Seatback Defects Endanger Drivers, Automakers Slow to Take Action

According to an in-depth investigation conducted by CBS News, the majority of seatbacks in driver and passenger seats are dangerously defective. As numerous studies of rear-end collisions crash tests show, the front seats in numerous makes and models collapse entirely during the crash, slamming the chair and the driver or passenger into anyone sitting in the back. Unfortunately, young children seated in the back of the car, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has encouraged for years, often suffer the worst of the injuries.

Young Jesse Rivera, Jr. now lives with a debilitating traumatic brain injury after a rear-end collision in 2012 threw his father into him as he was seated in the back. Ms. Jacklyn Romine was paralyzed as her neck was driven into the backseat at full force. Little Taylor Warner lost her life in a similar car accident, the worst of her fatal injuries occurring from her own mother’s seat collapsing into her; The Gilbert Law Group┬« would later represent Warner’s parents in a personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit. The consequences of the gross negligence of numerous automakers continues to spell a disastrous tale for drivers and their passengers, and yet the NHTSA says its hands are tied.

According to NHTSA representatives, it can only force changes to safety standards when a problem is prevalent enough to cause a widespread concern for the commonwealth. Only 3% of all car accident fatalities are caused by rear-end collisions, and roughly 8% of those involve a collapsing front seat. The numbers are too small in the greater scheme of car accident safety, the NHTSA says. But one life taken due to a preventable defect is one life too many.

Using Auto Product Liability Litigation to Find Improvement

In previous depositions regarding seatback failures, an engineer in the industry proposed that strengthening seatbacks would cost the manufacturer maybe a few dollars. Reports of seatback failures crop up as early as 1989. Audi engineers even proudly claimed that the seats were designed to collapse to help absorb impact, and that the front seats were safest when a passenger in the back supported it with their own knees during a collision. The more evidence that is uncovered about these dangerous defects, the clearer it becomes that gross negligence is at hand.

Victims of car accident injuries are started to fight back, creating lawsuits against auto manufacturers who did little or nothing at all to improve upon their safety designs in the wake of seatback failure reports. Recently in Texas, a jury rewarded plaintiffs more than $120 million.

It is so important for us and other attorneys across the country to take up rear-end collision seatback failure lawsuits. Not only do we help people find compensation and peace of mind after suffering devastating injuries, we also bring attention to the issue and let automakers, and the NHTSA, know that ineffective and downright dangerous products are not acceptable.

To learn more about CBS News’ studies, be sure to view their reports and articles – here and here. For representation from our seatback failure lawsuit attorneys, you can contact us today and request a free consultation.


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