Car Seat Safety

If a Crash is My Fault, Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

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If a crash is my fault, do I need a personal injury lawyer?

Oftentimes we’ll get calls from clients where they were the driver in a vehicle that resulted in a crash and were injured as result. Other times, the crash resulted in the injury or death of a passenger. The question that client has is, what should I do? Should I hire a lawyer to represent me? And should that lawyer specialize in personal injury?

Our response to them is to call us. Allow us to investigate the crash. Even if you were issued a citation for being at fault, there may have been something more that happened that either caused this crash, the injuries or the death to not be your fault. For example, if a seat belt didn’t work properly or an airbag didn’t work properly, even though you may have caused the crash, it’s really a defect with the product that caused the injuries. That is why it’s critical for clients, particularly in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, to contact our firm to make sure that we can conduct a full investigation to help them know the truth about what really happened.

If you or someone you know has been catastrophically injured as a result of an auto accident, please let us help you. Contact us today.

Yielding Car Seats: Death At The Weakest Link

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Air Bag Defect Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Yielding Car Seats: Death At The Weakest Link

We all know the many analogies. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A three-legged stool can’t stand on two legs.   For want of a shoe the rider was lost. The iron man had clay feet. If you’ve left anything undone, you’ve left everything undone. Such analogies all apply when a weak link, sometimes the smallest part, destroys the strength or effectiveness of the overall product.

That is the sad case with many automobile seats. So much modern attention is paid to seat belts, air bags, and strong solid doors. But, if you do not stay in your seat during a wreck, all of those safety features are meaningless. Those features cannot function as designed, nor will they protect you if they are the weakest and first link in the chain. Defective seats nullify all the other safety features built so proudly into your car. Seats fail in the seatback, the recliner mechanisms, and the seat tracks. Seats tend to behave correctly in frontal collisions. It’s those from the rear that are the larger problem.

In rear impacts, it is well known that car seats can break or deform backwards. If they do that, the driver or passenger is left unrestrained. The driver’s body slips out from under the lap belt and the shoulder belt no longer holds the driver to the seat back, which has moved. As a result, the driver or passenger can fly out of the seat, usually rearward, where they hit the passengers behind them.  That can cause serious injury to both the driver and to the passengers or, in some cases, the driver might hit other objects coming forward in the impact, such as spare tires or parts of the trunk and back seat. Drivers can slip out the lap belt and ramp up over the back of the seat. Or some portion of their body can be partially ejected. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has estimated that in 1990 over 1,100 people died from collapsed seats. Over 1,600 more suffered other injuries due to failed seats, or to seats that simply yielded too far backwards.

The most common problems and seat failure dynamics include, according to one seat expert:

  • Loss of car control when the driver’s seat fails backwards and the driver can no longer steer or brake the car correctly.
  • Ineffective restraint systems that allow the occupant to twist and turn, or even come out from under the belt completely, enabling them to move rearward and injure themselves.
  • Full or partial ejection out of the car.
  • Injuries to the passengers in the rear of the car, including body to head and head to head contact that result in severe injury or death.
  • Inability of rear seat passengers to escape a wrecked car because they are trapped under the seats, which deformed rearward and trapped their legs or body.

All of these seat failures can happen at any speed, ranging from low speeds to high speeds. Thus, we think speed is not the real issue. It is about the seat strength. 

Seats can also fail even if the seat performs as the car makers currently intend them to perform, namely, by simply yielding too much during the crash impact.  The current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (“FMVSS”) 207 governs seat strength.  It is a minimum standard that the car makers have to meet.  Congress enacted it as part of the 1966 Safety Act. FMVSS 207 was grossly inadequate in 1966. As designed, FMVSS 207 gives you only about two percent of the frontal protective force of FMVSS 207 when you are hit in the rear. FMVSS 207 is still grossly inadequate, primarily because the car makers oppose making it any stronger and have aggressively opposed efforts to make the seatbacks stronger and more rigid. They have lobbied NHTSA to reject efforts to improve and modernize the standards in FMVSS 207, even though some fixes involve one dollar and a pound of added steel.

