Children and Car Seats: The Law

This week, the nation is supporting Child Safety Week 2018, with the main purpose of raising awareness about the various risks to children and how to prevent accidents and injuries.

Many people have been taking part in all sorts of events and campaigns throughout the week to get behind the cause, and at Cute Injury, we’d also like to get involved and raise awareness about the importance surrounding child car seats and road traffic accidents.

It’s vital that parents or guardians always use them – correctly, according to the guidelines provided, and that they are the right one for your child’s height and weight.

Any mistake or error of judgement when it comes to restraining your child could result in your their injuries being a lot worse if they were to be involved in a car accident. It could even result in the unimaginable; death.

Child Car Seats and The Rules

If you’re a first-time mother or father buying a car seat or booster seat, it can be pretty daunting. There are so many different styles and sizes to consider – which one should you get?!

The UK law surrounding seat belts and children’s car seats are as follows:

  • When choosing a car seat, it must comply with the UN standards – that’s the ECE regulation 44.03 or 44.04, or the new i-size regulation, R129. If you see the ‘E’ in a circle on the orange label, then it complies with the correct standards.
  • Adult passengers, including those aged 14 and over, must wear a seat belt – this is not the driver’s responsibility. However, as a parent or guardian, it’s always best to double check that your children are sitting securely in your vehicle.
  • The correct restraint must be used with children up until they turn 12 or until they reach a height of 135cm – whichever comes first.
  • After turning 12 or when they become taller than 135cm, they must wear a seatbelt in any vehicle.
  • The child seat or booster must be fitted in the vehicle according to the instructions and must be suitable for the child’s age, height and weight.

There will always be someone available in the shop to help you, or with a bit of online research you’ll be sure what one you’re looking for. There are always instructions, so as long as you read and follow them, you’re good to go!

It’s crucial that you follow the instructions provided with the car seat – failure to do this can result in devastating impacts (see example cases below).

Seating Your Child in the Front of Your Vehicle

Many people are unsure if you can put a child in the front of a car. The answer is yes, but only under these conditions:

  • A rear-facing child seat must not be fitted into the front passenger seat as it is protected by an airbag. In the event of an accident, the airbag could cause serious injury to the baby, or even death, if the seat isn’t facing forward. Only a forward-facing seat must be used.
  • If you put your child in a forward-facing seat in the front, the main seat must be put back as far as it can go. This way, it puts the child further away from the airbag in an accident – reducing the risk of injury.

As with the previously mentioned rules, the seat must be fitted according to the instructions, and children aged 12 or over, or taller than 135cm, are allowed to sit in the front, but must wear a seatbelt.

It is usually safer for children to be seated in the back of a vehicle, but if you do seat them in the front passenger seat, it is incredibly important to follow the rules. 

The Impacts of Failing to Use a Car Seat or Using the Wrong Restraint

Among the hundreds of thousands of personal injury road traffic accidents that occur in the UK every year, thousands of those involve children – either being inside or outside the vehicle.

In many cases, injuries are made worse if the child isn’t secured properly or in the correct car seat – some instances even result in death.

In the case of Jones v Wilkins in 2001 regarding a road traffic collision, a two-year-old was sat on the mother’s lap and she only had a lap belt to restrain her at the time the accident happened. The driver in another vehicle was liable for the accident and crashed into them – causing the child to suffer severe injuries and paraplegia.

Unfortunately, it was found that wearing the lap belt was actually worse than if the child had not worn one at all. This meant her injuries were worsened. The child should have been seated in the back and in the correct car seat.

In another case, Hughes v Williams and Williams later in 2012, Emma Hughes was placed in the wrong child seat. Just three years old, Emma suffered brain and spinal cord injuries after an accident caused by a driver who lost control while speeding.

The mother chose the booster seat for Emma, rather than the five-point harness car seat, as she felt her daughter seemed more comfortable in it. Devastatingly, this was the wrong choice and had Emma been sat in the other seat, her injuries wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.

In both cases, while both mothers were seen as caring and loving parents, their mistakes contributed towards the extent of their children’s injuries – the court deemed them 25% liable, so they only received 75% of the compensation amount after claiming for compensation.

Their devastating situations are a reminder of the importance of proper car restraints for children.

Claiming for your Child's Injury with Cute Injury

If your child has been injured in an accident that was not their fault and you’d like to find out about making a claim for compensation with a No Win No Fee lawyer (NWNF), you can read our guide here or call us for free today!

At Cute Injury, we are more than happy to provide you with any information you require and you are under no obligation with us. Our lawyers work on a NWNF basis, so we reduce the financial stress and risk for you – you’ve got nothing to lose!

If you'd like to help support Child Safety Week and raise awareness of child car seats, please share our blog! Thank you :)

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