Britax, maker of child safety seats and restraints for automobiles, recalled more than 14,000 car seats late last month due to a manufacturing defect that rendered the seats unsafe for use.
The Britax Chaperone recall website warns that recalled seats may feature a defective rivet in the seat’s harness. In a normal harness, the safety straps can be properly tightened over the infant’s shoulders and secured into the base of the car seat. In the models that are being recalled, however, the harness adjuster has the potential to detach from the seat, which could result in serious injury of the child in the case of a car crash.
According to a recent New York Times article, Britax began investigating the Chaperone car seats in March of last year after receiving 57 complaints from customers in the United States who experienced problems with their seats. By the end of April 2011, the company had discovered the likely cause of the defect and which seats were affected.
Manufacturer’s Delayed Reaction to Defects
The lapse in time between discovery of the defect and the actual recall has left the public wondering why Britax waited nine months to take action in correcting the defective products already on the market. In an email, Britax spokeswoman Mariana Mack defended the company, maintaining that the manufacturing error was corrected by Laredo, the Chinese company that produced the seats, immediately. “Once we completed the risk assessment and determined the population of seats affected, we alerted the NHTSA voluntarily,” she said.
The Britax spokeswoman’s claim to her company’s “voluntary” recall represents a commonly-used misnomer in the world of vehicle and vehicle accessory manufacturing. In reality, manufacturers are required by law to notify the government about safety-related defects. Companies that become aware of product defects face civil penalties if they fail to report the defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within five days.
Still, Britax claims no delay in notifying the agency, and maintains that there have been no injuries associated with their defective product.
Are You the Owner of a Defective Child Safety Seat?
According to a press release posted on NHTSA’s website on January 27, the defect affects Britax’s Chaperone child safety seat model numbers E9L692J, EL692K, E9L692L and E9L692M, which were manufactured between September 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011.
If you are one of the 14,220 owners of a defective Britax Chaperone safety seat, you are eligible to receive a “remedy kit” with replacement parts for your car seat. If the harness on your safety seat has already detached, discontinue its use immediately, and contact the company for a replacement seat. Customers who have registered their Britax products should have already been contacted by the company with information for fixing or replacing the seat. If you have not registered your product yet, you must do so here, and Britax will follow up with details for next steps.
For more information about recalls of other child safety seats, check out safercar.gov. This government website is a great resource for researching the safety of your child car seat, locating safety seat inspection centers near you and registering for recall alerts of child safety products that your family uses.
Has Your Child Been Injured in an Accident While Restrained in a Defective Car Seat?
Child safety seats are designed to securely hold infants and small children traveling in automobiles, but all too often, manufacturing and design errors lead to defective products being available on the market. In fact, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration receives an average of eight child restraint recalls per year. If your child has been injured in an accident involving a defective child safety seat, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Childers, Schlueter and Smith today for a free consultation to determine whether you may be owed compensation for your child’s injuries.