NHTSA is a federal agency. Because of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution, the federal government’s safety rules “preempt” anything the States might do. Thus, our local governments can do nothing. But you can. Write your U.S. Senators and Congressmen and tell them to enact improvements that add strength to FMVSS 207.

You can find their addresses at https://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup.

Buy Your Child A Convertible Right Now, A Convertible Car Seat That is

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Buy Your Child A Convertible Right Now, A Convertible Car Seat That is

No, we are not talking about convertible-top cars and that beloved T-Bird, although there may come a time when your teen really really wants one (and lets you know several times an hour).    Rather, we are talking about convertible car seats, and your about-to-be one year old.    New safety guidelines, some new state laws, and recent tests by Consumers Union (“CU”) show that you should put your child into a rear-facing convertible car seat by the time she is one year old.

Concerned about the collision of children’s heads with parts of the car during collisions, Consumers Union developed a new test protocol.   CU wanted to help “differentiate the ability of a variety of child seats to protect a child’s head.”   Existing crash tests, even those from the government “do not mimic what happens when a child comes into contact with another part of the vehicle.”   Thus, CU added to its test a surface that mimics what happens when a child’s head interacts with the front seatback.    CU compared its new tests with some it had done earlier on rear-facing detachable carrier  seats.

In the earlier tests, CU used a 22-pound dummy to represent the average 12 month-old child.   In tests with the detachable carrier seats, the dummy “suffered a head strike against the simulated front seatback with 16 of the 30 tested models (53 percent).”  Obviously, that is simply too dangerous.

In its new testing, CU focused on convertible seats.   They have longer shells and different shapes than the detachable carriers.   The convertible carriers performed substantially better in tests using the same dummy.   The dummy’s head hit the back of the seat in only 1 of 25 models, namely, only 4 percent.   Because of these glaring test differences, CU suggest that you put your 1 year old into a convertible seat much sooner than you might have thought, and not keep your child in the detachable car seat until she is two.

Some of CU’s findings and thoughts:

The height of your child matters more than weight.  And your child will likely grow tall enough to merit a convertible seat before he reaches the weight limits of the detachable carrier seat.

You will need one anyways.   New laws in California, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, as well as recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (since 2011), respectively, require and recommend that children under two be in rear-facing child seats.

The protection it gives your child is substantially greater.

Do not value convenience over safety.  Yes, lifting and toting the detachable seat seems easier.   You do not have to wake the child up to move the seat, and so on.   But safety should outweigh convenience.  Avoiding brain damage or death should be worth the extra effort.

Important reminder:   NO CAR SEAT WILL WORK UNLESS YOU INSTALL IT PROPERLY.

A whopping 96 percent of parents think they know how to install the car seat properly.   Yet, when inspected by professionals, it is clear that up to 75 percent of car seats are actually installed incorrectly.   So, take the time to learn how to install your seat properly and safely—so that it can do its primary job.                

 

Related:    CU’s latest car seat ratings

Car Seats and Information For Families

Majority of parents do not install car seats correctly

Effects of LATCH versus Available Seatbelt Installation of Rear Facing Child Restraint Systems    on Head Injury Criteria for 6 Month Old Infants in Rear End Collisions

 

Related Sites:    Seatcheck.org

Evenflo recalls 56,000 car seats

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Evenflo recalls 56,000 car seats

Evenflo is recalling around 56,000 car seats due to a safety concern with the harness of one of its products. After consumer complaints, The Transitions 3-in-1 Combination Booster Seat was found to give children access to the Central Front Adjuster (CFA) when used in the forward-facing harnessed booster mode. This can result in the child accessing the harness and loosening it. If the harness is not snug and properly restraining the child, then there is a risk for potential during a car accident.

“While seats with an internal harness are typically equipped with a CFA, the transition is the only Evenflo seat which allowed a child enough access to activate the CFA and simultaneously loosen the harness,” Evenflo reported on its website. Evenflo also stated along with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the defect does not affect the “structural integrity” of the car seat. No injuries have occurred as a result of the defect.

