New York Child Car Seat Laws
New York State law requires all children to be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle. In fact, the law requires all motor vehicle passengers to be restrained by a seat belt. However, due to their smaller size and fragile stature, children need specific child restraints to keep them safe when traveling in a vehicle.
Choosing the appropriate child safety restraint can help prevent injuries in an accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. Car seats and boosters can provide protection for infants and children in a crash and may reduce serious and fatal injuries by up to 80 percent.
New York’s Child Passenger Safety Laws
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles states that the legal requirements for child car seats include:
- All children under the age of 2 must ride in a rear-facing car seat (Effective November 1, 2019)
- All children under the age of 4 must ride in child safety seats
- All children must ride in child restraint systems until their 8th birthday
Sadly, thousands of children are injured or killed in car accidents, largely because 3 out of every 4 children in child safety seats are not properly secured or restrained at all. Therefore, it is important for parents to install and use the child’s car seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions and be sure to secure the child in the seat properly every time.
Types of Child Restraints
There are four main types of car seats that cater to different sizes and age groups, from newborn infants to tweens. As children grow, how they sit in a car will change. So, naturally, their car seat type must also change. It is important for parents to choose an age and size-appropriate child restraint that is right for their child from among the four main types of child safety restraints.
1. Rear-facing car seats
There are different types of rear-facing car seats for infants under 12 months to toddlers up to 3 years. Rear-facing car seats have a harness so that in a crash it cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress on the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.
2. Forward-facing car seats
A forward-facing car seat has a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during an accident. Depending on a child’s height and weight, children from 1 to 7 years old may use a forward-facing car seat.
3. Booster seats
A booster raises, or boosts, the child’s position so the lap-and-shoulder belt of the vehicle fits properly over the child’s hips and across the chest. Depending on a child’s height and weight, children from about 4 to 12 years old may use a booster seat.
4. Seat belts
A seat belt should lie across the upper thighs and rest snug across the shoulder and chest to restrain your child safely in a crash (seat belts should not rest on the stomach area or across the neck or face). Depending on a child’s height and weight, children between 8 and 12 years old may use the provided seat belt in the vehicle.
Each type of vehicle and car seat has different instructions, so it is important for parents to read and follow both before installing the car restraint. Children should keep using car seats until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat model’s manufacturer. Parents should regularly check their child’s size and change the type of seat once the manufacturer’s size limits have been outgrown.
How to Find the Right Child Car Seat
Before a child is even born, parents often spend hours searching for the right car seat to bring their child home. It can be overwhelming for parents to find the right seat restraint as it will impact the safety of their children. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides guidelines and recommendations on choosing the right car seat for your child.
Choosing the right car seat is paramount for protecting your precious child’s life for traveling in a vehicle. When searching for the right car seat, keep the following points in mind:
- Choose a car seat based on your child’s age and size
- Choose a car seat that fits in your vehicle since not all car seats fit in all vehicles
- Read your vehicle manufacturer’s manual and check the type of seat belt, lower anchors, or tethers available in your car
- Follow the specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions on how to install the car seat
- Keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements
- Move your child to the next type of car seat restraint as he or she grows
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through to age 12, as the NHTSA recommends
Federal Safety Standards for Child Car Seats
Child safety restraints for car seats are designed to protect children in a car crash. Yet, product defects may appear due to the use of cheap or substandard materials. Manufacturers and importers must certify that their products comply with the mandatory standard and Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) requirements.
Manufacturers of newer child seats provide expiration dates for their seats that typically range from 6 to 8 years from the date it was manufactured. The expiry date provides consumers with guidance as to the expected useful life of the car seat. Consumers should be able to verify the age by checking the manufactured and expiry date on the car seat.
Common Child Car Seat Defects
Federal law requires child car seats must be certified according to the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213. Sadly, not all child car seats meet these standards, which is why rigorous testing is required. When design and manufacturing flaws have been identified, these products must be recalled for the safety of the public.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a list of companies that have issued recent recalls for their products, referred to as the Child Seat Recall Campaign Listing. If you believe you have a defective car seat, stop using it immediately and contact the manufacturer.
Types of child car seat defects that may lead a car seat being recalled include:
- Inadequate/insufficient safety padding: Car seat padding is intended to prevent or reduce head injuries in the event of an accident
- Faulty car seat buckles: Defective buckles may unfasten upon impact or allow children to unbuckle the car seat themselves
- Defective latches: Faulty latches that get jammed or are too difficult to undo may make it hard to remove a child during an emergency
- Faulty chest clips: Clips and straps may snap, break, or become unfastened, which may lead to serious injuries with or without a car accident
- Defective carry handles: Carry handles on detachable car seats may release unexpectedly and cause a car seat to move or fall in a moving vehicle
- Weak frame or shell: If the shell of the car seat is weak or poorly designed, it may bend and crack upon impact
- Defective base units: A faulty base unit may result in a car seat unlatching upon impact, causing an infant or child to be thrown from the seat
- Unclear installation instructions: Insufficient instructions for installing or using a car seat can lead to misuse or incorrect installation, which may lead to serious injury
Potential Injuries From Car Accidents Involving Defective Car Seats
Defective car seats can cause devastating injuries to young children. Types of injuries that may result from a defective car seat being involved in a collision include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head and facial trauma
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Cuts and puncture wounds
- Severe bruises and contusions
- Damage to internal organs
Recoverable Compensation for Defective Car Seat Injuries
If your child has suffered harm from a defective car seat, a seasoned New York personal injury lawyer might be able to help you file a personal injury claim on behalf of your child. You may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Physical injuries
- Emotional trauma
- Permanent impairments
Contact Hill & Moin LLC to discuss your potential compensation with a qualified personal injury attorney today.
Who is Liable for an Injury Caused By a Defective Child Car Seat in New York?
If you believe that the injury that your child sustained in a car accident was either caused or magnified by a defective child car seat, speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Determining liability will depend on the circumstances of the injuries and how they were caused.
Possible liable parties may include:
- The negligent driver
- Car seat manufacturer
- Car seat designer
- Car seat distributor
A qualified personal injury lawyer can help investigate the details of your case and determine if a lawsuit can be filed against the negligent party. If you hire an attorney, he or she can help you file a claim on your child’s behalf and seek the compensation you deserve. Hill & Moin’s clients know that we review the facts of each case and carefully consider options for pursuing compensation for the injuries that have impacted your child’s life.
Call us at (212) 668-6000 to schedule a free consultation and find out what legal options are available.
Contact Us and Find Out How We Can Help You Today
Hill & Moin LLP represents New York clients who have suffered serious injuries from car accidents, including children. We understand how overwhelming it can be to seek legal advice, which is why our legal team is happy to provide a free case evaluation without any obligation to retain our firm.
At the New York law firm of Hill & Moin LLP, our attorneys do all we can to ensure that each of our clients receives the compensation they deserve. When you work with us or the attorneys among our widespread legal network, you can have the confidence that your legal needs are being taken care of with your best interests in mind.
Our clients have expressed that it’s like having a lawyer in the family, so why not call us and see for yourself? Call us to discuss your rights and find out how our law firm can help you with your Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ.