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Booster Seat Laws and Requirements in Michigan

Key Takeaways:

  • There are booster seat age and height requirements for children when sitting in a car.
  • Booster seats are legally required for 4 to 8-year-olds under 4’9″ tall. Non-compliance can lead to fines and driving record points.
  • Children who are eight years old or weigh over 80 pounds may be able to transition to using an adult seatbelt.
  • If you and your child are involved in a car accident, you first need to check if your child is okay and if you can move the vehicle to a safe area.

When you are in a car accident involving injuries, it’s an awful time, but when children are involved, it’s even worse. There are few things in this world so agonizing as losing a child or having a child suffer a serious injury. Booster seat laws exist to enforce car safety for kids, and it is essential to understand and follow Michigan car seat laws. We all want our children to be safe, and child seat belt laws are in place for just that reason.

If you are in a car accident with a reckless driver and your child is injured, you may be entitled to significant compensation for the harm your child suffered. However, you should consult with a Michigan auto accident law firm to secure that compensation. Call 1-866-22Not33 or complete the online contact form to speak with an experienced auto accident personal injury lawyer at Matz Injury Law today via a free consultation.

Car Accidents and Booster Seat Statistics

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 12 and under. Sadly, many of these fatalities arise because kids are not in car seats or wearing seat belts when the crash happens.

Based on numbers from the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Car seats reduce the risk of injury by 54% for young children and toddlers.
  • Car seats reduce the risk of injury by 71% for infants.

The risk of injury is far higher for unrestrained children. Using the correct child restraint system can make all the difference in avoiding serious injuries.

What is the Law for Booster Seats in Michigan?

Children Under Three

According to the Michigan State Police, children three and younger must sit in the back seat and be secured in a rear-facing seat.

Michigan Booster Seat Laws For Children Under Four

  • Children under four may only ride in the front seat if the back seat is filled with other children under four or if there is no back seat in the car.
  • By law, the airbag must be turned off if a child is in a rear-facing car seat in the front.

Michigan Booster Seat Laws For Children Between Four and Eight

Children younger than eight years old but older than four and who are under 4 feet 9 inches in height must be properly secured in a booster seat.

What Are the Height and Weight Requirements for Booster Seats in Michigan?

Under Michigan car seat laws, children must be buckled into a booster seat until they are eight years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall, whichever comes first.

This height requirement is because booster seats allow shoulder safety belts to protect short children. When children are 4 feet 9 inches tall, they have exceeded the height limit for booster seats and are tall enough for the seat belt to protect them adequately.

There is no specific weight requirement for booster seats in Michigan.

What Are the Age Requirements for Booster Seats in Michigan?

  • Young children from birth to age three should be secured in a properly fitted rear-facing car seat in the vehicle’s back seat.
  • Starting at age two, children may be in a forward-facing car seat.
  • For children between one and seven years of age, a front- or rear-facing convertible seat may be appropriate.
  • Children four to 12 years of age may use a booster seat based on size and comfort. At the age of eight or at a height of 4’9”, kids can transition to a normal seat belt.

While it’s not a specific child passenger safety law, it is recommended that through the age of 12, children only ride in the back seat.

By the time they are 13, older children may be able to transition to being front-seat passengers in a motor vehicle as long as they are securely buckled up.

When Can a Child Move to a Backless Booster?

Two children are smiling while seated and strapped in with seat belts in a car's back seat, indicating safety during a ride.

With a wide range of child restraint systems, many parents wonder when to transition to a backless booster.

  • Most children can start with a high-back harnessed booster seat around the age of four or five.
  • Between the ages of five and six, kids who do not want a traditional child car seat may be ready for a backless booster.

Before moving to backless booster safety seats, be sure that they:

  • Can sit still in an upright position
  • Have reached a weight limit minimum of 40 pounds
  • Are at least 38 to 43 inches tall
  • Can wear the seat belt strap across their collarbone and shoulder and not across their neck

How to Properly Use a Booster Seat

A car seat is only effective in car crashes if fastened and used properly. Safety groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics offer information, safety tips, and car seat basics to help correctly secure car seats.

Using a Booster Seat

When using a booster seat, always be sure the lap belt is snug and low across the child’s upper thighs, not across their abdomen. The shoulder belt should be off the neck and across the chest.

Using a Backless Booster Seat

If you are using a backless booster seat, make sure the head restraint behind your child comes at least to the top of their ears. If the backless booster has a shoulder belt guide adapter, use it as directed. Be sure that your child’s seating position is upright and all the way back in the seat. This means you should buy a booster that fits your child’s height.

Whether your seat is a car seat with harness straps or a booster seat for bigger kids, always install it using the safety manual instructions from the manufacturer.

Don’t ever try to “jury-rig” a car seat or booster seat.

Will I Be Penalized for Not Using a Booster Seat?

If your child is not in the right safety or booster seat for their age and size, you can face penalties in Michigan.

  • Your first offense will not carry criminal penalties. It will, however, be a civil traffic offense, and you can be fined between $65 and $165.
  • Subsequent offenses can carry even higher fines and greater penalties, including points on your license.

Considering that the typical booster seat costs between $15 and $100, it is better to buy and use the safety seat than risk a fine.

Is it Illegal to Use an Expired Car Seat in Michigan?

State law does not expressly address car seat expiration dates. Police can, however, issue tickets to parents using an expired car seat. According to the Michigan State Police, if the expired car seat results in a lack of proper restraint for the child, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, a state police officer may issue a citation.

Related Article: Is it Illegal to Use an Expired Car Seat in Michigan?

Does Using Expired Car Seats Affect Compensation for an Injured Child?