The car seats affected were manufactured before January 29, 2016 and have the following model numbers: 34411686, 34411695 and 3411029. Customers with affected car seats can receive a free remedy kit from Evenflo that will prevent a child from accessing the CFA. According to the recall, the seat can still be used safely, but only in the high-back belt-positioning booster mode and no-back belt-positioning booster mode. If the child is only able to use the Transitions seat in harnessed mode due to his or her size, then discontinue using the seat until you have installed the remedy kit.

For more information regarding the recall, you can visit Evenflo’s website or call Evenflo’s ParentLink Consumer Resource Center at 1-800-233-5921.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a defective car seat or car accident, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.   

Seat Belt Entanglement: What you should know

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Medical Malpractice

Seat Belt Entanglement: What you should know

Seat belts can save lives, but in some cases, they can cause serious injuries or even death due to entanglement.

Parents and caregivers need to be overly cautious when it comes to children’s safety in vehicles and letting babies sleep in car seats. Children tend to play with any object near them. If a child tries to play with a seat belt or wrap it around his or her head, neck, or waist, they could become entangled causing strangulation or other injuries. If parents and caregivers are not paying close attention, the child could be caught in this position for quite some time causing worse injuries or even death.

Even with the locking systems that seat belts have in place, it can still leave room for injuries. If the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor, the seat belt will lock giving the child many inches of belt to wrap around them. This locking mechanism was put in place for car sat installation. If the seat belt locks, then the child will be unable to free themselves on their own. Some vehicles also have Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children systems also known as (LATCH) to help install the car seat. If children are able to reach the unused LATCH belts, they could be a hazard as well.

Infants are also at risk with belts and harnesses in their car seats. Many people think it is safe to let your baby sleep in its car seat, but often times the baby can slouch into the harness and strangle themselves in their sleep. Because they do not have the strength to pull themselves up to breath, parents will not know until it is too late. Always be cautious of the way your child is positioned in its harness and make sure his or her chin, neck and mouth have plenty of room for breathing.

For safety tips to prevent child seat belt entanglement you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website here.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

What Baby Products to Avoid

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

What Baby Products to Avoid

It can be easy to trust department stores and large brands to make high quality safe products, but not all products are safe.

There have been many popular baby and childcare products that are unfortunately associated with injures and death. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that 40 percent of all recalls last year were for children’s products. Many times parents are unaware of recalls and safety defects unless they register every single product they own, so before you head to the store to register or buy your baby goodies, make sure you do your research. Here are some baby products to avoid when shopping and the alternatives.

Drop-side cribs. Drop-side cribs have been associated with at least 32 deaths and hundreds of injuries according to CPSC. They were recalled and permanently banned from sale in 2011. Many parents still buy and sell these drop-side cribs used online. Instead, look for a newer crib with fixed sides and simple design, and don’t use any cribs over ten years old.

Bumpers. Although they are supposed to keep the baby from hitting and injuring their head, bumpers are a suffocation hazard. Many studies have linked them to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). We recommend not using any bumpers and just a fitted sheet. They may look cute, but they are very dangerous.

-Sleep positioners and pillows. These products are intended to keep the baby from rolling on their stomach and also to avoid acid reflux, but many babies have suffocated from slipping free. The FDA and the CPSC have called for a ban on the products, but some are still being sold. Instead, place your infant on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.

-Blankets, pillows and stuffed animals. Babies can becomes easily entangled and smother themselves in these products. Extra bedding can be extremely dangerous. Keep your baby warm by dressing them properly for a bare fitted sheet and do not allow them to sleep in your bed. Use blankets for tummy time or swaddling only.

-Bumbo seats. Many reports have surfaced of babies falling from Bumbo seats by rocking themselves out. Many times parents place these Bumbo seats on tables or counter tops which can increase the severity of injuries. Never place these seats on a raised surface and do not leave children unattended while using the product.

