Indiana Car Seat Laws (2024) | The Ultimate Guide

Jul 27

One of the leading causes of death for children under 13 years of age in the United States is car accidents. The best way to keep your child safe – and to protect them against car crash injuries – is to place your child in a booster seat. If your child still suffers injuries in a crash, speak with a car accident attorney in Indiana about your rights.

 

Car Seat Laws In the State of Indiana

Your children are always safer when they are properly restrained in the right car seat for each child’s size and weight, and a better understanding of the state’s car seat laws can help to ensure that your children are always buckled up safely.

The Indiana State Police share that a large percentage of child safety seats throughout the nation are used incorrectly, which means there is plenty of room for improvement. Indiana’s car seat laws require that every child under the age of eight be properly restrained (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) in a child safety seat or booster seat that is the right size for the child.

In Indiana, the law requires that all passengers under eight years of age utilize child safety and restraint systems – and that they follow all safety instructions that the manufacturer posts. To determine the type of car seat your child must use when traveling, you will need to know their weight and height.

To ensure that your child does not outgrow their car seat, you should frequently monitor their height and weight.

The State of Indiana’s Child Restraint Law determines how children must be restrained in a vehicle, depending upon their weight, height, and age. While every state in the country has some version of this law, all states require babies and young children to sit in a booster seat when traveling by car.

 

The Laws According to Your Child’s Size and Age

Indiana’s laws become more specific according to your child’s size and age. In summary, consider the following:

  • Children who are not yet one year old and who weigh less than 20 pounds must be seated (and appropriately restrained) in rear-facing car seats, but parents are encouraged to keep their children in rear-facing seats as long as the car seat’s height and weight parameters allow. When installing these types of seats, you must do so at the correct angle. This will help keep an infant’s air passages open. As your child continues to grow, you may need to adjust the car seat’s reclining angle. In the best interest of safety, it is important to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. To help you accomplish this goal, many car seat manufacturers design seats for children weighing between 30 and 35 pounds, often allowing four-year-olds to continue using these seats.
  • Children who are at least one year old and who weigh at least 20 pounds may be seated (and appropriately restrained) in forward-facing car seats that have internal harness systems. The seat must also be equipped with an internal harness system. However, even if your child qualifies for one of these forward-facing safety seats, you don’t necessarily need to switch them over from a rear-facing car seat right away. In any case, by the time your child reaches four years old, they are likely ready to use a car seat that faces forward.
  • Children weighing at least 30 pounds can use a booster seat in Indiana and may continue using a booster seat until the child can properly secure themselves with a seatbelt. Once your child reaches this stage, the seat belt must be able to lie flat across a child’s upper thigh. If the seat belt has to rest against the child’s stomach, then the child is likely not ready to use one and should go back to using a booster seat.
  • While parents can move a child who weighs at least 30 pounds to a booster seat, they are encouraged to wait until the child weighs 40 pounds to do so (making sure that the car seat is safe at this weight range).
  • Finally, beginning at eight years of age, a child may only ride in a vehicle while using a seatbelt. However, the state recommends that children continue sitting in the backseat until reaching the age of 13.

Does Indiana Require Child Car Seats in Ubers?

Yes, Indiana requires child car seats in Ubers. According to Uber’s policy, both riders and drivers should comply with applicable laws when traveling with infants and young children, and it is the rider’s responsibility to provide a car seat when riding with small children. The driver may decline the ride if transporting a child without a car seat violates local laws​.

 

Keeping Your Kids Safe

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that car seats and booster seats do provide your children with considerable protection in the event of a crash but that car accidents are still the leading cause of death for children who are between the ages of 1 and 13. This makes choosing the right seat for your child – and using it correctly every time – paramount.

NHTSA encourages parents to keep their children in the backseat until they turn 13. Further, keeping your children in their car seats until they outgrow the height or weight limitations is always the safest option. To help you find the right car seat for your little ones, NHTSA offers a Car Seat Finder that allows you to compare seats according to how easy they are to use correctly and to find the right one for you in the process.

