Car accident injuries are the leading cause of fatalities for children in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents result in thousands of childhood injuries each year. 

Each state has enacted child booster seat and restraint laws to protect children in the event of a car accident. 

What are New York’s Laws Regarding Child Car Seats and Child Booster Seats?

The child passenger safety laws in New York are straightforward:

  • Children eight years of age or younger must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system when riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Children two years of age or younger must be in a rear-facing safety seat when riding in a motor vehicle. 
  • When the child outgrows all child restraint systems, the child must wear a seat belt regardless of where they sit in the automobile.

The above laws are subject to manufacturer’s guidelines for child safety seats and child booster seats. Parents need to refer to the instructions in the owner’s manual to ensure they use the correct child restraint system based on their child’s height and weight.

Advice and Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics

The AAP provides guidelines and safety tips for parents and caregivers regarding child restraint systems. The AAP made a significant change in its recommendations recently and now recommends that parents use rear-facing car seats for children until they outgrow the car seat.

Each manufacturer provides maximum height and weight restrictions for case seats. So now, instead of transitioning to a front-facing car seat at age two, the AAP recommends using the rear-facing safety seat until the child’s weight or height exceeds the maximum capacity for that car seat.

The same would apply to front-facing car seats. A child can remain in a forward-facing car seat until the child exceeds the height and weight restrictions for that specific seat. Only then should a parent transition the child into a child booster seat.

Most children should use a child booster seat until they are between eight and 12 years of age. A child needs to be at least four feet nine inches tall before the vehicle’s seat belt will fit correctly over the child’s lap and chest. Placing a child in a seat belt before the child is tall enough for the belt to fit correctly could increase the risk of injury in a car accident. 

The AAP also recommends that all children 12 years of age and younger ride in the vehicle’s rear seat. 

If you are unsure whether you have installed your car seat or child booster seat correctly, you can visit a fitting station. A list of fitting stations is available online. 

The Long-Term Consequences of Car Accident Injuries for Children

Children who sustain car accident injuries may experience developmental delays. In addition, they may have a variety of cognitive, emotional, and physical impairments that could last into adulthood. Brain injuries from car accidents are especially dangerous for children. 

Other injuries that a child might sustain in a car crash include:

In addition to the physical injuries, a child may sustain severe psychological injuries, including PTSD, depression, and anxiety. The emotional distress and mental anguish caused by the car accident could negatively impact the child’s performance at school and in social environments. 

Should I Hire an Attorney for My Child?

Childhood injury cases can be challenging. The risk of long-term harm for the child must be factored carefully into any settlement offer. It may be necessary to hire several experts to determine the extent of damage caused by the car wreck.

Your focus should be on your child’s physical and emotional health. Dealing with insurance companies, claims adjusters, investigators, and other matters related to the car accident takes time away from your child. A child injury lawyer handles all legal aspects of the case, giving you more time to care for your child.

Also, an attorney has your child’s best interest as the top priority. The insurance company and other parties merely want to pay your child as little as possible to get rid of the claim. Hiring a lawyer for your child gives your child a legal advocate who will fight to obtain full compensation for all injuries and damages