While the risk of being seriously injured in a car accident is high for anyone, that risk is particularly high for children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death among children in the United States, killing almost 1,000 children each year. Another 100,000 suffer serious significant injuries. Even more disturbing is that almost 35 percent of children who die in car accidents were not buckled up.
Car Seat Safety
The best way to keep your child safe when riding in a vehicle is to ensure they are properly restrained in the appropriate seat for their height and weight. Virginia has stringent child passenger laws that parents should follow in order to make sure their children are protected at all times.
Virginia law requires all children under the age of two or until the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing safety seat (per the manufacturers’ instructions) to ride in a rear-facing safety seat. This is also recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Parents should never place a rear-facing safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger airbag. This could be deadly to a baby if the airbag should deploy for any reason.
Once a child has outgrown their rear-facing safety seat, they should ride in a forward-facing seat that has a five-point safety harness. The seat should always be in the back seat. When the child has outgrown the forward-facing seat, parents should begin using booster seats until the child is big enough to fit the seat belt in the vehicle. Virginia law says children should be in a booster seat until they are 8 years of age. The booster seat should also always be in the back seat.
Seat Belt Use for Children
A child can use the vehicle seat belt when they reach about 4’9” tall. The child’s knees should bend over the edge of the backseat cushion and their feet should rest flat on the floor. Make sure the child is sitting with the back against the seat. In order to ensure proper fit, the lap belt should lay low and snug across the child’s hips, touching their upper thighs and the shoulder belt should fit across their chest, midway between the child’s neck and shoulder.
Let Our Firm Help
Unfortunately, no matter how much we protect our children, there is always the risk that they will still be injured in a crash caused by another driver. If your child has suffered an injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another party, contact a Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal options may be available.
Car accident claims involving child victims can be complex, including the statute of limitations for filing a claim and other factors. Your child may be entitled to financial compensation for both past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, scarring, disfigurement, and any permanent disabilities their injuries may have left them with. Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free case evaluation and find out how we can help.