Personal injury attorneys or “plaintiff’s lawyers” represent people who have been hurt through no fault of their own in some kind of accident or incident where they’ve suffered serious injuries to their bodies and minds — or sadly, where they’ve died as a result (in which case, we help their families and loved ones seek justice).
Personal Injury Lawyers Fight for Justice When Companies Choose Profits Over People
These personal injury cases involve all sorts of accidents, as seen in our list of practice areas. There are car accidents, and wrecks involving big rig semi trucks. People hurt on the job in electrocutions, or construction site falls, or in chemical burns. Kids hurt in sporting events like concussions while playing soccer or football. You get the idea.
However, in the past week there was a news story that provides a clear example of why personal injury law exists and why people get hurt in this country far too often. This week, it was announced that a manufacturer of child safety seats was being ordered to pay $10,000,000 in fines for putting dangerous products into the American marketplace. (Read the NHTSA consent order online.)
Car seats that parents use to protect their kids from harm, made and marketed by Graco, not only have been shown dangerous but it’s been shown that Graco knew this and put them out there anyway.
Putting profits over people is something that we see all the time in representing victims of accidents — but Graco’s attitude toward the safety of small children here — infants — provides a very clear example of why personal injury law exists in this country.
Because companies like Graco choose profits over people — and their victims must fight for justice when bad things happen as a result.
Here is the March 20, 2015, federal government news release regarding the $10 Million Penalty Levied against Graco Children’s Products:
U.S Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces $10 Million Civil Penalty Against Child Car Seat Manufacturer
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that Graco Children’s Products has been fined $10 million after the company failed to provide timely notification of a defect in more than 4 million car seats. Graco must pay a fine of $3 million immediately to the Federal Government and an additional $7 million is due in five years unless they spend at least the same amount on new steps to improve child safety.
The penalties close an investigation launched last year by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into whether the company failed its obligations, under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, to begin what ended up as the largest ever recall of child seats. The seats had buckles that could stick or become stuck in a latched position, potentially placing child occupants at risk in an emergency.
“Parents need to know that the seats they trust to protect their children are safe, and that when there’s a problem, the manufacturer will meet its obligations to fix the defect quickly,” Secretary Foxx said. “Today’s action reinforces that responsibility in a way that will make our kids safer for decades to come.”
Graco will create a plan and procedures for addressing certain targeted performance requirements, which may include methods to increase effectiveness of consumer product registration of car seats, which allows parents to be notified of defects, identifying potential safety trends affecting car seats industry wide and launching a child safety awareness campaign. According to NHTSA, on average, only 40 percent of people who have recalled car seats get them fixed. That’s in comparison to an average of 75 percent of people who have recalled light vehicles, for which registration is required by law.
The company also must provide certification from an independent, third-party that it has met its cost obligations; if Graco fails to meet those obligations, it must pay the balance of the $10 million civil penalty.
“Today’s action uses NHTSA’s enforcement authority to not only hold a manufacturer accountable, but to keep our kids safe,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “It’s another example of our commitment to use every tool available to save lives on our highways, and to use those tools in an innovative and more effective way.”
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act states that once a manufacturer knows or should reasonably know that an item of motor vehicle equipment, such as a car seat, contains a safety related defect, the manufacturer has a maximum of five business days to notify the agency. Once it notifies NHTSA of a defect, it is required to launch a recall.
Under the consent order issued today, Graco admits that it did not provide the required defect notice. Under pressure from NHTSA, Graco recalled more than 4 million convertible and booster seats with defective buckles in February 2014, and nearly an additional 2 million rear facing infant seats in June. NHTSA launched an investigation into the timeliness of Graco’s decision making and reporting of a defect in those recalls in December.
With this consent order, Graco is required to pay a $3 million civil penalty, and to commit at least $7 million to meet targeted performance obligations, over the next five years. Those obligations may include:
- Improving its assessment and identification of potential safety defects.
- Creating a scientifically tested program to increase effectiveness of child seat registration programs.
- Revising its procedures for addressing consumer safety complaints and speed the recall of defective products.
- Launching a campaign to disseminate safety messages to parents and caregivers by producing media products to incorporate in child safety campaigns.