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California Seat Back Failure Lawyers

California seat back failure lawyers

Contact the experienced California Seat Back Failure Lawyers of Bisnar Chase if you've been seriously injured in a seat-back failure crash. We've represented more than 12,000 clients and won over $650 million in verdicts and settlements.

Our firm has extensive experience when it comes to handling and winning seat-back failure cases. Bisnar Chase is a pioneer in auto defect law. Our expert attorneys have been leading the way in seat back failure cases for years, and may be able to help you too.

Call 800-561-4887 for a free case review with an experienced California seat back failure attorney with a wealth of experience in trying these cases to victory.


What is Product Liability?

A consumer that suffers at the hands of a manufacturer or retailer can file a claim for negligence. Product liability laws can vary from state to state. California has a “strict liability” law for defective products. Strict liability can apply to three different categories, including design defects, warning defects, and manufacturing defects.

To strengthen your product liability claim you need to have evidence.

Your product defect claim can be better supported if it contains evidence of:

  • The product upon sale being defective
  • The product was defective when it left the seller's possession
  • The consumer used the product in a reasonable way and still suffered injuries

Food poisoning can also be considered a “product defect” in California.

Seatback Failure and Product Liability

Defective brakes, tires, and airbags are the most common auto claims brought to the courts. Seatback failures, although rare, end up almost every time with a deadly or paralyzing outcome.  What is more shocking is that many legal representatives say that the auto industries downplay the severity of seatback failures.

Seatback failure can occur by a car being rear-ended, even at speeds as low as 25 mph. Our injury attorneys are dedicated to holding automakers accountable if a driver is endangered by a seatback failure.

Trial lawyer Brian Chase is passionate about taking on the auto industry, especially when manufacturers misconstrue facts about seatback failure dangers.

Brian CHase said: “When you combine the results of this crash-test data along with one of the industry's top experts being caught red-handed 'fudging' in his 'authoritative' research, it conclusively concludes that the auto industry is flat out wrong, and, at best, misguided – at worst, lying to us.”

Legal experts suggest doing your research on the safety and reliability of a car before your purchase.

Why Seat Back Failures are So Dangerous

The main safety features in a vehicle include the safety belt and airbag system. If the seatback collapses, neither of these critical safety features will be effective in the event of a crash. The airbag will likely not protect the victim at all and the seatbelt may not be able to prevent the occupant from being ejected. In some cases, the lowered chair can act as a ramp, causing the victim to be jettisoned from the rear window.

Other potentially serious conditions that may arise include:

Loss of control: If the seatback fails while the vehicle is in motion, the driver may be unable to sit upright. This situation can make it difficult for the driver to avoid an accident before pulling over and coming to a stop.

Vehicle ejection: During a high-speed collision, a seatback failure can result in partial or complete ejection of the occupant from the vehicle.

A graphic showing a seatback failure with the seat collapsing into the infant passenger behind.

Rear-passenger injuries: If there is an occupant in the back seat at the time of the failure, he or she may be crushed by the seat of the front seat occupant. A collapsed seat can also trap the rear passenger resulting in catastrophic and even fatal injuries.

Flying head rest: A defective headrest, in addition to failing to protect the head and neck of the occupant, can also become a deadly flying projectile in the event of a high-speed collision. Continue reading for more information on defective headrest dangers on this page.

Blocked exits: Vehicles are full of combustible fluids and gases. In the event of a car fire, a defective seat can trap the occupants inside the vehicle preventing them from escaping to safety.

Blunt force trauma: A vehicle occupant can get thrown around in the vehicle during a crash. This could result in severe head and spinal injuries, which could leave victims with permanent damage and disabilities.

Causes of Seat Back Failure

Seatback failure occurs when the weight of a vehicle occupant forces the back of the seat to collapse. This can result from a faulty design, poor assembly or improper installation. If strong materials are properly assembled, it is much more likely that the seat will stay upright during a collision. When flimsy materials are used, the seatback frame may become deformed or collapse

The two most common types of seatback collapse involve the failure of the seatback support system to maintain an upright position and the deformation of the seatback frame.

Failures that have been attributed to the deformation of the mounting system that holds the seat to the vehicle floor, or to a collapse of the vehicle floor pan, are less common. Another common problem with seatbacks is the detachment of adjustable head restraints during an accident.

Rear-End Collisions

Rear end crashes are characterized as a car being hit from behind. Rear end crashes can cause an abundance of issues. The consequences can be grave if there are defects in the seatbelt or if there is a seatback failure. California law states that the reason why you should maintain a 4-second distance between cars is to avoid rear-ending vehicles.

Successful Seatback Failure Lawyers at Bisnar Chase

The law firm of Bisnar Chase has handled and won a series of major seatback failure cases, securing significant compensation for accident victims.