-Crib tents. These products were intended to keep children from climbing out of cribs, but children can get strangled in the material. If your child is crawling out of their bed, it means you should transfer them to a toddler or regular bed.

-Co-Sleepers. These are products are made to connect to the bed so that the baby can sleep near the mother while she is breast feeding. There have been several reports of parents rolling onto the child and suffocating them. Use a regular crib or a bassinet, instead of a co-sleeper. These bedside sleepers do not have established safety regulations yet.

-Changing tables without four raised sides. If your table does not have four sides that come up past the changing pad, then there is a risk of your child rolling off the table and being injured. Ensure that the sides come up on your table on all four sides or change your baby on the floor with a pad.

-Un-anchored furniture. According to CPSC, there have been reports of over 200 deaths related to furniture tip-overs.  Simply secure your furniture to the wall with fasteners and straps. Most home-improvement stores carry anti-tip straps or brackets.

-Sling Carriers. The CPSC reported that there are at least 14 deaths associated with slings and dozens of serious injuries. It is easy for children to fall out of slings. There have also been many recalls in the past few years for the slings causing SIDs and suffocation, especially on children four months or younger. Soft-front carriers and backpack carries are safer options for babies. We suggest using car seats or strap-on carriers instead. Make sure you practice using any kind of carrier before actually placing a baby in it.

-Walkers. These products help children stand and walk on their own, but there are reports of babies falling down stairs. It has been recommended that a ban be placed on the product. Try a stationary ‘jumper’ or activity center, which can has a secure base.

-Infant bath seats. Bath seats can give parents false security when washing their baby. Often times the seats can tip over and the baby can fall in the water and drown. Children can drown in just two inches of water.  Never leave your child unattended when giving them a bath.

Shopping for a baby can be overwhelming. Always look at safety regulators websites for safety recalls and do your research before purchasing new or used products.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to a childcare product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation on how to protect your rights.

Source: CPSC

The Dangers of Letting Your Child Sleep In Car Seats

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

The Dangers of Letting Your Child Sleep In Car Seats

While many parents put a great deal of trust in car seats to keep their child safe, there are some hidden dangers to letting your child fall asleep in them.

Car seats for the most part do an excellent job at protecting children in the car in case of a crash, but when children, especially newborns, fall asleep in these seats, it can cause them serious harm and possibly death. The danger is called positional asphyxiation. It occurs when a baby falls asleep in a position that closes off their airway. Unfortunately, it is very easy for the car seat to cause this position or similar baby items such as rockers and bouncers. Babies do not have the muscle strength to move and lift their neck, and can as a result, they quietly suffocate. Babies should always be left to sleep on their back on a flat surface with no loose blankets, pillows or stuffed objects.

The Dodd family discovered this danger in the worst way possible. Their son Shepard, who was just eleven weeks old, was swaddled and put in an unbuckled car seat in an empty room by a daycare worker. Two hours later, the daycare worker saw Shepard blue and unresponsive and called 911. Unfortunately, it was too late, and Shepard died. The Dodd family was extremely upset since the same daycare had warned about allowing a child to sleep in a car seat only the week before.

Not only can babies suffocate, they can overheat in the seat as well. Pediatricians urge parents to make sure that car seat and straps are fitted securely and properly. The front buckle should be positioned in the middle of the chest. If it is too high can cause choking and if it is too low it can cause major injuries in the case of an accident. Car seats can also easily sway or overturn causing the baby to hang from a bad position or fall out completely. Never leave a child unattended in a car seat, especially if the car seat has been removed from a vehicle. Removing a car seat from the vehicle can change the angle the baby is resting in and comprise its ability to breathe.

The best practice is to always remove your sleeping baby from a car seat if you are not driving, and if you are driving, ensure that the straps are securely and properly in place. It is not worth the extra peace and quiet to leave your child unattended.

Recaro Fails to Recall Car Seats for Over a Year

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Recaro Fails to Recall Car Seats for Over a Year

After 18 months of delay and resistance, Recaro finally recalled 173,000 car seats for a safety defect.

