Car Seat Laws in NJ & NY: What Parents Need to Know | Kreizer Law Trial Attorneys
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What Parents Need to Know About Car Seat Laws in NJ & NY

Child Safety on the Road: Understanding Car Seat Laws in NJ & NY

With people across the country beginning to return to work and school, commuter traffic is increasing substantially. Unfortunately, car accidents are increasing right along with it. As parents, ensuring the safety of our children is always a top priority, especially when it comes to traveling by car. One crucial aspect of child safety on the road is understanding and adhering to New York and New Jersey car seat laws. 

Whether you are a brand-new parent, or you’ve got three kids under the age of four, it’s a good idea to perform regular checks on infant and toddler safety seats, as well as on your vehicle’s seat belts. Even minor wear and tear on car seats and seat belts can have devastating consequences. 

Furthermore, proper car seat installation is essential to ensure your child’s safety. And with the car seat rules in New York and New Jersey being among the toughest in the nation, proper installation and use will also eliminate unnecessary fines and tickets.

Quick Summary:

  • Child safety seats are crucial in saving lives as they significantly reduce the risk of fatalities and injuries for children involved in motor vehicle crashes.
  • Numerous fitting stations in New York and New Jersey offer free checks to ensure infant, toddler, and booster seats are safely installed. 
  • Understanding car seat laws in New Jersey and New York is essential for ensuring compliance with regulations aimed at safeguarding children during vehicular travel.
  • Different types of seats, including rear-facing, convertible, forward-facing, and booster seats, cater to children of varying ages, weights, and heights.
  • Violating car seat laws in New Jersey and New York can result in fines of up to $75 and $100, respectively, along with potential license points.
  • Common car seat mistakes such as premature forward-facing, incorrect installation, and using expired seats compromise child safety.
  • If your child has been injured in a car accident, get medical help right away. Then, document the scene, report to authorities, notify insurance, and consult a lawyer.

Child Safety Seats Save Lives

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death in children over the age of six months, truly making the safe installation of child safety seats a life-or-death situation. The proper use of “car seats is one of the simplest and most effective methods available for protecting the lives of our young children in the event of a motor vehicle crash.” However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about one-third of all children under 13 killed in collisions in 2018 were not properly restrained in child safety seats or seat belts.

Parents who have been using car seats for years frequently adopt a false sense of security, assuming that the gently used safety seat is perfectly safe and proper installation is obvious and easy. But with countless types and models of car seats on the market today, and with the constantly evolving laws and guidelines surrounding car seat use, it is virtually impossible to know if yours is installed correctly without having it professionally inspected.

Free Check Points and Clinics

Fortunately, most NY and NJ towns have a go-to place to ensure the correct installation and safety of infant car seats, toddler seats, and “booster” seats for older children who are still required to be in some type of child safety seat. Check for a fitting station in New York or New Jersey to ensure that your child’s seat is safe and properly installed.

What Parents Need to Know About Car Seat Laws in NJ & NY

In both New Jersey and New York, the law is clear: all children under 8 years old who are shorter than 4 feet 9 inches (57 inches) must be buckled up in a car seat or booster seat that meets federal safety standards (New Jersey Statutes Annotated § 39:3-76.2). This means no lap belts for little ones – they need the full protection of a car seat.

All child safety seats must be certified under the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213. If your seat is old, it may not meet these requirements. In New York and New Jersey, children must ride in an approved safety seat if they are age four and younger, and in an age-appropriate restraint system until the age of eight.

In addition to avoiding fines and tickets for improper car seat use, following the NJ and NY car seat laws dramatically reduces your children’s risk of serious injury or death in a motor vehicle collision. To protect their most vulnerable citizens, New York and New Jersey have implemented strict guidelines for car seats.

Types of Child Safety Seats

Every parent wants to keep their kids safe, and that includes keeping them secure in the car. But with all the different types of car seats out there, it can be confusing to know which one is right for your child. 

The best seat for your child depends on their age, weight, and height. Always check the car seat manual for specific limits, and make sure the seat is installed correctly in your car.

Here are the common types of child safety seats:

  • Rear-Facing Car Seats
  • Convertible Car Seats
  • Forward-Facing Car Seats with Harness
  • Booster Seats
  • All-in-One Seats

Age and Size Specifications for Various Seat Types

Understand age and size requirements for car seats to ensure your child’s safety. This knowledge helps protect them during travel. Using these car seat tips and adjusting them as your child grows will ensure their safety in the car.

Infants (Newborn to 1 Year Old)

Infantsunder 22 pounds need special rear-facing infant seats with a 5-point harness. Always use them in the back seat, never the front, to avoid airbag dangers.  These seats often get outgrown before the baby’s first birthday.

Toddlers (1 to 4 Years Old)

Keep your child in a rear-facing seat with a five-point harness system until they are two years old and weigh at least 30 pounds. You can switch from an infant seat to a “convertible” seat with the same harness system. Once children meet height and weight requirements, their seats can be turned to face forward. But they should remain in the back seat until at least the age of 12, and for as long as possible.

