Florida Car and Booster Seat Laws
Bill Allen | August 25, 2021 | Car Accidents
Knowing how to keep kids safe in the car is essential. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents claim the lives of more American children every year than any other cause of death.
One way Florida drivers can protect children is to follow the state’s child car seat laws. This guide will cover what you need to know about this important topic.
Florida’s Child Car Seat Statute
Florida’s official child car seat statute requires drivers with young children as passengers to abide by the following:
- Passengers five years of age or younger must be protected via a “crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device”
- If a child is three years of age or younger, the restraint device protecting them “must be a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat”
- A booster seat, integrated seat, or separate carrier may be used to protect children four and five years of age
You may not have to adhere to all these restrictions in certain circumstances. Sometimes, a child may have a medical condition that exempts you from these requirements. Get documentation from a medical professional to ensure you don’t get into legal trouble if your child has such a condition. If you’re caught not adhering to the requirements listed here, you still need to prove why you and your child are exempt.
Be aware that these restrictions also only typically apply when a child’s parent, guardian, or someone else responsible for their welfare is driving. For instance, if you were in a taxi with your child, the taxi driver is not responsible for ensuring your child is properly restrained. That’s still your responsibility.
Weaknesses of Florida’s Child Car Seat Laws
While Florida’s child car seat statute does help protect children, it’s arguably lacking in certain key ways.
When it refers to a “child restraint system,” it doesn’t provide much detail regarding what qualifies as such a system. Additionally, while the laws in some states cover weight and height requirements, Florida’s law does not.
It’s also important to understand that Florida’s law only lets parents know what they must do to avoid legal penalties. There are many additional steps you can take beyond simply following the law to keep a child safe. For instance, you should never drive with loose items in the car, particularly if your passenger is a restrained child. Those items can become dangerous projectiles that may strike and harm a child if you’re ever involved in an accident.
The Impact of Florida’s Child Car Seat Laws on Claims & Lawsuits
Florida currently remains a no-fault state. Although there have been attempts to change this, they haven’t yet been successful.
In a no-fault state, it doesn’t matter if another driver’s negligence causes you or your child to be injured in a car accident. Your initial means of seeking compensation for medical bills and related losses would be to file a claim to collect from your own insurance. However, if your injuries or losses are severe enough, you can also file an additional claim to collect from the insurance of a negligent party.
Certain factors may influence how much money you can potentially recover when you file a claim. It’s important to seek representation from someone who understands Florida law to ensure you recover what you’re owed.
For instance, Florida has a comparative negligence law. That means the amount of money a victim may recover can be reduced if it’s shown that their own negligence contributed to their injuries and losses. If you were deemed 40% responsible for causing an accident you were involved in, instead of being able to recover $10,000, you might only be able to recover up to $6,000.
However, comparative negligence doesn’t apply to all cases. If you file a claim because your child was injured in an accident, the amount of money you may recover can’t be reduced because you failed to properly follow Florida’s child car seat laws.
You might not have known that. As a result, an insurer could have potentially convinced you to settle for less than your claim is worth.
This highlights one of the many reasons you should hire an attorney if you’re ever involved in a car accident. While you’ll hopefully never be in an accident with a child as a passenger, you need effective representation if this does happen.
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