Car accidents happen every day. Sadly, many of these accidents involve children, some even resulting in serious injuries. Regardless of who is at fault, lawyers who deal with accident claims that involve injured children maintain that some of these children might have been better protected with the right planning. To reduce the chance that any child will be hurt in a vehicle accident, personal injury lawyers recommend taking the steps referenced below to keep children safe in cars.
Children and Car Accidents
Every year many children are injured in automobile accidents. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14 years of age. It is also a significant factor that over 70 percent of all traffic accidents involve the front end of the vehicle. These statistics demonstrate the importance of child car safety and why parents or caretakers must know the proper ways to keep children safe.
Child Safety in Washington State
According to Washington State law, children 7 years of age and under, or any child less than 4’9” in height, must use some sort of child safety restraint. Children aged 13 and under must ride in the rear seats whenever possible. Failure to follow these laws could result in a driver citation. Lawyers who handle accident claims involving injured children point out that besides these safety laws, there are other specifics pertaining to the restraint of children of various ages, weights, and heights that all parents should become familiar with.
Keeping Children Safe In Cars
To reduce the possibility of a child being injured in a car accident, personal injury lawyers stress the importance of using the right car seats. By following the guidelines referenced below, adults can keep children safe by taking into account their age, height, and weight, as well as following restraint instructions included on approved car seats:
- Birth to 1 Year - Children under the age of 1 year should always travel in rear-facing car seats because they offer the most protection against spinal and other injuries. This is especially important considering that most accidents happen in the front of the vehicle. Kids should stay in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, specifically until their size and weight outgrows the seat which usually happens by the time they are a year old.
- 1 to 3 Years - Once a child has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, they should be placed in a front-facing car seat suitable for their size and weight. Some convertible 3-in-1 rear-facing seats can be turned around and used continuously until the child outgrows them completely.
- 4 to 7 Years - After outgrowing the front-facing car seat, children who are too large and tall can be upgraded to a booster seat that is used in conjunction with the car’s shoulder and lap safety belts. Booster seats raise the child up so these belts can be used safely and will be effective in an accident. Booster seats should always be used in the rear of the vehicle, just like car seats.
- 8 Years and Older - Children should use a booster seat as long as they are within the height and weight limits, even if that is older than 8 years. Even after the booster seat is no longer used, all children 13 and under should still ride in the rear seats for their best protection.
Of all car accidents that personal injury lawyers handle, those involving injured children can be some of the most poignant. Car accidents happen; however; with the right safety restraint, adults can reduce the chance that any child traveling with them will suffer an injury. Proper child restraint is also the law in the State of Washington. To prevent injuries and any legal concerns that may arise by failing to properly protect children, attorneys who handle claims involving injured children recommend that adults learn how to safely restrain children of all ages by using the appropriate, and properly installed car seats!
Maurer Law, PLLC
505 West Riverside, Suite 400
Spokane WA 99201