Pennsylvania Child Car Seat Laws

Philadelphia Law Firm

The primary objective of every parent and guardian in Pennsylvania is to keep their kids as safe as possible at all times.

When driving in cities like Philadelphia, the best way to accomplish this goal is to follow the state’s child car seat laws. In the event of a car accident, you should do what you can to minimize the chances that your child will sustain injuries after the collision.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s Child Car Seat Laws

Section 4581 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code states that anyone who transports a child on a public road or highway must adhere to the following rules:

1.- Children under 2 years of age must be secured in rear-facing car seats. They should remain in this child passenger restraint system until they exceed the height or weight limit detailed in the manufacturer instructions.

2.- Children who outgrow their rear-facing child passenger restraint system should be securely fastened in a front-facing car seat until their 4th birthday. Pennsylvania law states that this seat can be positioned in either the front or rear of the vehicle.

3.- Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in booster seats that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). These booster seats should generally be used in conjunction with a lap and shoulder belt.

4.- Children who are older than 8 years of age are not legally required to use a booster seat. However, they must be restrained by a functioning seat belt system.

At Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, we pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of Pennsylvania’s rules and regulations regarding child passenger protection. With over 80 years of combined experience, we know how dangerous the roads of Philadelphia can be.

Understanding the Benefits of Child Car Seats

The state of Pennsylvania did not create its child car seat laws to make life more difficult for new parents. It introduced these rules and regulations because research consistently shows that using appropriate restraints is one of the best ways to keep children safe on the road.

According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Children who use a front- or rear-facing car seat are between 71 and 82 percent less likely to sustain an injury in a crash than kids who are only restrained by a seatbelt – regardless of their seating position.
  • Children between the ages of 4 and 8 who use FMVSS-compliant booster seats are 45 percent less likely to sustain an injury in a car crash than kids of the same age who are only restrained by a seatbelt.
  • 36 percent of kids between the ages of 4 and 7 who died in traffic accidents in 2017 were not using an approved child restraint system.
  • 22 percent of kids under the age of 4 who died in traffic accidents in 2017 were not using an approved child restraint system.

The information published in the 2017 Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics report shows similar patterns to the data distributed by the CDC. It states that:

  • Between 2013 and 2017, 82 percent of children under the age of 4 who were involved in car crashes while using an approved restraint system did not sustain an injury.
  • During that same period, only 56 percent of children under the age of 4 who were involved in car crashes while not using an approved restraint system escaped without an injury.

This data clearly shows that the use of a car seat can potentially allow kids to walk away unscathed from car accidents that may otherwise have left them with a permanent disability or long-term health challenges. 

Where Can Pennsylvania Parents Get Help Installing Their Child’s Car Seat?

Installing a child safety seat can be a little tricky – especially for new parents who have never done so before. As such, it is no surprise that the CDC estimates that around 46 percent of all car seats and booster seats in the United States are installed incorrectly.

In recognition of this issue, PennDOT provides funding for more than 75 fitting stations throughout the state that parents can visit to have a trained technician check that their child’s safety seat is properly installed. To find the fitting station closest to them, parents need only visit the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project website.

What Are the Penalties for Violating Pennsylvania’s Child Car Seat Laws?

The Philadelphia Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police are always on the lookout for parents who are violating local car seat laws. When they catch someone transporting a child without using an approved restraint system, they have the authority to issue a fine.

First-time offenders generally end up having to pay the following costs for their transgression:

  • A fine of $75
  • An administrative fee of $10
  • A donation of $10 toward the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fund

Do you need to speak with an experienced attorney about Pennsylvania’s child car seat laws? If so, please reach out to the team here at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, at a time that is convenient for you. We would be more than happy to provide you with the information you need.

Recovering Compensation for an Injury Sustained By a Defective Child Car Seat

The state of Pennsylvania’s car seat laws were introduced to keep children as safe as possible in the event of a crash. However, they can only accomplish this goal when the seats that kids are using are fully functioning. When the seats are defective or flawed, they are significantly less effective and can cause severe injuries.

If your child was injured because of a defective car seat, and you are currently struggling to figure out how to pay their medical bills, don’t panic. With the help of the skilled attorneys here at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the car seat manufacturer to recover some much-needed compensation.

The Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, team is dedicated to providing the people of Philadelphia with top-class legal services. When you ask us to assist you with your child’s defective car seat case, we will:

Product liability lawsuits can be long and confusing. As such, as you work through yours, you are all but certain to encounter a variety of scenarios that you aren’t quite sure how to handle. Fortunately, our attorneys will be by your side to provide you with the advice you need to keep moving in the right direction.

Search for Evidence to Help Your Case

If you wish to walk away from your product liability lawsuit with a compensation check, you will need to prove that:

  • The car seat was inherently defective
  • That defect caused your child’s injury

When you work with us, our lawyers will help you search for the evidence you need to prove these key points.

Negotiate a Settlement with the Manufacturer’s Insurer

The vast majority of product liability cases are resolved through the settlement process. If you would like to consider settling your case, our experienced legal team will work with the other party’s insurer to try to negotiate a fair deal.

Ready to start fighting for the compensation your family deserves? Contact the team here at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, today.

Common Defects Found in Car Seats in Pennsylvania

All defects, no matter how small they may be, have the potential to make a car seat dangerous for children to use. A short sampling of some of the most common child safety seat defects would include:

  • Faulty strap adjusters
  • Flammable materials
  • Broken latches
  • Broken or weakened frames
  • Flammable cushion materials

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or a manufacturer identifies a defect with a child car seat, they typically issue a recall. Parents who wish to check if their kid’s seat has been recalled can visit the NHTSA’s website.

Common Injuries Caused By Defective Child Car Seats

The use of flawed, defective, or otherwise malfunctioning car seats can cause kids to sustain a wide variety of different injuries, like:

In severe cases, many of these injuries can require surgery or years of physical or occupational therapy to treat. The costs of these treatments can often run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Statute of Limitations for Defective Child Car Seat Cases

The statute of limitations for almost all product liability cases in Pennsylvania is two years. This law means that most people who sustain an injury because of a defective product must begin the process of filing for compensation within two years of the date their accident occurred.

The system works a little differently for children, however. Since their age prevents them from filing a lawsuit, the countdown timer on their two-year statutory window does not begin on the day they are injured. Instead, it starts on the first day they can legally file suit – their 18th birthday.

Parents who wish to pursue compensation on behalf of one of their kids can generally do so at any point before they become an adult.

Your Experts on the Child Car Seat Laws in Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia car accident lawyers here at Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC, well-versed in just about every aspect of Pennsylvania law. If you have questions about the Keystone State’s child car seat laws or need someone to help you file a product liability lawsuit against a negligent manufacturer, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (215) 875-7030 or contact us online.