In the event that you and your young child are involved in a car crash, the safety equipment that may very well save your child’s life is an effective car seat. An article in The New York Times states that in a single year, 33 percent of children who died in a motor vehicle collisions were not restrained, and more than 3,300 children under the age of four are alive today as a result of being properly restrained in a car during a crash.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, 93 percent of 1-year-olds involved in traffic accidents were in a child safety seat in 2015, but only 75 percent of four-year-olds were strapped into car seats and only half of six-year-olds. That indicates that some children in Utah are being placed in adult seat belts too early. Children ages 7 and under must ride in an approved car safety seat in Utah.
The fact that a seat belt or car seat can save a life – and that the failure to use one may have devastating consequences – is an incentive for parents to check the condition of their child’s car seat on a regular basis and ensure that children are properly secured.
Here are three ways to know if your child’s car seat is defective:
- Check the Recall List: One of the easiest ways to learn of car seat defects is to check the recall list on a regular basis. By visiting SaferCar.gov, which is administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can search for manufacturer notices of car seat recalls. To do so, you need to know the maker of the car seat, as well as the model number. The recall list is updated frequently. If your child’s car seat is on the recall list, you should stop using it immediately. Contact the manufacturer of the car seat for replacement information.
- Check the Date of Your Car Seat: To save money on car seats – which can be expensive for parents – many moms and dads will rely on used car seats, often hand-me-downs from neighbors or friends, or a seat purchased at a garage sale. While there is nothing wrong with this in most cases, you should check the date of the car seat, and find out whether the seat has ever been in a crash, which can compromise its effectiveness. Do not use a car seat that is more than 10 years old, or that has passed the expiration date that is stamped on the plastic. And be sure to check that the car seat is not on the recall list, of course.
- Look for Damage: The third thing that you should do on a regular basis is to assess your child’s car seat for any visible damage or defects. This includes looking for:
- Cracks in the plastic;
- Buckles that won’t click in or come undone;
- Torn or frayed harnesses or harness adjusters; and
- Any other visible defects.
Infants are prone to spilling food and drinks when strapped into their seat. Wipe clean the buckles of the car seat if you notice food spills on them. Spills can make a buckle stick and make it difficult to unlatch. If the car seat appears to have a defect or is not performing up to par, you should stop using it. You should report the defect using the SaferCar.gov site linked to above.
A Good Car Seat Can Save Your Child’s Life
A great car seat can save your child’s life. When a car seat is defective, a child is at risk for serious injuries. If you believe that a defective car seat contributed to your child’s injuries, please contact our Utah personal injury lawyers at the office of the Kramer Law Group. We believe in your right to hold a manufacturer liable for harm caused by a defective car seat, and will advocate for you.