An expired car seat should not affect compensation for your injured child after a car accident. Since Michigan is a no-fault state, your personal injury protection (PIP) should cover your injuries and passengers’ injuries up to the limits of your policy. Unless your specific policy has an exclusion based on car seat issues, you should be able to file an insurance claim.

If, however, your insurance company tries to lower your compensation based on a car seat issue, Matz Injury Law may be able to help. We can fight for your right to full compensation and hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident.

My Child Was Hurt in a Michigan Car Accident. What Do I Do?

A person receives medical attention, secured on a stretcher with vivid straps, oxygen mask on face, emergency responder nearby, suggesting a medical emergency or accident context.

If you are in an accident caused by another reckless driver, be it a car, motorcycle, school bus, truck, or any other type of motor vehicle, and your child is hurt, you may be entitled to significant compensation. You may want help from a knowledgeable Michigan car accident attorney at Matz Injury Law.

Related Article: What To Do After A Car Accident Leaves A Passenger Injured

After the Accident: First Steps

The first thing to do after an accident is to make sure everyone receives medical attention.

  • Call first responders to the scene even if you don’t feel hurt and your child seems fine.
  • Move your car off the road if it can be moved. If it is safe to do so, leave your child in their seat. Never move someone who might be injured.
  • Document the scene in as much detail as you can. Take notes, take pictures, get contact information from witnesses, and file a police report. You cannot use this as evidence, but it can help you remember details in the future and can serve as a touchstone for you and your attorney.
  • Never, ever apologize for anything at the scene of the accident. Saying “I’m sorry” can come back to haunt you later as it can be interpreted as an admission of guilt.

Dealing With the Insurance Company

Insurance companies are not your friends. They may act compassionately and listen attentively, but they will try to reduce or dismiss your claim whenever possible. Insurance companies will try any tactic to avoid paying out, which extends to claiming that the events and pain you endured were minimal. They might even try to claim that if your child was not secured, you are responsible, and they do not have to pay.

For the most part, this is not true. While not using a car seat, booster seat, or safety belt can result in you suffering civil penalties (fines and points on your license), it generally does not affect who is liable for damages from a car accident. Even if your child is not secured correctly, they can still be eligible for compensation for the injuries they suffer after a serious accident.

You do not have to talk to the insurance company. Tell them to contact your Michigan auto accident attorney.

Modified Comparative Fault

Michigan operates on modified comparative fault. This means your damages can be reduced by whatever percentage of fault you hold in the accident.

If you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you can only receive economic damages; noneconomic damages are not allowed.

For this reason, defendants might try to claim that not having your child in a booster seat or car seat makes you partially liable to reduce your award. They quite simply cannot do this.

Fight for the compensation you deserve with Matz Injury Law.

Proving Negligence

We will need to prove negligence to get you the compensation you deserve. Proving negligence is the core of every injury claim. It involves three factors.

  • First, we have to prove that the other driver acted in a reckless, unreasonably careless, or malicious manner. This is called a violation of their duty of care to others on the road.
  • Second, we have to prove that their actions led to the accident.
  • Third, we need to show that you and/or your child were hurt in the accident. We have decades of experience proving negligence for Michigan car accident victims.

Potential Compensation

You can be eligible for compensation for a wide range of damages you suffer in a car accident.

  • This includes payment for your medical bills, doctor’s visits, medication, physical therapy, surgery, and even transportation.
  • You can also get payment for lost wages.
  • You may also be eligible for non-economic damages like PTSD, pain and suffering, depression, loss of comfort, loss of ability to enjoy life, and similar problems.
  • In wrongful death, you can get funeral expenses as well as the above for your lost child.

The exact value of your case is difficult to determine until we talk to you, so get in touch with us. There’s absolutely no charge for the consultation and no fee at all unless we win your case.

Related Article: What Should You Do if You’re Pregnant and in a Car Accident?

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

If we do win, we only charge 22% of your award, as opposed to the 33% other law firms take. That’s why our slogan is “22, Not 33.” Call 1-866-22Not33 or complete the online contact form to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Matz Injury Law right now.

Recent Settlements

  • $3.45 million settlement against a cement company whose truck crossed a center line causing three deaths and severely injuring a four-year-old boy. The settlement was $450,000 in excess of available insurance.
  • $1.3 million settlement in Federal District Court on behalf of a mother and daughter in a car/truck collision. Mom suffered a pancreas injury but returned to full-time employment within six months; her eight-year-old daughter suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing learning disability as well as a ruptured spleen.

Protect Your Child From Car Accident Trauma

If you’ve been in an accident that injured your child, you have enough to worry about. Your child needs all the attention and care you can provide. Let Matz Injury Law handle the insurance company and all the legal concerns while you focus on your family. We travel to clients and offer Zoom appointments so you can get your claim started without additional stress. Call today at 1-866-22Not33 (866-226-6833) or use our online contact form to schedule your initial free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Michigan’s Booster Seat Requirements for Children Under Three?

According to the Michigan State Police, children three and younger must sit in the back seat and be secured in a rear-facing seat.

Will I Be Penalized for Not Using a Booster Seat?

Yes, according to Michigan law (MCL 257.710e(9)), you can be penalized if your child is not in the appropriate safety or booster seat for their age and size.

When Can My Child Legally Use a Backless Booster Seat in Michigan?

Kids may be ready for a backless booster between the ages of five and six.

Do Booster Seats Actually Protect Children in Car Accidents?

Car seats can reduce the risk of injury by 54% for young children and toddlers and by 71% for infants according to the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

How Old Do You Have to Be to Sit in the Front Seat in Michigan?

Under Michigan law, children can sit in the front seat if:

  • They are four to eight years old, and there is no backseat or the backseat is full of children under four
  • They are at least eight years old or 4’9” tall

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children under age 13 sit in the backseat with age-appropriate safety restraints.