Strapping your child into the safety seat that you just purchased should give you a sense of security, however this is not always the case.
Child safety seats are required in motor vehicles for children of a certain age and weight, yet some seats are defective and injuries occur to small children that might have been prevented had the seat worked as it was intended.
Because of poor design or defects in manufacturing, in that the child safety seat may not have met industry standards, many of these seats fail to perform as expected. In these cases, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable child seat defect attorney.
Common Child Seat Defects
Plastic shells - The plastic in the seats may fracture from common use alone, exposing the child to injury during a collision.
Chest clips - The two straps that go over the child’s chest are usually held together by a chest clip. Inferior material may tear during stress or may be poorly designed and slip apart during a collision.
Base dislodging - During impact, the car seat detaches from the base unit along with the child, leaving the base unit intact and leaving the child without the intended protection and subject to injury.
Latch failure - The latch on the safety device fails and the child is thrown from the seat.
Improper padding or cushioning - The child’s head needs to be properly cushioned in the event of impact. If inadequate, the child can suffer serious head injuries.
Booster with shield seats - These car seats feature a large, often padded bar or tray that swings down over the baby's head. These types of seats often do not employ the three point harness - lap and shoulder belt - so that the child does not have upper body or pelvic restraint. In addition, the bar or tray may actually cause harm to a baby in a crash because trays rarely contain enough padding to prevent head or chest injuries when the baby strikes the tray with significant force. As such, there is significant controversy over the use of these types of seats.
Poorly worded or inadequate instructions - Parents fail to properly install the seat because of poorly worded or obscure instructions in the accompanying manual.
Common Types of Child Seat Related Injuries
- Head trauma and lacerations
- Spinal, neck and shoulder injuries
- Abdominal and internal organ injuries
Manufacturers, designers, distributors and retailers can be liable for selling child safety seats that fail to meet industry standards. Liability rests in their failure to inspect the seats before marketing them, failing to design a seat that effectively protects the child, failing to discover a flaw in the seat, or failing to warn consumers of any hazards in using the seat. Further, poorly written installation directions can result in the manufacturer, designer or whoever provided the content to be responsible for any injuries caused by the incorrect installation.
If the Car Seat Fails
If your child’s car seat seems to have inadequately protected him or her in a collision, it is important to attend to the following:
- Do not dispose of the seat or repair it. Take it to a automotive product defect lawyer who can have an expert evaluate it properly.
- If available, provide the manual or instructions that came with the seat to your attorney.
- Photograph any visible injuries your child sustained.
When buying a child safety seat, you may be able to go to a local police station to have them properly install it for you. Also, check the NHTSA website for recommended child safety seats and to register your seat with them.
Safety seats are supposed to protect children. If your child is injured due to a seat malfunction, contact an experienced product liability lawyer. A qualified attorney can identify the responsible parties, protect your legal rights, and best work to obtain the compensation that you and your child deserve.