Under the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act, "[a]ny person transporting a child under the age of 8 years shall be responsible for securing that child in an appropriate…child safety seat. The parent or legal guardian of the child under the age of 8 shall provide a child restraint system to any person who transports his or her child. A child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat of a motor vehicle while wearing only a lap belt if the back seat of the motor vehicle is not equipped with a combination lap and shoulder belt."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- rear-facing car safety seats for most infants up to age 2;
- forward-facing car safety seats for most children through age 4;
- belt-positioning booster seats for most children through age 8; and
- lap-and-shoulder seat belts for children over 4' 9" in height.
That is, if an 8-year-old is under 4' 9," a booster seat is the safest choice. Additionally, children younger than 13 should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
In the event of a car accident with minors as passengers, the first thing to do is go to the emergency room or see a physician who can assess any physical injuries. In Illinois, the standard statute of limitations for pursuing a lawsuit to recover damages is 2 years from the date of the accident. However, for minors, the statute is extended to 2 years after the child's 18th birthday. Usually the parent or legal guardian acts on the child's behalf during the lawsuit, and is entitled to monetary compensation to help cover all or part of the expenses arising from the child's injuries. If after further investigation it is revealed that the child was not properly secured in a child restraint at the time of the accident, the driver and/or parent or legal guardian may be found at partial or majority fault for the child's injuries. This, in turn, can negatively affect compensation.
As always, drivers should exercise extra precaution when driving with child passengers. For more information on child passenger safety guidelines, programs, and safety seat fitting stations in Illinois, please visit the Child Passenger Safety Page.
Posted by DMM at the Law Offices of Hugo A. Ortiz.
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