When a driver fails to properly restrain a child, a car accident can cause a serious or even fatal injury. The driver can face a citation or even a criminal violation. But children can get injured in a crash even when wearing their seat belts.
If your child was injured, Zayed Law Offices can help you understand your legal options. Our Chicago car accident lawyers have decades of combined experience helping injured clients get the compensation they need for medical treatment and other damages.
How Zayed Law Offices Can Help After a Car Accident in Chicago, IL
Zayed Law Offices is a nationally recognized personal injury law firm that assists accident victims in Chicago, Illinois. Since the firm’s founding in 2009, our Chicago car accident lawyers have successfully resolved numerous accident cases and awarded tens of millions of dollars to our clients.
We help injured clients by
- Investigating their accident to gather evidence and identify liable parties
- Calculating damages
- Handling communications and negotiations with the insurance company
- Representing them in court
A car accident can cause serious or even fatal injuries to children. Contact Zayed Law Offices to learn how you can recover injury compensation on your child’s behalf after a car accident.
How Many Children Get Injured in Car Accidents in Illinois?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), car accidents killed over 600 children and injured over 63,000 more in 2020 alone. One of the main predictors that a child will suffer an injury is whether they are properly restrained.
The CDC reported that car seat use reduces the risk of injury by up to 82%. They also reduce the risk of death in a car accident by up to 54%.
In Illinois, children aged 14 or younger suffered 4,537 injuries and 16 fatalities in 2021. Of the 16 children killed, three were restrained. The remaining 13 children who died were either unrestrained or improperly restrained for their age and size. Thus, child restraints can significantly reduce the risk of fatal injury in Illinois car crashes.
Child Car Seat Requirements in Chicago, Illinois
The CDC recommends that drivers use child restraint systems for all child passengers until they can wear a seat belt comfortably. Specifically, the CDC suggests the following:
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Rear-facing car seats position the child in a reclined position with their head pointed toward the front of the vehicle and their feet pointed toward its rear. You should use a rear-facing car seat from birth until the child outgrows the seat or reaches roughly two years old.
Front-Facing Car Seats
Front-facing car seats place the child in a seated position facing the front of the vehicle, as the regular passenger seats do. A front-facing car seat includes a seat, backrest, headrest, and five-point harness to secure the child.
Drivers should use a front-facing car seat until the child reaches at least age five. However the child may continue to use the front-facing seat until they are large enough to switch to a booster seat.
A booster seat simply lifts the child high enough so the vehicle’s seat belt crosses the child’s chest instead of their neck. Drivers should put children on booster seats until they grow tall enough to safely use the seat belt without it.
Illinois Child Car Seat Laws
Illinois law largely coincides with the CDC’s recommendations. Specifically, the car seat regulation requires drivers to restrain children based on three stages:
- A rear-facing car seat until the child reaches two years old unless the child is over 40 pounds or 40 inches
- A front-facing car seat or booster seat until the child reaches eight years old
- A seat belt until the child reaches 16 years old
This law is intended to reduce the risk of serious injury or death to child passengers. Improperly restrained children can slip through a seat belt and get ejected from the vehicle. Even if they do not get ejected, they can impact the vehicle’s interior. In either case, the child is at risk of suffering a catastrophic spinal cord or brain injury.
Liability for Injuries to Unrestrained Children
Every state, including Illinois, has a child car seat law. These regulations fall into two broad categories. Some states require a child safety restraint but do not prescribe specific car seats, while other states specify which car seats drivers must use based on the child’s height or weight. Illinois falls into the second category.
Illinois uses a doctrine called comparative fault to allocate damages after an accident. Normally, this means that anyone who contributed to an accident victim’s injuries will bear liability for their damages.
But Illinois has made an exception to the comparative negligence doctrine for drivers of unrestrained children. Under Illinois law, the at-fault driver who caused a crash cannot escape liability for the resulting injuries by blaming the other driver for failing to restrain an injured child.
Thus, you can still seek injury compensation for your child even if they were not properly restrained during the accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Chicago Car Accident Law Firm
Car accidents can cause lifelong disabilities to children. Contact Zayed Law Offices for a free consultation to discuss your child’s injuries and what we can do to fight for their future.