New Study Suggests Shopping Carts Can Be Dangerous Hazard for Children


March 10, 2014

Parents routinely push their toddlers through the grocery store in shopping carts and assume that because the cart has a seat for kids, it must be safe to allow small children to ride in shopping carts. A recent study indicates that parents may be lulled into a false sense of security by the appearance that shopping carts are designed to safely carry kids. Many more kids than most parents probably realize are injured in accidents involving shopping carts each year.

A new report published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics indicates that over 24,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms annually for shopping cart accident injuries. This amounts to a child seeking treatment for these grocery store accidents every 22 minutes throughout the U.S. While some of these injuries are relatively minor, shopping cart accidents also can result in serious head injuries that cause severe permanent mental and physical debilitation.

There are currently no federal or state regulations or guidelines for shopping carts so stores and shopping cart manufacturers impose their own safety standards. Although the industry adopted new safety standards almost ten years ago, the changes did not have an impact on the number or severity of shopping cart accidents according to the recent study. Ironically, the number of shopping cart related concussion suffered by children under the age of 15 has jumped ninety percent over the last couple of decades. The U.S. has lagged behind many other countries that have adopted stability standards for shopping carts.

While some might be tempted to dismiss grocery cart accidents as not posing a risk of serious injury, Dr. Gary Smith, director of Nationwide's Center for Injury Research and Policy explains that this assumption is unfounded, "This is set up for a major injury. The major group we are concerned about are children under the age of 5."

The most common risk that parents need to be aware of involves kids falling from the cart which can result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Over 70 percent of the shopping cart accidents in the study involved children falling from the cart. Other types of accidents involve shopping carts that tip over or that are run into by kids. The authors of the study suggest that parents opt for shopping carts that position kids low to the ground like those with toy cars and require that their child always buckle the belt in the cart.

If your child has been injured in a shopping cart accident, there may be multiple parties who might be financially responsible for such injuries. The store may be liable based on premises liability law for failure to warn of or protect visitors from hazardous conditions. The manufacturer also may be liable if the design, manufacturing or warnings associated with a shopping cart are unsafe and lead to a reasonably preventable injury.

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Category: Personal Injury

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