At The Gilbert Law Group®, our auto defects attorneys represent the families of children injured in accidents involving motor vehicles. While in many cases, the child injury or death will have occurred in a traffic crash, some injuries to kids involving cars do happen in non-traffic related incidents, including those involving power windows.
A power window is a car window that can be raised or lowered automatically with the press or push of a button or switch. This modernized window is much faster and more convenient than the older car windows, which required someone to manually turn a crank handle to raise them open/shut. With power windows, the driver can even raise/lower all of the windows without having to leave the driver’s seat.
However, these windows do come with certain risks. While power windows usually come with a lock feature, which is supposed to keep the window locked in place and prevent young kids from being able to open it of their own, this safety mechanism can malfunction or fail. Should this happen, a child that opens the window of a moving vehicle while unsupervised might fall out of the car or for his/her finger/head/another body part to could accidentally get caught/stuck in the window.
Power window accidents can also happen when a driver uses the master window control device next to him/her to raise or lower the windows in the backseat. A motorist may not realize that a child is sticking his/her head outside the car. Distracted driving cause this type of power window accidents.
It just takes two pounds of force to activate a power window switch. Only 22 pounds of force is required to cause injury to an infant. Power windows exert 30-80 pounds of upward force. It is no wonder then the injuries that may result can be serious, including finger amputation, brain injury, and strangulation. The latter can occur when someone’s head or neck gets caught in a power window, resulting in accidental asphyxia. Consider that it takes as little as 5 minutes for someone to die from asphyxiation without proper medical attention. If a child us fortunate enough to survive this kind of suffocation accident, he/she may be left with permanent brain damage or another type of disability.
According to a 2007 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, of the over the 2000 people treated in emergency rooms for power window accidents every year, more than 1,000 of them are kids, with those belonging to the age 4 and under demographic most at risk of getting hurt. Over 50 children have died in incidents involving power windows since 1990.
Also, many motor vehicles still don’t have an automatic reversing system (ARS) that can stop a window from rising shut if it detects an obstruction. In 2009, NHTSA, which had been studying ARS technology, decided that it wasn’t necessary to mandate this safety device for all new vehicles. Yet in a poll conducted in the US that same year, over 22 million adults said that either they or someone they knew had been injured in a power window accident.