Marsalisi Law

Hundreds of children in Florida suffer severe injuries in motor vehicle accidents each year.  Their vulnerability in car crashes seriously threatens children’s health and safety, which is why Florida legislation takes booster and car seat laws very seriously.  The New England Journal of Medicine explains that motor vehicle accidents account for 20% of children and adolescent deaths in the United States.

These disturbing statistics highlight the necessity for proper child safety equipment while driving.  In order to reduce the likelihood of your child suffering serious injuries and possibly death, you will need to make sure you have the proper booster seat and vehicle restraints for your car.  Florida booster seat law is there to provide a guide for parents to understand how to keep their children safe.  Continue reading to learn more about Florida’s booster seat laws and how to choose the seat best for your child.

Guide to Florida Booster Seat Laws

The weight and height limits for booster seats may vary depending on each state’s law.  Understanding vehicle seat regulations and the rules for securing your child in equipment will reduce the likelihood of severe injuries and possible legal consequences.  In Florida, the law states the following child restraint requirements:

  • Ages 3 and under: Children must use a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat;
  • Ages 4 to 5: Children must use a booster seat, a full car seat, or a car seat integrated with the vehicle.

Florida parents must make sure that all children under the age of 5 are properly using a crash-tested, federally-approved child restraint device.  Staying aware of the manufacturer’s instructions and determining where a child can securely sit will significantly impact the child’s safety in a motor vehicle accident.

How to Choose the Right Booster Seat?

Every child is unique; some may be larger than their peers, while others are smaller.  When choosing a car seat for your child, you will want to consider how they fit in the seat rather than just their age.  There are various car seats for larger or smaller children of each age.  Consider the following recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Choose a seat based on your child’s age, size, and vehicle;
  • Read over the manufacturer’s instructions and vehicle owner’s manual to ensure you know the specific height and weight limits and how to incorporate the seat belt or lower anchors and tethers;
  • Use the same car seat for as long as possible until they grow outside the height and weight requirements;
  • Children 12 years old and under must stay in the vehicle’s back seat.

With thousands of car seat options, the above guidelines can help narrow your search for the best car seat.  When you understand the rules and regulations of car seats, you will take the necessary steps to ensure your child’s safety.

A Deeper Look at Florida’s Child Car-Seat Laws

Florida has more laws than those concerning booster seats.  Federal and state guidelines exist for how a minor should be seated in a car of all ages.  

  • Children Five Years Old or Younger: Must be secured in a federally approved child restraint system.
  • Children Three Years Old and Younger: Should use a separate car seat or the vehicle’s built-in car seat.
  • Children Four to Five Years Old and Less Than Four Feet, Nine Inches Tall: Must sit in either a separate car seat, a built-in child seat, or a seat belt, depending on height and weight.

Car seat guidelines according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department:

  • Birth to 12 Months and at Least 20 Pounds: Utilize a rear-facing child car seat in the back seat of the car.
  • One to Six Years Old or Four Feet, Nine Inches Tall to 12 Years Old: Continue using a booster seat in the back seat until your child is big enough to use the car’s seat belt.
  • Twelve Months and 20 Pounds to Five Years Old and 40 Pounds: Continue with a rear-facing child car seat until your child outgrows the weight and height limits.
  • Five Years Old and 40 Pounds to Six Years Old or Four Feet, Nine Inches Tall: Transition to a forward-facing car seat in the back of the car.
  • Six Years Old or Four Feet, Nine Inches Tall to 12 Years Old: Switch to a booster seat in the back seat until your child is big enough to use the car’s seat belt.  
  • Thirteen years old: Your child can sit in the front seat.

Following these child car seat guidelines helps protect children.  

Is an Injured Child Automatically Entitled to Compensation in a Florida Automobile Accident?

In the State of Florida, motor vehicle accidents are a common occurrence, often resulting in questions about liability and compensation.  One pressing question revolves around injured children and whether they are automatically entitled to compensation in the aftermath of an automobile accident.  While we hope that our child’s car seat keeps them safe during a car accident, even the best car seat may be unable to prevent serious injury, leaving parents at a loss of how to move forward.  Car accidents can happen when we least expect it, and even when Florida car seat laws are followed, a child may still be harmed.  Fortunately, families have legal routes to not only hold liable parties accountable but recover fair compensation that can help them address their child’s injuries and other damages they sustained.

Determining Liability in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Typically, in a car collision in Florida, the driver of behaved in a negligent manner is deemed responsible for the damages and injuries caused.  However, exceptions exist, such as if both drivers played a role in causing the accident, introducing the possibility of shared fault.

Compensation Avenues for Injured Children

One compensation type is PIP (Personal Injury Protection), which consists of the following:

  • Automatic Coverage: Children are usually covered under their parents’ PIP insurance, irrespective of fault.
  • Medical Bill Coverage: PIP can cover medical bills up to $2,500 or $10,000 based on injury severity, treatment type, and the presence of an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC).
  • 80% Coverage: If the child seeks treatment within 14 days of the accident, PIP pays 80% of reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the accident.

The complexity of Florida’s insurance laws necessitates treatment from a qualified medical professional familiar with PIP documentation and billing requirements.

Another type of potential avenue for compensation is BI (Bodily Injury) coverage, which includes:

  • Potential Coverage: In cases where the at-fault driver carries BI insurance, a child may seek coverage for medical bills not covered by PIP and pain and suffering damages.
  • Permanent Injury Requirement: Florida’s No-Fault laws mandate a permanent injury or significant scarring for pain and suffering damages.  Permanent injury does not mean complete incapacity but indicates lingering pain or ongoing medical problems.

Consult doctors experienced in treating children’s injuries and meeting the documentation requirements for establishing permanent injuries.

UM (Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist) coverage is another type of insurance coverage that may be available and consists of the following:

  • Optional Coverage: UM coverage, like BI, is optional and may provide benefits under the parents’ or the occupied vehicle’s insurance policy.
  • Compensation Scope: Similar to BI, it can cover medical bills beyond PIP and pain and suffering damages not covered adequately by BI.
  • Trigger Conditions: UM coverage activates when there is no BI coverage or when BI coverage is not enough to cover the full value of the personal injury case.

Consulting with a Florida personal injury lawyer is advisable due to the intricacies of Florida law and insurance coverage.  Seeking professional legal guidance ensures a comprehensive understanding of available options and aids in navigating the intricacies of insurance claims for the best interests of the injured child.

Speak With Frank P. Marsalisi, a Dependable Car Accident Lawyer Today

Knowing that your child is vulnerable to motor vehicle accidents is frightening.  Marsalisi Law understands how the aftermath of a car accident can impact your family.  Not only can you pursue legal action for negligent drivers, but also manufacturers for possible faulty equipment.  When working with Frank P. Marsalisi, you will have reliable and honest legal guidance throughout your claim.  He also offers his services in English and Spanish so his clients may feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their needs.

Call (727) 800-5052 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help you and to schedule a free consultation today.

Marsalisi Law is Where Law Gets Personal!