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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

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  1. Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

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    Achieving peace of mind after a bad accident takes hiring the right personal injury lawyer. You should feel comfortable with your attorney and confident in his or her ability to get the best possible results for your claim. During your free consultations with a few different contenders in your area, ask pointed questions to find out if the law firm is right for you. Do not take this decision lightly, as it could be critical to the outcome of your case.

    What Are Your Practice Areas?

    Find out what practice areas the firm handles, making sure yours is on the list. If you suffered your injuries in a slip and fall accident, for example, the law firm you select should have slip and fall or premises liability experience. Experience in your practice area will increase the chances of the firm understanding the surrounding laws and how to fight for top results.

    Have You Won Cases in My Practice Area?

    Ask about the lawyer’s success rate in general and in your practice area. A history of positive outcomes can show the law firm’s ability to negotiate with insurance providers and win verdicts at trial. Although past wins will not guarantee future successes, they can show you the attorney’s strategies, approach, and end results. Also, look at past client testimonials and reviews if the lawyer has them available.

    Do You Think I Have a Case?

    Give the lawyer details about your personal injury. Explain what happened to the best of your knowledge and who or what you believe caused your accident. Answer the questions the lawyer asks openly and honestly. Then, ask whether the attorney believes you have grounds for a claim. Not all personal injuries give rise to civil claims. In general, your case must involve someone else’s breach of duty of care or intent to harm for you to have a claim.

    Will You Be Handling My Case?

    If the lawyer thinks you have a case, ask if he or she will be the person handling the matter. Some law firms pass cases off to assistants or paralegals instead of lead attorneys taking care of the cases themselves. You want a lawyer who will be handling your case personally, and who is open to communicating with you from beginning to end. Your attorney should provide individual attention and tailored legal services throughout your claim.

    Have You Dealt With Complex Cases?

    Your injury claim could involve complicating factors such as catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, broken laws, criminal actions, a commercial defendant, or insurance bad faith. Your lawyer should have the confidence and experience to handle any complications that come your way. Otherwise, you may end up having to switch attorneys partway through your case. Ask whether the attorney has handled complex cases or cases against commercial defendants.

    What Is My Case Worth?

    Ask what the lawyer thinks your personal injury claim might be worth based on the facts you have given. The lawyer may ask to see medical records or hear your personal story to determine how greatly the injury has impacted you. Then, he or she can use prior experience and legal knowledge to estimate an accurate potential value. You can use this estimate to negotiate for fairer recovery from an insurance company or retain the lawyer to try to get that amount for you. You should also ask what the lawyer charges. Most injury attorneys handle claims on a contingency fee basis, with no fees upfront and no fees for cases they lose.

    Can You Go to Court?

    Although most personal injury lawsuits settle before reaching the trial stage, it can be in your best interest to hire a lawyer with trial propensities from the start. That way, you will not have to find a new attorney if insurance settlement negotiations fail and you have to take your claim to court. Going to trial is sometimes the only way to force a defendant to pay a fair amount.

    Follow your instincts when choosing your personal injury attorney. Pick the one that best matches your needs and gives you confidence in your future.

  2. Behaviors to Watch for When Adults Are With Children

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    Sexual abuse of children is a heinous crime. Victims of child sexual abuse are often left with long-lasting trauma that affects them both physically and mentally. What many people do not realize is that around 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser. According to RAINN, around 34% of child sexual abusers are family members, while about 59% are other family acquaintances. While it does occur, strangers are rarely the perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

    As a parent or guardian, you need to be careful of which adults you allow in your child’s life. There are various signs you should be aware of that could indicate possible sexual abuse attempts.

    Invades personal space of the others

    Does an adult in your child’s life do the following? If they do, you may have alarm bells going off:

    • Make others uncomfortable by ignoring social, emotional, or physical boundaries?
    • Refuse to let a child set limits of their own?
    • Regularly tease or use belittling language to keep a child from setting their limits?
    • Insist on hugging, touching, kissing, holding, tickling, or wrestling with a child even if the child does not want this attention?
    • Frequently walk in on the child when they are in the bathroom?

    Relationships with a child

    Does an adult in your child’s life do any of the following?

