Two of our recent blog posts on car accidents have dealt with issues surrounding car seats.
In one, we took a close look at how often car seats are incorrectly installed. While the results were far below the “nine in ten” figure that a Kansas City police officer alluded to, we found that more than half of car seats were so poorly installed that it put children in more risk.
In the other blog post, we described some common ways that car seats are improperly installed so parents could avoid putting their young child in danger.
But what does this all mean for personal injury law? If you are in a car accident and your child gets hurt, why does the car seat matter?
Because Missouri’s comparative negligence rule can reduce your compensation, if you were partly to blame for an injury.
Personal Injury Cases Where Both People are Partly at Fault
In many personal injury cases where someone gets hurt in an accident caused by someone else, both people were acting negligently. For example, imagine a car accident where one driver was driving while distracted on the highway, but was staying in his lane. Another driver, however, was speeding and cutting in and out of traffic when he veered into the distracted driver’s lane, did not provide enough space, and this caused an accident.
In this case, while the speeding driver definitely caused the crash, the distracted driver contributed to it—especially if it comes to light that he could have avoided the accident, were he not distracted.
Missouri’s Comparative Negligence Rule
Like most states in the U.S., Missouri uses a comparative negligence rule whenever multiple parties were partly to blame for an injury. At the trial, the jury will be called upon to assign a percentage of fault to the victim and the defendant. However much the plaintiff is awarded in compensation is then reduced by whatever percentage of fault was assigned to them.
For example, imagine the distracted driver is hurt in the crash and files a personal injury lawsuit against the speeding driver. The case goes to trial and the jury finds that the distracted driver deserves $500,000 in compensation, but that he was 20% at fault for the crash. The distracted driver would then only be able to recover $400,000, rather than the full amount.
Comparative Negligence and Poorly-Installed Car Seats
Missouri’s comparative negligence rule also comes into play if you were in a car accident and your child was hurt, but the car seat was incorrectly installed. In theory, if you incorrectly install a car seat and that error is what caused your child to get hurt in a car accident—or caused their injuries to be more severe than they would have been—then a jury could find you partly to blame. This can drastically reduce the amount that your child recovers in compensation for the injuries they suffered in the crash.
Car Accident Attorneys in St. Joseph at the Smith Law Office
While some juries have shown a willingness to let these mistakes slide, others have not. Regardless, an improperly installed car seat or booster seat puts your child or baby in danger, so reviewing the seat’s installation instructions and taking steps to ensure you are doing everything correctly can help keep them safe.
If you or your child has been hurt in a car accident in St. Joseph, Kansas City, or the surrounding areas, call the personal injury and car accident attorneys at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.