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Accidents > Defective Car Seatbacks

Poorly designed or defective automobile seats can cause unnecessary injuries in rear impact collisions. These car crash injuries could have been prevented had seat back designs and manufacturing defects been replaced with proven safety measures that have been readily available for a long time. Read on for answers to your questions about auto seat safety:

Why do problems with automotive seats occur?

Problems with automobile seats can be attributed to non-sturdy and defective parts, including seat backs, seat tracks, and recliner mechanisms. A seat back should be able to keep the vehicle's occupants safe by keeping the individual from moving forward and impacting the interior of the vehicle in a collision, or even worse being completely ejected. Automobile seats are not required to be tested in crash tests, and there have been recent tests showing the insufficiency of seat back standards. Safety standards today do not suffice in preventing fatalities, and serious injuries result from the lack of proper seat strength standards.

What are some common automotive seat failures?

Studies estimate that in 1990, there were 1,100 fatalities and 1,600 serious injuries due to seat collapses in rear-ended collisions. When the seat back collapses rearward in a rear impact, a driver can lose control of the vehicle, causing further injuries. A seat back failure can also interfere with the restraint system, allowing vehicle occupants to impact rear seat objects in a rear-impact collision because they are not properly restrained. In some circumstances, the vehicle occupants can be completely ejected from the vehicle when they have slid out from under the safety restraints. A front seat collapse can injure the rear seat passengers in a rear-impact collision, and the rear seat occupants can become trapped underneath the collapsed seat back.

Are current automotive seat standards enough?

The safety standards for automobile seats are too lenient and are not updated to protect vehicle occupants from injuries they might otherwise avoid. Automobile seats are not required to undergo crash tests, and current standards are so weak they leave safety experts wondering why new standards are not made. Tests that have been conducted on vehicles show that most seat backs are unable to safely withstand impacts, especially bucket seat backs and split bench seat backs. Seat backs are most affected by rear-impact collisions because a number of seat back defects can occur. A particular study found that in rear-impact collisions that had a front seat collapse occupants ended up being ejected from the seat even at low speeds. Some experts feel that if seat back strength were increased, it would limit the number of seat back defects that result from collisions. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated their desire to strengthen federal requirements, they have yet to change them.

What about child seats and car seats?

Children are seriously injured and killed in vehicle collisions because of defective child safety seats. Hundreds of children are endangered every time they are placed in a vehicle due to defective manufacturing or design features in child seats. Most vehicles are not equipped for child safety seats and this, combined with defective manufacturing and designs, places consumers' children at high risk for deadly injuries. Many child safety seats have been found to be defective in design and manufacture. Most design defects in child safety seats relate to the buckles, harnesses, shell designs, and the padding within the seat. When collisions occur, defective child seat designs endanger children by not properly containing them in their seat and throwing them around the vehicle, causing head injuries and full ejection from the child safety seat. Manufacturing problems are caused by defective harnesses and other plastic parts, leading to ejections and excessive movement within the car.

Are tethers required in car seats for children?

Tethers are the straps on the seat belt that attach to the top of the safety seat to the back of the vehicle's rear dash and provide a solution to the instability of child safety seats that can result in the child being thrust around and the seat falling over. Despite the fact that tethers have been around for about 30 years now, they are still not required in car seats. This safety strap can prevent the safety seat from falling over by better securing the seat. Some safety seats have too loose of a strap and, combined with an incompatible vehicle interior, they never properly restrain the seat or the child.

How can child seat safety be increased?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics, certain measures should be taken to better ensure the safety of children in child safety seats. Depending on the weight of the child, guardians should adjust how the child rides in a vehicle. A child under 20 pounds in weight should be put in a rear facing infant or convertible child safety seat. When the child grows to around 20 and 40 pounds and/or is older than one year of age, a forward-facing convertible child safety seat is suitable. A child who weighs between 40 and 60 pounds should have a child safety seat with a lap and shoulder belt harness, along with a booster seat with belt positioning. The combination of a shoulder belt along with the lap belt is important. Some older vehicles do not have both a shoulder belt and lap belt combination, but wearing only a lap belt is dangerous. Any child under the age of 12 should not ride in the front seat.

If You've Been Injured

If you have been injured due to defective automobile seats, contact an experienced attorney using the form to the right or by calling 1-800-923-6376.

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Defective Car Seatbacks
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