Arizona Child Restraint Laws
Arizona parents have a legal obligation to keep a child in some form of restraint when traveling in the passenger car from birth through potentially the age of eight. Not only is it the law, but having the proper child restraint device can help protect against some of the more serious injuries in a car accident.
In general, the design of restraint systems in cars is for adults. Child restraint seats bridge the gap and make cars safer for children.
One of the most dangerous parts of the car is the airbag. For that reason, children should never sit in the front seat. The child restraint keeps them from both hitting the seat in front of them and having their bodies thrown forward into the deployed airbag which is the reason for the Arizona child restraint laws.
If your child has injuries from an accident, you can expect an insurance company to address whether you had a child restraint system properly installed in your vehicle. Assuming that the answer to that question is yes, your family may deserve significant financial compensation if your child suffers injuries in a car accident that was someone else’s fault. Reach out to a car accident lawyer to receive a consultation if you have been in an accident.
That said, you might recover losses for your child’s injuries even without a proper restraint system. This is always something you need to discuss with a car accident lawyer. Never assume you cannot recover compensation if your vehicle lacks a proper child restraint system. Car accident law is not that black and white.
Statistics Show How Effective Child Restraints Can Be
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car seats and booster seats greatly reduce the risk of child injury in a car accident. Using a car seat can reduce the risk of injury by up to 82 percent. Similarly, using a booster seat for children aged four to eight can reduce the chance of injury in an accident by up to 45 percent. Not only should parents use child restraint systems, but they should also ensure that they have proper installation to get maximum protection.
Child Restraints in Arizona
Arizona law defines a child restraint system as:
- An add-on child restraint system,
- A built-in child restraint system,
- A factory-installed built-in child restraint system,
- A rear-facing child restraint system
- A booster seat
Requirements for Child Restraint Systems
The core requirement under Arizona law is that a child must ride in a child restraint system until they:
- Reach the age of eight
- Grow to 80 pounds
The child safety seat must have federal approval under safety regulations.
In addition to following Arizona car seat laws, parents should also follow federal regulations in installing the car seat. Many parents will take a child’s car seat to a dealer or a fire station to get help and ensure that it is professionally installed.
Until 2012, Arizona law was that a child no longer needed to be in a restraint system once they reached 80 pounds. The law changed to keep children in a restraint system until they reach eight.
Manufacturer’s Recommendations Play a Large Role in When Children Can Change Seats
What type of car seat a child is in depends on their size and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Experts generally recommend that parents keep children in rear-facing car seats until they reach the age of three. Then, parents will still keep the child in a car seat, but it will be facing toward the front. Each car seat has a manufacturer’s recommendation based on the child’s weight. Parents should follow that in deciding the placement of the car seat.
Once children outgrow the car seat (based on the manufacturer’s recommendation), they will move to a booster seat. Parents should use the booster seat with the car’s safety harness. The best safety harness to use with the booster seat is a 5-point harness.
If the parents prematurely graduate a child either to a booster seat or to not using one at all, which can place the child in danger. Not using the appropriate safety restraint can also complicate the legal picture if a child suffers an injury in a car accident.
Children Should Still Remain in the Back Seat of the Car
Even when a child is out of a booster seat, parents must still be careful when moving them to the front seat. If a child is too small, the force with which the airbag deploys can seriously injure or kill them. Arizona law does not specify an age until children must remain in the backseat. However, parents should use their best judgment and exercise caution In keeping children in the back seat until they are ready to move forward.
Sanctions for Failure to Use Child Restraint Systems
Even with the legal requirements, Arizona law enforcement has limited options to punish a parent who does not follow the law. The fine for breaking child restraint safety laws is only $50. Further, the parent will not need to pay the fine if they can show that they later installed a child restraint system. The police officer is not allowed to detain the car when they have stopped a parent, nor is the violation of these laws probable cause to search the car.
Parents Must Correctly Install the Child Restraint System
Not only is it important for parents to use child restraint systems, but it is also critical that they install them correctly. Unfortunately, most people do not install child restraint systems correctly. In the event of a crash, the insurance company or car seat manufacturer may attempt to argue that your system was incorrectly installed and, therefore, you were at fault for the injury. This argument is not necessarily winning, but it can enable them to shift part of the blame onto you.
