Texas Child Car Seat Laws
When you take your kids on a drive to the mall, the grocery store, to visit family, or even school, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are safe and secure at all times. You can take a significant step toward accomplishing this goal by following the Texas child car seat laws. Not only will you avoid getting in trouble, but you will also ensure that your kids have the most protection in the event of an unexpected car accident.
Understanding the Child Car Seat Laws in Texas
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using an age- and size-appropriate safety seat can reduce a child’s risk of sustaining an injury in a car accident by 71 to 82 percent. As such, it is no surprise that Texas law requires all kids who are younger than 8 years of age to travel in a “child passenger safety seat system.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that parents and caregivers should select their child’s car seat based on which one of the following four phases they fit into:
Phase 1 – Rear-Facing Safety Seat
Kids who are younger than 2 years of age should always travel in a rear-facing car seat in the back of the vehicle. They should continue riding in this seat for as long as possible – typically until they have reached the height and weight maximums outlined by the manufacturer.
Phase 2 – Forward-Facing Safety Seat
When a child outgrows their rear-facing seat, they should graduate to a forward-facing seat – still in the back of the car. They should continue to use this type of child passenger safety seat until they reach its stated height and weight limits. Most kids reach these limits at about 6 years of age.
Phase 3 – Booster Seat
Once a child grows out of their forward-facing safety seat, they can move on to a booster seat. These seats should be used in conjunction with an adult lap and shoulder belt until the child has reached a size that allows them to properly fit into a traditional seat belt.
Phase 4 – Adult Safety Belt
When a child becomes too big for their booster seat, they can get rid of it. However, they must continue to ride in the back seat and must wear a seat belt at all times. Generally speaking, kids should wait until they are at least 13 years old to sit in the front seat of a car.
Parents and caregivers that fail to adhere to state car safety and seat belt law can be fined up to $200.
Tips for Purchasing Child Car Seats
Selecting a car seat for a child is not as simple as walking into a store and purchasing the first one that is recommended by the salesperson. Parents must make sure that the device they are getting for their child is well-built and fully-certified. They can accomplish this goal by following these easy tips:
- Look for the JPMA stamp on the box: This insignia means that the product has been tested and approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
- Ask about the seat’s warranty: Well-made products will have lengthy warranties that can be used if any issues arise.
- Check for cracks in the seat: If the product is damaged before it is even purchased, it should not be used to keep a child safe on the road.
- Ask about the features of the seat: Modern front- and rear-facing seats come with features like LATCH compatibility and side-impact protection.
Having worked on countless car accident cases over the years, the attorneys here at Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP, can vouch for the importance of a high-quality child car safety seat. If you get into an accident on one of the many roads or highways in the state of Texas, it may prevent your child from becoming severely injured. In fact, it might even save their life.
How to Install a Child Car Seat
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 59 percent of all car seats and 20 percent of all booster seats in the United States are installed incorrectly. As a result, these devices are significantly less effective at protecting the kids that use them when an accident occurs.
Parents that wish to ensure that their child’s seat is installed correctly can follow these simple tips:
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions: Most of the information needed to install a child safety seat should be included in the booklet that comes in the box.
- Install the device in the rear seat: Child seats should always be placed in the back of the car. It is unsafe for young children to ride in the front.
- Use the vehicle’s built-in anchors: Many modern cars and SUVs have built-in lower anchors that can be used to attach a safety seat. If these anchors are present, they should be used as part of the installation process.
- Use the seat belt: Most older cars do not have built-in anchors. Parents that drive one of these vehicles should install their child seat by using and locking the seat belt.
- Ensure the device is installed correctly: Once the seat has been installed, parents should test it to ensure that it is secure. Properly installed safety seats should not move more than an inch in any direction.
Parents that need assistance installing their kid’s seat can visit a Child Passenger Safety Technician. The best way to find one of these professionals is through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
What to Do if Your Child’s Car Seat is Defective
Broadly speaking, there are two main ways of learning about a flaw or issue with your kid’s car seat. They are:
- Being notified about a product recall
- Getting into a car accident
The actions that you should take after learning that your child’s safety seat is defective are highly dependent on how you find out about that fact:
Child Car Seat Recalls
Every year, thousands of car seats are recalled by their manufacturers because of flaws and defects such as:
- Broken frames
- Faulty adjusters
- Ripped straps
- Faulty latches
- Flammable materials
If you receive notice that your child’s safety seat is being recalled by the manufacturer for any of the reasons listed above, you should take action immediately. Generally speaking, this means that you must stop using it immediately and return it to the manufacturer. They will usually provide you with a replacement or a full refund.
For a full list of the child safety seats that have been recalled by their manufacturers over the last 10 years, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
What if You’re in a Car Accident and your Child Car Seat is Defective?
Unfortunately, it is possible that you will not find out about the defects or flaws in your car seat until you get into an accident and your child suffers an unnecessary injury. If this nightmare scenario occurs, you should not simply return the item to the manufacturer. Instead, you should file suit against them to recover compensation for damages like:
- Medical bills
- Ongoing care costs
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
The experienced attorneys here at Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP, can help you with this process by:
Gathering the Evidence You Will Need to Prove Your Case
To successfully claim compensation for your child’s injuries, you will need to prove that:
- Their car seat was defective
- That defect caused them to become injured
- Their injury is as severe as you claim
When you work with our Texas lawyers, we will help you search for the evidence you need to prove these points.
Negotiating a Settlement Deal with the Other Party
Shortly after your file your compensation claim, the other party may reach out to offer to settle the case. If so, our skilled attorneys will be on hand to try to negotiate a favorable deal on your behalf.
Representing You in Court
Should the other party be unwilling to agree to a fair settlement, your pursuit of compensation will most likely end up in court. There, our lawyers will argue your case in a way that will resonate with the judge and jury.
Are you ready to start the fight for the compensation your family deserves? Then please reach out to the legal team here at Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP today. We would love to meet with you to learn more about your case.
Call An Attorney At Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP if Your Child Was Injured Due to the Car Seat
The attorneys here at Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP, have been providing the people of Texas with legal advice and guidance for many years. If you would like to file a lawsuit against a negligent child car seat manufacturer, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are always ready, willing, and able to assist.