In America, automobile accidents are the prominent cause of child fatalities, and defective car seats increase that risk. Most parents take safety measures by placing their children in an age-appropriate car seat. However, manufacturing flaws and seat compatibility issues can seriously endanger children in passenger car accidents. These defects can turn a minor car accident into a major disaster. Small children can be thrown from their seats, trapped, or injured by car seats. Consult our defective car seat attorneys if you went through any such unfortunate incident. You can claim for economic losses and emotional pain provided that the mishap occurred due to some defect or negligence.
- Guidelines for child safety in cars
- Common mistakes when using car safety seats
- Potential car seat defects
- Injuries sustained due to faulty car seat
- Responsible parties of car seat defect accidents
- Attorney for Defective Car Seat lawsuits
Guidelines for child safety in cars
All states have laws requiring children to ride in child safety seats when in a car. Accordingly, children must sit in the back seat and not in the front until they are tall enough not to need a booster. Unfortunately, when car seats, booster seats, or cushion seats have a defective design or manufacturing flaw, it poses a risk for children to get injured. Concerned parents should take note of the type of seat their child needs. Today, many appropriately sized car seats are available on the market. Make sure to research well before selecting the best fit and appropriate car seat for your child.
Rear-facing child seats
One of the most important investments a parent can make is in a child safety seat. All infants and toddlers should ride rear-facing until they reach the maximum weight or height permitted by their car safety seat manufacturer. Most convertible seats have time limits that enable children to ride rear-facing for at least two years.
Forward-facing car seats
Young children who have outgrown their convertible seat’s rear-facing weight or height limit should use a forward-facing seat. If they are under five, they should be buckled up in forward-facing seats until they reach the manufacturer’s height and age restrictions. Many of these seats can hold children weighing 65 pounds or more.
Booster car safety seats
A booster seat is a seating arrangement that raises the child to allow the vehicle’s seat belt to fit more securely across the body. It is suitable for school-aged children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit but is too small to wear an adult-sized seat belt without assistance. Boosters can help keep children safe in a crash by spreading the impact force over a larger area and reducing the risk of injury.
The type of safety seat your child requires depends on several factors, including age, size, and developmental needs. When children reach the age and height where the vehicle seat belt can properly fit them, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. Young children under the age of 13 must ride in the back seat.
Common mistakes when using car safety seats
Car seats are for safety, but they fail to protect the child if mishandled. While setting up the recall or securing your child inside, some mistakes are surprisingly common. They include:
Incorrect seat installation
The car seat may not fit well if it is incompatible with the vehicle or installed adequately. For instance, a slightly loose strap may cause your child to slip and fall. The key is to check before and after installation. You can avoid a mishap to occur by being alert. Conduct independent research and cross-check the compatibility lists for your car on manufacturer websites. Go through the instructions for the seat and your vehicle.
Loose harness straps
If you have a perfectly fitting seat wherein you placed the child poorly, they are at risk of experiencing an injury in an accident. You can perform a pinch test to check that harness straps are tight enough to hold your child. For this, put your fingers on the harness near your child’s collarbone and try to pinch the strap. The grip is loose if you get a good pinch of the material between your fingers. But if you can’t pinch between your fingers, the harness is tight, and your child is secure.
Each time you travel, make sure to fasten the harness strap securely. Clothing is another factor that could affect how tightly the child fits into the seat’s harness. The straps are likely to slack and not effectively tighten their harness because of bulky coats, scarves, or padded clothing. To properly secure your child in the car seat, you should take off their bulky clothes and make them comfortable.
The neck, head, and spine of a young child are fragile. Rear-facing seats tend to provide more protection and help reduce potential injuries in a crash. Your child should remain rear-facing until they weigh at least 13kg and be at least 15 months old before going forward. During an accident, the force of the crash spreads more effectively into the seat rather than into the child.