    • Turn to the child for emotional or physical comfort?
    • Share personal and private information that is normally shared with adults?
    • Have private or secret interactions with the child, such as gaming, alcohol, drugs, or sexual material sharing?
    • Spend an excessive amount of time texting or calling the child?
    • Insist on spending alone time with the child?
    • Always there to help babysit or take the child on special outings?
    • Buys gifts for the child or give them money for no reason?

    Sexual conversations of behaviors

    The following are inappropriate and are signs an adult may be grooming a child:

    • Frequently pointing out sexual images or telling dirty jokes with the child present.
    • Exposing a child to pornography.
    • Is interested in the sexuality of the child (their sexual orientation, whether they masturbate, how their body is developing, and whether they are having sex).

    It is your job to be aware and protect

    As a parent or guardian in your child’s life, you need to be aware of which adults have access to them and how any time is spent between them and other adults. You cannot be with your children every moment of their day. That is why we depend on other adults in our child’s life to care for and protect them, such as school teachers, youth sports coaches, clergy members, and other mentors. However, as we mentioned above, perpetrators of child sexual abuse are usually known by the child and the child’s family.

    Be aware of any of the above signs, as they could be grooming behaviors designed to slowly move your child to a sexual relationship. You should also be aware that these behaviors could be displayed by other adults in your own family. Each year, child protective services throughout the U.S. report that many perpetrators of child sexual abuse are parents, other relatives, or siblings. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse can be men or women.

    Finally, make sure your child knows that they can tell you anything and they will not be blamed. Have open conversations with your child about appropriate adult behavior, including areas of their body that are off-limits to everyone.

  3. Local Resources for Child Sexual Abuse Victims in California

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    Children who are victims of sexual abuse need our help. Every nine minutes in this country, a child becomes a child sexual abuse victim, according to RAINN, an organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse. One of the most important things you can do as a parent or guardian of a child who has been sexually abused is get your child the help they need.

    Victims of child sexual abuse often suffer trauma that has lasting effects, both physically and mentally. As a parent or guardian, you should know that you are not alone in supporting your child. There are many local resources available to help in these situations.

    Where You Can Turn to for Help in This Area

    • Audrey Hepburn CARES Center: Located at the children’s hospital of Los Angeles, this center ensures that the children of our area receive medical evaluations for physical and sexual abuse. They say that out of all of their child abuse cases, sexual abuse comprises of 42% of them. You can contact the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center by calling (323) 660-2450.
    • Peace Over Violence: This organization is tremendous because it provides a 24-hour emergency hotline for victims of sexual abuse and assault. Their staff members are trained to provide crisis support for residents of Los Angeles who suffer from sexual assault. Depending on where you reside, they can be reached at the following phone numbers: residents of South Los Angeles can call (310) 392-8381, and residents of central Los Angeles can call (213) 626-3393.
    • LA County Department of Children and Family Services: When you need social workers to be immediately available to provide assistance and investigate child sexual abuse allegations, you can call this government agency 24 hours a day for an emergency response. They can be reached by calling (800) 540-4000.
    • Children’s Institute, Inc.: This agency is based in Los Angeles and works to provide resources and assistance to both children and families who have been traumatized by sexual abuse and violence. They work to provide family support services as well as mental health assistance. They also provide youth development programs. They have various locations, and the phone number of each can be seen by clicking here to go to their page.
    • YWCA of Greater Los Angeles: Our chapter of YWCA provides extensive resources for victims of child sexual abuse. They sponsor a sexual assault crisis service, including a 24-hour crisis hotline. They will accompany victims of sexual abuse to the hospital for a sexual assault examination and provide various support services to victims. You can reach their hotline at (877) 943-5778.

    You May Need Help From an Attorney

    You may also need to consider speaking with an attorney who has experience helping victims of child sexual abuse and their families. While these are often criminal cases involving law enforcement, victims of child sexual abuse also often have the option of holding perpetrators accountable through a civil lawsuit. Not only will an attorney be able to guide you through this process, but they will also work to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse and their families get the resources they need to begin the recovery process.

    Nearly one out of every ten children are sexually abused before they reach their 18th birthday. Our children need help. They need our protection. If your child has been sexually abused by daycare workers, youth sports organizers, school faculty or students, members of the clergy, or anywhere else, contact us today to seek justice and compensation for your child’s pain.

