Stroller Accidents Leading to Products Liability Lawsuits
Parents soon grow accustomed to taking their children with them in a stroller when they go for walks or other outdoor excursions. Strollers are most often used for children who are younger than three years old. The federal government has imposed a specific safety standard on these products, which also must comply with more general rules under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. However, stroller accidents still affect thousands of American children each year, some of whom suffer serious head or facial injuries.
To reduce the risk of accidents, parents should choose a stroller that is appropriate for the size and weight of their child. They should always use the safety harness and should make sure that the child is securely seated in the stroller before setting out. If the stroller has hinges on the sides that allow it to be folded up, a parent should check that the hinges are locked. A parent should not hang items on the handles of a stroller, which could cause the stroller to tip over or cause entrapment or strangulation if a baby gets caught in the straps. A parent never should leave a child unattended in a stroller, and they should engage the brakes when a stroller is not moving.
Parents should register a new stroller with the manufacturer so that they can be notified of any safety concerns. When a manufacturer finds out that its product poses a hazard, it should issue a recall. Parents should immediately stop using a stroller that is subject to a recall.
Stroller Defects and Legal Claims
Despite federal regulations, manufacturers sometimes produce defective strollers that may pose hazards such as tipping over, rolling away, or inadvertently collapsing, among others. Some defects may put a parent at risk as well as a child. When a manufacturer puts a dangerous product on the market, consumers have legal recourse if the defect injures them. While the fact that a product was recalled indicates the presence of a defect, the absence of a recall does not necessarily mean that no defect exists.
Sometimes a manufacturer properly designs a stroller, but an error in the manufacturing process causes a defect in a specific stroller. In other cases, an entire line of strollers suffers from a flaw in the design that makes every item in the line unsafe. When a manufacturing defect or a design defect caused a child’s injuries, parents usually can hold a manufacturer liable under a theory of strict liability. This requires identifying a specific defect in the stroller and showing that the child would not have been injured if not for the defect. In other words, whether the manufacturer used reasonable care does not matter.
If parents prove the liability of a manufacturer, they can recover compensatory damages for the financial and intangible harm related to the stroller accident. These damages commonly cover medical expenses, the costs of future treatment, and the pain and suffering and emotional distress endured by the victim, among other potential items.
Sometimes parents can recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages when a manufacturer engaged in serious wrongdoing. For example, punitive damages might be available when a manufacturer knew about a safety risk but failed to issue a recall. State laws impose varying standards for recovering punitive damages.
Products liability cases are more complex than most ordinary personal injury lawsuits. Parents thus should consider getting legal representation when suing a manufacturer, which likely will have a team of skilled defense attorneys on its side. Not every personal injury lawyer knows how to handle products liability cases, so parents should look for an attorney with relevant experience. Recognizing that victims and their families have limited resources, most products liability attorneys collect contingency fees. This means that they get paid as a percentage of any funds recovered for a client.