Motor vehicles have come a long way since they first appeared on our public
roads and highways. Today, cars and trucks are complete with all the modern
technologies and bells and whistles that allow drivers and passengers
to make their experiences in the car more efficient, comfortable, and
fun. While modern safety advancements such as airbags and seat belts have
made vehicles safer, some advancements have actually introduced new risks
to consumers. This includes reclining car seats.
If you’ve ever reclined your seat in a late model vehicle during
a road trip, or have plans to take a road trip this summer, moving your
seatback can certainly be a great way to relax during those long and uncomfortable
rides. Unfortunately, that modern day function can be deceptively unsafe,
and put you at an increased risk of suffering serious injury or even death
in the event of a car accident.
An article recently published by
The Legal Examiner takes a closer look at reclining car seats and how they pose risks on
par with safety issues like defective tires. As the article notes, many
consumers aren’t as familiar with the dangers posed by their car
seats as they are with those posed by faulty tires or airbags, but major
automakers the likes of Ford, Toyota, GM, and others have been well aware
of those dangers for decades. There are a couple major reasons for that:
- When car seats are reclined, three-point seat belt restrain systems (which
use both a lap and shoulder belt) are rendered more or less useless due
to passengers being moved away from the shoulder harness.
- More space between the seat belt and a passenger’s chest and shoulders
increases risks of serious injuries or death in accidents, particularly
when accidents cause the body to slam against the seat belt, or slide
under the seat belt.
Despite knowing these risks as far back as the mid-1960s, auto manufacturers
have been aggressive in lobbying Congress to prevent regulations that
would address the risks created by reclining car seats and decreased seat
belt effectiveness. Because of these lobbying efforts, there are still
no laws or federal minimum standards, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
(FMVSS), to address the risk and protect consumers. Automakers don’t
even have to provide warnings (which is why so many people don’t
know about the dangers of reclining car seats), or make any alterations
that would reduce hazards, even though there have been a number of suggested
and affordable solutions, including:
- Limiting the range and maximum recline position of reclining car seats.
- Improving seat belt systems to “integrated seat belts” that
would incorporate safety belts into the seat design, improve geometry,
and eliminate the dangers created by gaps between a passenger’s
shoulder and the shoulder strap.
- Requiring warnings to consumers about the dangers of reclining their seats
too far, or implementing automated warnings (similar to current seat belt
warning systems when a seat belt is not engaged) that would notify occupants
when their seats have been reclined too far.
Car Accidents, Reclining Seats & Personal Injury Lawsuits
The auto industry’s unwillingness to take reasonable measures in
addressing a long-known safety risk is unfortunately not uncommon. Whether
it be the automotive industry, commercial trucking, or another consumer-based
industry, it is often the case that major corporations inject large sums
of money into politics in order to influence legislation in their favor
– typically, legislation that allows them to protect their bottom
line and prioritize profits, even at the expense of public safety.
As is also common, voluntary changes like the proposed updates to reclining
seats or seat belt systems will likely not be made until auto makers are
compelled to do so by law. Until then, consumers are tasked with learning
about the risks they face, and taking steps on their own to address them.
However, that’s not always possible nor likely, which is why it
then becomes a matter of litigating cases in a public sphere in order
to help victims injured as a result of these issues secure the compensation
they deserve, raise awareness, and hopefully prompt needed safety changes.
At Biren Law Group, our legal team is well aware of how corporations prioritize
profits over people, and how that financial focus can compromise the attention
they give to safety hazards faced by consumers and the general public.
We also know how to protect the rights of victims and families affected
by dangers companies knew or should have known about, and protect their
rights in the civil justice system through the filing of
personal injury or
wrongful death lawsuits.
car accident cases involving reclining car seats may not yet be making headlines, it
is still important to investigate cases to determine if and how reclining
car seats or other defects and design flaws may have contributed to causing
preventable accidents, or worsening victims’ injuries. Because our
Los Angeles personal injury lawyers focus on conducting investigations
into our clients’ accidents, we carefully evaluate not only what
caused their crashes, but also what factors led to them suffering injuries
or a worsening of their injuries – especially in terms of auto parts
and defective products. Just as negligent motorists can be held accountable
for causing crashes, negligent auto makers that fail to address known
dangers can also be held accountable for their conduct and the risks they
allowed consumers to face.
Whatever your car accident case entails, you can be confident about placing
your trust in our proven team of personal injury attorneys at Biren Law
Group. Our firm has handled numerous car accident and product liability
cases throughout Southern California, and is available to discuss any
questions you may have about a potential lawsuit and your rights.
Contact us today for a free consultation.