As a parent, it is your moral duty to keep your child as safe as possible when you drive them around town. And, according to the Texas child car seat laws, it is also your legal responsibility to do so.
At Brian White & Associates, we know that you might have a lot of questions about those laws and what you’re required to do. That’s why our Houston personal injury lawyers have taken the time to provide an overview of what you need to know.
An Overview of the Child Car Seat Laws in Texas
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 982 people died on the state’s roads and highways in 2018 because they were not wearing a safety belt or any other kind of restraint. Many of those who died were children.
As part of its efforts to reduce the number of kids that are unnecessarily killed and injured on its roads every year, the state of Texas mandates that any motor vehicle passenger that is younger than 8 years of age must ride in a “child passenger safety seat system.”
The exact nature of this safety system depends almost entirely on the age, height, and weight of the child:
Babies and Infants
According to Texas law, kids who are younger than 2 years of age must travel in a rear-facing car seat. This seat should be placed in the rear of the vehicle.
Children should continue using their rear-facing seats until they reach the device’s stated height and weight limit. At that time, they can upgrade to a front-facing safety seat. They must continue to ride in the back seat of the vehicle, however.
Young passengers should remain in a forward-facing child passenger safety seat until they reach the maximum height and weight allowed by the product – usually at the age of 6 or 7.
Once this time comes, they can then graduate to a booster seat. These seats must be used in conjunction with an adult lap and shoulder belt.
Kids should continue to use their booster seat for as long as possible – at least until they can comfortably use a traditional safety belt. Once the child has reached this point – usually around the age of 10 – they can forgo the use of aftermarket safety devices entirely. They must continue to sit in the rear of the vehicle, however.
When a child turns 13, they no longer need to sit in the back seat of the car. They are free to travel in the front seat if they wish. Whether they choose to relocate or not, they must continue to wear a seat belt.
At Brian White & Associates, we understand that the state of Texas’ rules and guidelines surrounding the use of child car safety equipment can be quite confusing. Should you have any questions about them, just pick up the phone and give us a call. Our Houston car accident attorneys would be happy to provide you with the information you need.
How to Find the Perfect Child Car Seat
Given that it could potentially save their child’s life, a car seat is undoubtedly one of the most important products that a parent is ever likely to buy.
As such, it is vital that they choose wisely. Generally speaking, this means selecting a seat that:
- Comes with features like harness straps and side-impact protection
- Has the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) seal of approval on the box
- Has never been used before
- Does not have any sign of damage
- Comes with a comprehensive and lengthy warranty
Parents and guardians should also ensure that their kid’s new car seat is compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213. Providing a child with a device that does not meet this requirement is a violation of Texas state law.
Where Can Texas Residents Get Help Installing Child Car Seats?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 46 percent of all car seats and booster seats are installed incorrectly – making them significantly less effective in the event of a car accident.
Fortunately, help is available. Texas parents who want to ensure that their kid’s safety seat is properly fitted can make an appointment with a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. These experts can show new moms and dads how to install their child’s seat and how to use it correctly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website has an easy-to-use search tool that parents can use to find a Child Passenger Safety Technician near them.
Can Texans Get in Trouble for Violating State Car Seat Laws?
The state of Texas takes child safety extremely seriously. As such, if a local sheriff’s deputy or a member of the Texas Highway Patrol catches a parent transporting a child while violating a car safety or seat belt law, they may arrest them and charge them with a misdemeanor. Those why are convicted must usually pay a fine of between $25 and $200.
The attorneys at Brian White & Associates are well-versed in all areas of Texas child car seat law. If you need more information about what you can and cannot do while driving your child around town, just send us a message and set up a free consultation with a member of our experienced team.
What to Do if Your Child is Injured Because of a Defective Car Seat
When you follow Texas’ child car seat laws, you expect your kid to be safe if you get into an accident. Unfortunately, these laws will only protect your child if their safety equipment is up to code. If it is faulty or defective, your kid may be ejected from their seat and severely injured.
Should this nightmare scenario happen to your family, you may be able to claim compensation from the manufacturer. To do so, however, you will need the assistance of an experienced personal injury and product liability attorney, like those at Brian White & Associates.
How the Brian White & Associates Team Can Help You with Your Lawsuit
At Brian White & Associates, we are dedicated to providing the people of Texas with top-class legal services. When you ask us to help you fight for compensation for your child’s injuries, we will:
Search for Evidence to Help Prove Your Case
The claims that you make as part of your defective car seat lawsuit are only as strong as the evidence that you can present to support them. If you wish to improve your chances of recovering some financial restitution at the end of your case, you will need to be able to prove that:
- Your child’s car seat was defective or flawed
- That defect caused your child to become injured
- Your child’s injuries are as severe as you claim
When you hire our legal team, we will help you search for and compile the evidence you need.
Handle Your Case’s Paperwork Load
Claiming compensation from a car seat manufacturer typically involves quite a lot of paperwork. From filing the initial suit to requesting medical records from hospitals and clinics, the administrative load can sometimes feel neverending. Fortunately, when you work with our team of attorneys and paralegals, we will handle it all on your behalf.
Negotiate a Settlement Deal with the Other Party
Most defective car seat cases never go to trial. Instead, they are usually resolved when the plaintiff and the defendant agree to a settlement deal. If you are interested in exploring the possibility of accepting a deal such as this, our experienced attorneys will be on hand to help you negotiate its terms.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Defective Car Seat Injury Cases in Texas?
The state of Texas has a standard two-year statute of limitations on most personal injury and product liability cases. As such, an individual that is hurt in a car crash or by a defective item typically has to begin the process of fighting for compensation within two years from the day they were injured.
When the plaintiff is a minor, however, the statutory countdown timer does not begin ticking until they are old enough to file a lawsuit – their 18th birthday. Generally speaking, this means that most kids who suffer injuries because of a defective car seat can file a compensation claim at any time before they turn 20 years old.
Of course, parents are under no obligation to wait until their child becomes an adult to file a lawsuit. They are free to begin the legal process at any time before their child turns 18.
Are you ready to fight for compensation for your child’s injuries? Then please do not hesitate to contact the team at Brian White & Associates. We have the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to handle your case.
Contact Brian White & Associates If You Have Questions About Child Car Seat Laws in Texas
When the people of Texas need an attorney to walk them through the state’s child car seat laws or help them fight for compensation, they know that there is only one law firm they need to turn to – Brian White & Associates. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a Houston accident lawyer, just give us a call or contact us online. We look forward to meeting you.