Federal Regulators Announce Long-Awaited Standards for Side-Impact Testing of Child Car Seats

When parents with young children purchase a new vehicle, they may pore over data regarding the vehicle’s safety ratings, including its safety in side-impact collisions. Unlike that new car, van, or SUV, the car seat carrying those same parents’ young child may not have undergone similarly rigorous side-impact crash testing. When a car seat fails to perform as it should in a crash and a child is injured, the law allows those families to seek compensation, and they should contact a knowledgeable Oregon child injury lawyer right away.

Late last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a new rule that modified the existing “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213,” which is the rule covering child car seats. For decades, federal regulations required manufacturers to put their car seats through crash simulation testing that replicated a “30-mph frontal impact.” The new amendment “establishes a side impact test that replicates a 30-mph side collision, commonly known as a T-bone crash. ”

This amendment to the rule is a welcome addition, but it was a long time in coming. Congress initially called for the addition of side-impact standards to the rule more than 20 years ago, in 2000.

In 2020, CBS News and ProPublica published a report on side impacts and the booster seats from one particular manufacturer, Evenflo. According to the report, the manufacturer gave “passing” grades to car seats even though, in tests, “the child-size test dummy is violently tossed about” and only gave “failing” side-impact test grades to seats “if the dummy falls completely out of the seat or if the seat itself breaks.”

The report also discussed issues with how Evenflo marketed its “Big Kid” booster seat. Back in 2012, a safety engineer for the company recommended that Evenflo cease marketing that booster seat to parents of children under 40 pounds, but a marketing executive scuttled that recommendation, so the company continued marketing the product as appropriate for kids as small as 30 pounds, regardless of height, the report stated.

That report led to an investigation by the Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives, which called for state attorneys general to pursue consumer protection investigations. Those investigations triggered a July 2021 letter, signed by the attorneys general of 17 states plus the District of Columbia, urging the agency to create side-impact standards and “come up with better labeling.” (Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum was among the signatories.)

Oregon’s Law About Defective Car Seats

Oregon law has three bases for pursuing a product liability case. In this state, Oregon Revised Statutes Section 30.900 says a person can pursue a product liability civil action based on a “design, inspection, testing, manufacturing or other defect in a product,” a “failure to warn regarding a product,” or a “failure to properly instruct in the use of a product.”

The time for filing a product liability law lawsuit may be as short as two years. That two-year period typically begins when the injured person discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) the link between the defective product and the injury. (In other cases, the time may be longer. Cases where the injured person died often have a deadline of three years from the date of reasonable discovery. In still other circumstances, the time period lasts until 10 years after “years after the date on which the product was first purchased for use or consumption.”)

Two years is not a long time. That’s why, if you think your child suffered injuries as the result of a defective car seat, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. Whenever a company puts profits over people and child injuries are the result, that business needs to be held accountable. The experienced Oregon child injury attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are here to help. An injury involving a child and their car seat likely involves potentially varied legal issues from product liability to driver negligence. Our attorneys are experienced in handling vehicle crash cases, defective product actions, and matters involving child injuries. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email: matthew@mdkaplanlaw.com
map image