Airbags, Car Seats and Booster Seats: What Parents Need to Know

Car seats and booster seats are important pieces of safety equipment that can help to protect children from serious injuries in the event of a crash. Laws in all 50 states require use of car seats and booster seats, although specific requirements vary from one state to the next. But, when used in combination with airbags, car seats and booster seats can present serious injury risks in some cases. Learn more from an experienced airbag lawsuit lawyer:

Rear Airbag Safety with Car Seats and Booster Seats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that children ride in the back seat whenever possible. The back seat is typically safest for children for several reasons. Among them, frontal airbag deployment can present serious injury risks for children whose brains and bodies are still developing. So, if your car, truck or SUV has a back seat, this is generally where your child’s car seat or booster seat should go.

What if your vehicle has airbags in the back seat? Here we need to draw a distinction between rear-facing car seats and forward-facing car seats and booster seats. Some manufacturers recommend disabling a vehicle’s airbags when installing a rear-facing car seat, and the NHTSA notes that “a deploying airbag impacting the back of the child restraint could subject the child to severe or fatal head or neck injuries.”

With forward-facing car seats and booster seats, however, rear airbag deployment can help prevent serious or fatal injuries in the event of a crash. As one safety organization explains:

“Side airbags are usually a curtain airbag which deploys downward to provide protection to the head and are not as powerful as the front ones. They should not pose a risk to a child in a child seat in the rear, but if anything enhance the protection for the child in its seat.”

With that said, the risks associated with specific vehicles and specific car seats and booster seats can vary; and, when in doubt, parents should seek guidance or follow the manufacturers’ recommendations. Many state and local police departments offer assistance with properly installing car seats and booster seats, and they should be able to help you understand what you need to do to provide maximum safety for your child.

When Your Child Needs to Ride in the Front Seat

If you need to place a child seat or booster seat in the front passenger seat of your vehicle, the general recommendation is that you should disable the front passenger seat’s airbags. According to the NHTSA:

“Placing a child in the front seat, no matter what the circumstances, comes with increased risk. NHTSA recommends that children under 13 years old ride in the back seat in the appropriate child restraint systems for their age and size.”

However, the NHTSA also recognizes that some parents may have no choice but to have a child ride in the front passenger seat next to them. In this situation, the NHTSA recommends disabling the child’s airbags. While some vehicles are designed to do this automatically when a manufacturer-recommended child restraint is installed in the front seat, in most cases parents will need to take their vehicle to the dealership to have an approved “On/Off” switch installed. When using an “On/Off” switch, it is important to make sure you switch it to “Off” whenever your child is riding in the front seat—and it is just important to make sure you switch it back to “On” for other passengers.

Child Seats, Booster Seats and Airbag-Related Injuries

No matter how much you do to keep your children safe, there are always going to be factors that are beyond your control. From negligent drivers to defective airbags and defective “On/Off” switches, there are numerous factors that can put your children (and you) at risk for serious injuries on the road.

If your child suffers airbag-related injuries in a car, truck or SUV accident, you have clear legal rights. Not only can you file an insurance claim under the other driver’s auto insurance policy (if the other driver was at fault), but you may also have a claim against your vehicle’s manufacturer or the dealership that sold you the vehicle. If an issue with your child’s car seat or booster seat caused (or contributed to causing) your child’s airbag-related injuries, you may have a claim against the company that manufactured the car seat or booster seat as well.

Unfortunately, airbag deployment injuries are far more common than they should be. When a child is riding in a car seat or booster seat, these injuries can result from a variety of issues—including:

  • Airbag non-deployment or late airbag deployment (when an airbag is supposed to deploy to help protect a child in the rear seat)
  • Improper airbag deployment (when an airbag should be disabled or switched “Off” for a child riding in the front seat or a rear-facing car seat)
  • Airbag explosions resulting from defective inflator mechanisms (when a defective airbag deploys with excessive force, causing severe impact with a child and/or sending shrapnel and metal fragments flying through a vehicle’s cabin)

The first step toward recovering just compensation for the costs of airbag-related injuries is hiring an experienced airbag lawsuit lawyer to represent your family. While your legal rights may be clear, asserting them can be challenging. An experienced airbag lawsuit lawyer will be able to gather the evidence needed to prove your legal rights, file a claim on your behalf, negotiate for a fair settlement and go to court if necessary.

Speak with an Airbag Lawsuit Lawyer for Free

The costs of airbag-related injuries during childhood can impact children and their families for the rest of their lives. If you need to know more about asserting your family’s legal rights, we invite you to get in touch. We handle airbag injury lawsuits nationwide. To speak with an experienced airbag lawsuit lawyer for free, call 866-247-2247 or get in touch online today.