  4. What Does Sexual Abuse in California’s Schools Look Like?

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    Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for children. As a parent or guardian, you cannot be with your child all the time. It is important to be able to rely on teachers, school administrators, and other school staff to keep your children safe. But what happens when schools fail to protect children? What happens if you discover that your child has been sexually abused at their school?

    Recognizing the signs of sexual abuse

    The signs of child sexual abuse are not always immediately apparent. Many cases of sexual abuse go undetected for long periods of time. Parents should look out for any changing behavior their child displays that could be a clue that sexual abuse is it occurring. This can include:

    • Major changes in grooming or bathing habits
    • Suddenly wearing inappropriate clothing (clothing that shows more of your child’s body or clothing designed to hide as much of their body as possible)
    • Excessive amounts online or phone time that is out of the ordinary
    • Withdrawn behavior, secrecy, or isolation
    • Sudden panic or anxiety attacks
    • Destructive behaviors such as drug or alcohol use
    • Suicide attempts

    It can be easy to miss the signs that school sexual abuse is occurring because these behavioral changes often mimic what many parents would consider “growing up” behaviors of their child, especially if that child is going through puberty.

    Who are the perpetrators of school sexual abuse?

    Sexual abuse in schools generally does not happen right away, but rather gradually over longer periods of time. It is often a teacher who takes a special interest in a child, a coach who gradually integrates themselves into the child’s life more and more, or a new friend from school who spends time with your child.

    Perpetrators of school sexual abuse will work to build the confidence and trust of the child in what is called the “grooming process.” Grooming is all about control – the control of the abuser over the child.

    There are varying ways in which school sexual abuse occurs

    School sexual abuse between an adult and child often happens in the following gradual ways:

    • Innocuous texts or emails related to school events or homework
    • Gradually becoming inappropriate texts, emails, or other communication from a school teacher, other school employee
    • Hugging, kissing, or cuddling as a “friend” that can be trusted
    • Physical assault or rape

    We need to understand that school sexual abuse can occur between two children at the school (often an older child perpetrates abuse on a younger child). This type of sexual abuse can mimic the type between an adult and a child. It can also include:

    • Online attacks through social media
    • Teasing and harassing comments in front of other people
    • Sexual hazing, which is often swept under the rug as being a natural part of school and/or sports
    • Threats of physical or sexual assault
    • Physical assault or rape

    How often does this occur?

    The truth is that approximately 90% of children who are sexually abused know the perpetrator of the abuser. Approximately 34% of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members, while around 59% are other acquaintances (such as teachers, coaches, or other school employees). Some studies show that as many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older and more powerful children.

    If your child is a victim of sexual abuse at school, contact a school sexual abuse attorney at our law firm to seek justice and restitution.

  5. Can a Child Recover From the Effects of Sexual Abuse?

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    Children who have been sexually abused do not all respond the same way, but it is important to understand that they will be affected by what happened. Children are resilient, and they can recover from being sexually abused. But you must help them. As an adult in the life of a child who has been sexually abused, you can take steps to strengthen your child’s trust and ensure they receive the care they deserve.

    Children may not fully understand what has happened to them. They may not even realize they have been sexually abused until they become adults. Some children may be ready to talk about the abuse right away, while others may need to move much more slowly. With help from supportive caregivers and from counselors who specialize in caring for sexually abused children, a child can begin the recovery process.

    Children who have been sexually abused are at a much greater risk of post-traumatic stress another anxiety symptoms, as well as depression and suicide attempts later in life. As a parent or caregiver, you have the power to make the difference. There are specific steps you can take to help your child recover so they can have a successful life in the aftermath of sexual abuse.

    Tell them they are not to blame for what happened

    Children are never to blame for what happened. However, children often feel that they are to blame for the sexual abuse that occurred. They may feel responsible for the abuse as well as for causing the pain their loved ones feel when the sexual abuse has been uncovered. If families are split apart because of the abuse, the child may feel even more guilt. We know that approximately 34% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse were family members of the child. Continually reiterate to your child that this was not their fault.

