When do California children need to be in a car seat?

A car accident can occur without much notice. When other drivers are not paying attention, are not following safety rules or are intoxicated, car wrecks are even more common. Even on short trips, people are at risk when they are in the car. The California Highway Patrol says that most accidents occur within one mile of a person’s home.

While adults are put at risk in car accidents, children are even more at risk. Thankfully, through the proper use of car seats that risk can be mitigated. In fact, the use of seat belts is the best way for anyone to protect themselves from serious injuries in case of an accident. However, many people may not be aware of when children need to be restrained in a car seat in California.

According to CHP, California law requires children to be restrained at all times. Starting at 16-years-old, all Californians are subject to mandatory seatbelt use under the California’s Mandatory Seat Belt Law. However, under the age of 16, other rules apply.

First, children who are 8-years-old and younger must ride in the back seat of the car and must be properly restrained. When a child is at least 8-years-old and at least four feet and nine inches tall, the child can use a seat belt while riding in the back. Children under the age of 8 who have not met the height requirements must be in a booster seat or a car seat — whichever is appropriate for the child.

While car seats can reduce the risk of injuries to children, they do not eliminate all risk. Children in safety seats can still suffer serious injuries during a car accident. In these cases, the children and their families may be entitled to damages. An attorney can give specific legal advice — which this post cannot provide — when families are in this situation.