DEFECTIVE CAR SEATS


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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the United States.

Combining all unintentional injury deaths among those between 0 and 19 years each year, motor vehicle traffic–related accidents claim the most lives. In 2015, 663 children ages 12 years and younger died in car accidents. In 2014, more than 121,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.

Many young passenger injuries and deaths are preventable. The causes of accidents vary widely, but parents can take measures to reduce the risks on the road for their children.

One CDC study found that, in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt some of the time. Safe driving behavior and placing kids in appropriately-sized car seats, child seats and booster seats can be the difference between life and death.

Responsibility also lies with the manufacturing of reliable auto safety features and critical safety products like child car seats and baby seats. Car manufacturers and producers of child protection products have a duty to ensure the safety of America’s youth.

A properly designed and correctly used restraint system can reduce the risk of death of infants in passenger cars by up to 70 percent. However, when car seats or baby seats are defective, it may provide no protection at all, and may pose numerous dangers.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati product liability lawyer and experienced Ohio personal injury attorney, well-versed in the science and economic impact auto accidents have on a victim’s life and family. 


Common Types of Defective Car Seats


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested 66 infant seats in frontal crashes, and almost half of the seats either separated from their bases or exceeded the expectations of injury. Common defects with infant and child car seats include issues with handles, cheap materials, buckle defects, improper padding and component separation risks.

Design and manufacturing flaws leading to seat recalls have included:

  1. Defective Buckles—faulty or poorly designed buckles may unlatch upon impact, or allow a child to unfasten it.
  2. Defective Chest Clips—chest clips and harness straps may break or become unfastened, leading to serious injuries with or without a collision.
  3. Defective Carry Handles—some detachable car seats for infants have been recalled when handles released unexpectedly, causing the seat to move or fall in a moving vehicle.
  4. Inadequate Safety Padding—the cushions in a car seat are intended to prevent or reduce head injuries in the event of a collision. Insufficient padding can contribute to serious head or brain injuries.
  5. Defective Base Units—detachable car seats are latched into a base unit that may be defective. As a result, the car seat can unlatch upon impact, causing an infant or child to be thrown from the seat.
  6. Inadequate Installation Instructions—unclear instructions for installing or using a car seat can lead to misuse and subsequent injuries.

Recalled Defective Car Seats


Each year, there are several instances when a manufacturer or a safety agency issues a recall for a defective child seat that fails to protect young passengers. If you believe you have a defective car seat, or an injury has already occurred, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to report the problem, and contact an experienced attorney to investigate.

Since 2007, Evenflo has issued seven recalls of child car seats for multiple reasons, including a child’s access to release buttons, difficult-to-unlatch baby seats, defective buckles, structural defects, and accidental or unintentional detachment during a rollover event. One Evenflo model was recalled by the NHTSA for unintentional detachment during side-impact accidents.


Baby Seat Defects & Recalls


Other brands of recalled or defective car seats may include:

  • Britax Child Safety Inc. has also been actively recalling child seats in recent years. The company recalled 70,000 seats in 2016. Britax has recalled products for a defective harness chest clip,  handles that may break, structural cracking, a loosening harness, and choking hazards.
  • Baby Jogger LLC—a 2016 recall included the City Go infant car seat, the City Mini infant car seat, and the Vue Lite infant car seat. These baby seats fail to comply with certain requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard because of missing information in the instructions.
  • Baby Trend Inc.—a February, 2017 recall was issued after it was discovered the child seats have a center adjuster rivet that may pull through or break if the harness is being used with a child weighing more than 40 lbs. As such, these child seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, and the child seat occupant may be at an increased risk of injury.
  • Combi USA, Inc.—Combi has recalled their Coccoro and Zeus models for insufficient safety belts and harness webbing that fails to meet minimum breaking strength requirements. Both issues may increase the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
  • Diono (formerly Sunshine Kids Juvenile)—Diono recalled the Radian R100, Radian R120, Radian RXT, Olympia, Pacifica, and Rainier convertible and booster car seats because the product may not adequately protect a child from injury in the event of a crash.
  • Dorel Juvenile Group (DJG)—Dorel has issued six recalls in recent years for several child seat models. Safety concerns include inadequate latch assembly, poor instructions, defective harness buckles, improper base mounting, and difficulty attaching baby seats.

