Do the laws in Washington, D.C., require us to use a car seat for our toddler when riding in a taxicab?

If our cab driver gets into a car accident and my child is injured, who would be responsible if he/she is not restrained in a car seat during the accident?

The laws in Washington, D.C. actually exempt taxi cab drivers from being required to wear a seat belt while behind the wheel of a passenger transport vehicle. Cab companies are also exempt from equipping their vehicles with child safety seats. However, it is important to note that many taxi companies do have car seats available for use if you call in advance.

All passengers, no matter the age, are strongly recommended to wear a seat belt while riding in a taxicab. Being in a taxicab doesn’t mean that you or your child couldn’t be seriously injured in a car accident. So, if you know that you need to take a cab somewhere and have a small child to bring with you, call in advance. If you are not a frequent cab rider, you may not have access to a portable car seat for your child. They can have one ready for you when your cab arrives at your location.

However, if you must get into a taxicab, and you don’t have the proper child safety restraints available, there are a few things to remember.

Don’t…

Hold your child in your lap while riding. You are not strong enough to restrain your child’s body if an accident does occur.

Buckle yourself and your child in the same seat belt. They are not designed to accommodate two people. This could actually be more harmful to your child! The force of the seat belt, combined with the force of your body, could crush your child during a cab accident. Just think: one person, one seat belt.

Do…

Place your toddler in the seat, using the standard seat belt. Although not ideal, the seat belt could provide some protection during a taxicab collision. After all, some protection is better than no protection!

Use a shoulder and lap belt whenever possible. Be sure that the seat belt is tight and secure in all areas across your child’s shoulders and thighs. Have your child sit as far back into the seat, as tall as possible, and do not let him put the shoulder strap behind his back!

As far as liability goes, if your child is injured in a taxicab accident, responsibility would be determined by the specifics of the car accident. Who caused the accident? What contributing factors were involved? Was the cab driver licensed to drive a passenger vehicle? Was the taxicab part of a registered cab company through the D.C. Taxicab Commission? Were there other vehicles involved in the collision?

The answers to each of these questions can determine who is liable for your child’s injuries. It’s best to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn complete and accurate answers to this question. You can schedule a free consultation today by calling 202-296-0666.

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