A family is grieving after a fatal car accident on southbound i-95 in Miami. A two-year-old girl was killed and her five-year-old sister suffered catastrophic injuries. Neither of the girls was in a car seat at the time of the crash. In fact, there were no car seats in the car, at all.
Car Seats Reduce Risk of Injury, Death In an Accident
More than 120,000 children are injured in car accidents every year. Car seats play a critical role in limiting the number of kids who are included in this statistic. Studies show that using a car seat – and using it properly – can reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash by as much as 70 percent.
Specifically, infants under 12 months of age are 70 percent less likely to die in a crash when secured into a car seat properly. Car seats are slightly less effective in protecting toddlers, reducing the risk of death by 54 percent.
Since car seats were first introduced, the number of infants and toddlers killed in car accidents every year has dropped significantly. Cars are built to transport adults, not children. Kids need extra protection when traveling in large vehicles.
However, car seats can only offer protection when they’re utilized. As Miami personal injury lawyers, we often see cases where a car seat was not used or improperly used, resulting in catastrophic consequences.
Florida Law Mandates Car Seats For
Every state in the country has mandatory car seat laws. In Florida, any child five years of age or younger must be buckled into a car seat when a car is in motion. Not any car seat will do. The seat, or child restraint device, must be crash tested and federally approved.
Florida has different laws that apply to children of different ages.
- Newborns to 3 years of age: Must be in a full car seat that is not part of the vehicle.
- Four and five-year-olds: Must be in a booster seat, which can be separate from the car or part of the design.
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offer car seat recommendations to maximize the safety of young children. These organizations suggest that young children remain rear-facing until they outgrow the height and weight limitations of their car seats.
Some states have embraced these recommendations and integrated into their car seat safety laws. Florida is not one of these states. Instead, state law simply requires that vehicles are equipped with proper car seats and that children of a certain age use them. Florida car seat laws also don’t apply if a child is being transported in exchange for money by someone who isn’t related or in a medical emergency situation.
Consequences For Ignoring Florida Car Seat Laws
Drivers have a responsibility to make sure that they’re young passengers are securely fastened into appropriate child restraint devices. Since car seat laws are primary offenses, police can stop a vehicle even if the driver commits no other traffic violations.
Violating Florida child restraint requirements can result in three points on your license. Alternatively, drivers can opt, with the Court’s permission, to complete a child restraint safety program.
A driver who fails to comply with Florida State law can also be considered negligent per se in the event of an accident. Negligence per se can be used as the grounds for liability in a Miami personal injury lawsuit.
Here, the driver responsible for the two young girls didn’t have them strapped into car seats. She also didn’t have car seats in the vehicle, at all. The girl’s family can point to this violation of Florida law and demand compensation for the harm they’ve endured because of the accident.