Defective Automobile Seatback Video
Attorney Brian Chase of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys Discusses the Dangers of Defective Car Seats on FOX 11 News Los Angeles
When you are in a car crash, you are protected by seatbelts and airbags in the front and more air bags on the side. But what happens when you are rear ended and get thrown backwards? Phil Shoeman reports on a deadly gap in safety regulations as Fox Eleven investigates dangerous and defective car seats.
Many of the drivers never saw what hit them. A rear end collision the car seat breaks. The impact is devastating.
"I actually thought she was dead."
"I would probably never walk again."
"They told me not to expect her to make it through the night."
Critics say weak regulations mean most car seats are so flimsy they can be death traps in rear end crashes, even at slow speeds.
"My eight year old daughter shouldn't be dead in a fender bender."
Many safety experts say that beneath the plush padding of most car seats is a metal frame that is little more than a glorified aluminum beach chair. They say the seat that's supposed to have your back often doesn't.
"I was just waiting at a stoplight."
Jacqueline Romine was taking her boyfriend home from work when a pickup rear ended them. The pickup driver was thrown forward into the seatbelt and airbag, but the rear end collision had thrown Jacqueline backward.
"I felt like I was going backward in slow motion."
Her protection the car's seat collapsed hurling her headfirst into the back.
"She just immediately broke out into tears saying she couldn't feel her legs."
Paramedics rushed her to the hospital where doctors found she had broken her neck in four places.
"The bone was completely crushed."
She's now a paraplegic in a wheelchair.
"I'm paralyzed from the chest down."
Romine's attorney Brian Chase specializes in auto defects lawsuits. He's still working her case. He says she's paralyzed because of a widespread problem.
"I would say 95+% of all vehicles on the road, which is tens of millions, all have this defect in it.
He says this defect is the weakness of the frames and gears in the car seats even when they meet the government standards.
"The problem is that we have a watered down safety standard."
He's talking about National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA Regulation 207…long a target of safety consultants like Paul Sheridan.
"Any seat that merely complies with 207 places that occupant at risk. So it is everyone, it's just about everyone."
So the allegation that car seats are just glorified aluminum lawn chairs?
"The flimsy lawn chair would get through the federal regulations as they are currently written."
Sheridan says that means even low speed crashes can be fatal.
"A 15 MPH rear impact will collapse most of the seats that merely comply with 207."
Stephanie Collins she was out driving with her mother and daughter Crystal.
"My daughter was sitting behind me. "
They were struck from behind at about 30 MPH, Stephanie's seat gave away into Crystal.
"She was making a gurgling sound, it wasn't right."
Crystal died at the hospital.
"That's the actual car. You can see both defective car seats are laid down."
Chase reconstructed that accident in a crash test like this one.
"Stephanie Collin's head went back and struck her 9 year old daughter in the chest and ruptured her aorta."
Damage to vehicles was minor. Sheraton says that government's own tests clearly demonstrate the problems and have for years.
Sheratons says the answer is simple, require stronger seats already common in cars like Mercedes and a few American Cars like the Chrysler Sea Bring. The cost to fix it?
"I would estimate anywhere $5 - $6 and we have a safe front seat."
Nobody has been tracking just how many deaths and injuries have been caused by defective car seats. But the relatively low cost to fix these enrages those who have already paid such a huge price. They are calling for change.
"They could have done something about this before it killed my child."
Phil Shoeman for Fox 11 News.
Poor Mother. Well, The National Highway Safety Administration didn't respond to our request for comment. Congress is holding hearings this week on major reforms to regulators in the wake of the Toyota recall.
For questions or to discuss your case, please call 949-203-3814.
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