Some parents forget to adjust shoulder straps according to height, while many leave their baby in an upright car seat for too long. Sadly, people commit these mistakes unknowingly again and again. As a result, the safety of children is at stake, and they sustain injuries during accidents.
Potential car seat defects
Car seats could come in different brands and with various manufacturing defects. The product may be defective due to a flaw in the design or a problem during the production process. Among the most common faults associated with car safety seats are:
Buckles and latches are essential to keep the child securely fastened. If there is malfunctioning and your child slips from a defective car seat in a car accident, the consequences could be severe.
Cracked chest clips
Manufacturers design chest clips to secure the harness straps around the child’s chest and shoulders. Defective chest clips can be broken or undone by the child, resulting in fatal injuries in an accident.
Upon impact, seat padding should shield a child from harm. Inadequate or damaged padding can cause injuries in an accident.
Impaired carry handles
The carry handles on most infant car seats allow using the detachable seat as a carrier. When released prematurely, the seat can tip forward, spilling the infant onto the ground and causing injury.
Manufacturing car seat adjusters with poor materials can weaken the structure. And, even if the straps setting is inappropriate, they may not secure the child.
Inadequate installation guidelines
The failure to include proper instructions for installing the car seat can lead to injuries. While design or manufacturing defects can cause critical consequences, incorrect installation instructions can also cause harm.
Injuries sustained due to faulty car seat
Many child safety seats are subject to flaws, such as flammable materials, weak latches, faulty buckles, or inadequate installations. Accidents due to such defective products have caused catastrophic injuries. Some of the problems associated with a defective car seat include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Dislocation of elbow/shoulder
- Ruptured appendix/spleen
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Abrasions and burns
- Neck injury
- Internal bleeding
- Psychological trauma
- Cognitive impairment
- Memory loss
After your child has an accident, their health is the top priority for parents. You should take them to the nearest medical clinic for a check-up, even if they show no injury signs. The doctor will examine them, perform tests, and determine whether or not they are injured. If diagnosed with some issue, the health professional will devise a treatment plan that gives quick relief to the child. While taking treatments, keep all bills and invoices in a safe place. You might need to present the prescription and receipts as evidence in your court trial.
Responsible parties of car seat defect accidents
A defective car seat can seriously injure or even kill a child. You may wonder who is to blame for such an unspeakable breach of trust. While the facts of each case differ, a comprehensive investigation will determine the negligent party. If it is evident that a defective part in the car was the cause of an accident, one of the following parties may be held accountable:
Auto parts manufacturer
Manufacturers of car seat parts should guarantee product safety. However, they are liable if circumstances prove that their businesses did not take the necessary measures or quality assurance checks.
Car seat designer
Defects in car seat design can adversely affect many people. If the proven cause of an accident is poor product design, the auto part designer is legally accountable.
Distributor or marketer
Marketers promote, sell, and distribute seat components to increase sales. They are negligent parties if they fail to provide necessary warnings or usage guidelines.
Dealership or mechanic
Any repair shop or mechanic who installed the seat parts improperly or incorporated defective components could face legal consequences. A civil lawsuit may consider the mechanic, the dealership, or another person who rendered subpar service as defendants.
Attorney for Defective Car Seat lawsuits
Our dedicated legal teams at Phillips Law Offices can help evaluate your defective car seat case. They can identify which parties are accountable for the faulty component that injured your child. Whether the responsible party is the manufacturer, marketer, distributor, designer, or mechanic, your injury attorney can find the evidence to hold them liable. Legal assistance is necessary for an acceptable out-of-court settlement or court trial.
The process of filing claims for defective car seat lawsuits is complex as you have to go through many legal formalities. Our lawyers offer support from gathering proof to assessing losses. We can fight for your family’s rights, mainly when the cause of the accident is negligence. You can expect compensation for damages involving inadequate safety padding, unclear instructions on child seats, defective chest clips, or faulty handles. The valuation can include repair costs, medical expenses, lost wages, and punitive damages.
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