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Child Safety Seats: Are You Obeying The Law In Ohio?

Posted on 06/07/2013

The most exasperating and exhausting time in anyone life is when they become new parents. Everything becomes secondary to this new arrival. New parents are responsible for absolutely every physical need the infant has. Sleep becomes a precious commodity. Doctors, friends with children and other relatives are on speed dial.

There are also plenty of expenditures for your child. Diapers, cribs, formula, strollers, and clothes that only have a shelf life of a few months are all new financial realities. So much goes into raising and caring for this new entrance into your life that it can be quite easy to forget one of the more important items for your children: A car safety seat.

There are a lot of rules, specifications, and regulations to remember, but in the event of an accident, these could be the difference between having your child unaffected and having your child suffer from an injury with life-long consequences.

Rules in Ohio

Currently, Ohio law states that any child under 4 years old and under 40 pounds needs to be restrained in a car safety seat. Even though there is no legal requirement for a booster seat, the state thoroughly recommends keeping a child in a booster seat until he or she is at least 8 years old and 4’9 inches in height.

There are very good reasons for this. Anyone who has had to suddenly apply the brakes on their car has seen the effects on any unsecured object that is in the car with them. Notice how a bag of groceries or a purse flies forward as the car comes to a sudden halt. For any infants or young children that can’t even sit up by themselves, a simple seat belt is certainly not enough to properly secure them.

There are different requirements for infants than there are for toddlers. Infants should ride rear-facing in an infant-only or convertible seat until they are at least one year old AND at least 20 pounds. That means if your baby reaches 20 pounds before her first birthday, she should ride rear-facing until she turns one year old. The reason for this is that infants have heavy heads and fragile necks. The neck bones are soft, and the ligaments are stretchy. If the baby is facing forward in a frontal crash, the body is held back by the straps, but the head is not. The head is thrust forward, stretching the neck and separating the neck bones, possibly tearing the spinal cord.
In contrast, when a baby rides facing rearward, the whole body — head, neck and torso — is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. Facing rearward also protects babies better in other types of crashes, particularly side impacts.

This doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank and buy new seats every year. There are plenty of seats available that have both rear and front facing capabilities.

Another thing to remember about your child seat is that you should never place your child in a seat that faces an airbag. You should always place the car seat in the back seat, or if this isn’t possible, turn off the passenger side airbag.

Proper Installation

Having the best available safety seat won’t do your child any good if you don’t have it installed correctly.

For a rear-facing safety seat, a good test is to try to pull it away from the vehicle seat and from side to side. There shouldn’t be more than in inch of give on either side. Next, try pushing the top edge of the seat down towards the floor. Although the vehicle seat cushion may give, the safety seat should stay firmly in place and the back of the safety seat should stay at approximately the same angle (reclined about halfway back). If the back of the seat moves back anymore, consult the manual to make sure that you have everything set up correctly.

Safe Placement

The safest area for a child safety seat is the center part of the back seat. This will keep them away from the sides of the car in the event of a side impact. The best place to have a child travel in a car is in the backseat, even after they outgrow their safety or booster seats. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children should remain in the back seat until at least the age of twelve.

Charles Boyk: Injury Lawyer for Northwest Ohio

While the primary reason for using a child safety seat is the safety of your children, another reason is that insurance companies cannot always be counted on to provide financial support for medical bills and needed treatment and therapy. An insurer will always be on the lookout for reasons to deny claims and avoid payment, and making your child as safe as possible could prevent you having to file these claims in the first place.

In the event that you or your children are injured in an accident, talking to a lawyer is crucial. Charles Boyk has provided aggressive legal counsel for injured Ohio citizens from all walks of life, and he has helped his clients get past the denials, delays and lowball settlements by insurance companies that have forced Ohio families into bankruptcy.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Law Offices of Charles Boyk today.