On National Seat Check Saturday, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, in partnership with Safe Kids Palm Beach County and Bridges at Highland donated 100 child safety seats in Lake Worth, Fla. The event was organized to support a new law that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, requiring all children in Florida up to the age of five to travel in a child safety seat.
Over the past four years, the Florida office of Cohen Milstein has hosted events throughout South Florida to provide families with free child seats. Since this campaign began in September of 2011, over 500 car seats have been donated to families in needy communities including Belle Glade, Boynton Beach, Indiantown, and Riviera Beach.
The firm’s products liability attorneys originally launched this car seat campaign to address a failure in Florida law. Through the work they do to help injured individuals and families, the attorneys had witnessed the tragic aftermath when children were catastrophically injured because they were not properly secured in an appropriate child safety seat. A child’s body is often not developed to withstand the force of a seatbelt, and most vehicle manuals indicate that the back seat of a vehicle is not designed to provide protection to a child in the event of a crash.
The “forgotten child” is a term given to these types of cases where children are catastrophically injured or killed because the seatbelt fails to protect them. Florida had the weakest child passenger safety law in the nation, despite recommendations from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that children need to ride in a booster seat until at least 4’9′, 8 -10 years old, or approximately 80-100 pounds.
For several years, the firm, led by partner Leslie Kroeger, engaged in a coalition comprised of almost 100 different public service and first responder organizations dedicated to passing a bill that would increase the child safety standards in Florida. In the spring of 2014, their efforts prevailed, and elected leaders in Tallahassee passed a new law which will require children ages five and under to be secured in crash-tested, federally approved child restraint devices.
Kroeger said, “We launched this campaign to ensure children are protected, parents are educated and the legislature assumed its responsibility to safeguard the ‘forgotten child.’ This bill raises Florida’s standard for child safety and implements lifesaving measures for our most precious cargo. ”