Child Restraint Systems

There are too many motor vehicle wrecks where adults are unscathed but infants, restrained in child safety seats, are seriously injured. Child safety seat changes and auto industry changes to the way those seats are installed do not yet correspond. There are hundreds of injuries every year from child restraint systems that are negligently manufactured or installed in cars not designed to safely accept them.

A recent survey found that 80% of child restraint systems are installed incorrectly, not by fault of the parents! There are now seven major types of seatbelts that should correspond with all the countless child-seat designs, but they do not. Many seatbelt systems now require special modifications to ensure safety. Most specifications for seat belt/child restraint systems’ safety go back to when bench seats were used, and the seat belt anchors were located at the rear of the seat bight (the crack in the seat). Seat belt anchors in today’s cars are rarely behind the seat bight, and more commonly are located on a stalk or otherwise situated significantly forward of the bight.

The manufacturers of these products have known for years that their products do not fit in many cars and have failed to take responsibility to prevent children from being injured or killed by their unsafe products. It has been established since the early 1980s that seat belt anchors in front of the seat bight create a compatibility problem between child restraints and automobiles. In addition, child restraint system manufacturers typically do not warn about which autos their products are not compatible.

There have been some tremendous strides made in the last few years in fixing this long-standing compatibility problem between child restraints and automobiles. For example, child restraints made after September 1998 requires certain safety features that were not previously mandatory, such as

  • A lower anchorage system that can be clipped into anchors in automobiles
  • Securing the child restraint system at the bottom tightly against the seat without using the automobile’s seat belt
  • Reducing the child restraint system’s head excursion limit by 3 1/2 inches.

All child restraint systems manufacturers complied by installing a tether on the top of the restraint that hooks to the back of the auto seat. But, the attachment hardware to hook up these new child restraint systems features in vehicles has been phased in. And, it is only just this year that new car models are required to have a lower anchorage attachment and an attachment to secure a child restraint tether on top.

In the meantime, there will be many years to come of injuries to children from child restraints in automobiles manufactured earlier. The manufacturers are leaving the old restraints on the market and not recalling them for their failure to comply with current safety standards!

If your child was injured or killed in a child restraint that you believe was used properly, there is a good chance that you are not to blame, and that the product itself is primarily to blame for what happened. Call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 or send us an e-mail at ggreen@gGreen.com.

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