Automatic car windows are found in millions of vehicles sold in the US.
However, power windows can also be hazardous to children, especially when
they are left unattended. Children may roll the windows up on themselves
while trying to stick their heads out of vehicles. Windows can exert intense
pressure on the windpipe, leaving children who become caught unable to
breathe or scream for help. While this possibility does sound gruesome,
it was the exact scenario that has devastated a family in Indiana.
An Indiana couple recently lost their 2-year-old son after he accessed
and became caught in an automatic window. Before the tragedy unfolded,
the couple had put the 2-year-old and his sister in a car with the air
conditioning on while they cleaned a separate vehicle 30 feet away.
According to the couple, their son awoke from a nap and tried to stick
his head out of the window. When the 2-year-old’s toe activated
the control panel, the window rolled up on his neck. The toddler was unable
to breathe or scream to his parents for help. At some point, the parents
discovered what had happened and called emergency services.
By the time emergency workers arrived, their son had gone without oxygen
for more than 30 minutes (brain damage occurs at less than five minutes).
Emergency workers were able to keep the young boy alive, but he died several
days later after he was pulled off life support.
What is a Design Defect?
There could be a debate in the coming weeks as to whether power windows
need to be modified so they do not pose a hazard to children. The case
described in our blog is not a first. Similar deaths
have occurred in the past. Whether automatic windows are a design defect depends on the circumstances.
Consumers may file
product liability lawsuits when they or a loved one are injured by design defects. These are defects
that occur while a product is being designed. A design defect can make
a product unsafe for use, even when it is used or manufactured correctly.
Washington DC personal injury lawyers at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC have secured multiple settlements and verdicts
for children injured by dangerous consumer products.