Is improper car seat usage contributing to children’s car accident injuries?

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There are few things more distressing for car accident lawyers than litigating injury claims involving children. Unfortunately, these cases are a reality of the job: according to Transport Canada, more than 2000 Canadian children between the ages of 1 and 4 are injured or killed in car crashes each year. Quebec’s auto insurance board, SAAQ, recently reported that car accident injuries to children had risen by 8 per cent between 2012 and 2016, even while injuries and fatalities fell across the general population. According to an SAAQ spokesperson, improperly used car seats may have played an important role in this trend.

With that in mind, the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP would like to offer an overview of proper car seat and booster seat use, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What type of car seat does my child need?

Your child’s age and size generally dictates which car seat is best suited for them. Infants should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least one-year-old, and weigh at least 22 lbs. Even if your child is over one year of age, you should abide by the car seat’s instructions: if your child fits the seat’s recommended height and weight, keep them in it. There’s no need to rush to a front-facing seat.

At a certain point, however, your child will outgrow the rear-facing seat and will need something bigger. Children between 22 lbs. and 40 lbs. will generally be well-suited to a front facing seat. This stage usually lasts until the child is around four years old.

When your child gets too big for a front-facing car seat, it’s time to graduate to a booster seat, which they will occupy until they grow taller than 4’9”, or older than 9-years-old.

Proper rear- and front-facing car seat use

New car models must be equipped with a Universal Anchorage System (UAS), which facilitates the installation of both front and rear-facing car seats. Before you install your car seat, however, be sure to carefully read the manual and check that your child fits its specifications.

For rear-facing car seats, make sure the seat is positioned at a 45° angle. If the slope of your seat does not allow for this, you can use a firm towel roll or pool noodle to ensure the seat is positioned safely.

Front-facing car seats must be secured with a tether strap, which is attached at the top of the car seat. If your car doesn’t come equipped with tether anchors, consider asking your automotive dealer to install them.

Booster seats

Once your child has graduated to a booster seat, they will begin using your car’s installed seatbelt system. The seatbelt should fit your child like it does an adult: make sure the shoulder strap lays over the middle of your child’s collarbone rather than the neck, and that the lap belt lays over the hips, not the stomach.

Even with a properly installed car seat or booster seat, some automotive injuries are unavoidable. If you or your child has been injured in an accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to find out how we can help.

 

Photo credit: Lars Plougmann/Flickr

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