Not only are child restraint systems the law in Arizona, but they are also the best thing you can do to keep your child safe while in the car. All it takes is an investment in the right restraint system and the time necessary to install it safely. Simply stated, child restraint systems save lives, and they prevent more serious injury in the event of an auto accident.
Financial Compensation in Car Accidents that Injured Children
Chances are that you should at least be entitled to some financial compensation if someone else was at fault for the injury. Even if the car seat was incorrectly installed, or if you did not even have one, you may still not be entirely at fault for the injury.
Arizona law allows car accident victims to recover for the percentage of their accident injuries for which they were not at fault. Even if someone was less than half to blame for the accident, you will still get some settlement check (albeit reduced by the amount you are determined to be at fault).
The Car Seat Itself May Contain Defects
In some cases, your child’s injuries might have been made worse by or stem from the defective child restraint system. Every year, there are scores of injuries that result from car seats that did not work as intended. The manufacturers have been legally responsible for the child’s injuries, and in some cases, they have to pay dearly for defective products.
Here are some examples of defects that have caused injuries to children:
- The buckle may not fully lock or secure your child in the seat.
- The chest buckle may come unfastened, or the design of the car seat makes it easy for the child to unbuckle it themselves.
- The car seat may have insufficient padding to protect the child in the event of a crash.
- The base of the car seat that connects to the car can be defective, causing it to detach when there is an impact.
- Manufacturer’s size guidelines may be incorrect for the actual size of the child (in one recent lawsuit, a child suffered quadriplegia because they slipped out of the restraint of their booster seat when they were 55 pounds, and research showed that the booster seat worked better for larger children)
When the car seat has design, marketing, or manufacturing defects, the manufacturer and the company that sells them can be legally responsible for a product liability lawsuit. If you can prove that the car seat was defective, you can hold the manufacturer strictly liable. These lawsuits often lead to extremely large jury awards or settlements. However, product liability cases are also very complicated, and they require an experienced lawyer. The manufacturers often fight these cases with every resource at their disposal, given the stakes for them.
Proving Someone Else Caused Your Child’s Injuries
Children have a worse prognosis than adults when they are involved in road traffic accidents. Although the proper use of a safety restraint greatly reduces the risk of serious injury, Children may even be injured when the driver has meticulously followed safety restraint law and procedure. When someone else is to blame for your child’s injuries, you can recover significant financial compensation.
The legal requirement is that you prove that someone else was negligent in the crash that injured your child. If your lawsuit stems from problems with the car seat itself, you must show that the car seat was defective.
To prove negligence, you must show that someone else did not uphold their duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances. It is difficult for the average person to gather the necessary evidence to make the case that someone else was negligent. When you are dealing with a child’s injury, you are likely handling a case that has greater damages than the average personal injury action. The stakes are too high not to hire an experienced lawyer to represent your family. Your child’s future care and well-being depend on your efforts to fight for their legal rights.
Damages Your Child Can Recover in a Car Accident Case
Once you can prove that your child’s injuries were someone else’s fault, your child can recover:
- The complete cost of their medical care and treatment
- Lost wages if your child will be unable to work in the future and for the time that you need to take off from work to help care for them
- Pain and suffering for both past and present experience
- Emotional trauma and distress from the accident
- Scarring and permanent disfigurement
Given the more serious injuries that children suffer in car accidents, these damages can be very great. You must fight for every penny that they legally deserve, as this is money that your child vitally needs both now and in the future.
If your child died in the accident, your family can file a wrongful death lawsuit for your own personal injury that stems from losing a loved one.
Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
An experienced car accident attorney can:
- Investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine who may be legally responsible
- Gather evidence that they can use to prove that somebody should be accountable
- Estimate the value of Damages that your child and family have suffered to seek financial compensation
- Work to prepare the claim with the insurance company or the lawsuit against the defendant in court
- Handle all communications with the insurance company so you do not have to deal with them
- Negotiate financial compensation on behalf of your child
- Take your case to court if you cannot agree on an adequate settlement
When your child has suffered serious injuries in an accident, it goes without saying that your mind will be elsewhere. The insurance company will use the same negotiating tactics no matter who is filing a claim – an adult or a child. Your car accident lawyer will fight on behalf of your child to get Fair compensation and hold someone else responsible for what they did.