$4,500,000 in Child Seat Injury Case
During an offset frontal collision, a 17 month old child seated in the rear middle seat in a child safety seat struck her head on the back of the front seat and sustained a serious brain injury. The vehicle had been cut-up for parts by the time plaintiffs counsel had been retained — only a shell of the vehicle remained and the seatbelts. The child safety seat had been thrown away before the family retained counsel.
P&K sued the vehicle manufacturer alleging that the vehicle was defective and unreasonably dangerous for not incorporating a complete tether anchorage position for the child safety seat. P&K also sued the child safety seat manufacturer for selling a child safety seat without a tether strap. A tether strap is a restraint strap that holds the top of the child safety seat to the vehicle and prevents forward movement or rocking of the child safety seat during a collision. P&K hired a biomechanical engineer to prove that a tether strap would have prevented the child from striking his head on the back of the driver’s seat.
The manufacturers challenged the case because the accident vehicle and child seat was not preserved. P&K proceeded on only a design theory and used the product sales receipt and inventory of the retail store to determine the exact model and build sequence of the seat. The manufacturer’s own records filled in the shipping date which matched closely with the sale date. The Defendants’ crash testing showed head excursion with no tether strap and reduced head excursion with a tether strap. A tether strap was included in models sold outside the U.S. The combined settlements with the vehicle and child safety seat manufacturers totaled $4.5 million.
This is one of the largest known settlements in a product liability case where the product was not available.