Children Seat Belts and Motor Vehicle Accidents in Massachusetts

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), car accidents are the number one cause of death for children aged 1-13 in the U.S. Car seats or booster seats for children are a major preventive measure that parents can use to minimize the chances for serious or fatal injuries if your child is in a car accident. Fortunately, per a study put out by SafeWise, a family safety organization, Massachusetts ranked third in the nation for the fewest children killed in car crashes at 0.63 per 100,000 population. The best state or area was Washington D.C. that had no reported child deaths in traffic accidents for the years surveyed. The national average is 1.7 per 100,000.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that some 11,606 children up to age 4 were saved from serious or fatal injuries by the use of child safety and booster seats between 1975 and 2017. Their studies also confirm that using a properly installed car seat reduces the risk of serious injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers.

Car Seat Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts law requires that children under 8 years of age or under 57 inches in height be in a child safety device. All other children must of course be restrained by a seat belt. However, the AAP, or American Academy of Pediatrics, has recommended that parents ignore the age cut-off and determine if their child must still be in a child safety seat based on height and weight alone. Although parents should check the manual for height and weight that comes with their safety seat as to the manufacturer’s recommendations, they should also google the AAP to sure it is consistent with their guidelines. The AAP recommends that children only transition to a lap and shoulder belt when they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height. Generally, children under the age of 13 should never ride in the front seat unless your child is taller than the recommended 57 inches in height. 

Having your child properly fastened and having the proper car seat is essential to your child’s safety. If you are unsure about the car seat or if your child is properly secured, you can visit your local police department or fire station to have an officer or fire personnel check it for you. 

Car Accidents Involving Children 

Hopefully, your child was properly restrained if you do get into a car accident. If for some reason the strap failed to restrain your child or he/she was ejected from the seat, an expert retained by your car accident attorney needs to examine and test the seat and strap to see if a design or manufacturing defect was the cause of the failure. If you child was ejected from the seat, he or she is at high risk for serious and traumatic brain injury and internal injuries as well as broken limbs. 

But even if the car seat did restrain your infant or toddler, you should have your child examined by a pediatrician since your infant or toddler is not capable of expressing where he or she is experiencing pain. The physician can also check for concussion or head trauma. In some cases, the extent of the injury may not be known for weeks or months. 

As the parent, you can bring a claim for injuries to your child. Damages may consist of:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Emotional trauma
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Effect on future earning capacity 
  • Future damages for lost earning capacity, rehabilitation, ongoing medical care and other expenses

Retain a car accident attorney who has experience in child injury claims and who is familiar with seat belt and car seat or booster seat issues. All possible factors and potential parties need to be investigated in any serious car or other personal injury accident. 

Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain 

A car accident attorney from Burns and Jain will fully investigate your car accident injury claim and handle your claim until settlement or verdict. We have decades of experience in handling child injury claims and in holding all responsible parties accountable. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.

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