Alleged Seatback Failures Blamed for More than 100 Accidents

Investigators from CBS News discovered a potential danger allegedly caused by seatback failures. These seatback failures may cause injury and represent an outdated government safety standard. Investigators now believe the defective vehicle seatbacks may be behind 100 accidents that occurred over the last 30 years and that child injuries in car accidents were often caused by them.

Why Seatbacks Fail

Videos from crash tests show that when a vehicle is hit from behind, the front seat can collapse backwards, causing occupants to launch into the backseat and often harm themselves and/or the children seated there.

CBS News has been investigating the problem for more than six years. The news outlet has identified more than 100 people who were killed or severely injured due to vehicle seatbacks over the last 30 years.

One family filed a Honda lawsuit after they were rear-ended in a car accident, the front seat collapsed, and their child in the backseat suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. Their lawyer believes that car recliner issues are partly to blame for the child’s injury. He is arguing that a bar that connects the seat’s two recliner mechanisms can bend upon impact and collapse backward, ejecting occupants from the front seats. The same rods are installed in many other makes and models besides Honda.

Government Standards Regarding Seatback Strength

Honda’s representatives assert that their vehicles exceed federal safety standards and note that only 2 percent of all product liability claims in the last ten years have alleged seatback failures.

However, the Center for Auto Safety is pushing for safer seats, noting that the problem is preventable even if it’s only responsible for 2 percent of problems.

CBS News investigators say that the federal seat strength standard has not changed since the 1960s and that even a banquet chair can pass the standard. CBS News discovered internal documents showing that automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have known about the potential for seatback failures for years. The NHTSA defends that it has looked into the problem but that it is very challenging to update the standard because these types of accidents are “rare.”

Meanwhile, the NHTSA has recommended for years that children sit in the backseat because it is the safest location for them. Most of the serious injuries and deaths caused by the seatback failures occurred in children.

Lawmakers are considering new legislation that would update the seatback standard.

How Our Product Liability Lawyers Can Help

If you or your child were injured in a car crash because of a seatback failure or other defect in a vehicle, the knowledgeable product defect lawyers at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. can help. We have won thousands of cases, including seatback failure cases against auto manuacturers. We also recovered $55.3 million from a Philadelphia jury in an auto defect case. We will fight just as hard for you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get started on your claim.