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Collapsing Auto Seats Can Cause Serious Injuries

Posted by attorney Brett Emison

In April 2010, Ford Motor Company recalled 33,000 midsize vehicles and SUVs because of a serious safety defect that allowed the seat back and head restraint to fall backwards in a collision. The Ford problem was caused by a seat recliner mechanism that could fail in a crash.

Did you know that many other vehicles have seat backs that were designed to fail in exactly this manner, even in minor collisions? Auto manufacturers call this a "yielding" seat design. I call it a "failing" seat design.

Seat back failures - regardless of the cause - pose at least two serious risks for occupants"

(1) Unless the front seat is equipped with an all belts to seat design in which the seat belt is anchored at all points to the seat itself, a failing seat back will leave the occupant with very little or no seat belt protection. As the seat falls away from the seat belt, the occupant is left unrestrained.

(2) As the seat fails backwards, the occupant's body falls also. For someone sitting behind the seat, the seat and the occupant intrude into their space and can result in serious injury or even death as the rear seat occupant slams into either the failing seat or even into the front seat occupant.

You can learn more about safety-related issues at our safety blog and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.

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