Seat design is critical to driver and passenger safety, but while most individuals recognize the importance of well-designed seatbelts, many do not understand the role the seats themselves play in vehicle collisions and occupant protection. Faulty seatbacks cause numerous injuries, and in some cases, may result in death.
Types of Seatback Failure
A variety of issues can contribute to seatback failure. Many seatbacks are simply not strong enough to stay upright during collisions. Typically, seatbacks that fail to remain upright are constructed from substandard materials.
This poor construction may also result in the deformation of the mounting system responsible for keeping the seatback attached to the floor. Additionally, adjustable headrests may become detached during vehicle collisions. These detached headrests quickly become deadly projectiles that put both front and rear seat passengers in harm’s way.
One of the most common and most deadly issues associated with seatbacks involves faulty seat controls. Designed to allow occupants to move seats front and back or set them in a reclined position, these controls do not always lock in place. The ensuing lack of stability can prove dangerous in the event of a collision.
Seatback failure is deadly, in part, because it prevents mechanisms such as seatbelts and air bags from working effectively. In some cases, a deformed seatback can actually act as a ramp, causing drivers or passengers to be ejected from the vehicle. Rear passengers are at increased risk, as they may be harmed not only by their own seatbacks, but also by those occupied by front seat passengers. If the front seatback collapses, rear seat passengers may be crushed or trapped inside the vehicle. Those trapped by defective seatbacks may not be able to escape in time if a fire occurs.
Injuries Related to Defective Seatbacks
Defective seatbacks are responsible for a wide array of severe injuries, including:
- Internal bleeding
- Head injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Internal organ damage
Not only do seatback defects cause a variety of physical injuries, they may also result in emotional trauma. Although vehicle collisions are traumatic in and of themselves, they are far more devastating if an unexpected injury or death occurs due to a malfunctioning seatback.
Notable Recalls Involving Defective Seatbacks
In recent years, several vehicle manufacturers have issued recalls related to defective seatbacks. In 2013, GM recalled the 2014 editions of the GMC Sierra 1500 and the Chevrolet Silverado, both of which had seatbacks with manual controls that did not correctly lock into place when the seats were in a reclined position. Although there were no reports of injuries or fatalities related to these faulty seatbacks, they could have put passengers at risk in rear-impact collisions.
Another significant seatback recall took place in late 2014, when the 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop was recalled due to issues with its seatbacks. The reasoning for this recall was very similar to that surrounding the earlier GM recall; the seatback’s adjustment mechanism was not fully engaged in affected vehicles. This lack of full engagement could have caused seatbacks to fold during rear-end accidents. According to BMW, there were no reported injuries related to the recall.
A welding issue was at the center of a 2014 Ford recall involving 435,000 vehicles. Although this recall primarily involved rusting on the Ford Escape, it also featured nearly 50,000 vehicles with seatbacks that were improperly welded.
Legal Assistance For Defective Seatback Victims
Car accidents involving defective seatbacks can be physically and emotionally traumatizing, but with the help of a solid legal team, it is at least possible to hold responsible parties accountable. What’s more, it may be possible to secure remuneration for any suffering you’ve experienced in the aftermath of your terrifying car accident. Our firm has successfully handled numerous vehicle-related personal injury cases. Call us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our personal injury services.