Every year dozens of children are strangled, trapped, suffocated and killed by an accidental activation of the electric power window in their car or truck. These electric power car windows can be a real killer. It is a hidden danger that strikes without any warning and its victim is an innocent child or family pet. The problem with these car windows is that a child can inadvertently touch, step or lean onto the power window rocker switch or button and the window will rapidly raise into place trapping a child head or neck resulting in suffocating the child (asphyxiation) or severely choking the child’s neck preventing sufficient oxygen to the brain resulting in brain damage and death.
The auto makers have known since the advent of the electric power window that these devices can kill. Over the last 30 years, the auto makers have been notified of hundreds of electric power window accidents involving children, animals and adults. As late as 2001 General Motors in it’s owners manuals makes a casual attempt to warn consumers about children left in a car with the keys in the ignition. These vague warnings however do not go far enough as to warn the consumer of the dangers of power windows due to the inadvertent activation of the button by a child resulting in a entrapment of the child’s neck, torso or head, strangulation, choking or even death. In fact, no where in most owners manual does it even mention this a possibility of death of strangulation of a power window to a child. Below in the series of photos that show the danger of power windows and children. Why haven’t the auto makers printed a series of photographs to better warn the parents of children of the power window entrapment problem?
The power window in the photographs is that of a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban. If the power window button is pushed down or activated whether intentionally or inadvertently, the electric window will raise from the open position to the closed or entrapped position in slightly more than 2 seconds. Imagine how many of us as parents have had our children in the family car, with just the key in the ignition (to allow the radio to play) and we turn our backs for 3 -5 seconds. Power window entrapment and strangulation can happen to the most careful and loving parents. These are not careless or negligent parents as the auto makers would argue, but rather consumers who were never warned of the dangers of electric power windows. The real question for a jury is , Why didn’t the automakers design a power window button that went down instead of up when it was accidently pushed or stepped on instead of blaming the parents of the child that was killed or maimed. The auto maker was in the best position to fix the design defect of the power window problem, not the consumer.
With the increase in numbers of cars with power electric windows in the 1960’s, so was there an increase in number of injuries and deaths to children due to power window mistakes. What was once a rarity is now common place. As early as 1968, consumer safety experts were warning the automobile industry of the growing need form a safer design to prevent needless deaths from the electric power windows that were showing up in the new cars of the sixties. Ralph Nader in 1968 wrote to the administrator of NHTSA demanding a recall of the power windows and to require a public warning and an immediate modification to prevent accidental power window deployment. No cars were recalled. The automakers were however put on official notice of the problem when William Hadden of NHTSA called for a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) to be written to reduce, if not eliminate the danger of power operated windows. The FMVSS 118 required that the power windows could not be operable unless the ignition key was in the “on” position. Some safety experts had urged a tougher standard which would have required an auto reverse or auto interrrupt switch to be installed which would immediately stop and reverse the direction of the window to the down position. This requirement also failed to pass, citing techincal challenges to overcome. (Remember this is the same year NASA landed on the moon and safely returned three astonaunts home.) In 2004, many auto makers including General Motors Corporation installed the new lift style power window buttons.The new version should drastically reduce the numbers of accidental deaths due to entrapment and strangulations in power electric windows.
If a loved one has suffered a serious injury or accidental death as a result an electric power window strangulation or entrapment, then you may have a right to file a products liability lawsuit case against the negligent auto maker. Call now and get your questions answered. Talk to a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer FREE CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at 1-800-883-9858 or 1-800-468-4878 (Toll Free)