The following companies have also issued recent recalls for car seats for children:

  • Orbit Baby Inc.
  • Kiddy USA
  • Peg Perego U.S.A.
  • Lerado Success
  • Recaro
  • Team-Tex America
  • Graco Children’s Products
  • Triple Play Products
  • Thorley Industries

Defective Child Car Seats


A study of five states that increased the child car seat/booster seat age requirement to 7 or 8 years found that the rate of children who sustained fatal or catastrophic injuries decreased by 17 percent. One safety organization recommends the following protocol:

Step 1: Rear-Facing Seats

Infants should start in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Rear-face until they reach the upper weight and height limits of the seat, past age 2. Keep rear-facing as long as possible. Leg crowding is expected which does not harm the child.

Step 2: Forward Facing Seats with Harnesses

When a child outgrows a rear-facing seat, use a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether in the back seat. Use a car seat with a harness and tether until age 5, or until they outgrow the height and weight limits for the harness.

Step 3: Booster Seats

When your child passengers outgrow the forward-facing car seat with harness, use a booster seat. Use a booster seat until an adult seat belt fits correctly.

Step 4: Seat Belts

Child passengers are ready for a seat belt when the shoulder strap crosses the center of the chest and rests on the shoulder (not the neck). The lap belt should fit on the upper thighs near hips (not the stomach). Knees should be able to bend, and feet should be flat on the floor.


Child Seat Lawsuits


Car seat defects and other auto part defect recalls are far more common than most consumers would like to think. But some consumers find out the hard way that products are defective and should be pulled from the market when injuries and deaths occur, in part due to a defect or failure to operate a product correctly.

Child safety seats should be put through a rigorous safety testing process to determine their crashworthiness, though many baby seats on the market turn out to be dangerous and defective. When a car seat causes an injury or fails to work as intended, plaintiffs can file product liability and personal injury lawsuits against the manufacturer.

Because motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the United States, it is critical to take preventative measures. Manufacturers of safe child seats and booster seats have a responsibility to provide consumers with effective products. If child seats are faulty and lead to injuries or deaths, the companies responsible can be held liable for gross negligence and endangering the lives of child passengers.

Many child passenger injuries and deaths in Ohio are considered preventable. Motorists always share in the responsibility with safe driving behavior and placing kids in appropriately-sized car seats and booster seats. Most car safety experts recommend strict car seat laws and car seat education programs in an attempt to decrease injuries and deaths to young passengers.

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Questions about Product Liability & Case Types

What is a Product Liability Lawsuit?

Product liability lawsuits often contain causes of action for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Strict liability applies to different factors than negligence-based claims.

In negligence cases, the actions of the defendant are the focus. In strict liability claims, the focus is on the condition of a product at the time it left the manufacturer. If a product is determined to be defective, the company is liable for any foreseeable injuries that are in-part caused by the defective condition of the product.

What are some examples of Product Liability?
How is a Product Defined as Defective?
Ohio Definition of Defective

A product is defective if it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. A legal cause of action can be based on several types of product defects. The following are Cincinnati product liability and strict liability claims available in Ohio and in most jurisdictions nationwide:

(1)  Manufacturing/ Construction Defect:

These issues arise where the product is released from the factory in a manner that deviates from the intended design or specifications. The defect can be a result of using the wrong materials, including the wrong or completely foreign materials (e.g., Tylenol contamination, food poisoning, damaged car part from factory installation).

As a result of the deviation, the product enters the market in an unreasonably dangerous condition and the consumer is exposed to or purchases a product that is defective. Any personal injuries or economic loss that arise from the the defect are compensable under Ohio product liability law.

(2) Defective design and/or formulation:

Defective design product liability cases arise not because a mistake was made during the manufacturing process, but rather the original design of the product is unreasonably dangerous. A “risk benefit analysis” is used to determine whether safer/less expensive alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.

Federal regulations set minimum standards for the design of many consumer products, and preemption defenses may preclude liability in some situations if the manufacturer follows and obtains federal approval for a product. Automotive recalls and product liability cases are usually a result of a defective design. Common cases include the Toyota Brake Recall, Chrysler Gen III seat belt buckle, lap belt only cases, Metal on Metal hip implants, transvaginal mesh.)

(3) Failure to warn or inadequate warning or instruction associated with the product:

All consumer products come with necessary and appropriate warnings and instructions for use. If the lack of a warning makes the product and use of the product unsafe, the manufacturer is liable for the failure to place the warning. The most common area of litigation for failure to warn is in pharmaceutical litigation.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to warn of the known or foreseeable side effects and update the warnings in a timely manner. Litigation arises where there is evidence the manufacturer failed to timely update a warning in light of new data or simply ignored the risk and failed to conduct sufficient research to identify and then disclose the risk.

(4) Misrepresentation:

The product fails to conform to a representation or warranty. Warranty claims are more common in commercial and economic loss cases than in personal injury cases. In many States, The Product Liability Act does not apply to cases with only economic loss, because the Commercial Code provides recourse for breach of warranty.

