Child Car Seats May Not Be Safe As Advertised

mother trying to decide the best car seat for her child

Every parent knows they need a car seat for their child. They expect that before a car seat is sold to the public, manufacturers do proper testing to make sure the car seat works as advertised. If a child is not safe during a collision, the consequences can be catastrophic.

According to the Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 1.3 million children are involved in motor vehicle crashes each year. The majority of injuries are to the head, accounting for 70% of significant injuries acquired by infant motor vehicle passengers. Every time a child experiences a strike to the head, the result can be a serious brain injury or death. Medicine tells us the brain is connected to everything else in the body, so these brain injuries can be extremely catastrophic.

There are many dangers car seats must protect against since accidents can happen in a multitude of ways. A car seat must protect against front, side, and rear impacts. If a car seat isn’t protecting its occupant as stated, they likely will die. One booster seat manufacturer found, but did not publish, that in side-impact testing in particular, the crash test dummies careened far outside their seatbelts. The inability to properly restrain a child can result in transfer of significant force from a crash to the spine, head and/or neck that can contribute to substantial injury.

Congressional Investigation Finds Many Booster Seat Makers “Endangered” Children’s Lives After Review of “Meaningless Safety Testing” — ProPublica

A so-called combination seat like the Frontier is designed to be used with internal harnesses until the child outgrows them, then converted to a booster. — ProPublica

Recently, a congressional probe found that many booster seat makers endangered the lives of millions of children by misleading consumers about safety. Though less common than head-on collisions, side-impact crashes accounted for a quarter of U.S. deaths of children under 15 in vehicle crashes in 2018.

These manufacturers claimed to be testing the car seats. In reality, though, no premarket safety testing for side impacts was conducted.

Children were dying regularly despite using these car seats. Every mother or father whose child got injured while sitting in that car seat believed they were protected, and their child may now have irreversible brain damage.

Our role as lawyers is to hold car seat manufacturers accountable when parents rely on their unfulfilled promises of safety. We say, “never again!” In Massachusetts, there is a warranty of merchantability for products. Products need to be fit for the intended purposes (i.e. safety tested). There are also consumer protection statutes that protect consumers from unfair and deceptive business practice. The bigger problem is that these companies and manufacturers promised the public that they did that safety testing and allowed people to falsely believe incorrectly these seats were safe for children.

It’s the law that every product needs to be made safe. Companies who endanger our children should be held accountable when their products don’t protect against harm. When our clients stand up to these corporations to stop selling dangerous products, we protect not only the injured, but also, we protect future families from suffering the same tragic fate.

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