Many parents may still be unaware of changes to New York car seat laws which took place back in November. The state was the 10th one to pass the child safety seat law, which went into effect late last year.
Car seat laws in NY are made to protect children from serious injury or death in the event of a car crash in New York, but some experts are warning parents that it may not be enough.
What Do the Laws Dictate for Car Seat Safety in NY?
As of November 1, 2019, any child under the age of 2 is required to be in a rear-facing car seat, according to New York Car Seat Laws.
According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, infants and toddlers should ride in a car seat which is rear-facing for as long as they can, but the law now requires it until the age of 2.
Once a child is no longer able to fit into a rear-facing car seat, he or she should transition into a forward-facing car seat with a harness for as long as possible.
Once it is no longer possible for the child to fit into a car seat, booster seats with a lap and shoulder belt should be used until the child is too big for the belts to fit properly, usually 8-12 years old.
The child can then be moved into a seat belt, which should fit properly.
Children should ride in the back seat at least until the age of 13.
Of course, some children may grow faster than their age dictates, and adjustments may have to be made.
Seatback Failure is Still an Issue
All of these rules will help protect your child if they should be involved in a crash in New York.
However, even when parents do everything that they are supposed to do by law, children can still be injured or worse because of defective products.
This is why the state is doing all that it can to push national seatback failure laws.
Although defense attorneys stand ready to mount manufacturer defense for these injuries, the state is seeking stricter laws regarding seatback failure.
To most people, the laws that have been made and the safety advice that has been given over the last several years seems to suggest that children and adults are reasonably safer riding in the back seat of a vehicle as long as they are in a child safety car seat or wearing a seat belt.
Unfortunately, litigation over the past few years has made it obvious that because of national seatback failure, this may not always be the case.
In fact, research shows that children who are in the back seat of a vehicle may be at risk of serious injury due to seatback failure.
Hundreds of people have reported injuries and even deaths caused by defective car seatbacks.
These unfortunate incidents have resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of litigations and verdicts in court, but no amount of money can make up for a child being put in danger because of defective products.
What is Seatback Failure?
The Center for Auto Safety filed a petition with the National Highway Safety Administration back in 2016 asking them to take action that would protect children who are riding in the back seat of vehicles from the risk of serious injury or death that could occur when the front seatback fails and collapses onto the child.
Parents were urged at that time to place children in rear-facing car seats behind an unoccupied passenger seat whenever possible to help lower the risk of injury to the child.
Seatback failure occurs when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, as in a car accident.
The force of such a stop can be tremendous and the passengers in the car continue to move forward after the vehicle has come to a complete stop.
Because of this, airbags and seatbelts were created to make riding safer.
These safety measures are made to keep the bodies of passengers in place and lessen their risks of injury.
During such a collision, a child safety seat or car seat should be able to withstand the pressure of this inertia and keep the child safe.
When that force causes the back of the car seat in front of them to collapse, the child can be seriously injured or killed.
This is known as seatback failure and is an issue that car manufactures have known about for years.
What To Do In Case of Seatback Failure Injury
If your child or passenger has been injured in a car accident because of a seatback failure, contact a Napoli Shkolnik personal injury attorney.
Our lawyers can help you to understand your rights and what your next steps should be to protect the injured person and get them the care and treatment that they need.
In the event of a death due to seat back injury, an attorney can help walk you through the process of seeking compensation to help care for the loved ones who are left behind.
While compensation can never make up for the tragedy of the loss of life or serious injury due to a seatback failure crash, it can help the family to seek justice and demand for stricter laws regarding this issue.
There is no manufacturer defense for ignoring seatback failure and the devastation that it can cause to families.
A parent should feel safe knowing that by placing their children properly in the back seat in rear-facing child safety seats, that they have done everything possible to protect that child.
Of course, to lessen the chances of injury during an accident, it is always important to be sure that your child’s safety seat is installed correctly, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) offers free inspections at DOT Child Car Seat Fitting Stations.
There is an events calendar to inform parents when these will be held, or you can call 212-839-4750.
You will need to make an appointment for these events, as walk-ins will not be accepted. Locations for these events can be found on the DOT website.