Video of crash tests obtained by ProPublica shows a child-sized dummy in an Evenflo booster seat being violently tossed around during a side-impact crash test raising concerns about the safety of these products. According to the ProPublica investigation, Evenflo marketed its booster seats for some children who experts worry may be too small to be properly protected in these types of crashes.
CBS News talked with a couple whose 5-year-old daughter Jillian was internally decapitated and paralyzed from the neck down. She was in one of Evenflo’s Big Kid Booster seats when the car she was traveling and was hit on the driver’s side near their Long Island home in 2016. Her parents are now suing Evenflo. The company said her booster performed as designed and that Jillian’s injuries were primarily due to the severity of the crash and/or driver error.
Car Seat Does Not Protect
The car seat meets or exceeds federal standards, which set a 30-pound minimum for booster usage. Jillian was 37 pounds at the time of the crash. While the seat is tested for side-impact, there is no federal standard for that test and videos of Evenflo’s crash test, which ProPublica obtained, show the booster seats passing the test even though the child-size test dummy is violently tossed out.
During depositions obtained by ProPublica, Evenflo employees explained the only way to fail the company’s side crash test is if the company completely falls out of the seat or if the seat itself breaks. One employee said the company side-impact tests its seats, but that he did not think the seats offer any type of side-impact protection. Experts who watched the video obtained by ProPublica said the movement seen in the crash tests could lead to “serious injuries.”
Months before Jillian’s (she weighed 37 pounds) accident, Evenflo changed the minimum height and weight requirements in the owners’ manual to 40 pounds but did not notify consumers because the company said there was “no safety impact” related to the change. These booster seats are still being sold on Evenflo’s website and at large retailers such as Wal-Mart. Congress directed federal regulators to create a side-impact crash test standard for car seats back in 2000, but that has not yet gone into effect.
Putting Profits Before Safety
This important ProPublica investigation raises a number of legitimate concerns about the safety of these Evenflo booster seats. While it is important to secure your child in a booster seat, it is unacceptable for companies like Evenflo to allow such dangerous and defective products to exist in the market and continue to be sold to consumers. If your child has been injured by a defective child safety seat, please contact an experienced product defect lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.