Alabama Child Car Seat Laws

Posted in Alabama Laws on June 1, 2018.

Car seats are invaluable safety devices. Both state and federal car seat laws exist to prevent injuries to their children and avoid legal penalties. Depending on the age and size of the child, requirements for car seats vary. The Alabama Department of Public Safety enforces the state’s child car seat guidelines:

  • Children under one year old or who weigh less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing seat only. The seat may be an infant-only seat or a convertible seat.
  • Children who are one year or older may ride in a forward-facing car seat until the child reaches the age of five or 40 pounds in weight.
  • Children age five or six may ride in a booster seat.

Failure to abide by these rules can result in fines or harsher legal penalties for multiple offenses. Safety technicians are available throughout the country to check that you have properly installed your child’s car seat.

Why Is Car Seat Safety so Important?

A fine is the least of your worries when it comes to faulty or inappropriate car seats. Children are much more vulnerable to injuries in car accidents than adults, and a car seat can potentially save your child’s life. Without an appropriate safety seat, a small child is much more vulnerable to the intense forces of a car crash, and the impact could throw a child into the vehicle’s dashboard or through the windshield.

A properly installed child car seat will absorb the bulk of the impact of a crash and hold the child in place while the vehicle is in motion. This helps spread the force of the impact safely across the whole body instead of a concentrated blow to one spot, which would likely result in a catastrophic injury. A reliable car seat will also prevent a child from crushing injuries in the event of a rollover or tip-over accident.

When you select a car seat, find one that is suitable for your child’s size and keep his or her growth in mind. While you will need to replace an infant-only seat before long, a rear-facing convertible car seat will last longer and safely secure your child until he or she is old enough and large enough for a front-facing seat. It’s also important to make sure your vehicle has the appropriate connections for your car seat. Many car seats come with multiple attachments to accommodate different vehicles, so make sure your car seat will work with your vehicle before purchasing.

Carefully review the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation. If you fail to install your car seat correctly, you will compromise its effectiveness and may leave your child vulnerable to serious injuries. It’s also important to remember to replace a car seat after getting into an accident, even if the car seat appears undamaged. The force of impact in a car accident can damage the structure of the car seat or weaken the safety elements of the seat, reducing its effectiveness.

Legal Options for Car Seat Problems

If your child suffered an injury due to a faulty or defective car seat, you may be able to file a product liability claim against the car seat manufacturer. In such a case you will need to prove that the seat was defective and your child’s injuries directly resulted from the defect. This can be difficult to prove, so you should speak with an attorney if you think you have grounds for a product liability claim.

A defective car accident can cause severe injuries that can result in permanent damage. Additionally, a negligent driver who causes an accident with your vehicle may be liable for your damages, including injuries to your child and the cost of replacing the damaged car seat. Meet with a Birmingham personal injury attorney to discuss your options after such an event.