    Make sure your child knows you believe their story

    Sexual abuse can destroy a child’s trust in adults. Your child needs to know that you believe in their story. They need to know they can trust and count on you to be there for them. When you acknowledge that they have been harmed, and when you get your child help, you are taking the necessary steps to protect them and help your child re-establish a sense of trust.

    Tell them you will do everything you can to keep them safe

    Your child needs to know that you are committed to taking steps to protect them at all times. This can be an incredibly difficult time for an adult as well, and you cannot be with your child every moment. However, if your child sees that you are taking steps to protect them and that you will intervene on their behalf, they are learning that they have someone who cares in their life.

    Seek treatment for your child

    You should seek treatment from counselors who are trained to help children who have been victims of sexual abuse. If your child is showing signs of emotional distress, they need to be seen by a specialist who will offer a safe space for them to tell their story. These counselors can also offer guidance and support to you as you move forward in your journey protecting a child who has been the victim of abuse.

    If your child is a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of daycare workers, youth sports faculty, school officials, or Boy Scout members, contact us today to seek justice and restitution.

  6. Assembly Bill 218 Changes the Landscape for Sexual Abuse Victims

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    On October 13, 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law that dramatically changes the timeframe that sexual abuse victims have to file lawsuits against their abusers.

    Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) takes effect Jan. 1, 2020 and implements the following changes:

    • Victims of childhood sexual abuse now have until age 40 or five years from the discovery of the abuse to file civil lawsuits. The previous laws set the age limit at 26 years of age or within three years from the discovery of abuse.
    • Victims of all ages now have three years to bring claims that would otherwise have been barred due to existing laws.
    • Previously barred claims that were not litigated to finality due to the three-year time frame will be revived.
    • The bill will allow for “treble” damages against defendants who are found to have covered up sexual abuse of a minor.
    • There is a change in terminology in AB 218 from “childhood sexual abuse” to “childhood sexual assault.” This broadens the definition and makes it easier for victims to bring a claim.

    This Is a Major Change

    AB 218 is critical for victims of sexual abuse, many of whom have had no recourse available to them because of existing time limits. The three-year “lookback window” has now been opened. Victims of childhood sexual abuse in California will now be able to file claims against their abusers regardless of their age.

    This change matters. Research suggests that survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not typically tell anyone about their abuse until they are well into adulthood. Many people do not even realize they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of adults until much later in life – well past the age of 26.

    One California man alleges he was sexually assaulted by a priest in the mid-1970s. Of AB 218, he says, “It’s a chance for me to heal and move on.” The abuse he sustained left his with deep emotional scars. He has never been married and has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

    Added Penalties for Institutions

    Because AB 218 allows for childhood sexual abuse victims to recover treble damages against those who are found to have covered up sexual assault of a minor.

    As we have learned over the last few decades, major institutions in the United States knew about abuse taking place within their ranks and worked to cover it up. This includes, but is not limited to, the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and more. These institutions would move abusers from place to place, allow them to resign and get jobs elsewhere, or simply remain where they were – all without reporting the abuse to law enforcement.

    AB 218 will shine a light on these cover-ups, force institutions to confront their past, and change future policies.

    The Time for Victims to Act Is Now

    Courageous victims of sexual abuse are already coming forward thanks to Assembly Bill 218. They recognize this as the opportunity to get the justice that they never thought they would have. They are done being silent. DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo is ready to get to work and will be filing cases on behalf of BLANK sexual abuse victims on Jan. 1, 2020.

  7. Time Limits to File Sexual Abuse and Harassment Lawsuits in California

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    Victims of sexual abuse and harassment have varying time limits to file lawsuits in California. These differences arise depending on whether the victim was a minor or an adult at the time that the abuse or harassment took place.

    Recently, California passed Assembly Bill 218, which dramatically alters the timeframe in which childhood sexual abuse survivors have to file a civil claim against their abusers.

    How Long Do Child Survivors of Sexual Abuse Have to File a Claim?

    The amount of time those who were sexually assaulted as a child has been changed by Assembly Bill 218. This law was passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Newsom. It takes effect on January 1, 2020, and implements several changes to the existing timeframes that survivors of childhood sexual assault have to file claims.

    • Victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they turn 40 years of age, or five years from the discovery of the assault, to file civil lawsuits. The law previous capped the limit at the age of 26 or three years from the discovery of abuse.
    • Victims of any age will have three years to bring claims that would have otherwise been barred due to existing statutes of limitation.

