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A Guide to Wisconsin’s Child Seat Laws

Understanding Wisconsin’s child seat laws can help keep your children safe in the car.  Child car seat requirements and other accompanying safety regulations protect them from potential fatalities and serious injuries if a crash occurs.

The type of child restraints that a child needs in a vehicle changes as they grow older. Current car seat law mandates that caretakers must install car seats correctly to function properly and protect young passengers from injury.

Why is it Important for Children to Have Car Seats?

Child passenger safety is a crucial issue. In 2019, 608 passengers aged 12 and younger died in motor vehicle accidents. Of those who died, 38% were not using any safety restraints such as car seats. Over 46% of car seats in use are also not used correctly, ‌reducing their efficacy.

Using a child car seat correctly is the only way to provide your children with the necessary protection from injuries and even death in a crash. A car seat reduces injury risk by 71-82% for young children in a crash, compared to a seatbelt alone.

A car seat must fit your child and your vehicle and be used correctly every time your child rides in the car.

Wisconsin’s Car Seat Requirements

Exploring Wisconsin’s car seat regulations can help you understand which car seats you should be using in your vehicle as your child grows. In Wisconsin, child restraint requirements are broken down by height and weight for each age group.  Key guidelines include:

Car seats

If the child weighs less than 20 pounds and is under one year old, they must ride in a rear-facing car seat. When the child weighs at least 20 pounds but less than 40 pounds and is between the ages of one and four, they can be in a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat in the back seat.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) recommends forward-facing car seats with harnesses as long as the child meets the height and weight requirements. 

Booster seats

The child must use a car seat until they reach age four and weigh 40 pounds. Then, a booster seat is required until a child turns 8, weighs 80 pounds, or reaches a height of 57 inches.

Children should remain in booster seats until they’re tall enough to sit in the vehicle seat without slouching and until the seatbelt shoulder strap rests comfortably across the shoulders when not using a booster seat (as opposed to the neck). 

Seat belts

If a child outgrows the requirements for a booster seat, a seat belt is still required according to Wisconsin law. The DOT recommends children use a lap and shoulder belt once they outgrow their car or booster seat.

The state of Wisconsin does not require children under the age of 13 to remain in the back seat only. However, the DOT recommends that children stay in the back seat as long as possible.

What to Do with a Car Seat After an Accident

The National Highway Safety and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says you must replace a car seat after a moderate or severe motor vehicle accident. A car seat needs no replacement after a minor car accident if the accident meets these qualifications:

  • You could drive the vehicle away from the accident scene
  • No visible car seat damage
  • Airbags did not deploy at the time of the crash
  • All people in the car did not sustain injuries
  • The vehicle door closest to the car seat has no damage

Even if a crash meets the NHTSA’s standards for a minor accident, replacing a car seat is often still necessary, as the impact of a crash can cause the plastic of a car seat to become stressed or warped so it’s significantly less effective at keeping your child safe in any future crashes. Thankfully, you can add the cost of replacing your child’s car seat to your property damage claim against the negligent driver who caused your accident.

Speak to a Car Accident Attorney

If you or your child have suffered injuries due to a car crash, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer from Brian Hodgkiss Injury Law Firm as soon as possible.

We fight for your child’s rights after injury in a car accident and can help you and your family seek compensation from a negligent driver who caused the crash. We will work to build a strong claim for you to receive financial compensation for medical bills and emotional distress caused by the accident.

Contact the Green Bay car accident attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury lawyers for a free case evaluation today to get started on filing a claim for a fair settlement.

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