 

The Right Booster Seat for Your Child

Child booster seats in Indiana are not one-size-fits-all. When selecting a booster seat, you want to make sure that you select, install, and use the best-fitting seat for your child. A good booster seat will secure and restrain your child’s body in the event of a serious car accident.

There is no disputing that young children grow quickly in size. As a result, it can be difficult to find the right booster seat that will keep them safe while riding in a car. Therefore, you should be sure to routinely measure your child’s weight and height as they grow, ensuring that they are using the right type of car seat.

  1. Right Size: First, you want to make sure that you purchase the correct seat for your child’s height and age. It is also important to keep in mind that the cost of a car seat does not necessarily relate to the level of protection it will provide your child. Moreover, you must ensure that you install the proper car seat correctly in your vehicle. In some instances, this step can be difficult. When that’s the case, you may need to retain a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) to help you install the car seat properly.
  2. The Fit: Next, you should make sure that the car seat fits your child properly. In most instances, a 5-point harness that is fitted properly will offer your child the best possible protection while on the road. These harnesses have straps that should cover both of your child’s hips as well as their shoulders. You should also check the label for the harness’ height and weight range requirements.
  3. Keep them in the Back Seat: Finally, as your child grows, you should continue to keep them in the back seat for as long as possible and refrain from transitioning them to the next seat level too soon. You should provide a good example to your child by wearing your own seatbelt while your vehicle is in motion.

 

Technical Aspects

Installing and adjusting car seats correctly is a critical part of child safety. The installation process can vary by seat model and car. Refer to both the car seat manual and your vehicle’s manual.

A general guideline can be as follows:

  • For rear-facing seats, the seat should be tightly secured, and the seat should recline at the manufacturer’s recommended angle to keep the baby’s head from flopping forward. The harness straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders, and the harness should be snug, with the chest clip at armpit level.
  • Forward-facing seats should also be tightly secured, with the top tether attached to the correct anchor. The harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders, and the harness should be snug, with the chest clip at armpit level.
  • Booster seats need to be used with both lap and shoulder belts positioned correctly across the child’s body. The lap belt should lie low and snug across the child’s upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should cross the middle of the child’s chest and shoulder.

Remember, the most common mistakes often include not securing the seat tightly enough, incorrect positioning of the harness straps or chest clip, and moving to the next stage too soon.

 

Read The Label

If you have any doubts before buying, reading the label (or product description/specs in case you’re online shopping) can help you figure out if you’re choosing the right booster seat.

 

Types Of Car Seats

  • Rear-facing car seat
  • Forward-facing car seat
  • Booster seat

 

Parts Of A Car Seat

Purchasing the right-sized seat for your child is the best way to keep your child safe while on the road. There are numerous resources available to help you find the right type of car seat for your child, including rear-facing seats, forward-facing seats, and booster seats.

car seat parts

Source

In addition, you will want to make sure that you get a tight-fitting car seat for your child, that you install the appropriate car seat properly, and that you change out the seat as your child outgrows it.

 

Top-Rated Car Seats

As of 2023, some of the top-rated car seats include:

  • Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat: This seat is versatile, adjusting to fit children from 4 to 120 pounds and converting from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat and then to a booster seat.
  • Britax Boulevard ClickTight: Known for its easy installation process, this seat also offers advanced safety features like side impact protection and a steel frame.
  • Chicco KeyFit 30: This infant car seat is praised for its easy installation and secure fit for newborns and babies up to 30 pounds or 30 inches.
  • Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster: This affordable, forward-facing seat can be used with a five-point harness for children up to 50 pounds, then transitions to a belt-positioning booster for kids up to 110 pounds.

Remember, the right car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and is used correctly every time.

 

How to Correctly Use Booster Seats to Keep Your Child Safe in the Car

Car booster seats offer your child the greatest amount of protection when they fit correctly.

