Auto Seat Back Failures Lead to Serious Injuries. Joe Lyon is an auto defect attorney and product liability lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide. 

Seatback or Seat-Back failure is a dangerous automobile defect that causes numerous preventable injuries and fatalities each year in America. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received hundreds of complaints regarding seat back failure, which in recent years have resulted in over 100 injuries and deaths.

Many auto accident injuries can be prevented if auto manufacturers design and manufacture seat backs using available technology. However, auto makers often cut costs and consumers pay the price.

Vehicle seats play a significant role in passenger safety. Seats perform the same function in rear-end collisions as a seatbelt does for frontal collisions: they prevent the occupant from being thrust rearward or ejected from the vehicle. With that said, manufacturers often produce defective car seats under ineffective Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Poorly designed and defective seats may collapse on impact and result in devastating passenger crush injury, traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, or death.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati, Ohio product liability attorney, well-versed in the economic impact injuries and death have on a victim’s life and family.

The Lyon Firm works with auto accident experts to build the strongest case possible for plaintiffs and victims. 

Manufacturing Defects Cause Auto Seat Back Failures

Seatback failure typically occurs when the weight of a vehicle occupant forces the back of the seat to collapse. This may be the result of a faulty seat design, improper assembly or negligent installation.

Poor-quality materials may also be in question. If strong materials are used, it is more likely that a vehicle’s seat will stay upright and intact during a collision. When cheap materials are used, however, a seatback frame may be compromised. Common defects include:

  • Failure of seatback support system to maintain an upright position
  • Deformation or breaking of seatback frame
  • Detachment of adjustable head restraints during accidents

Auto Seat Back Failures & Head Injuries

  1. Rear-passenger Injuries—Occupants in the back seat at the time of seat failure may be crushed by the seat or the weight of the front seat occupant. A collapsed seat can also trap the rear passenger and cause further injuries.
  2. Ejection Injuries—During a high-speed collision, a seatback failure can result in the ejection of an occupant from the vehicle.
  3. Loss of Vehicle Control—If a seatback fails while a vehicle is in motion, the driver may find it difficult or impossible to control the vehicle and avoid an accident.
  4. Detached Head Rest—defective headrests, in addition to failing to protect the occupant, may become dangerous projectiles in the event of an accident.
  5. Blunt Trauma—any occupant who is thrown from their seat can suffer severe head and spinal injuries.
  6. Seat Back Trapping Passenger—a faulty seat may trap rear passengers under collapsed front seats.

Children & Rear Passengers at Additional Risk in Auto Accidents

The Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) conducted a 2008 study and determined that the risk of injury was doubled for children when a vehicle’s front seat collapsed or became deformed during an accident. A total of 71 percent of collisions in the study involved children who were seated behind an occupant, and in 8 percent, the defective seat posed a threat to a child.

A recent investigation by CBS News revealed over 100 people who had been severely injured or killed because of faulty seats, and many of these cases involved children. The investigation targeted Audi after a jury ruled against Audi in a wrongful death case even though the seats in question met the federal standard for strength.

Several major American, Japanese and Korean automakers have had claims of defective seat backs installed in their vehicles. Internal documents show automakers and the NHTSA have known about the potential for auto seat back failures for many years.

Defects, Recalls & Auto Seat Back Failures

When a number of people have been injured in similar auto accidents, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) typically investigates the safety of the vehicles involved to determine if a recall is warranted. Automakers may feel pressure to recall certain vehicles, or may wait until legal action is taken by victims of their defective products.

In May, 2017, Ford recalled 2,200 SUVs and trucks because the driver’s manually adjusted seats may not be welded properly, resulting in the seat back improperly restraining the driver in the event of an accident. Ford recalled some 2017 Ford Explorer, 2017 Ford F-150, and 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty models because the vehicles may not meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards.

In November, 2018, Honda announced a recall for 800,000 Odyssey minivans in the United States because of problems with locking adjustable seats into place. The affected minivans, which include model years 2011 to 2017, have second-row seats that can tip forward when not properly latched, increasing the risk of injury to an occupant. Honda said it had received 46 reports of injuries related to the seats. The following auto makers have recently recalled automobiles for faulty auto seat back failures:

Automotive safety standards require that a vehicle be designed to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury in possible collisions and impacts. Car manufacturers are liable to consider their vehicles’ ability to withstand collision. The structure of the vehicle itself must protect passengers, and additional crash safety relies on adequate occupant retraining devices—seats and seat belts.

Following a serious car accident, victims should contact an experienced Ohio auto accident lawyer to investigate. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to seat back failure, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm  at (800) 513-2403.

You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding auto seat back failures.