Most drivers do not know this, but your vehicle’s seat can paralyze you in a crash if it fails.
How Your Vehicle’s Seat Can Paralyze You in an Accident
When you are involved in a minor or moderate rear-end collision, you expect to be able to walk away. And in many cases, this is the case.
But not when a defective or cheaply made vehicle seat collapses, falling backward and causing you to suffer a catastrophic spinal injury. Or, worse, causes you to strike your child, who is sitting behind you, and absorbs the impact from your head and seatback, resulting in catastrophic injury or death.
Do These Car Seats Pass Government Regulations?
This scenario — a vehicle seatback collapsing rearward in a crash and causing serious injury, paralysis, even death — might sound outlandish, but it happens quite often. The fact is, the structural integrity of many vehicle seats leaves much to be desired.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has standards for seats, it’s marginal and hasn’t been upgraded in decades. Many vehicle manufacturers design their seats only to pass the minimum regulations, putting drivers and passengers in mortal danger if certain types of collisions occur.
Some seat designs do prevent collapse in rear impacts but few manufacturers uniformly install them. Volvo and Mercedes-Benz are typically the exceptions. Most others concentrate on low cost not safety; as long as they can scrape by meeting the antiquated minimum standards, they go no further.
Their seats might look nice, but if you were to take one apart (a process known as de-trimming), you would see that it looks more like a lawn chair than a robust, durable, component that is part of the safety system designed to protect you in a crash.
A Few Things You Should Know If You or a Loved One Was Injured by a Seatback Collapse
If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a crash due to a seatback collapsing and you are thinking of filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer, you should first understand a few things:
Litigation Can Take a Long Time
These cases require a lot of investigation and evidence gathering. This can prolong the process by months or even years.
A Seatback Collapse Case Can Be Quite Costly
Winning a lawsuit like this often requires bringing in lots of experts to demonstrate that the car manufacturer was negligent in the construction and sale of its seats. These experts might include:
- An accident reconstruction expert to demonstrate the mechanics of the crash and how it resulted in the seatback giving way.
- A biomechanics engineer to evaluate the injuries and correlate them to seat collapse.
- A design expert to evaluate the seat itself and point out the structural flaws and examine the alternative designs that would prevent collapse.
- An historian to talk about the history of safety regulations.
- A damages expert to project the lifetime costs of treating paralysis or any other serious injury suffered in the crash.
Many victims choose not to pursue a lawsuit once they figure out the time and costs involved. In fact, one reason so many people are not aware of the scope of this problem is that there has been so little litigation on it, particularly when compared to other personal injury scenarios — whiplash, for instance — that are much easier to litigate and thus much more commonly known.
The Time and Cost Can Be Worth It
But there are several good reasons to push forward with a lawsuit, not the least of which is that treating a serious, lifelong injury such as paralysis has significant expenses, costs that you should not be expected to bear on your own. There is also a potential societal benefit to pursuing litigation: Through litigation, we might succeed in pushing manufacturers to make vehicles safer. Because few people are currently taking them to task for this significant problem, manufacturers have little incentive to fix the problem.
But if claimants start hitting them in the pocketbook by filing lawsuits, it could cause change, potentially saving thousands of future accident victims and their children from devastating injuries.
First Steps After a Seatback Collapse Injury
If you want to pursue damages but are worried about the time and expenses involved, start by asking around. Talk to plaintiff lawyers in your area and ask them who the local experts are with regard to crashworthiness and vehicle seats. Schedule a free consultation with a product liability lawyer and share with him or her any questions or concerns you have about the process.
To Speak with a Product Liability Lawyer Today, Call Newsome Melton at 888-808-5977
The Newsome Melton legal team focuses on product liability law, helping victims injured by defective seats win the damages they deserve. We are available to answer your questions. To speak with an attorney or schedule a free consultation to meet with us, call our office today at 888-808-5977.