There have been a number of changes to safety recommendations over the years when it comes to children riding in cars, but one key message has remained constant. That constant message has been that the safest place for kids to sit is in the back seat. However, recent investigations and lawsuits have brought to light seat back failure , a major safety issue that is leaving parents everywhere feeling unnerved. In fact, one such lawsuit ended this week when a Texas jury ordered Volkswagen’s Audi unit to pay $124.5 million to an 11-year old boy who was left brain-damaged in a 2012 accident (per CBS News).
Seat back failure is a serious defect in many vehicles that causes numerous injuries and fatalities every single year, often times to children. seat back failure occurs when a car is rear-ended and the defective front seat breaks at the hinge, sending the occupant backwards into the seat behind them with great force and no restraint. The crash test video below from 2010 illustrates this danger.
As scary as the thought of seat back failure occurring may be, many might assume that a vehicle having defective or poorly designed seats is a rare occurrence. However, the regulation in place for vehicle seats, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207, has been widely criticized since its inception decades ago. In fact, the standard for seat back strength has been set so low that auto safety advocates have indicated that seats in some cars are no better than garden or beach chairs.
One other common misconception is that seat back failure could only occur during high-speed collisions. In reality, even low or moderate-speed collisions can lead to seat back failure with deadly results. In one case, a 5-year old girl in Kentucky was killed when her family’s vehicle was rear-ended by a pickup truck traveling an estimated 24 mph. The young girl’s heart ruptured after the front passenger seat collapsed backward. Unfortunately, while just one story like this is too many, there is a long list of similar tragedies that have occurred as a result of seat back failure.
In upcoming blogs, we will continue to dig deeper into this topic. We will explore who else might be at risk from seat back failure , look into which automakers have been involved in related lawsuits and discuss some precautions that parents can take to help minimize the risk of injury.
New Jersey and New York Seat Back Failure Attorneys