Whether we are driving our own children, driving our relatives’ children, or driving with children for our jobs, it’s important for those entrusted with the safety of children riding in cars to know about car seat safety. When you travel with a child, you need to provide them with an appropriate car seat to ensure their safety; however, simply determining what child restraint is appropriate and providing a car seat isn’t enough. You will also need to know how to find out if a car seat is defective.
Despite advances in safety technology, injuries caused by defective products are not uncommon in modern society. As parents and caregivers of small children, we trust car seats to keep babies, toddlers, and other young ones safe and secure when riding in a vehicle. If a car seat is defective in any way, its effectiveness is unknown.
Types of Car Seats
There are several different ways a child can be restrained when riding in a motor vehicle. Infants and toddlers should be restrained in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the weight and height limits set by manufacturers and/or until state or federal law permits them to be turned around.
The most common types of car seats include:
- Infant car seats: Infant-only seats are also known as rear-facing seats. The seat should recline at about a 45-degree angle and harness height should be at the child’s shoulder level or just below.
- Convertible car seats: These car seats start out facing backward but can be turned around to face forward once a child is of sufficient age and size.
- Combination car seats: Combination seats face the front of the car and are intended for children who are at least one year and weigh between 20 to 40 pounds. Once a child reaches the appropriate age and size, these seats can convert into belt-positioning boosters. These seats should not be used rear-facing.
- Booster seats: Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats should be restrained in a booster seat that properly positions the seatbelt for buckling. A child has outgrown their car seat when their ears are higher than the back of the car seat and their shoulders are higher than the top strap slots.
- Seatbelts: A child is only ready to use a seatbelt once they exceed the car seat weight limit, can sit with their back against the seatback, and can sit with their knees bent over the edge of the seat. When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection.
What To Do If Your Car Seat Is Defective
A car seat defect can occur during the design or manufacturing process. An error during manufacturing at the factory can cause a defective car seat to be produced. Distribution centers can also damage child safety seats while they are waiting to be shipped to stores for sale. Furthermore, negligent shipping procedures can cause damage or defects to car seats.
If you believe a car seat you are using might be defective, stop using it immediately. You can check to see if your car seat is defective by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Child Seat Recall Listing. If it has been recalled, contact the seat manufacturer to find out how you can get the seat replaced or fixed. If there is no active recall but you believe your child restraint is defective, you may have a case against those responsible for putting that car seat on the market.
You should never use a car seat if:
- It is too old according to the label so be sure to check the expiration date – as a rule, any car seat over 10 years old is too old to use but less than five years old is ideal
- It has visible cracks or damage
- It does not have a manufacturing label listing the date of manufacture and model number because without this information you cannot check to see if it has been recalled
- It does not come with instructions
- It is missing parts
- It was recalled
- It has been involved in a car accident
Car Seat Injury Lawyer
If your child was injured in a car accident due to the failure of a child safety seat, you should talk to a knowledgeable car seat lawyer about your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. Bringing an action for an injury caused by a defective car seat is a complex process. We are one of only a few firms in Texas with the experience and resources necessary to successfully handle these types of cases, so contact us for more information on how we can help.