Our Johnson City product liability lawyers know that parents count on car seats to keep their children safe. Unfortunately, car seats aren’t perfect products and things can go wrong. When this happens, children can be at risk to suffer severe injuries or even death.
A single accident caused by a defect is devastating and parents hope that regulators, companies and government agencies will take swift action if a car seat proves unsafe. Unfortunately, the recall process has broken down in the past and there have been cases where dangerous car seats have remained on the market past the point when there were concerns about safety. The Evenflo Discovery seat, for example, was recalled because the car seat could separate from its base in certain crashes. The circumstances surrounding the recall and the NHTSA’s investigation of the car seat problems however, have remained largely shrouded in mystery and the NHTSA may have failed to act decisively to urge a recall.
Dangerous Car Seats Put Kids at Risk
The Evenflo Discovery was a car seat and infant carrier that unfortunately had a defect in the latch mechanism responsible for keeping the car seat attached to its base in the car. Since the latch was not as secure as necessary, the Evenflo Discovery had a tendency to detach, especially as a result of side-impact crashes.
There were several different models of the Evenflo Discovery produced and sold, including the 390, 391, 534 and 552 models. Unfortunately, all of these models had similar issues with the car seat detaching from the base and putting kids in serious danger.
In September of 2005, Safety Research reported that a seven-month-old baby died in an accident when his mother’s minivan rolled over. While the three-year-old in the van survived in her child seat, the Evenflo discovery seat detached from its base. The seat, with the baby strapped inside, flew from the van and the baby died of a skull fracture and head injury.
The tragic accident prompted a report to be made to the NHTSA about the Evenflo detaching and the resulting death. The NHTSA had already conducted a small-scale investigation about Evenflo car seats after injuries and deaths in 2004 but had closed that investigation after four months without finding Evenflo defective.
Despite the new accident reports and the past history of trouble, it was a full 15 months from the time of the report until an investigator from the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation came looking for the accident report.
The NHTSA not only delayed in investigating reports of the Evenflo’s base separating, but the agency also reportedly kept their investigations secret and tried to discredit Consumer Reports when the magazine published a story warning that sled-tests showed the Discovery had a tendency to separate from its base after a crash.
The NHTSA’s actions have many safety advocates concerned about why the agency did not respond sooner or issue warnings and about why the agency tried to discredit the Consumer Reports article.
Ultimately, several models of the Discovery car-seats were recalled, but this recall did not occur for 3 ½ years after the NHTSA’s first investigation was closed and after the NHTSA had conducted two secret investigations that were not revealed to the public.
Parents are concerned that the NHTSA did not disclose the information about the investigations and are concerned about the fact that the Evenflo Discovery stayed on the market for so long despite the reported risks. Further, not every model has been recalled and there may still be some dangerous Discovery-model car seats out there putting kids at risk. Questions thus remain about why swifter action was not taken and about whether an ongoing danger exists that is not being addressed.
If you are injured by a dangerous product in Johnson City, Tennessee,contact Meade Injury Law Group today at (423) 464-7779for a free consultation.