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Traveling with Car Seats in California

Traveling with your child is something you probably do every day, whether it be taking them to school or simply running errands. So, you might take the process for granted, but the fact is that your child is vulnerable to injuries in a car accident–even if you use a car seat. If you or your child has been hurt in a car accident in California, Maison Law’s team of experienced lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Do You Have to Use a Car Seat in California?

It’s not just in your child’s best interest that you use a car seat when traveling with them in California, it’s also the law. According to Section 2736 of the California Vehicle Code, every child under the age of 8 must:

  • Ride in the back seat of the vehicle
  • Ride in a proper “child restraint system.”

This effectively means that you have to use a car seat if you have children under the age of 8. While this is typically covered in your own vehicle, you might have questions about traveling and what you need to do.

Traveling with Car Seats in California

When you travel in California, you should do everything you can to guarantee that you have an appropriate car seat for your child. “Appropriate” child restraint systems are defined by state law and federal safety standards, based on your child’s:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height

Children must be “properly restrained,” meaning the lap belt should lie across the hips and touch the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should cross the center of the chest. These rules vary by your child’s size but are crucial because most vehicle safety features are designed for adults, not children.

This is also in effect when you travel. This means that you may need to bring your child’s car seat with you (if you’re not traveling in your own car.) If you can’t bring the car seat, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft provide rides with car seats (in certain areas.)

How Safe Are Car Seats?

Obviously, you never want to be involved in a car accident when your child is in the car with you. But unfortunately, this has been known to happen. As you might expect, a car seat makes your child much safer in the event of an accident. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the resources and money poured into research and development for these products. As to how they make your child safer, car seats typically have:

  • Specific designs and restraint systems
  • Comfort
  • Safety standards and requirements that must continue to be met. When they aren’t or something changes, there’s recalls

That said, you can’t guarantee that your child won’t get hurt in a car accident, even with a car seat. This is compounded by the different types and causes of the accident itself. So, when there is a car accident and your child is involved, they could be looking at any of the following injuries:

  • Head and neck injuries – Whiplash, strained neck, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries are common. Car seats can reduce these risks but not eliminate them.
  • Facial injuries – Airbags can cause broken noses, mouth damage, and eye injuries due to the force when they go off.
  • Cuts – Broken glass can cause severe cuts, which can be more damaging for children due to their smaller frames and delicate skin.
  • Internal organ damage – Accidents can lead to chest injuries, broken ribs, punctured lungs, and other organ damage.
  • Broken bones – Fractures in wrists, legs, arms, pelvis, and other bones are common and can have long-term effects on developing bones.
  • Spinal injuries – Spinal injuries are common and can have lifelong consequences due to the developing spine.
  • Psychological and emotional trauma – Accidents can cause PTSD and other psychological issues that can affect your child long-term.

Car seats significantly reduce your child’s injuries, but don’t eliminate them entirely. The question then becomes, what can you do legally?

Legal Options When Your Child is Hurt in a Car Accident

You basically have the same legal options when your child is hurt in a car accident as you would if you’re the one that was injured. You can either file an insurance claim out of court or file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your child.

Both options allow you to recover certain “damages” from whoever is responsible. This depends on the circumstances, but usually involves the driver that caused the accident, road defects, or even the manufacturer of the car seat. In a claim, you can recover:

  • Current medical bills
  • Future medical and rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages and income
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish

These damages vary by case, but it’s important to know they are available. To fully recover on behalf of your child, you will likely need these damages. Thus, it’s important to put together the strongest case possible, and the best way to do that is to work with our team of experienced California car accident lawyers.

Contact Maison Law After a California Car Accident

Whether you or your child are hurt in a car accident in California, you have certain legal rights. No parent wants to think about this situation, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen–even if you’re traveling. So, consider working with our team of experienced California car accident lawyers at Maison Law. We can provide the guidance and support you need. Contact us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation to get started.

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