Defective Recline Mechanism Accidents
Imagine you are driving to work in your car and you come to a stop at a traffic light. All of a sudden, the car behind you plows into the rear of your car. There are a number of safety features in your car to reduce the risk of injury. This includes a seat belt and seat back that are intended to keep you from moving around in the event of an accident. However, if the seat suddenly reclines in a rear-end accident, your body could easily slide out from the driver's seat, impacting the interior of your vehicle. A defective recline mechanism can result in serious bodily injury after an accident.
Seat Recline Mechanisms
The only time you may even think about a seat recline mechanism is if you are in a rental car, or a valet driver moves your seat when they park your car. Then you have to re-adjust the seat to the preferred recline angle, height, and distance from the steering wheel. While adjusting the seat, a lever or handle is used to release a lock holding the seat in place. After making the adjustments, releasing the lever or handle should hold the position of the seat.
Some seat recline mechanisms have a defective design. Other mechanisms are made from materials that wear down over time. In either case, the seat recline mechanism can fail, causing the seat to fall back. If the car was not moving, this may not be much of a problem. The driver could adjust the seat again, or sit up long enough to pull over to the side of the road. However, most seat recline malfunctions occur when the car is moving, or after an accident.
Seat Malfunctions During Accidents
In an accident, vehicles are supposed to utilize safety features to keep the driver and passengers safe. However, a faulty seat recline mechanism can result in the driver or passenger slipping out of their seat. In a rear-end accident, the occupant could slide backward, striking their head or back against the rear of the interior, resulting in serious neck or back injuries. Neck and back injuries are some of the most serious vehicle accident injuries and can result in paralysis, loss of bodily functions, and even death.
In a side impact or rollover accident, the occupants could be thrown violently against the interior of the vehicle. This could result in cuts, broken bones, head trauma, internal injuries, or spinal injuries. An occupant could also be thrown from the vehicle if their seat mechanism fails, resulting in additional injuries. A seatbelt and airbags could offer little protection to a driver when the seat mechanism malfunctions.
If a seat recline mechanism fails while the driver is operating the car, the driver may have no chance to avoid an accident. When the seat falls back, the driver may lose their grip on the steering wheel. The driver will also lose sight of the road. This can easily lead to an accident, including a head-on collision if the car drifts into oncoming traffic. In this type of accident, the driver, passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians can be seriously injured or killed.
Recalls for Defective Recline Mechanism
Most drivers think that a defective recline accident could never happen to them. They wrongly believe that new cars do not have these problems. However, over the past couple of decades, hundreds of thousands of vehicles sold in the U.S. have been subject to recalls out of concern over defective recline mechanisms.
Ford instituted a recall of over 30,000 Fusions and Explorers in 2010 because of defects in the front seat recline mechanism. In 2011, Ford recalled more Explorers for similar problems. Mercury Milans, Mercury Mountaineers, and Saturn vehicles have also been recalled because of defective seat recline mechanisms. However, even if there is a chance a defective seat could cause an accident, some manufacturers may not warn consumers if the cost-benefit analysis determines they should stay silent.
Washington D.C. Defective Recline Mechanism Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident because of a defective recline mechanism, it is important to hold the car company responsible for their negligence. Fighting back can help make sure other families do not have to go through the pain of losing a loved one because of a product defect. At Gilman & Bedigian, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience fighting for injury victims and their families. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a car accident in Washington DC, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.