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How do you know if your booster seat is safe?

Federal safety laws require that child booster seats pass tests that simulate head-on collisions. However, there are many other types of collisions that can endanger little ones who are strapped into one of these seats. Nonetheless, manufacturers can decide what other kinds of safety tests (if any) to run and what kind of results are considered failing.

A recent report from ProPublica found that the Big Kid booster seats made by Evenflo have caused serious injuries to children in side-impact crashes. Although the company conducts side-impact tests using child-size crash test dummies, ProPublica found that the only time a test was considered a "fail" was if the seat broke apart or the dummy landed on the floor.

The report also says that Evenflo continued to market the seats as suitable for kids weighing less than 40 pounds even though they were advised that they were unsafe for such small children. Evenflo's website currently says, "Our Big Kid high back boosters are designed for children 40-110 lbs."

It's lead booster-seat engineer acknowledged that children could suffer catastrophic and even fatal injuries to their head, spine and neck in collisions. Indeed, the company has faced lawsuits from parents of children who suffered serious and disabling injuries.

At least three families have sued Evenflo after their children were injured in side-impact crashes while in their Big Kid seats. Two of the children suffered what is called "internal decapitation," and another suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Evenflo's general counsel told ProPublica that the seats are safe for children both under and over 40 pounds as long as they're properly secured in the seats.

No booster seat can protect children from suffering injuries in every crash. Their purpose is to keep them secured while the car is in motion and if there is an impact to the car. However, if you believe that your child's injuries occurred or were worsened because a booster seat didn't secure them properly in a crash, it's wise to find out what options you have for taking legal action against the manufacturer.

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