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Age, Weight, and Height Requirements for Child Car Seats in Illinois

Published on Jul 9, 2019 by Thomas Law Offices.

Parents and guardians always want to make sure their child is safely secured in their car seat before driving. However, some may not know the Illinois booster seat laws that determine what type of equipment your child needs and which direction they should face while in the vehicle. If a collision occurs, a child that is incorrectly secured could sustain severe injuries.

If your child has been injured in a car accident, it’s important to know that there are people who may be able to help you get justice. The Chicago car accident lawyers at Thomas Law Offices understand that you’re going through a difficult time. When you need someone to speak up for you or a loved one, we are there for you.

Preventing or lessening the degree of injuries in a collision starts with safety knowledge. This way, you can be sure that you have taken all the safety measures to keep your child secured while in a vehicle. Let’s look into the booster seat requirements in Illinois.

Illinois Child Car Seat Laws

Secure child restraint systems like booster seats, car seats, and seat belts help reduce injuries and save lives in a car accident, yet more than 9,000 children died in car crashes between the years of 2002-2011. Part of this could be from not knowing the appropriate way to secure a child in a car. Illinois has set car seat laws on how children should ride in a vehicle.

The Illinois General Assembly has the Child Passenger Protection Act, which protects children through using approved child restraint systems. The Act clearly states what secure systems should be used based on a child’s age, weight, and height.

Transporting children under the age of 2 requires the following:

  • The child should be in a rear-facing child restraint system, unless they weigh more than 40 lbs. or are more than 40 inches tall.
  • If they are less than 20 lbs. and under age 1, they should always be in a rear-facing seat.
  • A rear-facing car seat should not be in front of an active airbag.
  • When your child is in the seat, make sure the straps are snug. Loose-fitting straps will not safely secure them.
  • Make sure that the child’s head is one inch below the top of the safety seat. If their head is above the top of the seat, they are exposed and incorrectly positioned.

When a child outgrows rear-facing seat, they will transition to a secure seat where they face forward. Car seat ages usually are after the two year mark, but you should also take the appropriate size and weight into consideration. Children who are small for their age may not meet the requirements set by the car seat manufacturer to use the seat.

There are a few items to look for when securing a child in a car seat. The harness system should be at or above shoulder level and just like the previous restraint system, the straps should be snug and the child needs to be correctly positioned in the seat. You can check this by making sure that the tops of the child’s ears aren’t above the car seat.

Between the ages of 4 and 8, a child will outgrow the car seat and will use a booster seat. The car seat manufacturer will have the height and weight limit information so you know when to transition to a booster seat.

When securing a child in a booster seat, you must make sure of a few items:

  • The child must use the shoulder belt and the lap belt. Do not use a booster seat with only the lap belt.
  • The correct position for the lap belt is across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt should go across the shoulder and chest.
  • Some booster seats have a back, in which case the child’s ears should not be above the top of it. If the booster seat doesn’t have a back, make sure to secure the vehicle’s headrest.

Children between the ages of 8 and 12 may start to use the adult lap and shoulder belt. Here are the requirements for properly riding without a car seat or booster seat:

  • If a child weighs more than 40 lbs., they may ride in the back seat wearing a seat belt.
  • They may wear a lap belt if there is not a seat belt with a shoulder strap as well.
  • Like how the seat belt fit with the booster seat, make sure the lap belt goes across the thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the shoulder and chest.
  • Make sure the child is sitting properly against the back of the seat, with their feet flat on the floor.

Parents and legal guardians should also be aware of their responsibility to provide a child safety seat to anyone who will be transporting their child. If a babysitter or a family member is watching your child and may need to use a vehicle, be sure to give them a car seat or booster seat and properly secure it in the car.

Failing To Meet Illinois Car Seat Requirements

One of the leading causes of child death is motor vehicle injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 723 children up to age 12 lost their lives and more than 128,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. The CDC also discovered that in one year, 618,000 children rode in vehicles without any child restraint system. As such, there are penalties for failing to comply with the Child Passenger Protection Act in Illinois.

For the first offense, one can be issued a $75 fine and will be eligible for court supervision provided that the individual gives the court a document from a child safety seat technician that they have a child restraint system properly installed and the individual has completed an instructional course on how to install that restrain system.

If one violates this law again, it will be a petty offense. They may be issued a $200 fine and will not be eligible for court supervision.

Car Seats Protect Children’s Lives in Car Collisions

Unfortunately, car accidents can happen even when you’re being as attentive as possible. It only takes a moment for a collision to occur. A negligent driver could be looking at their phone or trying to retrieve on object on the passenger seat. In these moments, they take aware their attention from the road and may cause a collision. A child in the proper safety restraint system will have a better chance of avoiding severe injuries than a child improperly restrained or not in a car seat at all.

However, children can still sustain injuries in a secure seat. This may result in needing medical care. When you’re focusing on the wellbeing of your child, you don’t need harassing calls from insurance adjusters trying to get you to settle your case. That’s where our lawyers come in. We can provide peace of mind and handle your legal matters so you can direct your attention to the person who needs it most: your child.

Contact Thomas Law Offices

Thomas Law Offices has helped countless car accident victims get the justice they deserve. Our lawyers use their expertise and compassion to tirelessly fight for our clients’ rights. While the car accident claim process may seem daunting, we will be with you every step of the way. You can feel free to ask questions or voice concerns about your case. We’ll provide you with answers so you understand what’s happening with your case and what you can expect.

The first step starts with you. Give us a call today so we can discuss an initial meeting at no cost to you. We’ll go over the facts of your case and lay out the options you have. Once you’ve decided how you want to proceed, we can move forward together.

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Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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