In the event of an accident, the seatback of the driver or front seat passenger can collapse. This can injure the children who are seated in the back seat if the seat crashes down on them. And while few in the general public may be aware of this problem, it is well-known to the auto industry and to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A recent CBS News article told the story of a woman who was rear-ended while driving with her 15-month-old son in the back seat. The collision caused the woman’s seat back to collapse, sending her head-first into her son. The child suffered brain damage, hearing loss, and facial paralysis, and spent a month in the hospital.
Investigation into Seat Back Collapse Problem
CBS News is investigating these seatback collapses. The news organization has identified more than 100 cases in which seatback collapses caused serious injury or death. The most frequent victims are children because they are usually in the back seat. The investigation has prompted a few legislators – two U. S. Senators and a U. S. Representative – to write to the NHTSA to demand the agency take immediate corrective action.
The current safety standards are 50 years old. Under those standards, according to the CBS article, a banquet chair would pass the current standards.
Another CBS article tells the tale of a family in Texas, who was awarded $124.5 million for the injuries to their son. The child was seated behind the father who was in the driver’s seat. When another vehicle rear-ended the family, the father’s seat back collapsed and he fell backwards into his then seven-year-old son. The child will need care for brain damage, partial paralysis of part of his face, and hearing loss for the rest of his life.
Are manufacturers fixing the problem?
According to reports, engineers have said that fixing this problem would only cost about a dollar.
Some auto manufacturers are taking action on their own to address and correct the problem. They are redesigning their seats to make them stronger and less likely to collapse in the event of a collision. Other automakers are apparently waiting until the government forces them to act.
So what can parents do to protect their children from this problem? Here are two suggestions:
- Place your child’s seat behind an unoccupied seat, if possible.
- If both front seats are occupied, place the child behind the front seat passenger who weighs the least.
If your child suffered injuries because of a seatback collapse, you may have a claim for the damages. Contact car accident attorney Jason R. Schultz, P.C. to set up a free case evaluation. Call 404-474-0804 today for your free consultation.