Miami Defective Car Seat Attorney
The child safety seat, or car seat as it is more commonly known, has been called the single greatest development in child safety in the last century. A child restraint was first used in a motor vehicle in 1898. The device was basically a bag with a drawstring that one could attach to the car seat to keep the child from getting up or falling off the seat when the car was moving.
Today, motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented. Properly installed and utilized child restraint systems (CRS) have been proven to save lives and substantially reduce injury. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates child restraints are 71% effective in reducing the likelihood of death in motor vehicle crashes when installed correctly in a vehicle with compatible seating and seat belt systems. The safest way for children to travel in motor vehicles is in a child safety seat suitable for the child’s weight and size, compatible with and properly installed in the vehicle.
At Suarez & Montero, our lawyers are experienced at determining and proving when seat defects have contributed to accident victims’ injuries. Strategic and persistent, our attorneys can help you pursue all available legal remedies and maximize your recovery when seat defects (or other vehicle equipment failures) harm you.
Our Miami Lawyers Can Help You after an Accident Caused by Defective Car Seat
Investigating and litigating a child safety seat case can be very difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Our attorneys can make sure that there is a thorough preliminary investigation to determine, among other things, the defective nature of the child safety seat and in some cases can have an expert examine the actual child safety seat that was involved in the accident.
Unfortunately, many federal safety standards for child car seats are extremely lenient and antiquated. Some safety experts explain that many automobile seats are no sturdier than lawn chairs. Seats are not required to be rated after crash tests and routinely fail rear-impact testing. Major manufacturers have been aware of these dangers for years and have done little to make seats safer. If you have been injured from a seat defect or malfunction, it is essential to hold these manufacturers responsible for their negligence.
Types of Defects in Vehicle Seats
Vehicle seat defects can come in many forms, including (but not limited to):
- Collapsing seat backs
- Forward-thrusting seat backs
- Weakly structured seats with faulty adjusters
- Locks and/or supports that can break with or without impact.
- Faulty harnesses that can break during an accident
- Coupling hook failures, which can prevent car seats from being properly secured and attached to the base
- Weak or broken seat frames
- Use of flammable materials, which may easily ignite and put a child at risk of burn injuries.
Injuries Caused by Defective Car Seats
Overall, the injury outcome in children involved in a motor vehicle collision can be much worse than similar injuries sustained by adults. For example, in rollover crashes, the estimated incidence rate of incapacitating injuries among unrestrained children was almost three times that for restrained children. In near-side impacts, unrestrained children were eight times more likely to sustain incapacitating injuries than children restrained in child safety seats. Certain injuries frequently occur when children are involved in motor vehicle accidents, with head injuries being the most common.
In fact, some studies show that infants under age one year have higher incidence rates of head injuries than other age groups. The most common type of head injuries among all children is a cerebrum injury, that is, contusions or lacerations. Concussion and unconsciousness are more common among children under age one year than other age groups. Skull base fractures are more common among children ages one to three and four to seven years than children under one year old.
Defective Child Car Seats
When properly fitted and used, seatbelts decrease the likelihood of death or serious injury in a crash by up to 50%. However, seatbelts are designed to restrain adults, not infants and children. Today, the NHTSA provides the enabling authority for federal regulation of child safety seats and sets federal standards for child safety seats. These requirements cover safety seat crash performance, geometry, instructions, labeling, durability, flammability, and product registration.
When car seats are found to be defective, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or car seat manufacturers can issue recalls to fix the problem(s) and prevent the dangerous seats from causing more harm. Manufacturers are generally responsible for contacting vehicle/seat owners about these recalls.
However, this does not necessarily or always occur, partly due to the fact that manufacturers may not have any or current contact information for affected vehicle owners.
What to Do If Your Child Has Been Injured in A Car Accident
As an unrestrained passenger, a small child can be hurled about inside the vehicle, injuring the child and other passengers. Holding a child on one’s lap while driving or riding in a car is not safe. In a crash, the child could be crushed between the occupant’s body and part of the interior of the car due to the crash forces at work. In any collision, there’s a series of necessary steps to act on right away to protect your health and your legal rights, such as seeking medical care, contacting the police, exchanging contact information with the driver, taking pictures, and obtaining witness contact information.
The symptoms of some medical emergencies—such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, and internal organ damage—may not appear immediately after a collision. In addition, infants and younger children may not be able to express the pain they’re experiencing or understand they’ve been hurt. It’s best to have your child examined by a physician as soon as possible after the crash. You should also continue to monitor your child for symptoms a few days or even weeks following the incident and stay consistent with recommended medical care.
Identifying Responsible Parties for Injuries Caused by Defective Car Seats
Generally, in a child safety seat products liability action alleging negligence, as with any claim of negligence the plaintiff’s complaint must contain the following elements:
(1) that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury,
(2) that the defendant breached that duty,
(3) that the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss, and
(4) that the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of the duty.
When considering whether to file a products liability action for injury suffered in a child safety seat, most states have adopted the doctrine of strict liability which imposes liability on the one who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user. At least three categories of unreasonably dangerous product defects exist under strict liability:
(1) design defects,
(2) manufacturing defects, and
(3) failure to warn of the product’s dangers.
Claim and Settlement for Accidents Caused by Defective Car Seat
Compensatory damages recoverable in product-liability cases include costs of past and future medical expenses, lifelong care, adjustments made to vehicles and homes to accommodate paralysis injuries, pain and suffering, rehabilitation, and loss of earning potential. In some jurisdictions, punitive damages may also be recovered under certain circumstances.
For instance, if a manufacturer is aware of a defect that caused your injury but failed or refused to take steps to remedy the defect, an award of punitive damages may be allowable against that defendant. Many jurisdictions require more than mere inaction in the face of a known defect to justify punitive damages while others will find punitive damages justified when a manufacturer knew or reasonably should have known of a defect (i.e. had actual or constructive knowledge) and failed to take any steps to remedy the defect.
Call our Miami Defective Car Seat Accident Attorney Today!
After an accident in which you or your child has been injured, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will know how to handle your case properly and protect your rights. We invite you to contact Suarez & Montero today and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. We have represented clients throughout Florida in a wide range of cases, and we are prepared to do the same for you. The aftermath of an accident can be devastating and long- lasting.
If your loved one was injured due to a defective car seat, call an injury lawyer at Suarez & Montero immediately. Our Law Firm’s history of extraordinary representation and success in product liability (and other personal injury) claims has earned us glowing testimonials from former clients, as well as high reviews on Google!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are three types of car seats:
(1) Rear facing car seats, for infants from birth to 12 months and for children one to three years old;
(2) forward facing car seats with a harness, for children four to seven years old; and
(3) booster seats, for children eight to 12 years old.
The car seat manufacturer’s instructions state the weight and height size limits for the individual product. Rear facing car seats come in different types. Infant only seats can only be used facing the rear.
Seat back failure may result in catastrophic injuries or death. A defective or poorly designed seat may collapse backward after impact, which causes an occupant to be thrown backward. Even a low speed and low impact accident may cause major injuries to the spine or other body parts. A collapsing vehicle seat places extra pressure on passengers in the back seat as well.
Generally, the parents of an injured child may bring the action on behalf of the child, and a court may appoint a guardian to represent the child’s interests. If the child is deceased, one or both parents may bring an action on behalf of the child’s estate as the heir or legal representative of the estate. The deceased child’s personal injury action survives the child’s death and may be prosecuted on the decedent’s behalf.