Safety Concerns Involving Heavier Children

Unfortunately, many young children are too heavy for standard car safety seats, which are designed to fit one to three–year–olds weighing up to 40 pounds. The recent Johns Hopkins study found that more than a quarter of a million U.S. children ages one to six exceed the weight limit for standard-sized car seats.

The law (as of October 2005) requires that children under the age of seven years old and under the weight of 60 pounds must ride in a car or booster seat. Make sure you know the current regulations: click on this link for information on the CT Safe Kids organization’s website.

Has your child been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of someone else’s driving? If so, Casper & de Toledo will use the experienced and compassionate help you deserve in a case like this. Fill out our online contact form today, or call us at (203) 325-8600!

According to researchers, car seats that are not appropriately sized for heavier, younger children could place them at increased risk for injury in a car accident. Wendy Shields  of Johns Hopkins noted that many of these children are not mature enough or tall enough for booster safety seats, which are typcially used for children ages four and up. She states that typically, such heavier, younger children use the car’s safety belts for restraints. But the use of adult seatbelts with young children can be fatal, even in minor accidents, Shields warns, because they “arrest the very young in the wrong spots.”

Government data indicates that more than 23 percent of U.S. children aged two to five were overweight and more than 10 percent of those children were obese in 2001–02. According to Morgan Downey, head of the Washington–based American Obesity Association, which is funded by Abbott Laboratories and Weight Watchers International Inc., “the number of overweight toddlers will probably keep rising. The medical researchers we work with see nothing happening to reverse this trend.”

In response to this upward trend, Britax and Dorel Juvenile Group, maker of Cosco brand car seats, both introduced harness seats last year for children who weigh up to 65 pounds. Unfortunately, oversized child–safety seats cost as much as three times the price of a standard–sized seat. It is not surprising that the John Hopkins study shows that children from poor families are among those most at risk from unsafe seats.

Booster Seats and Adult Seatbelts

Children confined to booster seats may not be fully protected. When a booster seat is used, a child is still exposed to danger on the outboard side of the vehicle. The child using a booster seat should be placed in the center position of the back seat of the automobile, but not unless the middle bench position is equipped with a three–point harness restraint.

Children who no longer use a booster seat (typically those over age seven) must be secured in a properly fitting three–point harness, at least until four–point harnesses become available. If a three–point harness is poorly fitted and the vehicle is involved in an angular crash, the child may roll out of the restraint and can receive a spinal cord injury that could result in paralysis. Another possibility is that the poorly fitting three–point harness could be converted into an old-fashioned two–point seat belt that can cause internal abdominal injuries if the shoulder harness slides down or is placed behind a child who complains of discomfort because the harness presses against the neck or head.

Another danger to children riding in the rear seat comes from rear seat backs that fold down. In a rear end collision, the contents of the trunk can be propelled forward, collapsing the seat back and causing injuries to the rear occupant. If a seat back is loose, it should be repaired. However, should a child be injured because of a collapsing seat back that operates in the fashion in which it was designed, then such an injury may warrant investigation for a potential product liability lawsuit.

Finally, the front seats can collapse in a car accident, as well. If the front seat collapses in a rear end collision, the seat can strike the child sitting in the rear. That intrusion into the rear seat can cause a traumatic brain injury to the child sitting on the bench and can cause fatal chest injuries to the child sitting in the booster seat. If your child has been injured in a car accident, contact the Stamford, Connecticut lawyers at Casper & de Toledo for assistance with your claim.