We have a new home location! We are now located at 3700 Crestwood Parkway, Suite 600, Duluth, GA.

Car Seat Laws in Georgia

Car seats save lives. Sadly, we sometimes do not realize the importance of using seatbelts and car seats until it is too late. Many states have laws requiring parents to appropriately restrain their children when riding in a motor vehicle. For example, in Georgia, young children must sit in the back seat where possible and use a child restraint system suitable for their age, weight, and height.

If you or your child were injured in an auto accident at little to no fault of your own, do not hesitate to have your case reviewed by a personal injury attorney. You are likely entitled to legal compensation from the at-fault party. Call Kevin A. Adamson, P.C., today for a free consultation with an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer.

Child Passenger Accident Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,093 children aged 14 or younger were killed in traffic accidents nationwide in 2020. Another 139,042 were injured. These numbers translate to 3 children killed and 380 injured every day. Of those killed while riding in passenger vehicles in which restraint use was known, 42% were unrestrained at the time of the accident.

Numerous statistics reveal the life-saving potential of vehicle safety restraints. For example, car seats in passenger vehicles have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71% among children aged 1 or younger and by 54% among those aged 1-4. Further, among front-seat occupants aged 5 and older, lap-and-shoulder seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%.

What are the Car Seat Laws in Georgia?

Georgia has a number of car seat laws on the books meant to protect children in the event of an accident. Specifically, children under 8 years old must ride in either a car seat or booster seat designed for their age, weight, and height.

Further, to protect them from the blunt force of airbags designed for adults and from being thrown through a windshield, children in the same age group who are less than 4’9” tall must always sit in the back seat. When no back seat is present, such as in a pickup truck, they may sit in front when properly restrained and if they weigh at least 40 pounds.

A first-time violation of these rules can result in a $50.00 fine. A second violation can result in a $100.00 fine. In all cases, violations can cost children their lives.

Four Kinds of Safety Restraints for Children by Age, Weight, and Height

According to 2020 data collected by NHTSA, 65% of children who rode in passenger vehicles with unrestrained drivers were also unrestrained. Adults and children alike should always use a safety restraint when riding in a motor vehicle. However, restraints only work if the correct type is used.

The appropriate restraint for your child will vary depending on their age, weight, and height. Following the manufacturer’s instructions is also essential.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following guidelines when selecting a seat for your child:

  • Infants and Toddlers – Children in this age group should always use a rear-facing car seat. Check the weight-and-height guidelines provided by the manufacturer and use accordingly. Convertible rear-facing seats may sometimes be used even after your child reaches two years.
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers – Once your child grows past the weight-and-height limits of their rear-facing seat, they should use a front-facing car seat for as long as the manufacturer guidelines permit.
  • School-aged Children – Once your child outgrows their front-facing seat, move them up to a booster seat until they can safely ride using adult seat belts.
  • Older Children – Once your child reaches 4’9” in height, they may be ready to move up to a regular seat belt. This normally occurs when they are somewhere between 8-12 years old. Remember, however, that children younger than 13 years old should always ride in the back seat.

Some parents make the mistake of upgrading their child’s safety restraints too soon. Avoid this by reviewing the AAP’s full guidelines. For more help finding the right seat for your child, use the NHTSA’s Car Seat Finder, which allows you to compare car seats available on the market alongside ease-of-use ratings.

Tips for Keeping Children Safe in Cars

Statistics consistently show that properly restrained children are at significantly lower risk of suffering injury or death in the event of a car accident. However, it is also important that restraints are used correctly. Failure to do so might end up harming your child more than if they used no restraint at all.

The following tips should help keep your child safe in a car accident:

  • Select the appropriate restraint based on your child’s age, weight, and height.
  • If you select a five-point harness, ensure that the chest buckle rests at armpit level, as well as that only two fingers can fit between the buckle and your child’s body.
  • Ensure that restraints fit snugly against your child’s body by removing bulky coats.
  • Install restraints securely by following the instructions in the user manual.
  • Use a seat belt or latch attachment to securely anchor the restraint system in your vehicle.
  • Have your local fire department check that the seat you select is properly installed.
  • Do not wait to replace expired, damaged, defective, or recalled restraints.

Who Can Be Liable When a Child Is Injured in a Car Accident?

In most car accident cases, liability is established by proving that someone was negligent, which simply means that they failed to use reasonable care to ensure that their actions did not cause injury or loss to others.

Common examples of driver negligence include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Running red lights and stop signs

The first step in recovering compensation from a negligent driver is normally filing a claim against their auto insurer. If a reasonable out-of-court settlement cannot be reached, you can then take the at-fault driver to court.

However, in cases involving defective vehicle safety restraints, you can also file a products liability lawsuit directly against the manufacturer. In Georgia, products liability cases are normally based on negligence or strict liability. In the latter case, plaintiffs need only prove that the:

  • The defendant manufactured the product;
  • The product contained a defect when it left the manufacturer; and
  • The defect caused the plaintiff’s injury.

In general, there are three types of defects that can lead to product liability:

  • Design defects, which are inherent to the product;
  • Manufacturing defects, which are introduced during production; and
  • Failure to warn, which occurs when manufacturers do not warn consumers of dangers associated with their product or do not provide adequate user instructions.

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit?

Yes. The deadline is set by a law known as the statute of limitations. In Georgia, the deadline for filing most personal injury cases is set at two years from the date of the accident. Importantly, if the injured victim is a minor, the countdown may be paused until their eighteenth birthday. On the other hand, the “statute of repose” prohibits product liability lawsuits once ten years have passed after the date of first sale.

No matter which deadline governs your case, it will be strictly enforced. Failure to file your case before the appropriate deadline nearly always results in your case being dismissed, thereby eliminating your route to legal compensation in court. The best way to avoid this is by having a personal injury attorney review your case as soon as possible after the accident.

Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or your child were injured in an auto accident, you might be entitled to legal compensation. The sooner your case is evaluated by a car accident injury attorney, the sooner they can begin strategizing your route toward maximum compensation. At Kevin A. Adamson, P.C., we have the legal skills and experience to handle your case from start to finish. Call us today for a free consultation.