Protecting Your Child During Car Trips

Driving with children in the car can be a stressful experience, making you hyper aware of traffic and the behavior of other drivers. While seat belt and child safety seat regulations help to protect youth, you should educate yourself on additional ways to safeguard young ones during car trips and what to do in the aftermath of an accident.

Selecting the Right Car Safety Seat

All states require infants and young children to sit in child safety seats when a motor vehicle is in motion. However, with so many brands of car seats on the market, finding an appropriate one for your child can be confusing. Before you purchase a car seat, contact your state's highway safety office to learn the specific height and weight requirements for infant seats, child booster seats and seat belts.

When you install a safety seat, make sure to follow the exact instructions in the product manual. Common mistakes parents make when installing and using car seats include:

  • Putting the seat in the wrong place
  • Reclining an infant at the wrong angle and failing to pay attention to seat angle indicators
  • Dressing your child in bulky outerwear that interferes with seat harness straps
  • Moving a child to a forward-facing seat or booster seat too soon

Infants should always be secured on the back seat in a rear-facing safety seat. From two to five years old, children should be buckled in a forward-facing seat on the back seat of the car. Children over five can sit in booster seats until they are big enough to sit alone with just a seat belt.

If you are nervous or unsure about installing a car seat, seek assistance from a certified child passenger safety technician. They can teach you how to install a child safety seat properly, check the seat for signs of damage and let you know if the seat has been recalled.

You can find a certified technician in your area via the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program's online database.

Replacing a Car Seat After an Accident

While the car seat can protect your child during an accident, you may need to buy a new one after a crash. Collisions can cause damage to a car seat that you may not be able to detect. The unseen damage can prevent the car seat from providing adequate protection for your child.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends replacing car seats after moderate to severe car accidents. Car seats are not cheap but it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child's safety.

If you have to file an insurance claim to cover the costs of repairs to your car after an accident, you can add the cost of a new car seat to your claim. A car accident attorney can help you prepare your insurance claim to make sure you receive adequate compensation to purchase a brand new car seat.

Even if the accident was minor and the car seat was not damaged, you should check your child for signs of whiplash and other minor injuries. While your child may seem fine, you do not want to take any chances with their health.

Signs of whiplash include:

  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Changes in sleeping habits and moods
  • Neck swelling

Furthermore, if the accident was not your fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney right away. Your child deserves compensation for the pain and suffering they experience after an accident. In addition, you can get reimbursed for your child's medical bills. An attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your child. You can click here to contact an attorney.