Child Booster Seat/Restraint Laws in California

Breaking California child car seat laws could result in a traffic ticket and a fine. However, it could also result in serious injuries in an automobile accident. Child booster seats and car seats are designed to protect a child from injury during a car crash.

What are the California Restraint Laws and Child Booster Seat Laws?

The child car seat laws in California are very simple and easy to understand. Any child under the age of two years must be restrained in a rear-facing car seat. Children must remain in a rear-facing car seat until they weigh at least 40 pounds or are at least 40 inches tall. 

After a child reaches 40 pounds or 40 inches in height, they can be placed in a front-facing car seat according to the manufacturer’s specified weight and height limits. Children must remain in a booster seat or car seat located in the vehicle’s back seat until they are seven years of age. 

When children turn eight years old or reach 4 feet 9 inches in height, they can be secured by a safety belt or booster seat. In most cases, a child is not ready for a seat belt until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Anyone 16 years old or older must comply with the Mandatory Seat Belt Law in California. At all times, parents need to follow the height and weight restrictions for safety seats and booster seats.

Do California’s Child Restraint and Booster Seat Laws Comply with Recommendations From the AAP?

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) modified its recommendations for child car seats in 2018. Instead of using an age requirement for keeping infants and toddlers in rear-facing car seats, the AAP recommends keeping children in rear-facing safety seats until they outgrow the car seat. In most cases, a child can remain in a rear-facing safety seat until they are at least 40 pounds. 

The safest place for a child in a car crash is generally in the vehicle’s back seat secured in a rear-facing car seat. Parents should check the manufacturer’s specifications for height and weight limits. Once a child reaches the height or weight limit, the AAP recommends transitioning to a front-facing car seat.

Again, it is recommended that a child remains in the front-facing car seat (in the back seat) until the child outgrows the car seat, according to the manufacturer’s specifications. When a child outgrows the front-facing safety seat, parents can transition the child into a booster seat. 

Booster seats are designed to position the safety belt correctly over the child’s lap and chest. Without a booster seat, some children might not be tall enough for correct seatbelt-positioning, which could cause injury during a collision.

It is also recommended to keep children in the back seat until they are at least 13 years of age. 

California Car Accidents and Your Child

When a child is injured in a motor vehicle accident, the child has the same rights as an adult to recover compensations for injuries and damages. A child could receive compensation for economic damages, including medical bills and future loss of income or diminished earning capacity. A child may also receive compensation for their non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, permanent impairments, and decreased quality of life. 

Children who sustain car accident injuries have a greater risk of developing permanent impairments. Brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and many other injuries can result in developmental delays. A child may suffer from cognitive, emotional, and behavioral impairments because of a car collision.

Parents can work with an experienced child injury lawyer to fight for full compensation of past, present, and future damages. A personal injury attorney may retain medical, financial, and mental health professionals to assist in calculating the correct value of the child’s damages.

Your child may need continued care and treatment. It is crucial to include those expenses in a car accident claim to ensure your child has the resources available for treatment and support.

Time to File a Child Injury Claim for a Car Crash is Limited

California’s statute of limitations restricts the time a person has to file a lawsuit for damages caused by a car accident. The restrictions also apply to injuries and damages sustained by a child. A child may have additional time to file a claim after they reach 18 years of age, but parents should not wait to contact a car accident lawyer.

A lawyer calculates the deadline for filing a lawsuit and monitors deadlines to ensure that the child does not lose their right to file a claim or lawsuit.