Considering the Threat of Defective Child Car Seats After Company Recalls 1.3 Million Buckles

While most parents could not imagine transporting their young children without one in 2014, child safety seats are a relatively new invention. Many adults, especially those raised in the 70s or prior, remember roaming free in the backseat. Early versions of the child seat focused on keeping the child in place, allowing them to see out the window, and allowing the parent to see the child. Today, we know that the right child seats, properly installed, save young lives and prevent life-altering injuries. This post will provide additional safety tips and serve as a reminder that even so-called "safety equipment" can be defective. When a defective car seat fails to do its job, causing or contributing to an injury or death, our Panama City child injury lawyer can help.

Recall of Child Safety Seat Buckles

Last Friday, a large child products company announced the recall of more than 1.3 million buckles used in child safety seats. As WJHG reports, Evenflo Company Inc. voluntarily recalled buckles used on certain child seats built between 2011 and 2014. The concern is that the buckle can become stuck in the latch, making it hard to get the child out of the seat.

This could be life-threatening if the child cannot be removed quickly during an emergency. Evenflo officials say they have not been informed of any injuries due to the buckles. The company claims that the problem only occurs with exposure to food and contaminants, suggesting there is no risk if the device is functioning normally. Still, the company will alert registered owners and provide replacement parts with installation instructions.

Regulators are looking at one of Evenflo's rear-facing models to see if it may have the same problem. Notably, Graco announced a recall of 3.8 million seats for the same reason in February, and regulators suggested that recall should have included an additional 1.8 million rear-facing infant seats.

Car Seat Safety Tips for Parents/Caregivers

Child car seats are an important safety innovation, but they are not always simple. SafeKids Worldwide, a non-profit focused on preventing childhood injuries, provides a Car Seat Safety Tips fact sheet aimed at parents. General safety guidance includes:

  • Use the right seat – Choose the right seat for the child's age and size.
  • Position the seat properly – Current guidance calls for rear-facing seats until around age 2. Read the seat's specific guidance on which anchors and tethers to use for your child's age and size.
  • Know the seat's history – If it has been in a moderate/severe crash, a seat must be replaced. Only buy a used seat if you know its history. Also, car seats DO expire, typically after 6 years. Check the label.
  • Install the seat properly – Per SafeKids, nearly three-quarters of car seats are used or installed improperly. The fact sheet provides some basic tips, but an inspection event or an appointment with a qualified technician is even better. Both the SafeKids site and Seatcheck.org can help you find a technician (inspections are often free).
  • Buckle up – Teach your child that the car doesn't move until everyone, adults and children alike regardless of seating position, is buckled up.

The Danger of Defective Seats

Frighteningly, the very equipment you rely on to keep your child safe can cause or contribute to injury or death. Some examples of dangerous car seat defects/malfunctions (including some that violate government standards) include the following: weak shell/frame; flammable straps, fabric, or other materials; latches that unclip or loosen; straps that rip; latches/adjustments that become stuck; separation of carrier from base; inadequate protection of the child's head (particularly for infants).

Often, the seat is not the sole source of the injury. For example, a drunk driver may hit a vehicle and the straps on a defective seat might rip, leaving the child wholly or partially unrestrained. A product liability claim against the car seat manufacturer may still exist in such cases where the defective product contributed to the harm.

Our Commitment to Helping You and Your Child

If your child suffered injury or died because of an unsafe "safety" seat, you and/or your child may have a legal claim. Call our Panama City defective car seat lawyer to discuss how we can help you obtain money damages. In appropriate cases, compensation may include future damages intended to help your child cope with a life-long injury.

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