Child and Infant Car Seat Injuries

Maine's Child Passenger Safety Law is considered one of the strongest in the nation. The law requires children who weigh less than 40 pounds to ride in a child or infant car seat. Under the law, children who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds must ride in a child restraint system that is federally approved. Children between 8 and 18 years of age and who are more than 4 feet 9 inches tall must wear a safety belt. Children under 12 years old who weigh less than 100 pounds must ride in a secure seat in the back of the car. If your child experiences a car seat injury and you believe that the car seat didn't perform as it should have, you may need the help of an experienced Maine car accident attorney who understands crashworthiness cases.

Federal Child Seat Safety Standards

You should be aware that Maine also endorses the safety recommendations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA recommends that all babies under one year of age ride in a rear-facing seat, and that children remain rear-facing until they reach the top height or weight limit permitted by the manufacturer of the car seat you're using. Usually this requirement applies when a child is between 1 and 4 years of age.

Rear-facing seats are considered 5 times safer than forward-facing seats, with a lower likelihood of brain or spinal injury in the event of a car accident. The NHTSA also recommends that children between 4 and 7 years old use a forward facing seat with a harness, and stay in a booster seat in the back of the car until they are 12 years old.

Negligence in Maine

In spite of parents' best efforts, negligence can cause a child to be injured in his or her car seat. Sometimes this is the result of negligence on the part of other drivers on the road or on the part of the car seat designer. A jury may find negligence if the following elements exist: (1) a defendant owes duty to the plaintiff to exercise reasonable care, (2) breach of that duty, (3) proximate cause, and (4) damages. If a plaintiff cannot prove any of these elements, the defendant may bring what is called a summary judgment motion. When a judge grants a summary judgment motion, the case may be dismissed without ever being brought to a jury to decide.

It used to be the case in Maine that a child's negligence could be imputed to a parent. This mean that when a child was hurt, the other party could claim that the parent was negligent for failing to control the child. However, Maine courts have found that this is unfair to children, and a parent's negligence is not a bar to a child's recovery.

Product Liability in Maine

If a child's car seat is defective in terms of its manufacturing rather than its design, the car seat manufacturer will be held to a strict liability standard. This is a more stringent standard for defendants than negligence. A plaintiff only need show that the product was defective, and that there has been no major change between the time the manufacturer or seller released the product into the marketplace and it was purchased. The plaintiff does not need to show that the manufacturer failed to use proper care. In Maine, a manufacturer or seller who sells products "in a defective condition" that is "unreasonably dangerous" to an expected user or consumer can be held liable for the physical injuries that person sustains.

Helping You Protect Your Loved Ones

Maine has one of the most generous time limits in the nation for plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit. The statute of limitations to bring a personal injury lawsuit is 6 years, and it usually starts to run from the date of the accident. In spite of this longer period of time within which to bring a personal injury lawsuit, if you believe that your child was injured due to his car seat, it is crucial to secure and protect all critical evidence and contact an attorney immediately so that the case can be fully and properly evaluated under all safety standards. Under these circumstances, it is crucial to retain a trustworthy Maine car accident lawyer to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 800.804.2004 or via our online form to schedule your free consultation.

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