 

For Rear-facing Car Seats

When it comes to rear-facing car seats, you should be sure to place your child in the seat so that their back and hips touch the seat back. You should also ensure that the seat’s shoulder straps are either at or below your child’s shoulders. Finally, you should make sure that the shoulder straps fit snugly around your child tightly and that your child is secure in the seat.

 

For Forward-facing Car Seats

When it comes to forward-facing car seats equipped with a harness, you should follow the same steps as with a rear-facing seat, including positioning your child in the seat correctly and tightening the shoulder straps. You must also make sure that you place the harness clip at your child’s armpit level, in the middle of their chest.

 

For Child Booster Seats

Finally, when it comes to child booster seats, you should make sure that the lap belt fits securely over your child’s thighs and that the shoulder belt crosses their shoulder and remains flat against their chest. If the shoulder restraint rubs against your child’s neck, you should adjust it appropriately. However, you should not place the shoulder restraint behind your child’s back – or under their arm. Doing so may cause them serious injuries in the event of a crash.

 

Booster Seat DOs and DON’Ts

In summary, when it comes to child car seats and booster seats, there are various do’s and don’ts that you should follow. Following the do’s on this list helps to ensure that your child remains as safe as possible in the event of a car accident.

 

DOs:

  • Use the correct type of car seat that keeps up with your child’s age and frequently changing height and weight.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing safety seat until the child outgrows it. At that time, begin using a forward-facing seat.
  • Make sure that the safety seat fits your child securely and tightly by adjusting the harness as necessary.
  • Have an expert assess the installation of your child’s car seat, ensuring that it fits their size and weight correctly.
  • Wear your own seatbelt at all times, providing a positive example for your child to follow into adulthood.
  • Buy a child car seat that’s made of sturdy, good-quality materials.

 

DON’Ts:

  • Place your child in a car seat where the restraints are loose or where the seat does not fit your child properly.
  • Let your child sit in the front seat of a car until they reach approximately age 13.
  • Let your child outgrow their car seat.
  • Buy the most expensive car seat available, believing that price alone correlates to quality, safety, and protection.

 

Car Accidents Where Children Are Passengers

Even when children and adults utilize the proper safety restraints, car accidents may still lead to serious and debilitating injuries. These accidents usually result from some type of driver error or negligence. When a driver behaves negligently and causes an accident, other drivers and their passengers may suffer serious injuries, including traumatic head and brain injuries, soft tissue contusions, broken bones, or even paralysis injuries.

Even when infants and small children are sitting in the proper car seat, they may still suffer serious injuries in a car accident.

 

You Can Recover Various Damages

If your child suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence, they may be able to recover various damages. The amounts and types of damages they may recover in a personal injury claim or lawsuit typically depend upon the force of impact, the severity of their injuries, and the cost of their medical treatment.

Common types of monetary damages that child accident victims may recover include compensation for:

  • Related medical expenses
  • Related out-of-pocket costs
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Permanent disfigurement or disability
  • Loss of the ability to use a body part(s)

The experienced Indiana car accident attorneys at Blackburn Romey can determine which of these damages your child might be eligible to recover in their personal injury claim or lawsuit. In addition to investigating the accident circumstances, personal injury attorneys can file a claim on your child’s behalf – usually with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

We can then pursue settlement negotiations with the handling claims adjuster. If the insurance company does not offer your child the fair damages that they deserve, we could file a lawsuit in the court system on your child’s behalf and litigate their case to pursue fair compensation for their injuries.

 

Reach Out to a Personal Injury Attorney for the Help You Need

Purchasing and installing the correct car seat can help keep your child safe in the event of a motor vehicle crash, so we strongly encourage you to do so. However, accidents sometimes still happen.

If your child has been injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you should not delay consulting with an experienced car accident attorney in Indiana.

The focused attorneys at Blackburn Romey recognize the gravity of your situation and have the experience, drive, and legal insight to help you seek the compensation to which you are entitled. Learn more about how we can help by contacting or calling us today.

Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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