Defective Car Seats Can Cause Serious InjuriesBy Gabriel Levin on January 9th, 2018
You buy a car seat so that your children will be safe. But sometimes a car seat is defective, and it fails to do the job you bought it for—during a traffic accident no less. When products like car seats don’t work the way you expected, then you’re probably frustrated and angry. Fortunately, you might be able to sue the manufacturer for the injuries your child has suffered. Contact a Philadelphia traffic accident attorney today for a free consultation.
Common Child Seat Defects
According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), car accidents are a leading cause of death for children 13 and under. For this reason, Pennsylvania law requires that parents use a child safety seat for children under 4 and a booster seat for children ages 4-8, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.
But a defective child or booster seat will fail you and your child in an accident. Common defects include the following:
- A defective plastic shell. A weakened shell will crack under pressure and not provide the expected support to your child. A shell can be weak because the manufacturer used inadequate materials or because it constructed the shell improperly.
- Flammable materials. A manufacturer might use low-quality materials that will catch on fire during an accident.
- Improperly labeled shoulder harness slots. You might not know to properly secure the car seat through the harness slots if there isn’t an adequate label.
- Faulty adjusters. The straps need to be adjusted properly so your child is secured. When the adjusters are faulty, your child might be injured by the straps.
- Defective buckles or latches. When buckles and latches fail, your child won’t be secured properly in a crash. They may be ejected from the seat or become trapped in the seat, suffering injuries.
- Improperly located chest clip. If the chest clip is too low on the body, then your child can be ejected from the car seat during an accident.
Determining Who to Sue
If your child is injured through someone else’s fault, then they should certainly pay compensation. But you and your personal injury lawyer need to identify the correct parties to sue for the injury. Generally, you can sue the manufacturer as well as anyone else down the supply line who is responsible for the defect in the child seat. Obviously, this depends on the circumstances, but you can often sue the manufacturer, supplier, distributor, or retailer.
Each of these parties owes you, the consumer, different legal duties, and you can sue them when they fail to fulfill their duty. For example, you might be able to sue for the following:
- Providing inadequate warnings explaining the risks associated with the child seat
- Failure to discover defects in the seat
- Failure to properly disclose to you the vulnerabilities in the car seat
- Designing a defective child seat
- Manufacturing a child seat with defects
- Failing to properly test a product before placing it on the market
- Failing to properly inspect the car seats that it manufactures or distributes
When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, they will need to interview you about the circumstances surrounding your purchase and use of the car seat. They will also probably need to inspect the car seat as well. Only an expert witness can testify as to whether a car seat was designed or manufactured improperly, and a good personal injury attorney should be able to find expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf.
What If I’m to Blame?
Many parents feel guilty whenever their child is injured, so what you are feeling is normal. However, it’s highly unlikely that you are to blame for the child seat being defective. Unless you’re a product engineer, you wouldn’t even know what to look for to determine if the car seat was manufactured properly or whether it had any hidden vulnerabilities.
Also, the law imposes duties on manufacturers and others to warn consumers of hazards. You are not legally responsible for anticipating that the child car seat is dangerous. It’s up to the manufacturer and others down the supply chain to provide this information to you, and when they fail they are legally responsible.
Of course, you might be responsible for the car accident that led to your child’s injury. For example, you might have rear-ended another car, and your child was injured as a result. These facts won’t necessarily prevent you from getting compensation, so you should still schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia traffic accident attorney as soon as possible.
What Compensation Can I Get?
The purpose of the civil legal system is to allow accident victims to be put in the position they would be in had the accident had never happened. This means you can receive financial compensation for economic and non-economic harms, such as the following:
- Reimbursing you for medical treatment, such as doctor or hospital visits, as well as prescription drugs
- Paying for any physical therapy your child will need as a result of the injury
- Compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the accident
Determining how much compensation you are entitled to is an individualized process, which a qualified attorney can only make after meeting with you and analyzing your situation. If necessary, your lawyer might recommend that you take your child to a doctor or other medical specialist to assess the full extent of their injuries. Injuries to the head, for example, might take years to fully develop, so you want to know the severity of any injury before considering how much to sue for.
Call a Philadelphia Traffic Accident Attorney Today
Parents should feel confident that the car and booster seats they purchase will work as expected. When children are injured unnecessarily because of defective products, you might be entitled to compensation. At The Levin Firm, we help traffic accident victims hold parties at fault accountable for manufacturing and selling defective car and booster seats. Call us today at 215-825-5183 or fill out our online contact form. Consultations are free.