Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, killing over 2,000 and injuring close to 350,000 annually.
While there can be a number of contributing factors to these incidents, in many cases, the faulty design of a child car seat, along with improperly restrained children can significantly contribute to this problem.
Have you or someone you love had a child that suffered a serious injury or wrongful death due to a defective child car seat or baby capsule?
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Who Must Use A Child Car Seat
Laws governing car seat use are based on the height, age and weight of the child. Infants and toddlers under 20 pounds and less than one year old must ride in an approved rear-facing child car seat. Further, this age and weight group may not be in the front seat of a moving vehicle due to the danger of being hurt by air bags, which are released at pressures strong enough to harm or kill an infant.
All children under four years of age must be secured in a child’s car seat in most of the 50 United States. Child booster car seats are required in many states for children between ages 4 and 14. It is very important that manufacturers instructions be followed when using a child’s car seat.
Requirements Of Child Car Seats
A strict set of government regulations controls child car seat safety laws (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard [FMVSS] 213). These laws establish such parameters as the seat back height and buckle release pressure in the safety seat. Each seat is also required to have a child car seat safety rating.
Child restraints are often the subject of manufacturing recalls. See the list maintained by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure that your child’s car seat is safe.
Child safety seat design has recently been changed due to new regulations. The distance the child’s head is allowed to move forward in a crash has been reduced 3.5 inches, requiring that the top of the seat be anchored to the car. As of 2002, special anchors have taken the place of car seat belts to fasten the child safety seat to the car seat.
Reasons For Child Safety Seat Failures
Defects in the design or manufacture of child safety seats are to blame for many of the tragedies that occur. Because of new regulations and design changes, many older vehicles are not equipped to hold child safety seats securely in place. The average life of a seat belt is 10 years. For this reason, in addition to new regulations and improved designs, using an older-model car seat compromises the safety of your child.
Parts of the child safety seat that may fail due to faulty design or manufacture are padding, shell design, buckles, and harnesses. A child may be thrown from the seat during a collision if any of these items break, seriously injuring the child.
What You Can Do
The following measures can improve the safety of a child’s car seat:
- Use rear-facing car seats in the back seat of the car for children younger than one year and weighing less than 20 pounds
- Children over one year and heavier than 20 pounds may ride in forward-facing seats.
- All children under 12 years old should ride in the back seat of the car to avoid injury from air bag release.
- Lap and shoulder belt harnesses with a child booster car seat are recommended for children weighing between forty and sixty pounds.
- Always secure children with both a lap and a shoulder belt.
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For a free initial consultation about a possible child safety seat failure, call our personal injury attorneys toll free at (877) 288-3241.