As New Orleans personal injury attorneys, we can personally attest that lawsuits involving a child who has been injured or killed are difficult for everyone involved. While the child and family deserve full financial compensation in such cases, we would all prefer that such accidents never occur. Unfortunately, as of 2006 – the last year full mortality data is available from the National Center for Health Statistics – motor vehicle crashes remained the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 3 and 14. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, on average approximately 4 children under age fourteen are killed and 529 are injured in car accidents in the United States every day.
No set of regulations designed to protect children in car accidents can be perfect. In Louisiana, child car seat laws largely meet or exceed federal recommendations. Currently, the law requires infants less than one year of age and under 20 pounds to be placed in rear-facing car seats. Infants at least one year old, and between 20 and 40 pounds, are required to be in forward-facing car seats. Booster seats are required for children between the ages of four to six who weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. Thereafter, older and heavier children who are not using a booster seat are still required to use a lap/shoulder seat belt.
State law also recommends that if a child falls into more than one age/weight category, he or she should use the car seat configuration that offers the most protection in an automobile accident.
While these state laws largely mirror federal regulations, Louisiana parents should be aware that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that a child remain in a given type of car seat until he or she reaches the maximum height or weight recommended by the manufacturer, regardless of age. The federal government also recommends that children remain in booster seats until a seatbelt fits properly across the hips and shoulders, up to twelve years of age.
If your child has been injured in a car accident, please feel free to call us with any questions regarding your legal rights. We can be reached at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.