Children are precious cargo, and parents want to do everything they can to keep them safe on the roadway. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 608 children aged 12 and under died in car crashes in one recent year, and more than 91,000 more were injured. Of those children who died, 38 percent were not properly restrained.
Many of these deaths could have been prevented with proper child safety seats and restraint systems. According to the CDC, car seat use reduces the risk of injury to children by 71 to 82 percent, and booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8. New York has several laws that apply to child safety seats and restraint systems, and there are many resources for parents who need help finding the right car or booster seat for their child.
When you choose a car seat or booster seat for your child, you expect it to work properly and keep them safe. That’s why it might be surprising to learn that thousands of car seats are recalled yearly for defects or malfunctions. In this post, the attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. will explain New York laws on child safety seats, the different types of child car seats, and recalls of child safety seats. We will also tell you how our attorneys can help if a defective safety seat harms your child.
New York Laws on Child Safety Seats and Restraint Systems
New York law requires:
- All children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat
- All children under the age of 4 must ride in a child safety seat
- All children under the age of 8 must be restrained in an age-appropriate child restraint system
- Child safety seats and restraint systems must meet federal safety standards
Drivers who fail to restrain a child in a car seat, safety seat, or booster seat could be fined an amount ranging from $25 to $100 and receive three driver’s license penalty points for each violation. Receiving six or more points in 18 months will result in a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee, which is a minimum of $100 per year for three years.
Finding the Right Seat for Your Child
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (NYDMV) have many resources to help parents find the right seat or restraint for their child. The proper seat will depend on your child’s age, height, and weight:
- Birth to 12 Months – Children under 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. Infants (children approximately 22 pounds or less and 25 inches in length or less) should be in an infant-only seat. Convertible or all-in-one car seats are for children with higher weight and length limits but are still rear-facing.
- 1 to 3 Years – Children should remain in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Once they reach the top weight and height limit for their rear-facing car seat, they are ready for a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether.
- 4 to 7 Years – Children should remain in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether as long as possible. Once they reach the weight and height limit for their forward-facing car seat, they are ready for a booster seat. Booster seats are for children who are 40 to 80 pounds and less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall. In New York, children should remain in a booster seat until at least age 8. Children in booster seats should remain in the back seat.
- 8 to 12 Years – Children should remain in a booster seat until they are ready for a seat belt. A properly fitted seat belt should cross the upper thighs and chest. Children should remain in the back seat until at least age 12.
How to Check for Recalls of Child Safety Seats
The NHTSA maintains a comprehensive list of child seats that have been recalled by their manufacturers. Parents can also register their child seats and sign up for email notifications of new recalls.
Common reasons for child safety recalls include:
- Faulty adjusters, straps, or buckles
- Easily broken parts that may present a choking hazard
- Easily broken frame components, such as the handle or headrest
- Missing components
What to Do If a Child Safety Seat Defect Hurts Your Child
If your child was injured because of a defective or malfunctioned car seat, you must act quickly to hold the manufacturer accountable.
First and foremost, you should seek medical attention for your child. Defective child safety seats can cause a range of injuries, including:
- Brain injuries
- Facial injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries
Some of these injuries may not be obvious at first but can result in severe outcomes and complications if not treated promptly and adequately.
Next, you should contact an attorney who has extensive experience handling cases involving defective products, especially children’s products. An attorney can investigate your case, gather evidence, negotiate with the company for a fair settlement, and manage your case – all while you focus on your child’s health and well-being. With the help of a skilled attorney, you may be able to seek compensation for the following:
- Your child’s medical bills
- Future medical care needs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the enjoyment of a normal childhood
Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. for Help After a Child Safety Seat Injury
If your child was injured by a defective child car seat, safety seat, or booster seat, the attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. can help you seek compensation from the seat’s manufacturer. Let us hold the company accountable for the harm they caused to your child and your family. Contact our experienced New York defective car seat attorneys today for a free case review.