How Installing a Car Seat Improperly Can Lead to Injury

by Doug Zanes | Last Updated: May 23, 2018

How Installing a Car Seat Improperly Can Lead to Injury

As a personal injury lawyer in Phoenix I see first hand the injuries that children suffer in car accidents. I also see how instaling a car seat properly can save lives and prevent injuries. Unfortunately, many parents don’t put much thought into installing a car seat properly.  They simply hit the road without realizing they haven’t installed the car seat correctly.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found 46 percent of car seats inspected nationwide were incorrectly installed. Then, the Tom Sargent Children’s Safety Center made a similar finding. It found 95 percent of nearly 300 parents surveyed made at least one major mistake when installing their newborn’s car seat.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children from age 1 to 13. Thus car seats are not optional and can help protect young children. But the parents must fit the seats properly or its safety features won’t be as effective.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s hospital have found that 20 percent of children involved in fatal collisions were either improperly restrained or unrestrained at the time of the accident. They estimate that with just a 10 percent improvement in child restraint use, 1,100 child deaths could be avoided over a five-year period.

Common car seat installation errors include:

  1. Improper recline angle on rear-facing car seats. Most rear-facing car seats should recline at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. If a seat is too upright, a young baby’s head could fall forward, obstructing her airways.
  2. Installing the car seat too loosely. The car seat should not move more than an inch when tugged backward and forwards or from left to right. During a collision, a loose car seat could smash into the back of the front seat. This will cause injuries to your child’s head or face.
  3. Keeping the harness straps too loose. After buckling your child in, the harness straps should be so taut that you can’t pinch the straps’ material between your fingers. A child wearing loose harness straps could be ejected from the car seat in a crash.

Always double check your car seat manufacturer’s instructions when installing a car seat. If you need extra help, the NHTSA website offers detailed videos and installation instructions.

If despite your best efforts, you are involved in a car accident, contact Zanes Law at (844) 926-3752 to see how we can help.

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Doug Zanes
Doug Zanes: Founding Attorney Raised in Douglas, Arizona, and went to college at Arizona State University and graduated from law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas. Doug began practicing law in Phoenix Arizona in 1997.
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