February 20, 2023
Auto Accident

Every parent wants to protect their children from being injured in a car crash. The best way to protect your child from injury if an accident happens is to strap them into a well-fitting, properly installed car seat.

Using a car seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury to infants by 71%. However, ill-fitting car seats that are the wrong size or not attached properly can reduce the seat’s effectiveness, causing injury to your child in a collision.

The safest car seat is an appropriate size for your child, structurally sound, and securely attached inside the car. Learn how to choose and install the safest car seat for your child and how an Alabama car accident lawyer can help if your child is injured in a car accident.

Choosing the Right Car Seat

With so many car seats on the market, it can be difficult to tell which car seat is the proper size and style for your child. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers guidance on factors to consider when choosing an effective car seat to keep your child safe, including size and design:

  • Pick the Right Seat for Your Child’s Size

The right car seat for your child depends on their height and weight. Car seat weight limits are usually posted in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the side of the seat. Once your child surpasses the weight limit, you should switch their car seat for the next size up.

For instance, infant car seats typically only hold babies around 22 lbs. to 35 lbs. Forward-facing car seats have an average weight limit of around 50 lbs. to 90 lbs. Booster seats for older children typically hold about 100 lbs. to 125 lbs.

The right car seat design for your child is typically based on age. Age estimates for each type of car seat come from the NHTSA’s recommendations and height-weight charts for children. They include:

  • Rear-facing seats are designed for newborns to toddlers between one to three years old.
  • Forward-facing restraints are designed for children between two and seven years old.
  • Booster seats are designed for children between seven and twelve years old.

Some car seats convert from rear-facing to forward-facing, forward-facing to booster seats, and some can be converted between all three types.

  • Buy a New Car Seat

Buying a new car seat is typically the safest option, as car seats can lose structural integrity over time. Older car seats can sustain damage in a car accident and may not have modern safety features like the LATCH system. Many car seat manufacturers advise against using a car seat that is more than six years old.

If you reuse a car seat, inspect the car seat for any signs of structural damage. The frame should not be cracked, warped, or missing pieces. Similarly, the seat belts should be free of rips or tears and not appear frayed or stretched.

  • Check for Recalls

Car seats, just like any commercial product, can be recalled for safety issues. If you plan to reuse an old car seat, check whether it has been recalled since its initial sale. You can typically register both new and reused seats with the manufacturer. The manufacturer will alert all car seat owners if the car seat is recalled.

Installing the Car Seat

For maximum protection, you must install your child’s car seat correctly. While 96% of parents believe their car seat is properly installed, the NHTSA found in a 2015 study that 46% of car seats had instances of misuse, such as not anchoring the car seat correctly.

Tips for properly installing your child’s car seat include:

  • Check the Manual

Your child’s car seat comes with a manual showing how to assemble and install the seat inside your car. If you are reusing a car seat and can’t find the manual, search for a copy of the manual online.

  • Check the Seat’s Stability

After attaching and securing the car seat, locate the space for the LATCH system or seat belt and use your hand to push or pull the car seat. It should remain relatively stable and not move much. If the seat moves more than one inch, it is not secure and needs to be readjusted.

  • Consult a Certified Inspector

It’s a good idea to have a certified car seat inspector examine the car seat’s installation, even if you believe it has been installed correctly. An inspector can look at the car seat, identify any problems in the installation, and ensure that your child will be safe when riding in their seat. You can use the NHTSA search tool to locate certified technicians.

Protect Your Child’s Health and Future with The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers

An improperly installed car seat can endanger your child’s health and life in a collision. If your child has been seriously injured in a car crash, you have the right to seek compensation for their injuries and future medical expenses. The legal team at The Vance Law Firm Injury Lawyers can help you recover appropriate restitution for your child.

Our attorneys have many years of experience in Alabama auto law. We will help you secure the compensation needed to support your child’s health and future.

Contact us today to schedule a free case review.

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