Personal Injury Liability: Failure to Use Child Safety Seat

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Does Failure to Use a Child Safety Seat Affect Personal Injury Liability to a Child?

In many cases no.  Many states today have specific laws in place that require infants and young children to wear child safety seats whenever riding in a vehicle.  However, a lot of these same laws do not limit full recovery from personal injury, even if a child fails to use a child safety seat.  In other words, if a child is injured in a car accident while not in a child safety seat, the child can still receive the costs of all injury and other damages.

How Does This Affect Someone Who Has Injured a Child in a Car Accident?

In most cases, the person responsible for the crash and injury will claim contributory negligence on the other driver as a defense.  More specifically, the person responsible for the crash is saying that the other driver is also responsible for the child's injury because the child wasn't put in a car safety seat.  Because of this, the person responsible for the crash will argue that they shouldn't have to pay all of the damages, since it isn't entirely their fault.

However, as stated above, a driver's failure to put infant passengers in child safety seats is usually not held against them.  In fact, many states do not allow a driver's failure to use child safety seats as evidence in court.  The resulting consequence is that the person responsible for the crash must usually pay all damages resulting from the child's injury.

What Other Types of Defenses Does This Affect?

In addition to contributory negligence, other defenses that may be negatively affected by child safety seat laws include mitigation of damages (i.e. injury to the child could have been lessened or avoided if they were put in a safety seat), and negligent supervision (i.e. the driver's failure to put the child in a safety seat was lacking in care and common sense).

Are There Any Exceptions to This General Rule?

Yes, but only in cases where state law does not specifically allow full recovery despite failure to put a child in a safety seat.  Typically, these laws will not say anything about whether failure to put a child in a safety seat can limit recovery for the child?s injury.  In such a case, courts will usually allow defenses such as comparative negligence to be examined.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me?

If your child was injured in a car crash, despite not wearing a child safety seat, you still have a great chance to recover for their injuries.  You should contact a person injury attorney immediately to assess the strength of your case, and estimate possible damages you may be able to collect for you and your child.

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Last Modified: 10-13-2011 01:32 PM PDT

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