Car accidents are the leading cause of child deaths in Georgia, with an average of about 1,300 fatalities and 179,000 injuries each year. Car seats are a crucial mitigating factor in this alarming trend, and a properly used car seat is 71% effective at preventing injuries to infants and 54% effective at preventing injuries to children from 1 to 4 years old. Georgia has specific laws aimed at encouraging proper car seat use and protecting children in the state of Georgia.
Georgia Car Seat Laws
Georgia law requires all children under the age of 8 to sit in the back seat of the vehicle in a car seat or booster seat as age permits. The only exemption is children who exceed 4 feet 9 inches in height. This law applies to all vehicles except taxi cabs and public transportation vehicles. Children should always sit in the back seats of a vehicle, away from the vehicle’s airbags. While an airbag can potentially save a life in a serious accident, manufacturers design these devices for adults, not children, and the force of impact from an airbag can be fatal to a small child.
It’s also vital for parents to purchase car seats appropriate for their children. Most manufacturers will include height, weight, and orientation recommendations for car seats. In general, children should remain in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats are more protective in a serious car accident, so follow your car seat’s instructions very carefully so you know how long it will be suitable for your child. It’s also important to ensure you install the car seat correctly. Some vehicles have special fixtures designed to hold car seats securely in place, such as brackets next to seat belt clips or behind the rear seats.
Drivers who fail to follow Georgia’s car seat law will typically face $50 fines for each improperly secured child, as well as a point against his or her driver’s license for each child. These penalties may increase for very serious violations.
Parents should keep their children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. In general, this means until they reach 2 years or exceed the car seat’s weight limit for rear-facing installation. When a child is ready for a front-facing car seat, a seat with a five-point harness is ideal. The child should remain in a five-point harness seat until he or she is old enough or tall enough to ride with a lap and shoulder belt. Vehicle manufacturers design seat belts for adult-sized passengers, so many children find them uncomfortable until they reach an adequate height and may not wear them correctly.
Many car seats are adaptable, with some featuring multiple configuration options that allow for longer use. However, parents must remember to replace a car seat after it has been through a collision. Even if the car seat appears undamaged, small fractures can appear in critical parts of the car seat after absorbing the force of a crash. If another driver causes an accident with your vehicle due to negligence, and you must replace the car seat, you should be able to claim this expense in your property damage compensation.
Legal Options After an Accident
If your child suffers an injury due to a defective car seat, or a negligent driver causes injuries and other damages to your vehicle, a personal injury lawsuit may be a viable option. Find a reliable and experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may be able to claim compensation from a defective car seat manufacturer or negligent driver. Ultimately, the road is unpredictable, so parents should keep the previously mentioned best practices in mind to prevent injuries to their children.