Defective Child Car Seat Lawsuit
Child car seats are the law in California. They protect children riding in passenger cars in the case of an accident. However, if that very car seat is defective, it can seriously injure or even kill a child. The Dominguez Firm wants you to know you can make the manufacturer or other responsible party pay for such an unspeakable breach of trust. Call us at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation today.
The following information goes over the law regarding child car seats in California and what your rights are if a defective car seat causes the unspeakable: severe injury or the death of your child.
What is the Law Regarding Child Car Seats in California?
While vehicle safety standards have improved dramatically for adults over the years, children aren’t usually the beneficiaries of these improvements. This is especially true of infants and toddlers. That’s why every state requires some sort of child restraint system.
Here in California, Vehicle Code 27360 states children under the age of 2 must sit in a child car seat in the back seat of a vehicle facing away from the driver unless the child is over 40 pounds or 40 inches tall. Children under the age of 8 or over 40 pounds or 40 inches must also be in a car seat, in the back seat but they can face forward. Note that taxis and rideshare vehicles aren’t exempt from this law.
Children should never sit in the front, even in their car seat because they can be badly injured when air bags deploy in an accident.
Child car seats and booster seats are not the same. Car booster seats are meant to protect children between 40 and 65 pounds in an accident. Children in that weight class have outgrown traditional child car seats but seat belts meant for adults still don’t offer them enough protection in a crash. While the law in California doesn’t specify when you should transition your child from a car seat to a booster seat, the weight specification labels on the seats themselves will let you know when to make the switch.
What Can I Do to Avoid Buying a Defective Child Car Seat?
When you rely on a product to keep your children safe and that product fails, it can be devastating. To avoid buying a defective child car seat, keep up with safety recalls and negative press for any seats or manufacturers. The NHTSA has a website dedicated to providing consumers with the latest recalls.
You should also register your car seat with the manufacturer as soon as you buy it.
What Makes a Child Car Seat Defective?
Common faulty car seat defects include:
- A cracked base
- Defective handles
- Defective latches
- Failure to lock or unlock buckles as needed
- Flammable material
If you are tempted to buy or pass down a used car seat, don’t. Child car seats have an expiration date. You won’t be ticketed or face legal charges for using an expired or used car seat, but why risk your child’s safety to save a few dollars? Over time they can develop cracks and their straps may loosen, which can result in catastrophic failure in an accident. Also, don’t buy a used child car seat off the internet. You don’t know the seat’s history and that also puts your child at risk in an accident.
One exception to this is when your children are close in age. You can pass the seat down to the younger child, as long as the seat is still safe to use.
What are the 5 Most Common Child Car Seat Mistakes?
You can do hours of research and choose what you consider to be the safest child car seat on the market. However, if you don’t use it properly and make any of the following mistakes, all of those top safety ratings will be meaningless. More importantly, you could be endangering your child.
- Buying the wrong seat for your child’s height and weight
- Facing your child forward too soon.
- Transitioning to a booster seat too soon.
- Transitioning to a seat belt too soon.
- Not properly following the instructions for installing the seat in your vehicle and/or securing your child in the seat.
When shopping for car seats, concentrate more on the weight and height requirements than the recommended age. If you have children, you know the weight and height differences between children of the same age can be significant. While one five-year-old may be tall or heavy enough to start using a booster seat, another child of the same age may still be too small to do so.
Do Insurance Companies Replace Child Car Seats After an Accident?
It depends on your insurance coverage and who was at fault for your car accident. If you have full coverage, insurance companies will usually cover the cost of a new child car seat after an accident. However, you’ll probably have to buy a new seat and wait to be reimbursed. Most manufacturers emphasize these seats should not be reused after a crash.
One important point: it doesn’t matter if your child wasn’t in their car seat when the accident happened. The force of the accident likely damaged the seat.
Some of the most well-known child car seat manufacturers include:
- Baby Jogger
- Eddie Bauer
- Peg Perego
This is just a partial list of a few of the more popular child safety seat companies. If you don’t see your child’s seat on this list, don’t worry. You can still see about your insurance company replacing it after an accident.
Who am I Suing for My Child’s Injuries if Their Seat was Defective?
Usually, the manufacturer is responsible for a defective child car seat. But even then, questions may arise as to whether the defect happened during the manufacture of the seat’s parts or its assembly. Sometimes, this can be two separate companies.
The possible responsible parties can include:
- The child car seat parts manufacturer
- The manufacturer that assembled the child car seat if it was a separate company
- The child car seat company’s marketing department
- The retailer who sold the seat
If the seat had incorrect or incomplete instructions for use, the manufacturer’s marketing department may be responsible for any injuries. The retailer can be held responsible for any injuries if they didn’t pull recalled car seats from the market.
What Compensation is Available for Injuries Caused By Defective Child Car Seats?
Injuries caused by a defective child car seat fall under the product liability area of personal injury law. These are civil, not criminal cases. As with any other accident injury or death, the victim can claim two types of damages, economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are meant to compensate the victim for what their accident injuries have cost them financially. Some examples include:
- Ambulance fees
- Doctor consultations
- Any surgeries
- Consultations with specialists
- Rehabilitation and/or physical therapy
- Mental health counseling
The non-economic damages are meant to compensate the victim for the emotional cost of their defective car seat injury. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life, such as not being able to play with their friends like they did before the accident
Because the victim is a minor, they can’t file their claim on their own. Their parent or guardian does so on their behalf. The court will monitor and release final settlement or verdict funds as needed for medical bills and other care for the child to avoid any frivolous spending.
If the child was killed in an accident due to the defective car seat, their parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible. This would also be considered a type of personal injury lawsuit.
Call the Defective Product Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm
When we buy a safety product, we expect it to protect us from harm. This expectation is multiplied when the product is for the safety of our child. Defective child car seats have caused terrible injuries and even killed the children traveling in them. Making those responsible pay can also save other families from hopefully having to go through a similar ordeal.
Call The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation today at 800-818-1818. In our 30-plus years of service, we have helped many consumers whose loved ones were injured or killed by defective products. Let us fight for your family’s rights too.
Plus, when you become our client, you don’t have to worry about retainer fees or hidden costs. Instead, we receive a percentage of your final verdict or settlement as payment. And as always, we promise; if there is no recovery, there is no fee. So call us today!