Nevada Car Seat & Booster Seat Laws
Booster seats and child seats are critical pieces of safety equipment, but many parents are unaware of what the law requires. Below, our Las Vegas car accident lawyers take a look at Nevada’s car seat requirements and the penalties for breaking the law.
Required Seats for Small Children
Nevada Revised Statute 484B.157 requires that children use a car seat if they are younger than 6 years old and weigh less than 60 pounds. The seat must be approved by the Department of Transportation for your child’s size. A seat that is too small or too large can also cause serious injuries. The car seat or booster seat must also comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This information should be right on the box when you are shopping for a seat.
Install the Seat Correctly
Further, you must use the seat and install it according to the instructions provided and in a manner provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This means installing the seat in the correct location. Read the directions.
Generally, NHTSA offers the following guidelines for the location of the car seat:
- Birth to 12 months: Use a rear-facing seat.
- Age 1 to 3: Keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, i.e., until he or she reaches the height or weight maximum as set out by the manufacturer.
- Ages 4-7: Use a forward-facing seat until your child reaches the maximum height and weight limits, at which point you can switch to a booster seat.
- Ages 8-12: Use a booster seat until your child is big enough to use a regular seatbelt. A seatbelt is safe to use when the lap belt fits across the child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt crosses the chest (and not the face).
The best place to set up a child safety or booster seat is in the back, regardless of the direction that it is facing. Make sure that you have followed the directions for proper installation of the seat.
Exceptions to the Law
There are some limited exceptions to this law. For one, it does not apply to emergency vehicles (like an ambulance) or to public transportation or a school bus.
There are also exceptions for children who are too large and heavy. If you get a doctor’s note to that effect, then the requirements are waived. The same is true if a medical condition prevents your child from using a booster or car seat.
Penalties for Violations of the Law
If a motorist is found to have violated the law, then they might be fined between $100 and $500 for a first violation and could receive 10-50 hours of community service. Penalties increase —for a second offense: $500-1000 in fines and 50-100 hours of community service.
Three or more citations can result in a license suspension lasting up to 180 days. Clearly, parents need to learn what is required for installing a child safety seat properly so that they do not lose their licenses.
There is good news, however. If you are cited for a car seat violation, you can complete training in order to waive your fines. Pursuant to NRS 484B.157(3), the court must provide a list of people and agencies that perform training and inspection of child restraint systems. You have 60 days from your date of sentencing to complete a training with an inspector. There may be a fee, which should be included in the list given to you. When you provide proof that you have completed the training, the court will waive your fine and community service for the first offense.
If this was your second offense, then your waiver will cut your fine and community service requirement in half. Remember: you only get one waiver in your lifetime for this violation; you can’t complete the safety training twice.
Where Should Older Children Sit?
The Nevada Department of Transportation also recommends that all children sit in the back until age 13. The reason? They won’t hit an airbag in the event of an accident. Given their size, younger children could suffer terrible injuries if an airbag deploys and might suffer facial injuries.
Remember that all children who are under 16 must wear a seatbelt regardless of where they are sitting in the car. Indeed, it is good safety for all passengers to wear a seat belt, which has been shown in study after study to save lives.
Negligence and Failure to Use a Car Seat
Nevada recognizes comparative fault in civil lawsuits. In an accident, the motorist who hit you could claim that you are partially responsible for your child’s injuries because you did not have her in the correct safety seat. Any negligence on your part would reduce the amount of compensation you receive. As an example, someone who is 40% to blame for an accident receives 40% less in compensation than they otherwise would.
However, Nevada’s law states that a violation of the car seat laws cannot be used to show negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. This means any financial recovery does not get reduced for failure to follow the safety laws.
Defective Child Car Seats
If you installed a car seat according to the directions but it still fails, then it might be defective. Manufacturers are legally responsible when their hazardous products injure people, and this rule applies to the manufacturers of child car seats.
Car seats can fail for a variety of reasons, including defective design or manufacturer, or because the product lacked critical safety warnings or instructions. Any one of these could render the seat dangerous to use.
If your child was hurt, save the car seat. Our lawyers can look at it to determine if something is wrong with it.
Contact Naqvi Law Today
If your child was injured in a car wreck, please contact us today. We are a leading Las Vegas car accident law firm and can fight for adequate compensation. Call or send us an online message; initial consultations are free.