Child safety is an issue that no parent can take for granted, and keeping your child safe inside the car should be a priority for any driver who has responsibility for a child passenger.

Louise Williams, mother of 3 year old Emma, thought she was doing the right thing by sitting her daughter in a booster seat in the back of her car. But, when her car was involved in a non-fault collision, Emma suffered terrible injuries because she was in the wrong type of seat for her age and size. Her mother, Ms Williams was subsequently held accountable for a proportion of her daughter’s injuries…

On the rear offside seat of her car, Ms Williams had fitted a Mamas and Papas 5-point harness child restraint seat. She had also fitted a Graco booster cushion. She bought the booster cushion shortly before the accident because she did not think Emma looked comfortable in the Mamas and Papas seat.

On the evening of the accident Emma was seated on the booster cushion restrained by the adult seatbelt adjusted to shoulder height. At the time of the accident both booster cushion and Mamas and Papas seat were fitted on the backseat.

The defendant was driving in the opposite direction in his car when he lost control, swerving into the path of Ms William’s car. She was blameless as regards to the cause of the accident, however the defendant was killed in the collision and Emma suffered severe injuries.

Court proceedings were brought against Ms Williams on behalf of the deceased defendant’s estate, arguing that Ms Williams was in breach of her duty of care to Emma in restraining her on the Graco cushion rather than in the Mamas and Papas seat.

At the Trial the Court established that if the correct child seat had been used the injuries sustained would largely have been avoided.  They found that Emma’s mother had been partly responsible for her injuries and ordered that she paid 25% of the compensation due to Emma.


What does the law say?

  • You must use a restraining system if one is fitted in your vehicle – you must use the most appropriate restraint for everyone travelling in the car.

Where children are concerned, the law states that:

  • You must not carry an unrestrained child in the front seat.
  • Children under three travelling in a vehicle MUST be carried in a correct child restraint – infant carrier or child seat

A child between the ages of 3-12 and up to 135cm in height (approx 4ft 5ins):

  • If carried in the front MUST use a correct child restraint.
  • If carried in the rear where seat belts are fitted MUST use the correct child restraint.

The child MUST use an adult belt in the rear if the correct child restraint is not available:

  • In a licensed taxi/private hire vehicle.
  • For a short distance for reason of unexpected necessity.
  • If two occupied restraints prevent fitment of a third.

A child over 135cm in height (approx. 4ft 5ins) or 12 or 13 years old MUST wear an adult seatbelt if available, in the front or rear.


If you don’t obey the law you will:

  • Be liable to prosecution if any child under 14 is in your car and not wearing a correct child restraint or seatbelt. If over 14, they will be liable themselves.
  • Be served a monetary fixed penalty or possibly penalty points if a child is found to be unrestrained.
  • Have your compensation restricted. Any money awarded after an accident may be reduced if
    anyone in the car was not properly restrained.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, Abacus Solicitors has a dedicated Accident and Injury team that can assist you in achieving the justice you deserve.

For professional, concise advice, call our dedicated Personal Injury Team on 0161 833 0044 or email