Infant cradle swings are devices that allow a baby to be rocked back and forth to help them calm down or sleep. These typically involve a cradle part, which holds the infant, and a stand for the cradle, which provides the motion and rocking action. Cradle swings often utilize mechanical or electric power to make the cradle rock back and forth.
The stand part of an infant swing is a stationary product consisting of a frame that is mechanically powered to allow a baby to swing in a seated position. The swings are meant for use from birth until a child is able to sit up without support.
Infant cradle swings have been associated with various injury risks due to:
- The cradle seat falling off the frame;
- The entire unit tipping over;
- Movable parts breaking and causing injury;
- Malfunctioning of the electronic or other power-assisted rocking features.
Infant cradle swings can be dangerous, because there is a tendency for the parent to leave the infant alone in the swing while the automatic swinging mechanism is operating. This can cause an injury at a time when the parent is not present and watching, which can further complicate the hazard.
Before 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received dozens of reports of injuries to infants caused by the use of infant swings, including reports of at least two deaths. In response to these reports, the CPSC enacted new safety requirements for the manufacturers of baby swings. The standards apply to all infant swings, as well as to cradle swings and travel swings.
The new standard requires that manufacturers perform a stability test to ensure that their swings are manufactured so as not to tip over during use. In addition, manufacturers must perform a safety test aimed at preventing unintended folding of the stand that holds the cradle when it is in use. The new safety standard also requires tests of the restraint systems to prevent breaking or slipping of the safety belts when the swing is in use.
It also requires more explicit warning labels to prevent slump-over deaths for infants who are not old enough to hold up their own heads. The warning stresses that proper use of the swing is to keep the cradle in the furthest reclining position until the infant can carry the weight of its head, which happens when an infant is around 4 months old. This last recommendation regarding safe use is critical. A parent should assess whether their child is able to hold up its head.
Requirements also include a flat swing surface while the swing is in motion and at rest. Also, electrically powered swings must be designed to prevent overheating and battery leaks. Swings with seats that sit at a 50 degree or greater angle must come with shoulder restraints. Safety tests should also ensure that if mobiles are included with the swings, they do not detach if pulled by the infant. Finally, the swings should be tested for specific load and weight requirements.
Some experts advise against allowing a baby to spend too much time in a cradle swing. They cite as a risk the possibility that lying in a swing cradle restricts an infant’s movements. An infant needs free space and contact with the ground so it can slowly learn to crawl, move and eventually walk. Mastering these movements is a vital part of an infant’s development.
In addition, some infants develop bruises and bumps if they are kept in a cradle swing for too long a period of time. And, when an infant begins to try to stand up and walk, there is a risk that they might fall off the swing if they are left unsupervised.
Who Can Be Liable for Infant Cradle Swing Injuries?
Various parties can be held liable for an infant cradle swing injury. In many instances, the manufacturer and designer of an infant cradle swing can be held liable if there is a defect in the swing. A defective product can lead to a strict product liability lawsuit. Defects in the design of a product or defects that arise during manufacture of the product can both lead to strict product liability on the part of the manufacturer and distributors of the product.
Marketing or warning defects can also give rise to a lawsuit for strict product liability. When a product is offered for sale at retail outlets, it must come with necessary warnings about how it should and should not be used. Also, it should come with directions about how to assemble it so that it operates safely. Failure to provide the needed directions and warnings is itself a kind of defect that can lead to strict liability for product defects.
In some cases, a caretaker or similar person can be held liable for an infant’s injury if they knowingly place an infant in a defective or recalled product. Or, if a caretaker used the product with a child under the age of 4 months in a manner contrary to the recommended use, this could lead to liability for negligence on the part of the caretaker.
What Are the Legal Remedies for Infant Cradle Swing Injuries?
Infant cradle swing injuries can be serious and may require legal action. An infant cradle swing lawsuit generally seeks an award of money damages to compensate the parents of the injured infant for their economic losses. The same damages are available whether the lawsuit is one for negligence or one for strict product liability.
This is intended to compensate the injured party for all of the costs associated with medical treatment of an infant’s injuries, including hospital bills, doctors’ bills, and the rest. The amount of damages awarded may vary according to several factors, including:
- The state personal injury laws that govern the case;
- The extent of the injuries involved;
- Whether there were any intervening factors in the injury, such as a failure to seek treatment promptly that may have worsened the injuries.
Basically, all costs of necessary medical treatment should be compensated by an award of money damages. If the infant has not completely recovered by the time of trial and can expect to need additional care in the future, then those projected future costs must be compensated as well.
Also, if the infant’s parents have had to miss work in order to care for the infant or take them to doctors’ appointments, any lost wages must also be compensated. If the parent or parents will have to miss work and lose income in the future, that projected future income must be compensated also.
Then, damages should compensate for the infant’s pain and suffering. Of course, if the child can expect to suffer some permanent disability or disfigurement, this aspect of the family’s losses must also be compensated.
Also, if many consumers report problems with a certain infant cradle swing to the federal CPSC, the CPSC may arrange with the manufacturer for a product recall.
If an accident involving an infant cradle swing should result in the death of an infant, the infant’s parent or parents would file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with an Infant Cradle Swing Lawsuit?
Infant cradle swing lawsuits can involve some complex law and the expertise of a defective products lawyer could be helpful. Your lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and determine the cause of the accident that involved your infant. They can tell whether the product was defective or whether negligence on the part of a caretaker was involved. Your lawyer can then advise you of your options for seeking redress.