En Español

Auto Product Liability: 1991 Ford Explorer Faulty Seat Back

Most auto product liability lawyers will admit that a faulty seat back is a dangerous auto defect. In 1993, Lydia Carillo was stopped at a red light in Hammond, Indiana. She was driving a 1991 Ford Explorer. Her son, Anthony, was in the passenger seat. When her Explorer was rear-ended at about 60 mph by another car, the force of the impact caused Lydia's seatback to flatten. She was thrust into her SUV's rear seat, fractured two back vertebrae, and was paralyzed from the chest down. Anthony was found on the front floorboard. Lydia and Anthony's seat belts were still buckled.

Lydia and her husband, Angelo, filed a lawsuit against Ford. Her defective auto product attorneys alleged that the design of the Explorer's seat was unreasonably dangerous, that it lacked the strength to withstand the force of the car collision, causing the seatback to collapse at impact, in turn causing Lydia's injuries.

The three-week trial included testimony from several lay and expert witnesses. Plaintiffs' experts insisted the seatback design was unreasonably dangerous in rear-impact car collisions in which a high rate of force acts on the seat during impact. An accident reconstruction specialist testified that it took between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds of compressive force to break Lydia's vertebrae during the car accident. When her seatback reclined, Lydia was pushed or "ramped" up the seatback. Lydia's shoulder was driven into the rear seat, resulting in her injuries.

"This "ramping" of occupants can be minimized or prevented if seats are designed properly," noted nationally recognized auto defects attorney, John Bisnar. "Changing a seat's contour or inclination, or even its material construction could prevent this type of movement in rear-impact car collisions. The point is, Lydia's seat failed to perform as expected--which was to prevent her from sustaining an injury in this reasonably foreseeable car crash."

A Ford expert testified the seatback strength for that model Explorer was tested to ensure it complied with government standards. Ford's policy included testing it at a force 30 percent above what the government required. The expert said that the Explorer's yielding seat design was meant to absorb some of the force from an impact, and that a rigid seat would transfer all of the energy of an impact to the occupant.

A Ford technical specialist said that the 1991 Ford Explorer's seat had been tested up to a 400-pound load, which exceeded Federal standards for performance. He further testified that it was possible to design a seat in 1991 that would deform less than the Explorer seat did in a rear-impact collision. He agreed that a seatback was part of the restraint system in a rear collision.

The car accident reconstruction of the collision revealed that about 20g's of force was exerted on the Explorer in the car collision that injured Lydia. Based on tests carried out on a seat similar to the one that was in Lydia's Explorer, her seat could carry only about 7g's of load force before it collapsed rearward. Though Lydia was in a "normal seated position" before the impact, Lydia was exposed to injury once her seat had collapsed. Experts testified that the Explorer's seat was unsafe because it lacked sufficient strength and height, leaving Lydia "vulnerable in a very low-load situation to a foreseeable car crash event. Testimony also suggested that the Federal standard for seat loads lacked a sufficient level of safety.

"There were seat designs at the time Lydia's Explorer was being produced that would have protected her," remarked John Bisnar. "These included seats used by BMW, Mercedes and Chrysler Sebring."

The jury sided with the plaintiffs, saying said the Explorer's seat design was unreasonably dangerous. It awarded Lydia $14 million, and found Ford 30 percent liable and the driver who rear-ended her 70 percent liable.

"Lydia Carillo's life was essentially destroyed by this preventable car crash," observed Brian Chase of the nationally recognized Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys defective auto products law firm. "In spite of their suffering, the Carillos demonstrated the courage to confront Ford and hold them accountable for an obvious auto defect. Our sincere hope is that these lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford, GM, Chrysler and foreign car makers will convince them to design safer, more reliable seats, thereby preventing others from being needlessly injured or killed."

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective auto part or vehicle, contact the experienced California auto products liability attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We will use our extensive knowledge and resources to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.

Have a question that wasn't answered here?

(800) 561-4887

Was This Page Helpful? Yes | No

Client Reviews of Bisnar Chase

“Like Danielle, I have been waiting a long time to review Bisnar Chase too. My review is a little different, however. I have only experienced a friendly staff (especially the receptionist Loraine) that treats everyone of their clients like they are movie stars. If I had a friend that was in an accident these guys would be the first people I would send them to.”

by Chris O.

reviewed at Yelp

“I am very pleased with the results this law firm obtained for me. Their professionalism, attentiveness and friendliness was outstanding. They listened to me, answered my questions, advised me and kept me informed. A truck hit my car causing me serious injuries, medical bills, lost time from work and damaged to my car. They took care of everything wonderfully. They helped with getting my car repaired and a rental car. They helped me get medical help. They got my doctor bills paid, kept me from having to go to court and obtained a settlement for me beyond my expectations. Four of my family members have used these guys and had equally good experiences. One of my relatives consulted with them and got great advise about handling her matter. Mr. Bisnar told her she didn't need an attorney and told her how to handle it. She couldn't believe the compassion and great advise, especially without a fee. Mr. Bisnar helped my brother-in-law get a multiple six-figure recovery in an employment law dispute. Starting with the receptionist, my paralegal, the paralegal supervisor, Mrs. De La Torre, Mrs. Barker and Mr. Bisnar himself, everyone was helpful, friendly and professional. It was a refreshing experience after a bad accident. They send me a birthday card with a Baskin Robins gift certificate every year. In January they send me chocolate dipped fortune cookies. They have even offered me Lakers' tickets. They certainly didn't forget me after my case was done.”

by Kim E.

reviewed at Yelp

“John and Brian handled a pi case over 10 years ago. I fill [sic] real lucky to have had them on my side. They are the best. No doubt about it thanks. Walter temple”

by Walter Temple

reviewed at Facebook

See All Ratings And Awards

The BISNAR CHASE Difference

  • “I was in a serious auto accident when I was in law school. I had to hire a personal injury attorney and had a really bad experience.”

    John Bisnar

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “If you hire Bisnar | Chase and we don't recover money for you in your case, you owe us absolutely nothing.”

    Brian Chase

    on whether or not you would owe money if your case was lost

  • “Whatever the philosphy of the management is, is going to be carried through by the employees and it’s going to reflect on the experience the clients have.”

    John Bisnar

    on his philosophy on running a law firm

  • “The insurance companies are going to be investigating that accident the day it happens. You need to have a lawyer on your side the day it happens as well.”

    Brian Chase

    on when you should contact an attorney

  • “The first thing we want to do with our clients is to relieve the stress. Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as an honored guest.”

    John Bisnar

    on how he would define superior client representation

  • “It's hard to answer that question right up front without a thorough analysis. What I can guarantee you is, with the resources of Bisnar | Chase we will maximize the value of your case.”

    Brian Chase

    on what your case is worth

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys
1301 Dove St #120
Newport Beach, CA 92660

local: (949) 203-3814
Get Directions

California Personal Injury Blog