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04 October 2012
A recent court case reminds all parents of their responsibility to secure their children in appropriate car safety seats – and the potentially tragic consequences of getting it wrong, warns Neille Ryan, a partner and an expert in personal injury cases with leading law firm Furley Page.
In the High Court case of Hughes v Williams and Williams, 18-year-old Dayne Hughes was speeding near Wrexham when he lost control, veered on the wrong side of the road and collided with Ms Williams’ car.
She was driving perfectly correctly and was fortunate to suffer only minor injuries. However, her three-year-old daughter Emma, on a booster seat in the back of her car, suffered catastrophic spinal chord damage.
Neille said: “There was no doubt that the accident had been caused by Mr Hughes’ bad driving but the High Court found that Emma’s injuries were worse because of her mother’s decision to place Emma in a booster seat rather than in the full child restraint seat with 5-point harness which, ironically, was still present on the back seat of the car.
“The court decided that Emma was too young and too small to be placed on the booster cushion. Had the child been in the full seat with 5-point harness she would have suffered only slight injuries and Emma’s mother was 25% to blame for her daughter’s life-changing spinal injuries.
“Warnings in the booster seat safety manual concerning weight, height and age limits were found to be not just ‘guidelines’, but important information which should be taken into account by parents deciding how to restrain their children.”
Neille added: “Although permission has been granted for the ruling to be appealed by Ms Williams, this is a tragic case and a terrifying judgement for any parent to face. I’m sure this will be a shock to parents who had not realised how critical it is to make sure that the correct type of child car seat is used and the difference it can make.
“Parents must read the child restraint seat instruction manual, heed the warnings and the potential disaster which properly restraining your child may help avert.”
For more information about making a personal injury compensation claim on behalf of a child, contact Neille Ryan on 01277 763939.