You would do anything to protect your children. Yet it can be challenging to protect your children from other negligent individuals, especially on the road. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that in 2020, car crashes were responsible for 25% of unintentional injury deaths of children under 13 years of age. As a parent, one step that you can take to protect your children in the car is to ensure they use an appropriate car seat. Car seat laws in South Carolina direct the use of approved car seats for children in specific situations.
Knowing when you must use a car seat for your children can not only spare you a ticket but may save your child’s life.
Children Who Must Use a Car Seat
South Carolina Statutes Annotated Section 56-5-6410 describes when adults must secure children in a car seat or booster seat and what type of seat is appropriate. The statute specifies the following:
Infants and Children Under Two Years of Age
Children younger than two years old must use a rear-facing child safety seat. You must install this seat correctly in the rear passenger seat of your vehicle. The child must remain in such a seat and location until the child is either older than two years or has outgrown the rear-facing seat.
Children Over Two Years but Less than Eight Years
Children who are too big for a rear-facing safety seat or over two years old are to sit in a forward-facing child safety seat. This seat, too, must be installed in the rear passenger seat of your vehicle.
Once your child has reached at least four years of age and can no longer fit in their child seat, they may also begin using a booster seat. You must use the booster seat in conjunction with a lap and shoulder belt. Moreover, the child must remain in the rear passenger seat.
Children Eight Years of Age and Older
Your child can use an adult seat belt once they have either attained eight years of age or 57 inches in height. The caveat is that the adult seat belt must fit the child properly. This caveat means that:
- The lap belt does not sit across your child’s stomach but rather across their hips and thighs
- The shoulder belt goes across the center of your child’s chest
- The child can sit in an adult seat with their back against the upright part of the seat and their knees bent at the edge of the seat
Children aged 17 years and under must continue to wear seat belts any time they ride in a vehicle. The car’s driver is responsible for ensuring that all passengers who are supposed to wear seat belts do so.
Exceptions to Car Seat Laws in South Carolina
Although these seat belt and child safety seat laws will apply to most drivers, the law recognizes some exceptions. Seat belts and child car seats are not required when a child is:
- Riding as a passenger in a vehicle that does not have any seat belts
- Traveling on public transportation
- On a bus, such as a school bus
- Unable to use a seat belt or a traditional car seat due to medical reasons
Children under the age of eight must generally ride in a rear passenger seat. There is an exception to this general rule, however. If other children occupy rear passenger seats, a child under eight may ride in a front passenger seat.
In the case of children with a medical condition that prohibits them from using a traditional car seat, the child can use a specialized car seat designed to accommodate that child’s needs.
Penalties for Violating Car Seat Laws in South Carolina
If you fail to properly restrain your child in a car safety seat or booster seat, you may pay a fine of up to $150. And if you fail to require child passengers to wear an adult safety belt when they are supposed to, the fine may be up to $50.
Other Consequences for Car Seat and Seat Belt Offenses
Unlike some other states, car seat laws in South Carolina do not allow a seat belt or car seat violation to constitute evidence of negligence. If you are hurt in a car wreck and were not wearing your seat belt, the other party could not use the fact that you did not have your restraint fashioned to argue that you contributed to your injuries.
This prohibition does not mean that insurance companies may not try to argue that they should reduce or deny your claim because you failed to use a seat belt. Knowing car seat laws in South Carolina, or having a knowledgeable attorney, can help ensure the insurance company treats you fairly when they are considering your claim.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in South Carolina Today
The best way to protect your child from harm while on the road is by ensuring you properly restrain them in a car seat appropriate for their age, height, and weight. Make sure that you use the seat correctly. If you need to learn how to install your child’s car seat correctly, many local police departments or sheriff’s offices can show you.
If you or your child suffer injuries in a car wreck, do not assume that you have no recourse just because you were not wearing a safety belt or in a car seat. Talk with The Joel Bieber Firm about your case. You may still be able to receive compensation for your injuries and financial losses.
Call The Joel Bieber Firm today and request a free case evaluation if you or your child have suffered harm in a car wreck in South Carolina.