Our attorneys secured a huge jury verdict of $24.7 million for an accident victim named Jaklin Mikhal Romine. She was permanently paralysed after her car was rear-ended at an intersection in Pasadena, CA in 2006, and the defective driver's seat collapsed on impact.

Bisnar Chase took legal action against seat manufacturer Johnson Controls, first winning a jury trial, and then winning again in appellate court.

We also represented the mother of a 7-year-old girl who died as the result of seatback failure. The plaintiff and her daughter were rear-ended at 25 mph while traveling in a Ford Escort. As a result of the seat back failure, the mother's head struck the daughter in the chest, causing the young girl's heart to rupture. She also suffered from internal bleeding.

You can find out more about their stories by watching this news report, which includes an interview with auto defect attorney aand expert Brian Chase explaining what took place when these car seats failed.



Trial attorney Brian Chase shares the dangers drivers face when they ride with defective car seats.

Defective Seatback Recalls

When a number of people have been injured in seatback failure accidents, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) will likely conduct an investigation into the safety of the vehicle and determine if a recall is warranted. When a seat is deemed defective, the auto manufacturer may have to issue a recall.

In March of 2013, Ford recalled 230,000 Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans that have third-row seats that could come loose because of rust issues.

In June of 2013, Tesla recalled Model S vehicles for faulty rear seat latches that allowed the seat to move during a crash.

Nissan recalled 11,000 Juke crossovers from model year 2012 for an incomplete welding issue that allowed the rear seatback to become loose in an accident.

Defective Headrest Dangers

You might not think of the headrests in your car as being essential safety features. But defective headrests can contribute to catastrophic spine and brain injuries.

Optional headrests were first added to cars in the U.S. in the 1960s and became mandatory in new cars from 1969 onward. They are often thought of as devices to increase comfort, but head restraints are also absolutely vital in ensuring the safety of vehicle drivers and passengers in the event of a crash.

Unfortunately, this means that a defective headrest can lead to catastrophic injuries.

When are Headrests Defective?

There are all kinds of different headrests installed in cars, depending on the make, age, and price of the vehicle. Types include:

  • Static head restraints
  • Adjustable headrests
  • Active headrests
  • Integrated headrests

Some headrests are built into the seat, while others can be adjusted and detached. Car manufacturers are consistently making safety innovations, but sometimes fail their customers by providing faulty or defective products.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has strict laws in place. These dictate the size, position, and angle of car headrests. They also state that headrests must be able to stand up to 890 N of force.

A defective headrest will become loose, break off, or fail to provide proper support in an accident.

Defective Headrest Injuries

Car crashes can cause all kinds of injuries, from blunt force trauma to burns. But injuries caused by a whiplash motion of the head and neck are most common.

Whiplash injuries occur when the force of a collision causes the victim’s neck to snap back and jolt forward suddenly. Depending on the force of impact, this can cause extreme injuries.

Standard whiplash can cause debilitating neck pain, headaches, loss of mobility, depression, blurred vision, and much more. In extreme cases, when the neck has been snapped back by a great impact, it can cause:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Herniated discs and other serious back injuries

The headrests in a car are designed to mitigate the risks of such serious injuries happening. They were invented to prevent the head and neck from being able to snap back as far, minimizing the effects of a car accident.

Serious injuries can still occur in car crashes, but a defective headrest could make them much worse, putting drivers and passengers in danger of chronic pain, paralysis, and severe cognitive issues.

If your head restraint has collapsed on impact and failed to provide proper support, contact the seatback failure lawyers of Bisnar Chase for expert help.

Faulty Seatbelts

Over three million people each year suffer from severe injuries caused by defective seatbelts. Research has also concluded that an estimated 40,000 people die from faulty seatbelts. When a car crashes into a driver, upon impact the driver relies on their seat-belt for protection. Seatbelts act to lessen the blow of a car collision.

If a seatbelt is defective, injuries sustained can include serious chest and head injuries. There are five kinds of instances that can cause your seatbelt to be defective.

5 types of seatbelt defects:

  1. Unlatching: Some seatbelts unlatch during a crash because of the great force of the impact. This has to do with certain types of seatbelts. Automakers claim that this is not a common occurrence.
  2. Inadequate latching: Seatbelts can appear to be perfectly fastened but there are occasions where a seatbelt would unlatch in a small car crash and cause a driver to be unprotected.
  3. Defects in seatbelt webbing: The material of a seatbelt should be able to withstand any rips. There are instances though where the seatbelt fabric can rip during a vehicle collision.
  4. Seatbelt failing to retract: The purpose of a seatbelt is to make sure you're secure in a sedentary position. If your seatbelt fails to retract this means that your seatbelt can be loosened at the time of an accident and you can potentially be thrust out of your seat.
  5. Improper installation: When installed, seatbelts must be anchored well to protect the driver and their passengers. If a seatbelt is not mounted correctly then a person in the car can be severely injured and can even die.

