A lot of legal information surrounding car accidents has to do with adults on the road, but there are special considerations for children in vehicles. Since the leading cause of child deaths in Georgia is car accidents, the details matter—like local car seat laws. Car seats are hugely important in protecting children from the worst injuries and fatalities that can happen during a car accident. Properly using a car seat is largely effective compared to going without.
So, what exactly are Georgia’s car seat laws? And how do they come into play during a car accident—do they affect how much money you can recover?
How do car seat laws work in Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, any child is under the age of eight is legally required to ride in a car seat or booster seat. (The only exception to this rule is if the child is taller than a height of 4 feet, 9 inches.) This law is applicable not only for cars but all vehicles minus public transportation and taxi cabs. Other rules applicable to this law include:
- The child also must always in the back seat of the car away from the airbags. While airbags can be potentially life-saving during an accident, most are designed for adults, not children, and they’re forceful enough to actually cause more harm than protection to a small child.
- Parents must also use car seats designed for the proper weight and height of each child and follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions very closely. Rear-facing car seats provide more protection in serious car accidents, and it’s crucial for the car seat to be installed correctly in the car.
- Parents should keep using rear-facing car seats with their children as long as possible—typically until they reach the age of two or grow above the weight limit for rear-facing car seats. When the child is ready for a front-facing car seat, the best option is a five-point harness until the child is old or tall enough to use a normal lap and shoulder belt.
If a driver does not follow this car seat law, they can be fined $50 and will face a point against their driver’s license for each child that is improperly secured in the vehicle. For more serious situations, the penalties may be greater.
How do Georgia’s car seat laws apply in an accident?
If your child is injured because of a defective car seat or because of a negligent driver who caused an accident, you may be able to claim financial recovery from the negligent drier or the manufacturer of the defective car seat. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you figure out the best legal actions to take.
If you were in a car accident and a car seat was in your vehicle, you must replace it, even if the seat seems undamaged. After a crash, important parts of the car seat can sustain small fractures that can affect safety in future collisions. If you replace the car seat following an accident where the other driver is at fault, you should be able to claim it as part of your damages.
What if I didn’t use a car seat and my child was injured—can I still recover money?
In general, as long as the other driver was the one at fault, YES, you can recover money for your damages whether you were using a car seat for your child or not. However, it will likely affect how much money you can recover. But it depends on what injuries you’re claiming.
For example, if your child was injured, and the court believes that the injuries would not have happened (or would have been less severe) if you were following car seat laws, you will recover less money than normal. This is because some of the injuries are your own “fault” even though the accident as a whole was caused by someone else.
On the other hand, if the injuries you or your child sustained had nothing to do with whether a car seat was used, then it shouldn’t really affect your claim at all—although your lawyer may have to fight to shut down that line of attack from the insurer anyway. They will use any excuse they can find to underpay you.
All of this is very similar to how seat belt laws affect damages in an accident: not using one doesn’t make the accident your fault, but it may mean you have to share the cost of your injuries.
Never assume you can’t recover money. A good lawyer can help you.
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If your child was involved in a car accident or was injured due to a defective car seat, our attorneys can help. We have 20+ years of personal experience working personal injury cases involve adults and children. For a FREE consultation to answer any questions and help guide you toward the best options for you and your family, give us a call at 404-341-6555 or fill out the form to the right today.