Is Your Rear Impact Case Really an Auto Products Case?

Written By Jaime Jackson

I was asked the other day by a friend about where to find information on the strength of driver’s seatback in a rear impact. The unfortunate reality is, there is little information available to the public on the performance and strength of seats in rear impacts. We all too often see seatbacks collapse in a rear impact collisions, causing the driver to be ejected into the rear seat and either strike the person sitting in the rear seat or striking their head and neck on the rear seat causing severe head and spinal cord injuries resulting in death or paraplegia. The average driver or front seat passenger does not expect their seats to collapse in a rear impact.

On average, Americans drive about 46 minutes per day, but rarely do people give a second thought to the quality of the auto seat they sit in for nearly an hour a day, even though their safety depends on it. Unfortunately, when vehicle seats are not structurally sound in their design and build, they become dangerous products that fail at the most critical times and cause catastrophic injuries to occupants.

The seat back mechanism in most passenger vehicles on America’s roads and highways is less structurally sound than a lawn chair you can purchase from a discount retailer.

For more than 30 years, injured people and their families – as well as referring attorneys – have turned to Atlee Hall, LLP for help with catastrophic injury cases involving vehicle seat defects. During that time, we have taken on the world’s largest auto product manufacturers in cases involving a range of auto seat defects. 

  • Seatback Defects. The seat back mechanism in most passenger vehicles on America’s roads and highways is less structurally sound than a lawn chair you can purchase from a discount retailer. If a seat back collapses backward in a rear-impact crash, the seat occupant and passenger in the seat behind can be seriously injured.
  • Seat Track Defects. If the force of a rear impact causes the seat tracks to separate, the seat will collapse backward and throw the occupant toward the rear of the vehicle, likely causing head and neck injuries and harm to anyone sitting in the rear seat.
  • Seat Recliner failures. The seat recliner is used to adjust the angle of the seatback, often times using a weak single recliner with teeth on a gear mechanism that spate or strip resulting in the seat collapsing and catapulting the occupant into the rear seat.

Anytime someone has sustained a catastrophic head, spinal cord or fatal injury in a rear impact a close examination of the safety performance of the seat must be evaluated.