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Was a Defective Child Car Seat to Blame for a Child’s Injury?

Georgia requires that parents put young children in a safety or booster seat when they ride in a car for their own protection. Unfortunately, many parents find out that the booster seat failed to protect their child in an accident. Instead, they watched helplessly as their child was thrown about the car or suffered a devastating choking or head injury.

Safety and booster seats often have hidden defects, which make them dangerous to use. At Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, we work with parents to help them bring claims against manufacturers and other parties for these injuries. Call our firm. An Atlanta car accident lawyer will discuss how to build a claim when a young child is hurt in an accident.

Georgia’s Car Seat Law

You can find our state’s law at O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76. This law requires that children under age 8 are restrained by an appropriate safety or booster seat. The key parts of the law include the following:

  • The law applies to all children under 8 who are riding as passengers in automobiles, including vans and pickup trucks, when the vehicle is in motion on a public road. It does not apply to taxi cabs.
  • All drivers must comply with the law, not simply parents.
  • The safety or booster seat should be “appropriate” for the child’s weight and height and must be approved by the Department of Transportation.
  • You must install the seat according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • If your child is at least 4 feet 9 inches, then they can use a seat belt instead of a safety or booster seat. There are also limited exceptions for a child who has disabilities.

Common Defects for Child and Booster Seats

These seats are meant to protect young children in accidents. If a small child wore a seat belt like an adult, they could slide out from under it or suffer devastating neck injuries when the shoulder belt cuts into their neck. A proper safety or booster seat should keep them in place.

Unfortunately, many safety and booster seats have defects which might cause them to fail:

  • Weak buckles and chest clips
  • Insufficient padding
  • Flammable materials
  • Base units which break or separate easily
  • Defective handles

Child Injuries from Defective Safety Seats

The goal of a seat is to prevent injuries to your child in a collision. Unfortunately, when seats are defective, children might nonetheless get tossed around when the seat disengages from the base or the buckles fail. Your child can suffer any of the same traumatic injuries a larger child or adult would suffer:

  • Facial injuries
  • Concussions
  • Neck injuries, including whiplash
  • Fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal injury
  • Chest injuries
  • Additionally, defective seats might cause other injuries:
  • Choking hazards, if a child can swallow buttons or foam padding
  • Lacerations or abrasions from sharp pieces of metal
  • Burns, if the seat catches on fire

You should go immediately to the hospital after any accident. Young children probably cannot communicate where they feel pain, so it’s hard to judge the severity of their injuries. A doctor can evaluate your child and begin immediate treatment, if necessary.

Who Can You Sue?

If your child was injured, you might be able to sue:

  • The driver responsible for the crash. This could be someone who T-bones your vehicle in the intersection or who smashes into your rear fender as you wait at a light. A negligent driver has responsibility for the crash and, therefore, bears some responsibility for your child’s injuries as well.
  • Manufacturer of a defective seat. Georgia product liability law allows consumers to sue when they are hurt by a defective product. A safety or booster seat could be defectively designed or manufactured. The instructions could also be so confusing you did not install the seat properly. Manufacturers have liability for marketing defects such as the failure to provide proper instructions or warnings.
  • Government for road defects. In some accidents, both drivers are careful, but the road is dangerous. We might sue the entity responsible for maintaining the road.

Call our firm. We can pick through the pile of facts to identify fault for the accident. Also remember to please save the safety or booster seat for our inspection, along with the product packaging or instructions. Our firm can work with expert witnesses who can spot a defect in design or materials.

Complications with Child Injury Cases

A child under 18 cannot file a lawsuit or even make their own contracts, so settling this type of personal injury claim is complicated. Parents should reach out to an experienced law firm, like Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys. We understand the process for obtaining settlements for child victims.

In Georgia, you will need a court approval for any settlement when it’s valued at more than $25,000. The state wants to ensure that you are not settling your child’s claim for too little. A judge has independent authority to decline a settlement if he or she thinks it’s too small.

A judge might need to create a conservatorship to protect the settlement money. Remember, the settlement is for the child, not the parents—though parents can usually get reimbursed for money spent for medical care.

The settlement process for children is quite complicated. When children suffer major injuries, they can also have developmental delays. Our firm will seek full compensation for all past, present, and future damages, including ongoing medical care. Our team knows which evidence is critically important when seeking a settlement for an injured child.

Speak with an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer

Parents rely on safety and booster seats to keep their children safe. When a product fails, parents feel a justifiable sense of outrage at the manufacturer for selling dangerous junk. There is no excuse for selling defective, substandard items to the public.

Please call Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys today to speak with one of our lawyers, (404) 529-3476. We stand up for concerned parents when their young child is injured in any type of car accident, including those where a shoddy product contributes to their injuries. Our consultations are free!

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