    How Long Do Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse Have to File a Claim?

    Adults who have suffered from sexual assault (the assault occurred on or after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday) must file a claim on the later of the following (text taken from CA Civ Pro Code § 340.16):

    • Within 10 years for the date of the last act, or attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff.
    • Within three years from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness resulted from an act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault by the defendant against the plaintiff.

    This law took effect on January 1, 2019. Victims of assault that took place before that date may only have three years from the date of the attack to file a claim against their abuser.

    Why You Should Not Delay Filing a Claim

    Understandably, sexual assault is an emotional issue. However difficult these claims are to bring forward, you should not delay in doing so. Even with expanded time limits, a delay can damage or destroy your case due to several reasons:

    • The deadlines may be missed. These deadlines are serious. If they are missed, a sexual assault victim will lose their right to sue and collect any compensation for what has happened to them, regardless of how strong their cases.
    • A delay damages evidence. As time fades, so does the evidence. Physical evidence may be degraded or lost, and memories fade over time.
    • Delays prevent a victim from receiving the counseling they need. The sooner a victim comes forward with their claims, the sooner they will get to work with psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who are trained to help victims of sexual assault.
    • Justice is delayed. Delaying a claim and they prevent justice from ever being served on the perpetrator of the abuse. Prompt legal action can help prevent an abuser from attacking others.
  8. Adult Victims of Childhood Abuse

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    Over the last few years, this country has been grappling with revelations of childhood sexual abuse. Many instances of this abuse have occurred at the hands of people that the children should have been able to trust. The perpetrators are often in positions of trust, responsible for a child’s well-being. This includes teachers, members of the clergy, coaches, and even family members.

    How Does This Abuse Affect Victims?

    Adults who were the victims of childhood sexual abuse often experience sex for their entire lives. Any survivor of childhood sexual abuse can suffer from symptoms related to their abuse. More extreme symptoms are often seen in victims who suffered from abuse:

    • At an early age
    • For extended or frequent periods
    • From a parent
    • Through forceful means

    Physical Effects

    Physical effects that adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse can include:

    • Chronic and diffuse pain, especially of the abdominal and pelvic region
    • Lower pain thresholds
    • Anxiety and depression
    • Self-neglect
    • Eating disorders

    Studies have shown that adults who were abused as children are 4 to 5 more times likely to abuse alcohol or other illicit substances. They are also more likely to smoke, be less physically active, and are more frequently severely obese.

    Sexual Effects

    There are various sexual effects the victims of childhood sexual abuse can suffer from in adulthood. This can include disturbances of arousal, desire, and orgasm due to the Association between sexual activity with violation and pain.

    Studies indicate that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to have 50 or more sexual partners over their lifetime. They are also more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and engage in risk-taking behaviors that increase their risk of contracting HIV.

    Certain gynecological problems are more common among survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This includes pelvic pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, and vaginitis.

    Interpersonal Effects

    Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are often less likely to be skilled at self-protection methods. They may struggle with issues of low self-esteem, which may have been the result of negative messages they received from their abusers when they were children. This can lead them to them being victimized again in adulthood. Many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are repeatedly victimized in adulthood due to their general vulnerability in risky and exploitative situations by untrustworthy people.

    What Survivors Can Do

    For some adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, there are minimal effects on their functioning in adult life. However, others will experience physical, sexual, psychological, and behavioral symptoms as a result of what happened to them. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse must seek help from trained professionals.

    Many victims do not feel comfortable coming forward and speaking out against their abusers. However, adult victims of childhood sexual abuse should be aware that they may be able to file civil lawsuits against the perpetrators of their abuse. While no amount of compensation will erase what happened, a civil case may help bring closure to the situation.

    You should speak with a skilled childhood sexual abuse attorney about your options moving forward. An attorney will be able to guide you towards those who may be able to help with the effects you are experiencing. No matter what, the abuse you in curd as a child was not your fault and it is never too late to start the healing process.

  9. Orange County Work Accident Statistics

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    If you have suffered a workplace injury, you’re not alone. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace accidents took 5,190 worker lives in 2016. This is an average of 100 deaths per week, or more than 14 deaths per day.

