Georgia Car Seat Laws Matter
Scholle Law helps the families of kids hurt in car, truck, motorcycle and DUI endangerment accidents. Car, truck and motorcycle cases involving children are frequent in the state of Georgia, despite the many safety devices required by Georgia car seat laws such as properly fitted and installed seat belts, booster seats, car seats and helmets to protect children in the event of an accident or crash.
In the more than 20 years we’ve represented individuals and families in Atlanta and across the state of Georgia, it has never gotten easier to hear about the serious injuries that my clients have endured and must recover from. While the entire Scholle Law team is empathetic to all of our injured clients, no lawyer ever forgets that awful feeling that accompanies hearing about serious injuries sustained by a child.
Common Injuries For Small Children
Children injured in motor vehicle accidents—including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents—often suffer the brunt of the injuries compared to other adults or older people that were also in the vehicle. Despite properly obeying Georgia car seat laws, we’ve seen significant injuries in these cases where a child has suffered:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Road rash
- Catastrophic injuries after being ejected from a car, motorcycle, or truck
No one can predict an accident, but in our experience many of the injured children who are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents could have been better protected had their parents or guardians followed the laws regarding car seats, seatbelts, helmets and booster seats.
Additionally, we’ve seen child passengers injured in DUI accidents caused by their parents or guardians—accidents that could have absolutely been prevented.
Georgia Car Seat Laws Are For Child Passenger Safety
The state of Georgia is serious about enforcing the rules and regulations that are in place for children passengers riding in vehicles. There are rules regarding where a child can sit in a vehicle, how big (weight and height) a child must be to be in a booster seat versus a shoulder restraint, and then there are the all-encompassing seat belt laws in place that require all children to be secured by a seat belt or car seat.
The bottom line:
In Georgia, there are many protections in place meant to protect child passengers.
Children are often among the most injured accident victims due to improper seat belt use, car seat installation and other failures that lead to them being ejected during a collision. Adhering to basic safety principles will not necessarily prevent motor vehicle accidents involving children, but they will provide the child with the best opportunity for maximum safety and injury prevention in the event of a serious crash or wreck.
Cases involving child passengers can be difficult and will often be accompanied by issues with extensive medical bills. If you have questions about such cases, then we encourage you to speak to an experienced Duluth personal injury lawyer at Scholle Law to discuss your options for providing your child with the best recovery possible.
Georgia Car Seat Laws Apply to All Vehicles
Most cars and trucks in Georgia are considered passenger vehicles. A passenger vehicle is allowed to carry 10 people or less. Regarding child passengers, Georgia law breaks them into 2 groups:
- passengers aged 8 to 17
- infants and children under the age of 8
Georgia Car Seat Laws for Children Aged 8 to 17
For the children aged 8 to 17, these passengers are allowed to sit in the front seat of the vehicle with a seatbelt and they are required to wear a seat belt whether they are in the front, rear or back (vehicle with a 3rd row).
Children under the age of 8 are required to be in a car seat or a booster seat. The appropriate types of seats for these children will depend on each child’s height, weight and age. In some vehicles, there may not be a 2nd row or back seat option. (This is true with some pickup trucks and other vehicles.) In the case of no rear seating option, children under 8 may sit in the front out of necessity.
In the case of a child who is not old enough to sit in the front but is 4’9” or taller and weighs 40 pounds or more, they may wear a normal seat belt without the need for an alternate belting or seating device.
A common question relating specifically to pickup trucks is whether or not child passengers may legally ride in the open bed of a pickup truck. In Georgia, the law states that any persons under the age of 18 are NOT permitted to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck or trailer.
In the case of vehicles that only have lap belts instead of over the shoulder belts, children 40 pounds and above may use a lap-style seat belt.
Georgia Car Seat Laws for Infants and Children Under 8
Infants and children 8 and younger must be properly secured in a car seat. The seat must be appropriate for the child’s height and weight, and be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Typically, the issues of when a child is big enough to leave a car seat for a booster—or when the car seat should be rear-facing versus forward-facing—will depend on the seat manufacturer’s recommendations. Georgia law does not explicitly say what age a child must be to be in a booster, nor does state law say what weight a child must be to change from a rear-facing position to a forward-facing position.
If you’d like to read the actual text of the Georgia statutes where this information can be found, look to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety website.
Can a child be a passenger on a motorcycle?
Georgia laws regarding motorcycle passengers are limited. All motorcycle riders in Georgia must wear a helmet, which includes drivers and passengers. When carrying a passenger in Georgia on a motorcycle, the bike must have a seat large enough to fit the driver and passenger.
Motorcycle passengers are required to sit behind the driver and sit as close to the front/forward as they can. Passengers are not allowed to sit in front of the motorcycle driver under any circumstance. Carrying a passenger on a bike is only allowed if the bike is equipped with footrests for the passenger.
Additionally, the motorcycle should have handholds or straps for the passenger to hold on to. The passenger is also permitted to hold onto the driver’s waist, hips and belt.
Georgia Child Endangerment Cases
While Georgia child endangerment charges involve criminal law and our law firm’s practice is in civil law, it is still important to acknowledge that injured child passengers are often involved in DUI motor vehicle accidents caused by their own parent, guardian or driver of the vehicle they were riding in.
Georgia’s law on child endangerment says that anyone who is transporting a child under the age of 14 years old while violating the state’s DUI statute is guilty of endangering a child. There are severe penalties for violating the DUI statute and for also being found guilty of child endangerment. These penalties can range from monetary fines, loss of driving privileges and even jail.
Basic Safety Tips For Georgia Car Seat Laws
As an injury law firm, we strive to make communities in Georgia safer. We seek to accomplish this goal by not only holding negligent people accountable through claims and lawsuits, but also sharing important safety information.
While some of these recommendations may seem obvious, we believe that any information that can help prevent an injury is important information worth sharing:
- Teach early about the dangers of drunk driving.
- Teach that seat belts are 100 percent necessary.
- Follow the laws and regulations regarding proper seating based on age, weight and height.
- Check that car seats are properly installed.
- Make sure that they wear a helmet on a motorcycle.
- Teach about the dangers of distracted driving.
Contact a Duluth Personal Injury Lawyer Today
When children are injured as passengers in accidents, it often involves serious injuries. In Georgia, children in passenger vehicles should be sitting in the proper place and—if they are under certain ages, weights and heights—they need to be in their booster seats or car seats.
If you, your child or a loved one are injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident in Georgia, you will most likely have an uphill battle in dealing with the other party, parties or their insurance company(s). At Scholle Law, our Duluth personal injury attorneys fully understand Georgia law when it comes to being involved in an accident. We know that you are going to have questions and we understand that there will be issues that need to be carefully explained to you.
We are here to answer your questions and make sure that you have all the information you need as you move forward with your accident case.