chicago personal injury lawyers car accidents

Chicago Child Injuries Could be Caused by Delays in Car Seat Recalls

December 23, 2014

When driving with children around Chicago neighborhoods such as Hyde Park, Bridgeport, Edgewater and Lincoln Park, it is very important to ensure that kids are properly secured in child safety seats. In some cases, however, parents will do the right thing and use a car seat only to learn the car seat has a flaw and does not protect children.

A personal injury lawyer knows that the manufacturer of the car seat should be held responsible if any children are injured due to product defects. It is the job of the manufacturer to make a safe car seat and to institute a recall if it turns out there is a problem with the product. Car seats fall under the purview of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the car seat manufacturers are under an obligation to notify the NHTSA within five days of identifying a defect.

Car Seat Company Under Investigation

The NHTSA believes that the popular car seat company, Graco, may have failed to fulfill its obligations to notify the agency about a problem with its car seats.

The NHTSA campaigned heavily to get Graco to recognize a problem with some of its car seats. The agencies action resulted in the company recalling around six million car seats. The reason for the recall was a problematic buckle that could become stuck in the latched position and significantly endanger children.

Car seats have a huge impact on saving lives, and more than 30 percent of the kids who are killed in car crashes at age 13 or under are either not secured in a safety seat or not buckled up at the time of the incident. When a car seat is defective, kids do not get the safety benefits that the seat is intended to provide and could be killed or much more seriously hurt. If there was a problem with the Graco car seats, the company should have acted as soon as it become aware of the issue. The NHTSA alleges that Graco knew about the problem but did not alert the agency within the required time frame.

If it turns out that Graco was aware of the problem and failed to comply with the notice rules, then the car seat company could end up being fined as much as $35 million in a civil action instituted by the NHTSA.

That is not really enough money to act as an effective deterrent to hiding things from the agency and to force companies to come forward in a timely manner. A larger fine would be more appropriate to hold major companies accountable for jeopardizing the public. The Grow America Act, a four year reauthorization bill, aims to increase the congressionally imposed maximum penalty to $300 million. This change could help to prevent future situations where car and car seat companies delay in coming forward to report problems, since these companies may be much more worried about the consequences of delay if they face a very large penalty.

A Chicago, IL accident attorney can help after an injury. Call Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 to schedule your free consultation. Serving Chicago, Hyde Park, Bridgeport, Edgewater, Lincoln Park and surrounding areas.