A new law went into effect on January 1st of 2015, intending to add safeguards for children riding in cars. Florida has raised the minimum age at which a child can ride without a car seat or booster seat from 4 years old to 6 years old. While this law is a major step to help keep our children safe, many feel it does not go far enough to protect kids in car accidents.
Before this law went into effect, children 4 and 5 years old could ride in a car using only a seatbelt. Now, children 4 and 5 years old must use a federally-approved, crash-tested car seat or booster seat. However, AAA and other safety organizations recommend keeping children in car seats with 5-point harnesses until they reach 40lbs, and then moving them to booster seats until they reach 80lbs or grow to 4 feet and 9 inches in height. Some car seats convert into booster seats to make this adjustment easier.
Booster seats work by raising children up into the path of the safety belt. They are not the same as car seats because they have no harness. Booster seats are estimated to reduce the risk of injury in a Florida car accident by over 50%. The state has released a pamphlet explaining the benefits of booster seat use.
Many children are injured or killed in Florida each year due to the lack of a proper car seat or booster seat or due to incorrect installation. It is essential that you not only buy a proper restraint, but have it inspected to be sure it is installed correctly. Most cities and towns offer free inspections.
There are penalties for violating this new child safety law. The consequences for a first violation are a $60 fine and 3 points on your license. However, it is very important to note that in cases of a car accident lawsuit, failure to follow this law will not diminish your rights to recover damages for injuries to your child. That is because this statute is not considered by a jury when determining who is at fault for an accident.
If your child has been injured in a car or vehicle accident, it is important to consult with an experienced Lake County car accident attorney at Largey Law right away. Contact us online or call us at 352-253-0456. The sooner you contact us, the more time your attorney will have to collect evidence and put your claim together.