Preschoolers and Early Elementary Children (4 to 8 Years Old)

When your child gets too big for a harness, they can graduate to a booster seat. This lifts them up so the adult seat belt fits snugly across their chest and hips, keeping them safe in a crash.

School-aged Children and Older (8 to 12 Years Old)

Children can move from the baby seat to a booster seat when they hit 8 years old or 57 inches tall (whichever is sooner). Booster seats are simpler to use and last until age 12 for smaller kids.

In addition to checking the booster seat age in New Jersey, you should consider your child’s weight. While some seats can hold children up to 80 pounds, others may have a weight limit of 40 or 60 pounds.

Are There Penalties for Car Seat Violations in New Jersey and New York?

It is a common misconception that people don’t get tickets for violating car seat laws, especially those about older children. But in the 12 months following New Jersey’s new 2015 car seat legislation, a whopping 6,257 tickets were issued for car seat and seat belt violations involving kids under the age of eight.

  • Penalties for violating car seat laws in New Jersey may include a fine of up to $75.
  • Penalties for violating car seat laws in New York may include a fine of up to $100. 

In addition to any fines, you may also get points on your driver’s license for violating child safety seat laws. Too many points, and you can lose your license.

Common Mistakes Parents Make When Using Car Seats

If you are unsure of whether your car seat meets federal safety requirements, is appropriate for your child’s age and weight, and is properly installed, you are not alone. Car seat safety mistakes are common, which is why free fitting clinics abound in New Jersey and New York. Some of the most common mistakes parents make when using car seats include:

  • Facing Forward Too Soon
  • Incorrect Installation
  • Using an Expired Car Seat
  • Loose Straps
  • Transitioning Out of Booster Seats Too Soon
  • Wrong Seat and Wrong Age
  • Letting a Child Sit in the Front Seat 

“A lot of parents try very hard to do things the right way, but when we see car seat inspections, we find that even the parents that are the most attentive to detail tend to miss a few things and make the car seat less safe,” said Frank Neary, AAA Club Alliance car seat technician. “Probably the single most common mistake parents make installing a car seat is that it’s not tight enough.”

According to AAA, a properly installed car seat shouldn’t move more than one inch in any direction.

What Should I Do if My Child Has Been Injured in a Car Accident?

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts as parents, accidents can and do occur. Following any type of injury accident, seek immediate medical treatment. This is true even when injuries are not readily apparent; certain serious injuries, including internal bleeding and soft-tissue damage, can often take days or weeks to produce visible symptoms. And kids can’t always accurately verbalize the symptoms they are experiencing.

Here’s what you should do to help your child and protect their rights:

  1. Seek Medical Help Seeking medical attention after an accident to rule out serious injuries and get any treatment needed. Keeping medical records is important for your child’s health and potentially for a lawsuit, if you choose to file one.
  2. Document the SceneIf you can do so safely, take photos of the accident scene, including any damage to the vehicles involved and any visible injuries your child may have sustained.
  3. Exchange InformationExchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers involved in the accident. Get names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance policy numbers.
  4. Report the Accident – Contact law enforcement and report the accident. They will create a report detailing the circumstances of the crash, which can be important for insurance claims and legal proceedings.
  5. Notify Your Insurance CompanyContact your insurance company and inform them of the accident. Provide them with the necessary information and cooperate with their investigation.
  6. Consult a Lawyer If your child has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is also in your best interest to consult with a NJ/NY car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages from time off work, and emotional pain and suffering.
  7. Explore Legal OptionsNo amount of money can erase the pain of a child’s car accident injury, but it can help you focus on their healing and recovery by covering expenses and lost wages.  If another driver was at fault, a car accident lawyer can fight for the compensation you deserve.

How Our Lawyer Can Help You Understand Car Seat Laws in NJ & NY

Knowing and following car seat laws in New Jersey and New York is vital for keeping our little ones safe while traveling in vehicles. However, figuring out the right car seat for your child’s age and size can feel overwhelming and confusing.

At Kreizer Law, our New Jersey personal injury lawyers can explain the rules regarding the age, weight, and height of children who must ride in car seats or booster seats. We can provide personalized guidance based on your specific situation. We’ll listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have to ensure you understand your legal obligations.

Our personal injury law firm is dedicated to helping parents understand and comply with car seat laws in NJ and NY. If you’re facing legal issues related to car seat laws, we can represent you in court. We will review your case and determine the most appropriate legal strategy for moving forward. We’ll advocate on your behalf and work to achieve the best possible outcome.

Protect your child, and know the law. Stay informed about car seat laws in NJ & NY. Contact us today and schedule a free consultation to ensure your child’s safety on the road. We can also help you deal with nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, sexual abuse, wrongful conviction, and worker’s compensation cases.

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