Most people never think about the reclining mechanism in their car. Once you adjust your seat to the perfect recline position, you may hardly ever touch the recline. The only time you may think about it is if you go for an oil change, or a family member borrows the car. Unfortunately, for many people, a defective recline mechanism can lead to a serious accident, and in some cases, death.
A defective recline mechanism does not only result in a change in your sitting angle. If you are driving at 60 miles per hour down Interstate 95, and all of a sudden your seat back falls to the lowest position, you may not be able to see the road, and not be able to hold the steering wheel. It is easy to see how this sudden shock can lead to a serious car accident, and put the driver in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The recline mechanism, and other seat adjustments, are necessary to make the car fit the driver. In order to sell a standard car, it has to be made so that drivers of different heights, weights, and body proportions are able to safely touch the pedals, handle the steering wheel, see out the windows, and sit comfortably while driving. Seat adjustments are not just convenient, they are necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle. However, when vehicle manufacturers use substandard materials, or implement a defective design, seat adjustment mechanisms can fail, injuring the driver and passengers.
Defective Recline Mechanism Recalls
A number of cars have been recalled over the years over concerns about defective recline mechanisms. Ford Motor Company recalled more than 30,000 vehicles in 2010 because of serious defects involving the front seat recline mechanism. The mechanism allowed the seat back to fall backward on collision, resulting in injuries to the driver or front passenger. This included the Ford Fusion, Explorer, Sport Trac, Mercury Milan and Mountaineer.
A year later, Ford had to recall thousands more vehicles for a similar defect. The 2011 Ford Explorer models had a defect in the manual recline mechanism. According to Ford, “in the event of a crash, the seat back may not provide the required strength, increasing the risk of injury.” When a seat back falls, the driver may slip out of the support of the seat belt. When not restrained by the seat belt, a driver or passenger can be thrown against the interior of the vehicle, causing serious injury.
Ford had one of their largest recalls for early 2000 models Ford Escapes involving defective seat mechanisms. Almost 400,000 Ford vehicles had to be recalled to fix the vehicle defect. Excessive corrosion at the attachment of the recline mechanism control arm could cause the mechanism to detach, leaving the driver unable to control the vehicle. Other vehicles had a problem with the strength of the seat recline mechanism, which could fail in the event of an accident, placing the occupants at an increased risk of injury.
Thousands of Saturn vehicles, a division of General Motors, were also recalled for recline mechanism defects. The defect affected the two front seats. After receiving a number of complaints from drivers, some involved in injury accidents, Saturn identified the problem as a manufacturing defect blamed on a supplier. The seat back mechanism could slip back a notch or two, eventually slipping back further. This was a dangerous defect that could result in injuries to the driver and passenger if they were involved in an accident.
Not all defective recline mechanisms are part of a vehicle recall. If the defect only affects a small number of the cars, the vehicle manufacturer may decide the risk is too remote to offset the expensive cost of a vehicle recall. Vehicle manufacturers sometimes use a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether they want to recall a model of vehicle. They compare the anticipated costs of settling personal injury lawsuits, and wrongful death cases with the cost of recalling the vehicles to repair the defect.
Maryland Defective Recline Mechanism Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective recline mechanism, it is important for the company or individuals responsible to pay for their negligence. Dealing with an injury involving a car accident involving a vehicle defect can be complicated. You may have a difficult time dealing with the insurance company, identifying who is responsible, and making sure they pay for your injuries. At Gilman & Bedigian, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience aggressively pursuing compensation for injury victims and their families. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a car accident in Maryland, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.