Child Safety Seat Failure

child safety seat failure

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, according to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Installing the correct kind of safety or booster seat can help protect your child from serious injuries in the event of a car crash. However, sometimes product defects can actually make a child safety seat more dangerous. These design and manufacturing defects can cause total safety seat failure as well as contribute to catastrophic head, neck and chest injuries from faulty belts and padding. In the past, many companies have issued product recalls for defective child seats. However, you can recover compensation on behalf of your child for product defects in a car seat, even without a recall.

If your family is struggling with catastrophic injuries or a wrongful death due to product defects in a child safety seat, then contact a product liability lawyer from Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. We can assist you with the legal process, freeing you from the additional stress of filing and defending a claim. We can also investigate the full impact of your child’s injuries to ensure that you get the compensation you need for both past and future expenses.

What Causes Child Seat Failure?

Sometimes, the only thing standing between a child passenger and the damaging forces of a crash is a car seat. This is why it is so important for manufacturing companies to ensure that child seats are safe and functional. When these companies neglect this duty, the result may be serious or fatal child injuries. There are many reasons why a child car seat can fail, including:

  • Manufacturing defects. Poor materials or errors during the manufacturing process can weaken a child seat, making it prone to failure. Additionally, some manufacturing defects may increase the risk of child injuries. For example, toxic or flammable materials can cause or contribute to injuries beyond the harm caused by a car crash.
  • Design defects. Even if a seat contains quality materials, a poor design can cause child seat failure. Product defects in the design of the harness, buckles or even the seat base can cause catastrophic accidents in a crash. Manufacturing companies must ensure that their child seat designs meet federal accident standards as well. However, negligent companies may fail to test car seats to ensure they can withstand the force of a wreck.
  • Labeling defects. Car seats should include clear labels stating the size, weight and age a child should be to use the seat. Failure to include these guidelines, or lack of labels warning of known risks, can result in a serious or fatal injury. Additionally, and unclear instruction manual may result in improper installation and failure during a wreck.

Any of these types of product defects may result in ejection of a child from the car seat during an accident. Sometimes, a child may also sustain injuries from the seat itself.

How are Child Safety Seats Tested for Product Defects?

The NHTSA states that all children must use safety restraints until they are eight years old or reach a height of 4’9”. This is because the safety features of automobiles, such as airbags, are designed for adults, leaving children vulnerable. However, while safety seats are necessary for the survival of infants and children in the case of a car crash, the car seat may cause further injury and death. Unfortunately, little is done to ensure the reliability of child car seats.

The NHTSA conducts the regulation of infant safety seats. However, the majority of testing is left to the manufacturers. These companies typically do only the minimal testing required by the NHTSA, which causes many product defects to go unnoticed. Additionally, companies must only report defects to the NHTSA if they fall within that agency’s loose requirements. Product recalls of infant safety seats are voluntary. This means that many dangerous and potentially fatal flaws in car seats may not be found or corrected before production. Then, a company may only recall a dangerous seat after many children sustain injuries in car accidents.

Therefore, consumers must take their own steps to ensure their safety seat will protect their children. To do so, you should:

  • Research child safety seats before you decide to purchase one.
  • Find the seat that is most suitable to your particular vehicle.
  • Read the instructions carefully before installing the safety seat.
  • Visit a child safety seat inspection location near your home.
  • Register your seat with the manufacturing company to ensure you will be notified of any product recall for your seat.
  • Check periodically for any recalls on your child’s car seat.

What are the Most Common Product Defects in Child Safety Seats?

Dangerous defects in a child safety seat may result from poor design, construction and/or labeling. A design defect, such as a loose harness, can result in a car seat that does not adequately protect a child from the impact of a car crash. Manufacturing defects, such as use of substandard materials, can cause additional injuries the child would not have otherwise sustained during an accident. Finally, labeling errors can lead to serious injury if a child of the incorrect weight, height and/or age uses it, even if the seat is otherwise sound.

Possible product defects in safety seat design or construction due to manufacturer neglect may include:

  • Failure of manufacturer to meet accident regulations
  • Substandard construction materials
  • Use of flammable materials
  • Sudden release of accident latches
  • Carrier separation from base
  • Malfunctions of the handle
  • Unclear instruction manual, resulting in improper installation
  • Shoulder straps that unclip or loosen, resulting in ejection
  • Poor pelvic protection, which causes the child to slide down
  • The inability for the safety belt to hold the safety seat in place
  • Cracking of plastic parts
  • Inadequate head protection

Defects like these have the potential to cause a serious and entirely preventable child injury. Infants and children may suffer from brain trauma, spinal and neck injury, paralysis, loss of limbs and wrongful death due to defective safety seats.

What Child Injuries May Result from a Defective Car Seat?

When a child car seat fails, the occupant is at risk for the following injuries:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Skull fracture
  • Neck injuries
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Internal injuries
  • Loss of limb
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Wrongful death

If your child sustains any of these kinds of injuries as a result of a car seat, then you may be entitled to compensation through a product liability claim. A child injury lawyer can assist you in filing this kind of claim on behalf of your child, as well as explain your own options to recover the cost of medical bills and other expenses.

Car Seat Fail in a Crash? Call a Product Liability Lawyer for Child Injury Cases

If your child has suffered a serious injury or wrongful death due to defects in the design or construction of a safety seat, then you may be able to hold the manufacturer accountable for your damages. An automotive defect lawyer from our law firm can investigate your child injury case and fight for the full compensation you deserve.

We have law office location in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as Cherry Hill, New Jersey. However, we can assist with your catastrophic injury or wrongful death claim nationwide. Call one of our offices now or contact our experienced attorneys online to schedule a free consultation.