Until the 1970s, the child car seat industry went largely unregulated. If used at all, many parents did not know how to properly install this safety devise, as many seat belts would not work properly with the car seats.
In 1972, Consumer Reports performed the first child safety seat crash test. Unfortunately, 80 percent of the seats tested were rated “not acceptable.” Now, child car seats must meet appropriate federal standards. When choosing a child safety seat, verify that it meets the criteria under Standards 213, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
Child car seats are recommended for use by children from birth to age 4. However, size, not age, is the determining factor in choosing an appropriate child car seat. Rear-facing car seats are used with newborns up to 30 pounds. After 30 pounds, forward-facing car seats are recommended. The function of these seats is to properly restrain a child in a vehicle to minimize physical injury due to an automobile accident. Child safety seats are attached to the automobile in one of two ways. They may be attached via the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethors for Children) system or with a seat belt. The LATCH system is the preferred method.
There are several ways in which a child car seat can malfunction. In some cases, a child safety seat will dislodge from the base. Another child safety seat malfunction involves a child being ejected from the car seat.
Child car seats may malfunction in a variety of ways including:
Base Dislodging: The child car seat detaches from the base unit with the child, while the base unit stays belted or latched into the vehicle.
Exceed Injury Limits: In this case, the child car seat was not properly manufactured to industry standards which could result in additional injuries to the child. In some cases, the belt holder was not placed in the proper place, or inferior material was used to manufacture the child safety seat.
Latch Failure: During an accident, the latch on the car safety devise fails and the child is ejected from the seat. A latch should be secure enough to withstand objects knocking into the latch.
Unintentional injury, such as an automobile accident, is the number one cause of death for children aged 1 - 14. Child safety seats may offer additional safety if they are correctly installed and properly functioning. Unfortunately, 80 percent of all child car seats are misused and millions of child car seats have been recalled over the past five years due to manufacturer defects or poor performance.
The Dorel Company recently recalled more than 500,000 car seats, most in the U.S., due to improper manufacturing techniques that caused the arms to fall off and resulted in bumps, bruises and head injuries. The recall included seats sold under the following names: Cosco, Disney, Eddie Bauer, and Safety 1st.
Although the Orbit car seat hasn't been recalled, Consumer Reports has issued a Don't Buy Rating. On repeated tests, the carrier would detatch from the base unit. However, the seat meets government safety standards and the manufacturer stands behind their product.
If your child is injured as a result of a defective child car safety seat, seeking the assistance of an attorney to file a claim or a product liability lawsuit may result in compensation to help with medical expenses, pain and suffering.