car accident lawyer

Be Aware of Texas Car Seat Laws 2024 (updated)

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Car Seat Laws In TexasCar Seat Laws In Texas

Recent Case Results

Summer is almost here, and that means road trip season. While getting out on the road with your family is a great way to see the country and reconnect with friends and loved ones, you want to make sure to keep your kids safe in the process – and to be in compliance with Texas’s state laws as they relate to car seats.

Statistics indicate that around 325 children younger than age five have their lives saved due to car seats each year in the United States. Every parent should stay aware of car seat laws and requirements in Texas to help protect their children should a car accident happen. In the frightening event, your child suffers injuries in a crash, you should speak with an Austin car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Car Seat Laws in the State of Texas

The car seat laws in Texas have not changed from 2022 to 2024. If you were in compliance last year, however, do not assume you are still in compliance this year. Children grow quickly, and their car seat needs to change as they grow taller or heavier. Just because laws stay the same does not mean that your car seat should necessarily stay the same, as well.

Safe Kids Worldwide shares the following laws related to car seat usage in the State of Texas:

  • A car seat (or child restraint) that is both size and weight appropriate is required for every child who is seven years old or younger or who is under 57 inches in height. A child who exceeds these limitations can use your car’s seat belts.
  • Seat belt laws apply to both the front and the back seats in Texas.

The Texas DOT shares that all children with the requirements above must be secured in a child safety seat every time they ride in a car or another kind of vehicle. Older children who have outgrown the height or weight limitation for their booster seats must be buckled in with seat belts. If your child grows tall enough or turns eight, they must sit in the back seat with a seat belt until age 13. Then, they can sit buckled in the front seat.

If you ever drive with your family, you want to ensure your kids are safe by complying with Texas seat belt and car set guidelines. Parents can reduce the risk of severe injuries and death through the proper use of car seats and seat belts appropriate for their age and size.

CDC data suggests that seat belt use reduces the risk of death and severe injury by about half for older children and adults. Texas car seat laws require manufacturers to test their products for durability and publish expiration dates for materials.

Consider speaking to a trusted Austin car accident attorney if your child has sustained an injury in a car crash due to someone else’s fault.

Texas Car Seat and Safety Guidelines

It is an offense to transport a child younger than 8 years unless the child is taller than 4 feet inches and fails to keep the child in a child safety seat system while driving a passenger vehicle.

Here are Texas car seat safety guidelines:

  • Birth to 2 years: All toddlers and infants should ride in rear-facing car seats until they attain 2 years or gain maximum weight or height from their safety seat’s manufacturer.
  • Above 2 years old: Any child who is 2 years and above and has outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit for a car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness as long as possible until they attain the highest weight or height permitted by the car seat’s manufacturer. It also applies to children younger than 2 years who’ve outgrown their seat’s rear-facing weight or height limit.
  • Children aged four to eight years: If a child has a weight or height that has exceeded the limit of a forward-facing car seat, they should switch to a belt-positioning booster seat. These children should continue using a booster seat until they can fit properly in a vehicle seat belt.
  • Many children can transition into vehicle seat belts when they reach four feet and nine inches in height or after attaining 8-12 years.

Keeping Your Kids Safe and Choosing the Best Car Seat

Car seats should always be federally approved, which means they passed crash tests and obtained certain safety certifications. Many states have more precise laws in place regarding car seat requirements for children than Texas does, which makes knowing how to buckle your children into your car safely paramount. Safe Kids Worldwide shares the following safety recommendations that can help you do just that as follows:

  1. Start with a rear-facing seat until an infant is at least one year old or over 20 to 22 pounds. The Texas Department of Safety recommends keeping your infant in a rear-facing seat until they outweigh the harness limits.
  2. Switch to a forward-facing seat, and toddlers or small children should remain in this seat until they outweigh the harness limits, which can range from 40 to 65 pounds.
  3. Children who are shorter than 4’9” or younger than eight should use a booster seat.

Parents should ensure that each type of seat base is installed properly in the vehicle for maximum protection. Parents can request inspections of their car seat installation from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

When Should You Place Your Child in a Booster Seat

Manufacturers designed booster seats to transport children weighing more than 40 pounds—-mainly four or five-year-olds. If your child has attained forty pounds before their fourth birthday or exceeded the weight limit of the current car seat, you may want to consider using a safety seat with a higher height-weight limit harness.

Always consider the child’s age, height, and weight. For instance, if your child is four years old before 40 pounds, they would be better protected if you continue using a five-point harness safety seat.

Child Injuries Still Happen

Even if parents do everything right to protect their children, the reality is those car accidents can still cause injuries to children. If you are in a crash and your child has visible injuries, hit their head, or seems to be in pain, take them to the emergency room right away. It is critical to get an immediate diagnosis for both your child’s health and a future injury claim.

If someone else was at fault and your child has injuries, consult with a car accident attorney about your options. We can evaluate whether you have a claim and help you seek justice for your child’s injuries and your family’s financial losses.

Injuries Can Affect Children Differently

Children are smaller and weigh less, so they are often more vulnerable in a car crash. An impact can cause serious traumatic injuries that can affect them in different ways than adults.

For example, when a child breaks a bone, they might need to see a pediatric specialist to make sure the bone is fully aligned and heals that way. If a child breaks a growth plate, they might require one or multiple surgeries to repair the problem. Even with treatment, a growth plate fracture can cause a shorter limb or other deformities.

Children who hit their heads in car accidents can suffer concussions or other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Not only are young children more susceptible to suffering a concussion, but the effects of a brain injury can also be worse than in an adult. The brains of children are still forming, so any damage to their brain tissue can cause lasting changes to their:

  • Cognitive abilities
  • Personality and temperament
  • Physical coordination
  • Sensory abilities

A child’s entire life path can be completely altered if they suffer a brain injury in a car crash.

If a child is not properly strapped into a car or booster seat, they might suffer injuries to their chest cavity, which can cause fractures to the delicate bones and/or internal organ damage. Often, children have difficulty recovering from seriously damaged organs, and they might not recover, or the injury can also be fatal.

Your Rights if Your Child Suffers Injuries

If your child is injured in a car accident, you will likely have medical bills and other losses. They might fall behind in school or sports, and they might experience permanent impairments, pain and suffering, and more. As a parent, not only do you want financial support for their injury-related expenses, but you also want justice for what your child experienced.

If someone else caused your accident, you can seek compensation for your child’s losses from that driver’s insurance company. Some examples of conduct that can lead to liability for your child’s injuries include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk or drugged driving
  • Speeding
  • Running red lights
  • Failing to yield
  • Aggressive driving
  • Drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel
  • Violating other traffic laws

When a child suffers injuries, the insurance company will look at whether they had a proper restraint system in line with Texas car seat requirements. If so, their car or booster seat should not affect the injury claim process at all.

However, if your car seat was not in compliance with 2023 requirements, the insurance company might use this to try to reduce or deny your compensation. Discuss these issues with a car accident attorney immediately.

An Austin Car Accident Lawyer is Ready to Help

You may be entitled to compensation for injury-related losses like medical expenses after sustaining an injury. Consider filing a claim with the help of an experienced car accident attorney to enhance your chances of obtaining a fair settlement value.

TK Injury Lawyers is a team of experienced attorneys with a proven track record of representing injured victims.

Contact us online or at (512)-900-4657 for a free consultation.

Trent Kelly

Trent Kelly obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice is primarily focused on personal injury matters – particularly those involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death – but he also handles various business litigation matters as well. Click here to take a look at some complex cases Trent has resolved.

Years of experience: +15 years
Location: Austin, TX