The warranty may be written or implied based upon the products intended purpose and merchantability. An example of a breach of warranty cases are cases involving automotive defects.

How do you prove design defects?

Risks:  The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the risks associated with the design of a product:  (1) the magnitude of the risk of injury; (2) ordinary consumer awareness of the risk for injury; (3) the likelihood of causing injury; (4) the violation of a private or public standard; and (5) the consumer’s expectation of the performance of the product and level of danger. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (B) Product Defective in Design or Formulation.

BenefitsThe following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the benefits associated with product design: (1) the utility of the product; (2) availability of an alternative design; (3) the magnitude of risks associated with an alternative design. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (c)

Defenses for Defective Design(1) a pharmaceutical drug or medical device is not defective by design if it contains an adequate warning of an unavoidably unsafe aspect of the pharmaceutical or medical device; (2) the dangerous aspect is inherent to the product, recognizable, and cannot be eliminated without compromising the product’s usefulness; (3) a lack of a feasible alternative design. 2307.75 (d)(e)(f).

EXAMPLES:

What is a manufacturing defect?
  • A manufacturing defect is based on a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. Many auto companies have been involved in this kind of product liability lawsuits in recent years, due to defective airbags, software defects, tire failure, and other dangerous manufacturing errors.

    Most manufacturing defect cases are based on a products deviation from the intended specification, formula, performance standards, or design model. In such cases, it may be easy to determine the product did not comply with the intended design.

    The product may be recalled as a specific lot is identified as being non-compliant and defective. A product may be defective in manufacture or construction, materials and assembly, and a manufacturer or distributor may be subject to strict liability, even though it exercised all possible care.  Ohio Revised Code 2307.74.


    Manufacturing Defect Examples:

What is a failure to warn lawsuit?

In determining whether a product is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction, evidence must be presented to prove:

  • The manufacturer knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about a risk
  • A reasonable manufacturer would have provided a warning of the risk
  • The manufacturer failed to provide the warning
  • The person was injured due to a lack of warning. The same elements apply whether the claim is based on a warning present during the marketing or post-sale warnings.

Defenses to Failure to Warn Claims(1) the risk was open and obvious or a matter of common knowledge; and (2) in cases of a pharmaceutical drug or medical device, the warning was provided to the prescribing physician (“Learned Intermediary Doctrine”).

Many pharmaceutical companies have been targeted in failure to warn lawsuits for either failing to place warnings on medication guides and packaging or failing to properly test their product before putting it to market.


 

What are consumer product safety regulations?

Design and manufacturing defects result in thousands of product recalls each year in the United States, initiated by federal safety agencies. Following injury and illness, regardless of recall status, victims and plaintiffs may pursue legal action and contact a product liability lawyer to begin the litigation process. Rightful compensation can be sought and help plaintiffs recover medical costs and other related damages.

Product liability law overlaps with regulatory law, which are the systems of legislative rules and administrative agencies, and part of federal and state governments. These agencies regulate the safety of the products sold to the public. Examples include:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA;)
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The listed government agencies, however, may initiate recalls of dangerous products but do not provide remedies or compensation for damages where an individual is injured due to the defective product.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

 Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Product Liability Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters.   Product Liability lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence casesThe cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world 

Your Right to Safety

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Defective products on the market present safety and health hazards for adults and children. Cheap and defective products may pose fire and burn risks; electrocution, strangulation and choking risks; and severe health risks. The manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to foresee potential injury and properly design and test products before they are released.

Companies must also properly warn consumers of any risks associated with their products. Any failure to protect consumers that results in accidents and injury can lead to lawsuits filed by plaintiffs and their Cincinnati product liability lawyer

Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law.

DEFECTIVE LAP BELT RESTRAINT

SPINAL CORD INJURY

(Pikeville, Kentucky): Confidential settlement for Plaintiff who suffered spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia due to defectively designed seat belt. Four passengers with three-point (lap/shoulder) belts walked away from the accident, and the only passenger wearing a two-point belt (lap only) suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury. The settlement assisted with home improvements to assist in daily living. GM entered federal bankruptcy during the process and no longer manufactures two-point lap belts for vehicles.

DEFECTIVE PROPANE WALL HEATER

WRONGFUL DEATH 

(Hillsboro, Ohio): Confidential Settlement for the family of elderly man who was catastrophically burned while operating a propane wall heater. The burns resulted in his unfortunate death. The heater, manufactured and sourced from China, was alleged to allow the flame to reach outside the grid area in violation of ANSI standards. The Defendant resolved the case following discovery and mediation. The recovered funds were paid to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. The company no longer manufactures this type of heater.

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