In 2015, The Washington Post reported that 1.7 million rear-end motor vehicle accidents occur on the roads throughout the country each year. Many people in Pennsylvania are aware of the potentially dire effects of such collisions. However, drivers may not know that inadequate safety standards and seat back failures could result in them or their passengers suffering serious injuries or death.
Seat backs may fail in rear-end wrecks
Recently, auto safety experts brought attention to a serious safety issue plaguing nearly all the major automobile manufacturers. According to reports, an investigation by CBS News showed that the driver and front passengers seats in many vehicles may break, causing them to collapse when the cars are struck from behind. Consequently, the seats themselves or the people who were seated in them may be thrown into the rear seating area. This may result in head trauma and other serious injuries for anyone in the failed seats, as well as for any passengers who may be sitting behind them.
Deficient safety standards
Currently, vehicle seats in newly manufactured automobiles are tested based on a safety standard that was adopted in 1972. To assess the strength of car seats, a brace is placed across the seat backs. The brace is then attached to a winch that pulls on the seat, applying pressure. Working with a lab near Philadelphia, CBS News reports that even a standard banquet chair is able to meet the federal standards. Although other safety testing has shown seats may collapse in rear-end collisions, this is the only test that is performed to check their strength.
On the heels of a number of civil action awards from cases involving seat back failures, auto safety experts are demanding action by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and members of Congress are calling for answers. The regulatory agency responsible for maintaining vehicle safety standards, the NHTSA has been aware of the failures and the potential for serious injuries and death at least since 1992, when its own regulators issued warnings. For its part, the NHTSA has suggested that there is not enough evidence or ability to obtain data to suggest the problem is large enough to warrant updating the current standards.
Working with a lawyer
When seat backs fail during auto accidents and people in Pennsylvania suffer serious injuries, they may require extensive medical treatment and time away from work to recover. This may lead to them incurring a range of undue expenses, including medical bills and lost wages. Therefore, drivers or passengers who have experienced such situations may benefit from seeking legal guidance. An attorney may help them understand their rights and explain their options for pursuing financial compensation for the losses they have suffered as a result of the collision and subsequent equipment failure.