The top of the child seat tether can break during a crash causing the top part of the seat to fly forward increasing the risk of injury. When the problem was initially discovered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in late 2013 early 2014, Recaro denied it was an issue. NHTSA discovered the problem during routine crash test to check with compliance standards and required Recaro to issue a recall. Recaro then filed a formal petition with NHTSA stating that it was not a serious safety issue. In fact, Recaro actually argued that the tether strap breaking away was not necessarily a bad thing and could minimize the energy and increase the rate of survival for the occupant.

NHTSA was not impressed with the arguments, stating again that the seat did not meet the federal safety standards. Unfortunately, NHTSA did not reply until July of 2015, and the recall was not issued until September of 2015, leaving children unprotected by this defect for 18 months. In some cases, this is enough time for the child to completely grow out of the seat. Many safety advocates criticized Recaro’s arguments including the Advocates for Highway and auto Safety Alliance.

What it really boils down to is instead of making safety a priority, Recaro would rather fight and argue to avoid a recall that would potentially cost the company a great deal of money. The sad irony is that Recaro sells safety products, but safety does not appear to be the first priority. We are unimpressed by the company’s lack of responsibility and the length of time it took for the recall to take place.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

phil&teds USA pays $3.5 million penalty for failure to report safety defect

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

phil&teds USA pays $3.5 million penalty for failure to report safety defect

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced that phil&teds will pay a reduced $3.5 million civil penalty for failing to report safety defects to CPSC regarding its MeToo high chair.

The MeToo high chairs can detach from the table and cause a child to fall. The high chair can also detach on just one side which could cause a child’s fingers to become crushed between the bar and the clamp resulting amputation. The defect was originally discovered between September 2009 and October 2010 when phil&teds USA received multiple reports of one or both sides of the high chair detaching. Two of the reported incidents included situations where children’s fingertips were amputated due to the defect. Phil&teds made two design changes to fix the issue instead of reporting the defect immediately to the CPSC, which they are required to by federal law.

Unfortunately, even when phil&teds USA finally reported the defect in January 2011, it failed to disclose that the highchair posed a risk of amputation, and that the chair had been redesigned and was not a “representative sample.”

In August 2011, phil&teds finally recalled 13,000 units of the MeToo high chairs sold across the nation for $40 and $50. CPSC has agreed to reduce the fine to $200,000 due to phil&teds USA’s sworn representations that the company cannot pay more than that amount without ceasing business operations. Despite the reduction in civil penalty, phil&teds must implement and maintain a compliance program to ensure it stays aligned with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.

Recaro Recalling Car Seats for Tether Safety Issue

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Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Recaro Recalling Car Seats for Tether Safety Issue

Recaro Child Safety is recalling 173,063 child safety restraint seats due to an issue with the top tether anchorage that can detach from the child restraint.

Unfortunately, the recall comes as a bad time, just after Child Passenger Safety Week kicked off across the nation. The affected vehicles include ProRIDE child restraints, model number 332.01 in all colors (AK21, KAEC, KK91, MC11, MJ15, QA56, QA9N, QQ11, QQ14, and QQ95), manufactured from April 9, 2010 through June 9, 2015; and Performance RIDE child restraints, model number 333.01 in all colors (CHIL, HABB, HAZE, JEBB, JETT, KNGT, MABB, MARI, MNGT, PLUM, PLBB, REBB, SLBB, REDD, ROBB, ROSE, SABB, SAPH, SLTE, VIBB, VIBE), manufactured from January 15, 2013 through June 9, 2015.

If the seats with defective tethers are involved in a car crash, the tethers could potentially detach from the child restraint increasing the risk of injury to the child or occupant. The tether also fails to confirm to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

Recaro will be notifying registered owners of the issue and will be mailing out a kit to better secure the child restraints. The remedy kit will be free for all consumers who have registered their car seat.  If you have further questions you can contact Recaro at 1-866-628-4750 or by email at recarorecall@m-s-s.com.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective product, contact our law offices today for a free consultation.


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