Evenflo internal crash tests show that its top-selling booster seat is unsafe for many children during side impact collisions, yet the company continued to market the seat as “side impact tested,” reports ProPublica. Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of children injured or killed for Evenflo’s booster seats allegedly failing to protect them in accidents. Evenflo has not issued a recall or otherwise notified consumers of this issue.

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Lawsuits: Evenflo Booster Seats Unsafe in Side Impact Collisions

Several lawsuits against Evenflo have alleged that the company’s booster seats failed to protect the plaintiffs’ children in a side-impact crash, which resulted in the death or “internal decapitation” of the child.

Evenflo marketed its booster seat as SIDE IMPACT TESTED, even though its side-impact tests indicated that the seat would frequently fail to protect children in a side-impact collision, according to ProPublica.

Evenflo touted its testing as “rigorous, simulating realistic side-impact crashes, which were responsible for more than a quarter of deaths of children under 15 killed in vehicle collisions,” reports ProPublica. Videos of the company’s side-impact crash tests show the child test dummies flying far outside their seats, with their head and neck moving in ways that could cause serious injury or death, ProPublica reports. In a deposition, a former Evenflo engineer noted that the company only said that the booster seat was “side impact tested”; it never claimed that the results of those tests showed any protective effect, reports ProPublica.

Evenflo engineer: “We side-impact test our seats, but I don’t think we say that we offer any type of side-impact protection.”

By the company’s low standards, its booster seat failed side-impact testing only if the child test dummy ended up on the floor of the car, or if the booster seat shattered into pieces, reports ProPublica.

Evenflo Reportedly Puts Profits Over Child Safety

In 2012, a safety engineer at Evenflo recommended that the company warn parents that children lighter than 40 pounds would be safer in a child seat with a safety harness than in an Evenflo booster seat, according to news reports. ProPublica reports that the safety engineer emailed high-ranking executives to tell them that these lighter children would remain safer using harnesses to hold their bodies in place. ProPublica states,

Making the change would match Canadian regulations and better align with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

However, according to an internal Evenflo record cited by ProPublica, a marking executive “vetoed” this safety recommendation. When the subject came up again later that year, the same executive is quoted by ProPublica as stating in an email,

Why are we even talking about this?… I have looked at 40 lbs for the US numerous times and will not approve this.

According to ProPublica, this decision to keep the weight limit low was “emblematic” of how the company has “repeatedly made decisions that resulted in putting children at risk.”

Evenflo Recalls of Child Safety Seats

Evenflo has had issues selling its booster seats in Canada, which has stricter rules when it comes to these seats than the United States. According to ProPublica, Evenflow booster seats have been recalled three times in Canada for sporting labels claiming that a child of 30 pounds or less could use the seat.

However, with looser laws regarding booster seats, Evenflo has not received the same scrutiny in the United States. Even when Evenflo increased the minimum age for the Big Kid booster seat, claiming that a child should be at least 3 years old and 38 inches tall, the company did not warn parents who had already bought the booster seat prior to this change. ProPublica reports,

Federal law doesn’t specify a minimum age for boosters. Evenflo was not required to recall the Big Kid boosters it had labeled as safe for 1-year-olds. The company did not tell parents who had already bought the seats that they should stop putting toddlers in them.

If you are the owner of an Evenflo booster seat, you may have a claim. Speak with an attorney to learn more about your options.

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