Nowadays, car seat manufacturers create car seats that grow with children, making it easier to determine when and how to move your child to a new seat. As they grow, children should use a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing seat, and then a booster seat. Before we examine each of these options, here are some general tips for selecting and using a car seat for your precious cargo:
- Whenever possible, utilize a newer model that will feature the latest safety advancements, such as a five-point harness. Outdated models are less likely to offer adequate protection in a car accident, and they can also grow weaker over time (in fact, many feature expiration dates).
- Follow the installation instructions as closely as possible (note that secondhand models are not likely to come with instructions – just another reason to invest in newer models).
- If a car seat is visibly damaged, cracked, or features any other flaws, you should replace it.
- Never use a car seat that was recalled. You can check the last decade of recalled models on The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Infants should be cozily installed in a rear-facing car seat until they reach at least one year of age. Research has shown that rear-facing seats are the absolute safest option for delicate newborns and should be used for as long as possible, which for some car seats may be up to age 3. To find out the weight and height restrictions for your rear-facing car seat, check with the manufacturer of your seat.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
Once children outgrow their rear-facing car seats, you should move them to a forward-facing seat. Typically, children should remain in a car seat until they are about seven years old or reach the size limits.
Children should then use booster seats until they are can sit with the vehicle’s seat belt comfortably across their lap and chest. Most children can safely use standard safety belts once they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height or between 8-12 years old.
Defective Car Seats
When using a car seat, you have a natural expectation that it will offer adequate protection for your child. But that’s not always the case. When negligent manufacturers sell faulty car seats, they can potentially expose your child to serious harm. Recalled seats in the past have caused a variety of injuries – some potentially severe or fatal – including:
- Cuts, scrapes, and bruises
- Concussions and skull fractures
- Choking hazards
- Ejection from the car seat, or the car seat’s ejection from the vehicle
It only takes one defective design flaw to reduce or eliminate the protective capacity of a car seat. Some examples of past problems with recalled seats include:
- Defective buckles may come undone upon impact or allow the child to unfasten them.
- Defective chest clips can break on impact or allow the child to unfasten them
- Insufficient padding can lead to serious head or brain injuries
- Defective base units (the part that remains in the car when you detach a car seat for carrying outside of your car) can break on impact and cause the car seat and your child to be thrown forward.
- Faulty, incomplete, or poorly worded instructions can lead to improper installation, which may expose your child to a variety of serious risks.
If you suspect that your child’s car seat is defective, immediately stop its use and check The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website to see if it has been previously recalled. If not, contact the manufacturer and the NHTSA to determine the next steps. Also, you should always fill out the registration card that accompanies any new car seat and send it in to the manufacturer. That way you will be automatically notified of any future recalls.
In the unfortunate event where your child suffers an injury that you believe may have been caused by a manufacturer’s negligence, it’s important to act quickly to protect you and your family’s rights. By working with an experienced injury lawyer – like those at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor – you may be able to recover the costs of medical bills and other losses.
Seek Compensation for Your Child’s Injury
Even if you do everything you can as a parent and strap your child into their car seat, accidents can still happen. If your child was injured in a collision while they were in their car seat, it is possible the seat malfunctioned or was faulty. We understand how frightening it can be to see your child injured after a crash, which is why we want to help you and your family as you recover.
Contact our Personal Injury Attorneys
Contact us today to speak with one of our Charlotte, Hickory, Greenville, Rock Hill, or Columbia attorneys.
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