As parents gear up for a hectic shopping season, many will load small children into the front seat of the store cart without a second thought.shoppingcart

But in light of a study released last year showing a rise in child injuries and head injuries due to shopping cart falls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a safety alert on the issue. Researchers published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics reported that more than 24,000 children annually – or 66 a day – suffer shopping cart-related injuries so serious, they must be transported to a hospital.

Study authors concluded that the the current voluntary safety standards for shopping carts are inadequate. Between 1990 and 2011, nearly 530,500 children were treated at hospitals for these injuries. And when voluntary safety standards were adopted in 2004, the number of injuries did not decrease, and in fact, the number of closed head injuries has actually increased.

Our Miami child injury attorneys recognize that when such incident occur – particularly when they result in serious or disabling injuries – there may be grounds for litigation, though it will depend on the circumstances.

Falls out of the shopping cart accounted for 71 percent of all child injuries. Others involved being run over by a cart, falling over the cart, having a body part stuck or trapped in the cart or having the cart tip over.

The most common injuries by far were head injuries, accounting for 78 percent of the total. During the time frame studied, head injuries increased from 3,500 annually to more than 12,300 each year.

A key issue, researchers believe, is the design of the shopping carts. Although many issues do occur when children aren’t property strapped in or are standing in carts when they shouldn’t be, it’s not necessarily parents who are to blame.The carts are designed to have a high center of gravity, which means tip-overs and falls can occur even when the child is properly seated.  If seats were placed closer to the ground, it would reduce injury because children would be less likely to fall. Alternatively or in addition to this, it was suggested shopping cart manufacturers improve restraint systems.

It’s especially important because grocery store floors are almost always hard surfaces, which means there is a high likelihood of head and neck injuries. A fair number involve concussions and some are even life-threatening. The average shopping cart is about four feet tall, and for a small child, that kind of impact can be devastating. That’s likely why 20,000 of those 24,000 shopping cart accident hospital visits involve children under the age of 5.

But even before this study was released, there were pleas from the medical community for action. The American Academy of Pediatrics called for a mandatory industry standard. Even though this issue has been known and discussed for more than three decades, we only have a voluntary standard that doesn’t mandate any specific design and fails to indicate clear, effective performance criteria to improve stability and reduce tip-overs and falls.

In its recent safety alert, the CPSC pointed to a 2011 incident in which a 3-month-old infant died after his car seat fell out of a cart when the cart rolled over a speed bump in the parking lot of the store. Another incident a few years earlier involved a 3-year-old boy killed after standing up in the cart and falling backward, striking his head.

A voluntary standard enacted in 2012 suggests warning labels should be placed on all shopping carts to highlight the danger.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of an accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Falls from Shopping Carts Cause Serious Head Injuries to Children, November 2015, Consumer Product Safety Commission Safety Alert

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Reese v. Stanton – Bus Accident Trial Judge Erred in Allowing Workers’ Comp. Evidence in Injury Lawsuit, Oct. 20, 2015, Miami Personal Injury Attorney Blog