Seatback Failures Cause Outcry Among Automobile Safety Experts

 In Automobile Defects, Motor Vehicle Accident

In the national discussion about how to keep drivers and their passengers safe in a motor vehicle crash, seat belts and child seats and airbags are ever present topics.

There are public outreach campaigns (think Click it or Ticket) and websites devoted to the reporting of recalls of child seats and air bags – for good reason. Motor vehicle crashes are a major source of injury in America.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death among people between the ages of 1 and 54 in the United States.
  • They are also the leading cause of death among teenagers.
  • More than 2.2 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency rooms across the county after being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012
  • Young adults – folks between the ages of 18 and 24 – have the highest crash-related injury rates of all adults.

Thankfully, advocates and automobile safety experts are sounding the alarm on another safety issue confronting vehicle manufacturers and drivers: Seatback failures.

Advocacy for and awareness of seatback failures is rising, and the issue was just featured in an investigative piece produced by CBS News.

But what exactly is seatback failure and how does it pose a safety risk to backseat passengers?

According to the CBS News report: When a car is struck from behind, the front driver and passenger seats of many vehicles may collapse backwards, catapulting the occupants into the back area of the vehicle.

Just this month, a seatback failure that left a school-aged child severely brain damaged was resulted in verdict of more than $124 million against Audi. The suit involved a Texas family involved in a rear-end collision.

During the crash, the front driver’s seatback failed, throwing the occupant (in this case the father) into the backseat and into his 11-year-old son. The child suffered a traumatic head injury, is partially paralyzed and also blind in one eye.

The parents involved said they thought they had done the right thing – they had been told the same thing over and over again throughout the years: The safest place for a child to sit in a motor vehicle is in the back seat.

The jury assigned the majority of the blame on the car manufacturer – ruling it has been grossly negligent, despite the fact that the seats met or exceeded federal standards.

Now, advocates and motor vehicle safety experts are speaking up about both seatback failures and where the safest place for a child to be seated truly is while traveling in an automobile. They are asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to look into it.

For its part, the NHTSA has said the agency has indeed looked into it – but acknowledged that it would be challenging to change seatback standards because accidents, according to the agency, are very rare.

But that’s not what CBS News uncovered in its recent investigative report. In fact, their investigation uncovered that:

  • More than 100 people were severely injured or killed in apparent seatback failures since 1989.
  • The majority were children.
  • 17 people died in the past 15 years alone.

The attorneys at Pribanic & Pribanic know all too well the consequences of defective products and automobile defects – our personal injury lawyers have helped scores of injured people and the families of people killed in these types of motor vehicle crashes.

If you or someone you care about was injured in a motor vehicle accident because of a seatback failure, call the personal injury attorneys at Pribanic & Pribanic today for a free consultation at 412-672-5444 or toll free at 800-392-4529.

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