A child's car seat is supposed to protect children in the case of a car accident. If the car seat is defective, though, it may do more harm than good in a crash and will provide nothing more than a false sense of security that prevents loving and caring parents from fixing the problem.
Children hurt because they were in a defective child car seat at the time of a crash are likely to suffer serious injuries. The personal injury and products liability lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian in Philadelphia can fight to recover the compensation that they need and deserve.
Car Accidents are a Major Threat to Children in Philadelphia
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, car crashes are both the leading cause of death to children and the cause of more than 120,000 child injuries, every single year. Car seats, when used properly, can reduce those risks by as much as 70%, saving numerous lives.
However, that all assumes that the car seat is used and made correctly. When a car seat is defective, even if it is properly installed, it will not protect the child in a crash.
How a Car Seat Can Be Defective
There are plenty of ways that a child's car seat can be defectively made, putting the child inside it at risk. Some of the most common issues, though, include:
- Defective restraints, which can snap and break or can fail to keep a child in the seat in a collision,
- Defective padding, which can fail to mitigate the trauma of a crash,
- Defective base units, which can make the car seat come out of its position in an accident, and
- Poor instructions, which can make installations confusing and leave the child unprotected.
Many of these defects can happen at two different stages: the design of the car seat, and the car seat's manufacturer. Others are a result of defective advertising or poor warnings about how the car seat should be used, installed, or maintained.
Regardless of the source of the defect, if a child gets hurt, the company responsible for the child's injuries can be held legally liable and be made to pay compensation.
Defective Car Seat Designs
Because they keep young children safe in case of a car accident, car seat designs are heavily regulated. Nevertheless, child car seat companies continue to roll out “innovative” designs that promise to be even safer than older versions. When they prove to be less safe or to have overlooked a critical component or potential hazard, everyone who has decided to use one of these new seats is at risk.
Manufacturing Defects in Car Seats
A more common problem is when an otherwise safe car seat design is not followed in the factory. Using cheaper but inferior parts or plastic can leave a car seat unable to survive the sudden trauma of a crash. Assembly line mistakes can leave restraints loosened or stitching too weak to hold the child in the seat in a collision.
The Importance of Adequate Safety Instructions
Even if a child's car seat is properly designed and made, if there are problems with the safety instructions it can still put the child at serious risk of harm in a crash. There can be a lot of different issues with car seat instructions, like:
- Installation instructions that are confusing and leave open multiple interpretations, with at least one of them leaving the car seat dangerously installed.
- Incorrect details about the correct angle of tilt.
- Missing or incorrect information about the maximum child size allowed in a car seat.
In these cases, parents might be following the instructions perfectly and still leaving their child in danger without knowing it.
Recalled Car Seats
A potential complication that parents can face if their child has been hurt in an accident when their car seat failed is when the seat had been the subject of a recall. Car seat companies tend to issue recalls more rapidly than other industries because they know that the costs of a child's injuries – especially the newborn babies that so often ride in car seats – are often well above the costs of an adult's injuries. If a car seat had been recalled before the crash, it can hurt a parent's ability to recover compensation for their hurt child. Staying up-to-date on car seat recalls is essential.
Compensation Available in a Products Liability Case Over a Defective Child Car Seat
When a defective car seat causes a child's injuries in Philadelphia, both the child victim and the child's parents may be entitled to compensation. That compensation can cover the child's
- Past and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced earning capacity, if their injuries will prevent them from making a living when they grow up
In addition to compensation for the child, the parents can recover financial compensation for their
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Two Years to File a Products Liability Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
Adult victims, however, only have two years to file a lawsuit for compensation. This comes from the statute of limitations for products liability claims, which is found at 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5524.
However, the statute of limitations changes drastically for children who want to pursue compensation on their own, without their parents' legal representation. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5533 tolls, or delays, the beginning of the two-year statute of limitations until an injured child has turned 18. This means children who have been hurt because their child car seat was defective have until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation on their own behalf.
Gilman & Bedigian: Products Liability Attorneys in Philadelphia
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to legally represent the victims of defective child car seats in Philadelphia and help them to recover the compensation that they need and deserve. Contact them online if you or your child has been hurt in a car crash because a car seat failed to keep a loved one safe.