The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has fined Graco Children’s Products $10 million for failing to recall defective children’s car seats in a timely manner. The affected seats had defective buckles that could prevent release in the event of an accident. The company will pay $3 million in fines while the remainder of the money will be used to develop safety programs.

Federal regulators opened an investigation in December 2014 to determine whether the mandated recall was timely. According to The New York Times, the “investigation was prompted by a review of Graco documents that showed that parents complained to Graco about the buckles in 2009.”

Graco Children’s Products, like other manufacturers, is required to inform the NHTSA about a safety problem within five days of discovery. When a manufacturer fails to conform to this policy, the NHTSA can impose civil fines of up to $35 million. Graco has had previous trouble with recalls, paying a $4 million fine in 2005.

Reducing the risk to your children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “In the United States during 2011, more than 650 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 148,000 were injured… in one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.”

The proper design and manufacture of child safety devices is crucial in preventing our children from harm. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, “Parents need to know that the seats they trust to protect their children are safe and that when there’s a problem, the manufacturer will meet its obligations to fix the defect quickly.

The CDC offers these tips to help keep your child safe while riding in the car:

  • Install and Use Car & Booster Seats Properly. Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the seat’s owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
  • Find a child passenger safety technician.
  • Don’t Seat Children in Front of an Airbag. Buckle all children aged 12 and under in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an air bag.
  • Seat Children in the Middle of the Back Seat. Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
  • Use Proper Restraints Every Trip. Buckle children in car seats, booster seats, or seat belts on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Always Wear a Seat Belt. Set a good example by always using a seat belt.

If your child has been injured because of a defective product, you may be entitled to have the damages paid for. Please contact us for a free consultation.