If you are a parent of young children in Florida, you want to keep them safe at all times. This is especially true when you’re driving on Florida roads. One of the best ways to ensure their safety is to follow the state’s strict child car seat laws. By using age-appropriate car seats and booster seats, you’re doing the best you can to protect them when an accident occurs.
An Overview of Florida’s Child Car Seat Laws
Florida law (FL Stat § 316.613 (2019)) requires all children under six to be properly restrained in a car or booster seat. It is against the law to let any child under six ride in the car without a federally approved car seat or booster seat.
Here is a more detailed summary of Florida’s child car seat laws:
- Children < 3 years old: Must be in a separate car seat or the vehicle’s integrated child seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the NHTSA both recommend that a child under one must be in a rear-facing car seat. You can turn the car seat forward-facing once the child reaches one year old. However, it is best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible for safety. Your child should also remain in that rear-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit for that specific car.
- Children ages 4 and 5: Must be in a separate car seat, integrated child seat, or booster seat. Children should stay in their car seats until they are tall enough to use a booster seat safely. Current guidelines are to keep your child forward-facing in their car seat as long as possible. Once they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall, it is safe to transition them to a booster seat.
- Children > 6 years old: May use a booster seat or begin using a regular seat belt. However, it is recommended that children continue to use a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall, and their weight is evenly distributed over the seat.
It is important to note that Florida law also requires all passengers under 18 to be buckled up, regardless of where they sit in the vehicle.
There are exceptions to Florida’s child car seat laws. Children do not need restraints when riding on motorcycles, mopeds, school buses, and farm tractors. They also, surprisingly, don’t need restraints when they travel in a truck weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
Why Are Child Car Seat Laws Important?
Child car seats protect children from serious injuries during car crashes. In fact, according to the NHTSA, car accidents save the lives of 325 children under the age of five every year. Car seats and booster seats are designed to distribute the forces of a crash away from a child’s fragile body. This can help to prevent serious injuries and death.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car seats and booster seats reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.
Unfortunately, without car seat laws, some drivers wouldn’t follow these guidelines, putting their own innocent children’s lives at risk. Florida’s strict car seat laws ensure that children have a chance of surviving car accidents that occur on state roads.
Types of Child Passenger Seats
Child safety seats are essential for keeping your child safe on the road. However, with so many different types of seats available, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your child.
Rear-facing seats are the safest car seat for children of all ages. They support the child’s head and neck in the event of a crash and reduce the risk of serious injury.
Rear-facing seats should be used for children until they reach the maximum height or weight limit for their seat. Most children can remain rear-facing until they are at least two years old, and some seats can accommodate rear-facing children up to 40 pounds.
Once a child reaches their rear-facing seat’s maximum height or weight limit, they can transition to a forward-facing seat. Forward-facing seats still provide good protection for children, but they are not as safe as rear-facing seats.
Forward-facing seats should be used with a harness until the child reaches the maximum height or weight limit for the harness. Most children can remain in a forward-facing seat with a harness until 40-65 pounds.
Once a child reaches the maximum height or weight limit for the harness in their forward-facing seat, they can transition to a booster seat. Booster seats help correctly position the vehicle’s seat belt across the child’s body.
Booster seats should be used until the child reaches the height and weight requirements for adult seat belts. Most children can use a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh at least 80 pounds.
When choosing a child safety seat, it is important to consider the child’s age, weight, and height. You should also make sure that the seat is compatible with your vehicle.
Choosing a seat that is easy to install and use is also important. The seat should be snug in the vehicle, and the straps should be easy to tighten.
Correctly Installing Your Child Car Seat
Purchasing the correct car seat for your child is just one step towards keeping them safe. You must install the seat correctly, or it won’t protect your child in an accident. Improperly installed car seats put children at an increased risk of serious injury or death in a car crash.
There are several reasons why car seats are often installed incorrectly. Some common mistakes include:
- Using the wrong seat for the child’s age, weight, and height
- Not tightening the straps snugly enough
- Not using the top tether
- Not installing the seat in the correct position
If you are unsure whether your child’s car seat is installed correctly, you can have it inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). CPSTs are trained to inspect and install car seats correctly. They can also provide instructions on using and maintaining your child’s car seat safely.
Child Car Seats: Get It Right with a Certified Technician
Child car seats are essential for keeping kids safe on the road, but they can be tricky to install correctly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that parents and guardians do so incorrectly nearly half the time. This can put children at risk in the event of a crash.
To help reduce the number of improperly installed child car seats on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) makes it easy for drivers to connect with local Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs). CPSTs are trained to inspect and install child car seats correctly, ensuring that children are safe and secure in the event of a collision.
To find a CPST in your area, visit the NHTSA website and search for a location near you. Florida has several CPSTs within driving distance.
When Your Child’s Car Seat is Defective
Unfortunately, even when you take all the necessary precautions and get your child’s car seat installed correctly, a manufacturing design flaw could cause your child harm. Ripped straps, faulty adjusters, and even broken frames can increase the likelihood of your child suffering serious and lifelong injuries in a car accident.
Car seat manufacturers must ensure their products are free from hazards and defects. If they manufacture and sell a defective product, they can be held liable for the injuries that occurred.
If you believe that a child car seat or booster seat defect led to your child’s injuries, you might be able to claim compensation from the seat manufacturer. However, filing a defective product claim is not easy, and you need an attorney on your side to help you get the money you deserve.
The compensation available to families whose children suffered injuries from defective car seats depends on many factors, such as ongoing medical care, long-term disability, and pain and suffering. Your Florida defective product lawyer can review your case and help you pursue damages.
Even if you are not sure you have a case, call our law firm. We want to speak to you and can help you review all your legal options. We offer a free consultation so that you can get the answers you need to make informed decisions.
Contact Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers Today
If your child is injured in a car accident, you need someone to fight for their future. At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, our Florida car accident attorneys are here to help you and your child on the road to recovery. Let us handle the legal paperwork so you can focus on getting your child better. We represent individuals throughout the state of Florida.
For help understanding how much your case should be worth and what your best path to compensation is, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. Our number is (305) 694-2676.