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What You Need to Know About Georgia Car Seat Laws

By Butler Prather LLP on October 24, 2018

Auto accidents are the number one cause of death for children in the U.S. Unintentional injuries are the main cause of death for children ages one to 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Auto accidents are the number one cause of unintentional injuries in America.

Every year, hundreds of children die as occupants in motor vehicle crashes. Over 100,000 others suffer injuries. Many child fatalities would not happen if drivers properly strap children in safety seats. For every child 12 and under who died in car accidents in 2016, 35% weren’t buckled up. The best way to keep your child safe while driving in Georgia is to obey the state’s car seat laws.

Georgia Code 40-8-76: The Car Seat Law

Parents and guardians should strap children into proper safety restraint systems on every drive, no matter how short. Serious and fatal accidents can happen close to home just as easily as on a long road trip. The state of Georgia cares about the safety and health of children – to such an extent, that it passed a law specifically requiring proper restraint of children in vehicles. Georgia’s safety belt law exists in Georgia Code Section 40-8-76. It states:

  • Every driver who transports a child eight years or younger in a car, van, pickup truck, or public transit vehicle must provide for the proper restraint of said child while the vehicle is in motion and operated on a public roadway.
  • “Proper restraint” means restraint in a child passenger system that’s appropriate based on the child’s height and weight. The restraining system must have Department of Transportation approval.
  • If a child weighs at least 40 pounds, he or she can graduate from a car seat to a lap belt, but only if the vehicle doesn’t have shoulder belts. A child who is at least four feet, nine inches tall may use a safety belt.
  • Children should sit in safety restraint systems in the backseat of a motor vehicle at all times. If the vehicle doesn’t have a backseat, or if other children occupy all backseats, the child may sit in the front passenger seat with proper seatbelt/safety system usage.

Parents must install and use child safety restraint systems according to all manufacturer’s directions. Parents and guardians must comply with the provisions of this statute, unless they have a written statement from a physician saying the child cannot use a restraining system due to physical or medical conditions. Breaking Georgia’s car seat laws could result in a fine of up to $50 for a first offense, or $100 for a second or subsequent conviction.

Liability for Unrestrained Child Injuries

It is a parent or guardian’s legal duty to obey the state’s car seat laws and to properly restrain child passengers on every drive on a public road. Failure to do so could result in a traffic citation, but it could also lead to financial responsibility for damages in the event of an injurious car accident. If an unrestrained child suffers an injury or dies in a car accident in Atlanta, the parent/guardian/driver that failed to properly restrain the child in accordance with state laws could be liable.

Breaking Georgia’s car seat laws and not strapping a child in is an act of negligence. This means other “reasonable and prudent” parents would have restrained the child in similar circumstances. It might also qualify as negligence per se, since it breaks the law – meaning there is no other proof of negligence necessary. The at-fault parent or guardian could face liability for the child’s injuries, with his/her insurance company paying the child’s damages. The negligent parent may also face criminal charges if the state deems his/her actions criminal. Always buckle your children up, for their safety and yours.

If you and/or your child was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Georgia, contact the Atlanta car accident lawyers at Butler Prather LLP today! (404) 321-1700

Posted in: Car Accidents

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