The preliminary estimates of the National Safety Council show that motor vehicle accidents claimed 40,000 lives in 2017, and about 4.57 million people were injured and needed medical attention in vehicular crashes. Car accidents are among the leading causes of injury and death to children in the United States, which warrants a serious look at the safety and effectiveness of car seats that parents use.
Infant car seats are designed to provide babies safety and protection while on the road. However, there are cases in which the car seats themselves put children in peril with their defects, such as faulty handles, weak construction, and sudden releases, among others. Since 1998, more than 500 infant injuries have been reported due to faulty car seats. As a result, a great number of car seat models have been recalled by manufacturers for different reasons such as flammable materials, faulty harness systems, and other utility and design flaws. In purchasing and using a car seat, what do parents need to watch out for? Here are some of the most common defects a car seat can have:
- Flammable Fabric. Some car seats made with substandard and low-quality materials can be flammable, posing a grave danger to children.
- Defective Latches and Buckles. Whether the buckles and latches are too loose or too tight that they are difficult to undo, they put children in danger. Faulty latches and buckles can cause injuries, ejection, and in case of emergencies, difficulty rescuing the child.
- Defective Adjusters. If the adjusters are faulty, the straps can become dangerous. Adjusters are designed to keep the straps properly positioned and provide ample support and protection to the child.
- Weak Frames. The frame serves as the foundation and skeleton of the car seat, so if the frame itself is weak, the car seat will not be able to function properly.
Other car seat defects reported are inadequate head protection, poor pelvic protection, loose shoulder straps, a sudden release of accident latches, and cracking of plastic parts. Such defects can cause serious injuries in children such as spinal and back injury, brain trauma, burns, loss of limbs, paralysis, and wrongful death. In the event that a child suffers a serious injury or wrongful death due to a faulty car seat in terms of design and construction, parents can hold the manufacturer accountable for product liability.
Aside from looking out for the possible defects of a car seat, keeping in mind some best practices can also be of great help in keeping children safe. After all, the best car seat is one that is used correctly and properly.
- Research. Make sure to make ample research before making a purchase. Consider the type of vehicle it’s going to be used in and the child’s age.
- Register the car seat. This can be done by going to the manufacturer’s website and registering the car seat online. When the car seat is registered, the consumer is notified in case the particular model has been recalled.
- Read the instructions carefully. If the instruction manual is unclear, incomplete, or non-existent, the manufacturer can be held liable for the negligence.
- Make sure everything is tight. The car seat must be installed safely and tightly using a seatbelt, or a latch, in case one is available.
If your child has suffered injury or wrongful death due to a defective car seat, contact us at Hogan Injury for expert legal advice.
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