    Thousands of others suffered serious and debilitating injuries. In California alone, private industry employers reported 466,600 occupational injuries in 2016. Here are a few other worker injuries and workers’ compensation statistics:

    • In 2016, 376 employees in California passed away from work-related injuries. This was the second-highest worker fatality rate in the United States.
    • Transportation accidents are the leading cause of worker death in California – a fact that has remained consistent every year since the start of workers’ compensation reporting.
    • Transportation incidents took 145 worker lives in CA, assaults/acts of violence took 77, falls took 64, contact with objects/equipment 58, exposure to harmful substances took 20, and fires and explosions took nine lives.
    • Orange County (along with LA County), reported 109 worker deaths in 2016. More employees died on the job in this region in 2016 than any year since 2011.
    • The majority of deceased workers in California in 2016 were white (43%), followed by Hispanic (39%) Asian (9%), and African American (7%). The youngest worker to die on the job was 22 (Alexis Cedillo-Osorio). The oldest was 66 (Jack Rafael Ruiz).
    • The vast majority of deceased workers in California in 2016 (93%) identified as male. Women are less likely to suffer fatal injuries at work, but more likely to suffer repetitive motion and musculoskeletal injuries.

    Every year, workplace accidents take more lives. Employers, product manufacturers, and third parties continuously put employee lives at risk through acts of negligence, recklessness, or malicious intent to harm. If you currently have a work-related injury, contact Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer. Hiring an attorney can help you successfully navigate the claims process.

  10. California Booster Seat Law

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    Using a booster seat could save your child’s life. Without a booster seat or a proper car seat, your child could suffer extreme or fatal injuries in a car accident. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the top causes of childhood deaths in the U.S. Like most states, California has car seat laws in place to encourage parents and guardians to take control of their children’s safety while driving. Obeying California’s booster seat law could protect your child and keep you out of legal trouble.

    Why Are Booster Seats Important?

    A booster seat is instrumental in keeping a young child safe in a vehicle accident. Vehicle manufacturers design seat belts for adults, not children. For a seat belt to work effectively at absorbing the shock of a collision, it must fit snugly in the correct position: over the passenger’s lap and shoulder. Positioning the belt elsewhere could cause more harm than good, as the straps might damage internal organs in a crash.

    Children are too short for adult-sized seat belts to fit properly. A booster seat solves this problem. A booster seat lifts the child to the proper height, so a seat belt fits properly over his or her lap and shoulder. Booster seats work in conjunction with seat belts rather than using a five-point harness system like a car seat. High-back and backless booster seat models fit different types of seats. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, 35% of children who died in car accidents in 2017 were not buckled up. Booster and car seats are integral in saving children’s lives.

    What Does the Law Say?

    California Vehicle Code 27360 states that children two years old and younger must ride in rear-facing car seats. As the child grows out of the seat’s maximum height or weight limit, he or she will transfer to a forward-facing seat and then a booster seat. The car seat must comply with applicable federal safety standards. The guardian should follow the seat’s instructions for installation and use.

    Additional California car seat laws state that guardians must secure children under eight years old in car seats or booster seats in the back seat of the vehicle. If the child is eight or at least 4’9”, he or she may graduate to a seat belt. Until the child reaches these milestones, however, he or she must remain in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat. The booster seat should be appropriate for the child’s height and weight for it to work properly.

    Penalties for Breaking the Booster Seat Law

    It is an infraction to break California’s car seat or booster seat law. The police can enforce this as a primary law, meaning an officer does not need another reason to pull a vehicle over. If the officer notices unrestrained children in the car, he or she can pull the driver over and issue a ticket. The fine is $100 for a first offense and $250 for a second or subsequent offense. The driver has the option of the court waiving the fine if he or she can prove an economic disadvantage and agree to take a community education program on child car seats.

    Obeying the booster seat law is important for you and your child. Failing to use a booster seat until your child is at least 40 pounds or 4’9” could put his or her life at risk. You can make sure you comply with state law by bringing your vehicle and booster seat to a free community inspection center. These are checkpoints where a professional can help you with car seat installation and make sure the device you use complies with federal safety regulations. Your community may also have financing options if you cannot afford a booster seat.