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Child Seats and Motor Accidents: Vancouver Lawyers Discuss Safety

Your chances of surviving a motor vehicle accident increase dramatically if you are wearing a seat belt. However, most children are not tall or heavy enough for a seat belt to function properly. As such, the law in British Columbia states that a driver must ensure all children in the vehicle are buckled up in a manner that is appropriate for their weight, height, and age. This post will discuss the importance of child safety seats and how to know whether your child should be in a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, a booster seat, or a seat belt. 

Consequences of not using (or properly using) a child safety seat

Vancouver motor accident lawyers often represent children who are injured, or more seriously injured, due to non-use or misuse of child safety seats. A child who is not properly restrained can be ejected from the vehicle or thrown around in the vehicle, resulting in significant injuries or death. In being ejected or thrown around in the vehicle during a collision, a child who is not properly restrained may also cause injury to the driver or other occupants of the vehicle. Research shows that a correctly used child safety seat reduces the risk of fatality by 71% and the risk of serious injury by 67%.

Basic requirements for a safety seat
When you purchase or use a child car seat or booster seat, ensure that it:

  • meets Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards;
  • has not expired; and
  • bears the National Safety Mark. 

Child car seats purchased in other countries are not legal for use in Canada. If you buy a child car seat or booster seat outside of Canada (either in-store or online from a non-Canadian company), it will not comply with Canada's rigorous regulations for safety.

Choosing the right stage of child car seat or booster for your child
There are four stages of child car seat and seat belt use for children in British Columbia based on the child’s weight, height, and age:

  • Stage 1: Rear-facing seat. An infant must be put in a rear-facing car seat until he or she is at least 12 months old and over 9 kg (20 lbs). 
    • Don’t rush to switch to a forward-facing seat. Your baby or toddler can stay rear-facing, so long as their weight is within your car seat manufacturer's stated limit. Vancouver motor accident lawyers know that rear-facing seats provide better support for a baby or toddler's head and neck, and thus may reduce brain injuries and spine injuries if a collision occurs.
  • Stage 2: Forward-facing seat. A child can be moved to a forward-facing car seat when the child is at least a year old and over 9 kg (20 lbs). A child should continue to be buckled into this type of seat until they are 18 kg (40 lbs).
  • Stage 3: Booster seat. A child under the age of 9 must be placed in a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt when they are a minimum of 18 kg (40 lbs) until they are at least 9 years old or 145 cm (4’9”) tall, whichever comes first. 
  • Stage 4: Seat belt. A properly adjusted seat belt is the last stage for youths over 9 years of age or 4’9” tall.
    • Children age 12 and under who are too old or large for a booster seat should always sit in the back seat.

There is a lot to remember when choosing a child safety seat. For that reason, there are many online resources. For example, Transport Canada has a helpful checklist for buying a child car seat or booster seat. 


Correct installation and use of child safety seats
Once you have obtained the safety seat, it is essential that you correctly install it and properly position your child in it. A car seat or booster seat will only work properly if it is used properly. The correct use of a child safety seat will ensure your child is properly restrained, which can significantly reduce the risk of serious injury or death in the event of a motor accident. Vancouver lawyers know that it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers under the age of 16 are properly secured with either a seat belt or in a correctly installed child-restraint system. To ensure that you have the correct installation and ideal placement of the safety seat, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, review the information on Transport Canada’s website, and consider attending a local car seat clinic.

Contact us if your child has been injured in a motor accident: Vancouver lawyers with experience
If your child has been injured in a motor accident, Vancouver lawyers at the offices of Bronson Jones & Company LLP can help. Our firm has over 30 years’ experience dealing with ICBC and other insurers, and we frequently represent children who have been injured in motor accidents. Contact us toll-free at 1-855-852-5100 or call one of our 13 offices throughout the Lower Mainland a free initial consultation in relation to your child’s personal injury claim.

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