Graco Children’s Products paid $10 million in fines and settlement claims in February 2014 after failing to recall millions of car seats in a timely fashion. The recall was due to the buckles and straps on some car seats being difficult to open or release, preventing parents and caretakers from removing children from the seats swiftly during an emergency.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires businesses to report possible safety concerns within days after receiving complaints–initial complaints came in as early as 2009. Due to delayed action on Graco Children’s Products’ part, it ended up paying $3 million in fines and $7 million in improving its safety programs.
Unfortunately, injuries due to faulty or recalled car seats are not completely uncommon. According to The Chicago Tribune, a nurse in Oregon recognized a plastic notch hidden under the cloth of a Cosco Touriva car seat when trying to figure out how the child in the seat fractured her skull during a crash. Such lack of sufficient oversight on safety practices is unacceptable and Kryder Law’s personal injury lawyers will work with you if you or a loved one are injured by a faulty or recalled carseat or other product.
While accidents can’t be predicted, some common causes of car seat injuries include:
- Malfunctioning straps or seat belts
- Booster seats that don’t provide back, neck, and/or head support
- Plastic shell fractures
- Flammable materials
- Improper installation of a car seat or booster seat
Because of the potential for improper installation or use of car seats, many states, including Illinois, have strict laws regarding the use and installation of such devices. Tips on making sure you’re using your child’s car seat correctly can be found here.
How Common Are Child Car Seat Recalls
It can seem that a different child’s car seat model is recalled each month. A number of models are recalled several years after purchase. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Child Restraint Recall Listing lists child car seat recalls for the past 10 years. While the manufacturer will attempt to contact registered owners of the car seat, the news will reach a wider audience and have many people guessing if their seat was recalled.
If you want to know if your seat is recalled, then there are several options. Check the NHTSA’s registry of recalled child seats. You can also contact the manufacturer directly. Make sure that you have the year, make/model, and the serial number of your car seat available to confirm if your seat is included in the recall.
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Child Car Seat Safety Guidelines
For your child’s car seat to work properly, there are specific guidelines that you need to follow. Weight restrictions are the most well-known guidelines. Every car seat is designed for a child of a specific weight. This often determines if the child sits facing forward or backward, and what type of seat is needed. Using your seat improperly could cause it to fail in an accident.
The position of the car seat is also an important factor. Children are safest in the middle of the back seat. If possible, place the car seat in the middle and properly strap it in. However, most people keep children on one side or the other.
Child Car Seat Expiration Dates
When child seats are manufactured, the seats have an expiration date that typically lasts up to six years. However, the length of time before the seat expires varies for each seat design. Child car seats have expiration dates because of the materials and changes to design specifications. Car seats are often left in hot (or cold) cars, sitting in the sunlight, and exposed to constant use. Over time, they will begin to weaken with use and become less reliable. Because of this, a six-year-old seat is less reliable than a younger seat that has seen less use. Fortunately, your child will likely grow out of that car seat before it expires.
Car seat manufacturing undergoes significant changes over time. Car seats are very different from the seats that were available six years ago or a decade ago. They are made with better designs and better materials making them much safer.
Common Car Seat Dangers
Car seats are designed to keep kids safe as long as they are used properly. One of the most common dangers is setting the seatbelts wrong. When you put your child in the seat, the seat belt should be adjusted so that it provides proper coverage for their shoulders and legs without being too tight. People often set them too loose. Another problem is not installing the seat properly. There are several ways to install a car seat and the best way depends on your seat and your car. Following the instruction manual can help you get it right the first time.
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How to Properly Install a Child Car Seat
There are several ways to install a car seat in your car, and the right way depends on several factors. All car seats can be installed using your car’s seat belts. This is the standard method and should work in any car as long as it has seat belts. Cars made in the last decade almost always have tie-down and LATCH system hooks. Tie-down straps go over the seat and hook to the bottom of the back of the car seat. This is mostly used for forward-facing seats. The LATCH system uses hooks embedded in the seat frame.
The lawyers at Kryder Law take product liability suits very seriously. Misuse or recall of different safety products can result in injury or death. If you or a loved one are injured by a faulty or recalled product, contact us. We’ll help you see if litigation is right for you.