Attorney David I. Fuchs
Jun. 16, 2018
Parents can’t always prevent car accidents, but they can help prevent child injuries in Fort Lauderdale. Putting child passengers in the proper safety seats and systems can significantly decrease the risk of serious injury and death in the event of an auto accident. Florida, like all states, has laws in place enforcing the use of child safety seats in vehicles. Learning what the law says can help parents stay out of legal trouble, as well as ensure the safety of their kids. If you are misfortunate and find yourself in an auto accident, a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer would be able to help you discuss your legal options.
In Florida, any passenger under the age of 18 must wear a seatbelt while in the vehicle. The proper type of seatbelt or safety system depends on the child’s age, height, and weight. A driver can receive a traffic citation and fine for any minor under 18 who is not wearing a safety belt. All drivers in Florida – teens, and adults – as well as anyone sitting in the passenger seat, must wear seatbelts at all times. Failure to wear a seatbelt could result in a $30 fine, as well as additional fees. Although not part of the law, the Florida Department of Highway Safety recommends all children 12 and under not ride in the passenger seat of the vehicle, if possible.
Any child five or under must sit in a federally-approved car seat while in a motor vehicle in Florida. Children under the age of five cannot sit in a seat with only a seatbelt and no booster or car seat. Failure to use a car seat for children five and younger can result in a $60 fine and three points on the driver’s license. Children three and under must sit in a separate car seat or a built-in car seat if the vehicle has one. Children four and five years old can either sit in a car seat or use a booster seat depending on the child’s height and weight.
Putting your child in the correct type of restraint system is imperative for the safety of the child. If in the wrong type of car seat or one that is improperly installed in the vehicle, the seat cannot perform its duties during a collision. The type of restraint system that’s right for your child is about more than just age. Parents must read and follow the directions on the restraint system in terms of weight and height restrictions. In general, the right types are as follows:
Newborn to two years old, or until the infant reaches the maximum weight or height limit on the car seat. Children under two years should only sit in rear-facing seats or rear-facing convertible seats.
Children who outgrow the limits for rear-facing seats will graduate to a forward-facing seat with a harness. Toddlers and preschool-age children should use these car seats as long as possible, up to the maximum height and weight limit. Children should stay in these seats until at least the age of four.
School-aged children who reach the weight/height maximums on forward-facing car seats will progress to booster seats. Children should remain in booster seats until they are four feet nine inches tall (around ages eight to 12). Only when they are tall enough for the seatbelt to fit properly over the shoulder and lap should parents stop using a booster seat.
If you need help properly installing your child’s car seat, find a car seat inspection location near you. Many organizations host free events and stations where parents can get their car seats checked for proper types and installations. Following Florida’s car seat laws could save your child’s life. It could also keep you from being liable in the event of a tragedy or wrongful death. If you or your child has been injured due to a car accident or incident with their car seat, a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer can discuss what remedies you may have.