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Are children required to use a booster or car seat in Washington?

Adult drivers are not always alone in their cars. Cars are often used as transportation for the entire family. This means that even young children and infants are frequently traveling on Washington's roadways. Just like adult drivers, these children are also exposed to the dangers that accompany driving. At any moment, a reckless or negligent driver can hit a car carrying a child and cause serious injuries.

Unlike adults, children cannot be helped by a seatbelt alone. Often, children are just too small for a simple seatbelt and require extra protection to keep safe in a car accident. This extra protection comes from a car seat or booster seat. Under RCW section 46.61.687, these safety devices are required in certain circumstances.

Under this Washington law, a child must be in an appropriate child restraint system until that child is at least four feet and nine inches tall or until that child is 8-years-old. Additionally, the child restraint system should be properly secured in the vehicle and must meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

When a child has reached the height or age requirement, that child must still use a seatbelt for protection. The law mandates seatbelt use for children. To meet this requirement, the seatbelt must be fastened and properly adjusted to the child. Furthermore, section 46.61.687 requires children under the age 13-years-old to sit in the back seat of a vehicle in cars where this is practical.

While child restraint systems -- like car seats -- and seatbelts can go a long way to prevent injuries in a car crash, they don't protect in every situation. If you or your child have been injured in an accident, you know how emotionally, physically and financially difficult it can be. An attorney may be able to advise car accident victims who seek to recover compensation for the damages they suffered, including their pain and suffering.

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