North Carolina Car Seat Laws

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Comparatively, North Carolina does not have very strict car seat laws. In most states, children may not ride in the front seat of a car until they are between 10-12 years old. In North Carolina, the only restriction is that children cannot ride in the front seat of a vehicle with passenger-side airbags if they are under the age of five or below 40 pounds. The force of the deploying airbag can cause serious injuries to small children.

If they are over this age or weight, children are allowed to ride in the front seat of a car with no airbags. They may also ride in the front seat of a car with only one row. However, you are not allowed to put a rear-facing child car seat in the front row of a car.

Parents Must Follow the Safety Instructions From the Car Seat Manufacturer

Most states make child safety seats an age and weight-based requirement. That is not the law in North Carolina. The other legal requirement in the state is that the parents follow the instructions that the manufacturer includes with their car seats.

In effect, the way North Carolina law is written allows for the manufacturer to essentially dictate what parents do. For example, if the child has a rear-facing car seat, the parents must follow the weight directions for this type of seat. Children may not be in a forward-facing seat unless they meet the minimum age requirements for this type of device (usually one year of age and 20 pounds).

Parents may consider leaving their children in a rear-facing car seat for longer if the children can still fit because it is safer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride in rear-facing car seats. Thus, parents may want to consider using these seats until the children exceed manufacturer weight limits.

Laws Regarding the Use of Booster Seats

Children who are under the age of eight or below 80 pounds must use a booster seat to secure them. The booster seat must be used with either a lap or shoulder seat belt. Children who are over 40 pounds may not need a booster seat if there is no properly-fitted lap or shoulder belt to use with the seat. However, doing so is not the recommended option because it is less safe than a booster seat.

Remember that the law is only the minimum allowable standard that you must follow. You can and should follow best practices that may involve stricter safety measures. The manufacturer of your car seat may have their own recommendations for you to follow. The law requires you to heed those recommendations.

Parents Can Still Go Above and Beyond the Law

Because of the minimal child safety laws in North Carolina, parents need to use their own judgment to keep their children safe. Even if the law allows parents to do something, it does not mean that it is necessarily safe. Parents should consider the fact that laws are stricter in other states for a reason. They should do whatever they feel is necessary to protect their children, using the law as the bare minimum.

If your child has been injured in an accident when you were not strictly following car seat laws, the insurance company may try to place some blame on you. They will claim that you were negligent yourself, and they will try to use that fact to reduce your financial compensation. The insurance company may try to blame parents for not using the car seat properly or not using it at all in the first place.

In North Carolina, the law precludes a finding of contributory negligence against a minor. However, the parent is the one who will be recovering compensation for medical expenses paid on behalf of the child. If a jury finds the parents were negligent in injuring the child, they may be barred from recovering the medical expenses paid on behalf of the child.

Children Can Suffer More Severe Car Accident Injuries

Children are far more vulnerable to potential car accident injuries, even if they are secured in the back seat. A study from the Association of Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that half of the fatal crashes involving children in restraints would not have been survivable no matter what. Only 12 percent of the fatalities resulted from misuse of the safety seat.

Their bodies are smaller, and they will suffer more trauma from impact. There is a far greater chance that their bodies will suffer organ damage from any trauma, and their developing brains have a higher likelihood of suffering permanent damage from car accident injuries.

Damages for injuries to children may be higher because of the larger impact that an accident has on them. In addition, children may require more medical care, both now and in the future. The responsible driver must pay for both the past and future injuries.

Call a Wilmington Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you or your child has suffered an injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation if you can prove that another driver was responsible for the accident. First, you need to contact an experienced attorney to help you deal with the insurance company or file a lawsuit against the other driver.

The lawyers at Horton & Mendez can help you get the check that you deserve for your car accident injuries. Call us today at (910) 668-8067 or reach out to us online to schedule your free initial consultation.


How do I win a car accident lawsuit?

You must prove that the other driver was negligent, meaning that they acted unreasonably under the circumstances. You must also prove their negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries.

What if the insurance company says that I was to blame for the accident?

You can always push back and contest the insurance company’s version of events. If they do not listen to you, a jury can decide the matter. Minors cannot be held contributorily negligent.

How much compensation can I get if my child has been injured?

It all depends on the extent of your child’s injuries. You have a legal right to be paid for all the damages that you have incurred.

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