It's a frightening scenario that parents probably don't think about while pushing a child around in a shopping cart: What would I do if my child is injured while riding in a shopping cart inside the grocery store, in a department store parking lot or after falling out of a child restraint?
Product liability lawyers in Boston know that shopping cart companies are like any other product manufacturers. They have both a moral and legal responsibility to design, manufacture, and produce products that keep people - especially children - safe from harm. Furthermore, stores that offer carts to their customers have a duty to ensure that the shopping carts are safe for children to use.
Recent studies, however, find that shopping carts are more dangerous than people might realize, with shopping cart accident-related emergency room visits for children increasing dramatically between 1990 and 2011. Reports suggest industry-wide regulations need to be adopted to reverse the trend of increasing accident rates.
Common shopping cart accidents and injuries
The Washington Post recently published a report detailing the findings of a Nationwide Children's Hospital study on shopping cart safety and injury risk for children.
Based in Columbus, OH, researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital analyzed emergency room data collected from 1990-2011 to determine the frequency and severity of shopping cart-related injuries among children.
Researchers found that shopping cart accidents injure an average of 24,000 children per year or roughly 66 children per day. Falls from shopping carts accounted for over two-thirds of shopping cart accidents, with other common accident types including running into the cart, falling over the cart, tip-overs and entrapment of limbs in the cart.
According to the study, the most commonly injured body region was the head, accounting for 78.1 percent of injuries to children. Concussions and closed head injuries (internal head injuries) increased from 3,483 in 1990 to 12,333 in 2011, the study said, with the majority of this increase in children under four.
Shopping cart accident statistics reveal need for safety reform
Voluntary safety standards were implemented across the United States in 2004 to hold shopping cart manufacturers accountable and reduce injury risk among children. However, researchers suggest that these voluntary standards may not be adequate to prevent improperly manufactured shopping carts from reaching store floors.
In fact, Nationwide Children's Hospital researchers suggested that design changes include improving performance standards for restraint systems, placing child seating areas closer to the floor. Researchers also suggested providing increased education to parents about how to properly use shopping carts and training store employees to encourage habits such as using cart safety belts.
Until measures are passed to bolster shopping cart safety, researchers recommend tips for parents to follow, including using child safety straps, placing your child's legs through the cart's legs openings, and making sure your child remains seated at all times. Researchers also recommended that parents avoid shopping carts that have parts of the child restraint system missing and never allow children to stand up inside carts. They also should use carts with child seats low to the ground, if possible.
Following these basic safety tips, however, may not be enough to prevent a shopping cart accident and injuries to a loved one. Accidents can happen in an instant and through no fault of your own. In those cases, the advice of an attorney may be necessary to hold negligent shopping cart manufacturers accountable for the action - or inaction - that led to an accident.
If your child was injured in a shopping cart accident in Boston, Worcester, Springfield or anywhere else in Massachusetts, you have rights. Contact a Boston product liability lawyer at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone today at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1.