Attention Maryland Mothers and Fathers: Double Check Your Child Safety Seats for Proper Installation

As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, we can’t stress enough the importance of proper safety procedures when driving a motor vehicle on Maryland roadways. We have seen too many people, young and old, who have been seriously hurt as a result of a bad automobile, commercial truck or motorcycle crash. Taking any shortcuts when it comes to your safety or that of your passengers is only inviting potential tragedy.

Naturally, nobody expects to become caught up in a highway accident or a traffic collision on a street in any city such as Bowie, Gaithersburg, Washington, D.C., or Columbia, but keep in mind that if you don’t plan for the worst, you may pay a high price for it later. With that in mind, it may be a good time to remind everyone that auto accidents are one of the chief causes of childhood injuries or death in this country.

To this end, the law requires that kids under 40 pounds be strapped into an approved child safety seat whenever traveling by car, minivan, sport utility vehicle or other motor vehicle. Some new parents may even be surprised that the hospital where their baby was born will want to check out the family vehicle to be certain that it is equipped with the proper safety seat for a newborn infant. This is not just a thoughtful service; it reflects the law as well.

When considering a child safety seat, it is important to know that these devices now have expiration dates affixed to them. This is why, when looking to get a safety seat for your child, it may not be a bad idea to purchase a product made by a reputable manufacturer. Some people scoff at an expiration date on a safety seat, but this is for good reason; because of the aging properties of plastic products, something as critical as a child safety seat could fail to hold up in a traffic accident simply because the plastic may no longer be strong enough to support the child in a crash situation.

Remember that a used car seat purchased online or at a garage sale may have already have a checkered past; it may have been mishandled by the former owners or damaged in an accident at some point. Cracks in the structure, missing parts or other problems may make that cheap purchase and expensive mistake when your child needs it the most. Also, a second-hand safety seat may no longer include the instructions for installation and use. Proper mounting and installation is just as critical as buying the right seat in the first place.

We mention all this because we understand how parents are forever fighting with lack of time, sleep or patience in their daily lives. Supposedly simple tasks are sometimes neglected and the more important ones are occasionally rushed through without a second thought. It’s difficult being a parent, which is why one must sometimes stop, take a breath, and make an accounting of one’s responsibilities from time to time.

A tragic incident in Carroll County last January brought this to mind, when we read of a single-vehicle car wreck in which a six-year-old girl was killed. Based on news accounts, the accident happened on a Monday night along a stretch of Rte 31 in Westminster, MD. Police reports indicated that a Jeep carrying the child and her 39-year-old mother went out of control on the wet street, left the roadway and crashed into a nearby tree. According to those news reports, officers arriving on the scene a little after 11pm found the vehicle up against a utility pole near the intersection of New Windsor and Wakefield roads.

The mother, who was operating the vehicle at the time of the collision, apparently lost control of the vehicle, which slid off the roadway and into the pole. Although the youngster was riding in a child safety seat in the rear of the vehicle, she suffered what police referred to as “severe head trauma” possibly because the child seat was not correctly attached to the Jeep’s rear seat. Based on the news article, the mother survived the accident and was taken to Carroll Hospital Center for treatment of her injuries.

Police: 6-Year-Old Dead in Single Vehicle Car Accident,, January 15, 2013

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