At Bisnar Chase, our California seatback failure attorneys can take on cases involving all kinds of vehicle faults and failures, securing the compensation you deserve.

Federal Safety Standards

Federal safety standards relating to automobile seatbacks have not been updated in a long time and are way too lenient. According to safety experts, who have studied seatback safety for decades, the seats in most of our automobiles are no better than lawn chairs.

Automobile seats are only required to pass a strength requirement. They don't have to go through a crash test rating system although seatbacks routinely fail during NHTSA's 30-mph rear-impact crash tests (FMVSS 301).

FMVSS 207, the federal rule pertaining to seating systems in automobiles, has not been updated in more than three decades. This rule mandates that a seat must withstand a pull of 3,300 inch-pounds applied on the seatback in a rearward direction.

Despite numerous petitions over the years to revise this standard, there has been no action on the part of NHTSA. The seatback strength in most vehicles needs to increase six-fold to provide a reasonable degree of safety to vehicle occupants in the event of a crash.

Important Facts about Seatback Failure

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received 390 complaints regarding seatback failure in one year resulting in 112 injuries and one death. Many of these injuries could have been prevented had the auto manufacturer designed and manufactured these seatbacks using technology that has been available for decades now.

There are several vehicle models in which seatback failure is a routine occurrence and automakers are aware of these serious defects:

  • Ford Motor Company has been aware of dangerous seats for over 30 years. This deadly problem was investigated by Ford in 1992, and the outcome was that the seats cause serious harm in the event of rear-end collisions. Ford did not make any design changes to combat the seriousness of the seat back failure. Our law firm has seen first-hand evidence of weak seatbacks in the Ford Escort and Ford Explorer models.

  • Virtually every front seat produced by General Motors Corporation from 1970 to the mid 1990's was designed to collapse rearward in an impact in which there was a speed change of 15 mph or greater. According to documents obtained by CBS for its series on seats collapsing in rear-end collision in 1992, GM attorneys advised top executives that their standard seats could no longer be defended.

  • GM knew, as early as 1966, that seat strength is directly related to occupant safety in a rear impact collision. They have known that the occupant survival depends largely upon a front seat structure that holds the passenger in an upright position, and yet, they have not upgraded their seats. A leading GM engineer, David C. Viano, in a 1994 internal GM study, projected that 376 to 470 lives could be saved each year and estimated that improvements would prevent 1,000 serious injuries each year in rear-end collisions if the company strengthened its seat backs.

  • DaimlerChrysler has been known to have seats collapse as well. In 2001, a mother, one of our clients, was driving one of the manufacturer's minivans and was ejected from her seat during a crash due to a seat back collapse. The collapsed seat caused the mother to fatally strike her 8-month-old child, who was in a car seat behind her. In 1999, a woman was rendered quadriplegic after an accident in which the driver's seat recliner bracket of a DaimlerChrysler Dodge Ram Pickup broke. This caused the seat to collapse backwards and eject the woman out of her seat, striking her head on the roof of the cab. This structural weakness exists in all 1995, 1996, and 1997 Dodge Ram extended cab models.

  • Cars equipped with bucket seats and/or split bench seats have a higher risk for seat back failure. These models have been known to bend or collapse in rear-end collisions. They are unable to safely withstand impacts, even in a collision occurring at a speed as low as a 15 mph.

Contact an Experienced Seat Back Failure Attorney

Auto accidents pose a threat for serious injuries such as fractures, head injuries, internal organ damage, scarring, disfigurement and spinal cord injuries. We help victims who have been injured or killed, secure fair compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, lost wages and all other related damages.

The Bisnar Chase lawyers, led by auto defect expert Brian Chase

The Seat Back Failure Lawyers of Bisnar Chase have over four decades in personal injury law including serious and catastrophic auto defect cases. We have the talent, funds and reputation to take your auto defect or product malfunction case to the finish line.

Seat back failure is a serious vehicle defect in many automobiles that causes numerous catastrophic injuries and fatalities each year. Poorly designed and defective seats, for example, can collapse backward on impact resulting in devastating injuries to vehicle occupants.

If you or a loved one has been impacted by a defective auto part such as a failed seat-back, faulty seatbelt, or defective air bag call our office to discuss your case. You may be entitled to compensation. Our experienced auto defect trial lawyers are compassionate and highly skilled in the field of defective products. We have a 99% success rate and can win your case.


Contact the California seat back failure lawyers of Bisnar Chase now for expert legal representation. Call (800) 561-4887 or email us by clicking through to our website.


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