January 27, 2015 | Finz & Finz, P.C.
It started with a recommendation.
Continue Reading: Defective Car Seats: Recommendation to Requirement
Many of the products we use today in the U.S. are well designed and built. There are exceptions, however, and poorly designed or manufactured automobiles can be exceptionally dangerous. One automobile component that has come into the spotlight recently is the automobile seat. Automobile seats have not been required to be tested in crash tests, and only recent tests have shown the insufficiency of seatback standards.
Thousands of Americans are injured each year due to the weak and defective designs of car (automobile) seats and their functioning components, such as seatbacks, recliner mechanisms and seat tracks. Car manufacturers continue to ignore injury statistics and their own engineers by refusing to adopt inexpensive design revisions that would drastically improve the safety of car seats, especially in rear end accidents.
Many cars on the roads today have seating systems that directly cause injuries or exacerbate pre-existing injuries. When a car is hit from behind the car is thrust forward but the occupants are rapidly thrown backward. This backward force puts force on the car's seatback, which should remain upright to cushion and protect occupant's bodies.
However, many seatbacks are poorly designed and often collapse when this force is exerted on them. If the seatback collapses backwards in a rear impact, a driver may lose control of the vehicle and cause further injuries. It can also interfere with the restraint system, in some cases allowing the vehicle occupants to slide from under the restraint and be ejected from the vehicle, even at low speeds. Rear seat occupants may be injured by a collapsed front seat, or become trapped underneath the seatback in a rear-impact collision.
As cars have become lighter to meet fuel economy requirements, so have car seats. The result has been a corresponding reduction in the minimal level of protection provided by a grossly inadequate standard. While seatbelts and shoulder harnesses are required to meet dynamic crash test conditions in which the test vehicle collides with a concrete wall at 30 miles per hour, no similar requirements exist for the seatback in rear-impact collisions.
General Motors has become most notorious for producing defective and flimsy seatbacks. Researchers have found that just about every front seat produced by General Motors from 1970- mid1990's was designed to collapse rearward in impact in which there was a speed change of 15 miles per hour or greater. In fact, GM's own tests document this seat collapse in crash tests.
Experts have been proposing new, safer car seat designs for a long time. One example is a rigid seatback design with head support structures that are sufficient to restrain a motorist in a normal seated posture during a collision. Rigid seats stay in an anchored position despite impact, and allow the occupant to remain within the seat restraints.
In 1970, a Ford Motor Company engineer predicted: "As measures are developed to provide better restraint of the head, seatback strength will probably be increased to better retain the occupant in his seat. The intent, in this instance, would be to prevent his contact with rear seat occupants. The degree of increase and resistance to rearward bending may be anywhere from two or three times, to more than ten times the current level."
Despite recommendations to improve safety over the last few decades, occupants in contemporary automobiles are continuously injured because of the low safety standards of the ineffective seats that have been produced.
If you or a family member or friend has been injured due a defective car seat, contact a product liability personal injury lawyer at the Finz firm now toll free at (855) TOP-FIRM to speak with an experienced defective car seat attorney or simply fill out the Free Defective Car Seat Case Evaluation form.