Motor Vehicle Defects A Concern To 1994 Chevrolet Lumina Faulty Seat Back Owners
Most motor vehicle defect attorneys have noted the danger of 1994 Chevrolet Lunina defective seat backs. In 1999, Maria Allen was driving to work near Portland when she lost control of her 1994 Chevrolet Lumina van on a patch of ice. The van slid off the road and struck a rock at the right rear quarter-panel and tire. At the moment of impact, Allen's seat back collapsed and twisted inboard. Although she was wearing a seat belt, Allen was thrown violently rearward and hit her head on the right side of the van as it moved inward.
She suffered a huge fracture on the right side of her head and a large subdural hematoma (a collection of blood in the space between the outer and middle layers of the covering of her brain). After a long and intensive hospitalization, Allen returned home to her family, but her extensive brain injury left her incapable of caring for herself or returning to her life as she knew it.
Ms. Allen subsequently sued General Motors. Her motor vehicle defect attorneys submitted GM documents that demonstrated how the automaker had prevented the disclosure of a well-known, long-term design flaw. The documents revealed that GM was well aware of collapsing front seats under ordinary rear-end car collisions at less than 20 mph. This would cause the seat's occupants---even when belted--to ramp up and out of their seats and strike either the occupants sitting behind them or some portion of the car's rear.
"As far back as 1966, engineers for Oldsmobile--a GM subsidiary--found that to properly protect passengers, seat backs had to remain upright in rear-end car collisions," said nationally recognized auto defect lawyer John Bisnar. "Even researchers outside GM agreed."
In spite of these findings, some GM engineers felt that since most rear-end car crashes occur at low-speeds, strengthening seat backs to prevent a "controlled collapse" would dramatically increase the number of whiplash neck injuries.
"This "injury trade-off" that many automakers engage in is truly reprehensible," noted John Bisnar. "The fact that GM engineers knew that their defective car seat designs would result in devastating personal injuries is an unconscionable act of disregard for consumer safety."
U.S. manufacturers, including GM, Ford and Chrysler "circled the wagons" on this, rationalizing that front seat-back collapse in rear-end car accident tests posed less risk of connective-tissue injury. They reasoned that when the seat back collapsed rearward and caused a person's upper torso, head, and neck to move rearward in concert, this was apparently less dangerous than if the seat back remained upright and a person's head moved rearward over the top of the low seat back. Regrettably, this ignored the dangers of occupants being thrown into the rear seat.
The parties agreed to a confidential settlement.
"Maria Allen's courage in seeking justice and holding GM accountable is to be commended," said nationally recognized auto product liability lawyer, Brian Chase. "Maria has suffered, and will probably continue to suffer, on-going physical and emotional personal injuries that will last the rest of her life. With so many resources at their disposal, there simply is no excuse for automakers to side step their responsibility in designing a safe, crashworthy seat for their cars. Our hope is that this lawsuit and the many lawsuits we have filed against automakers will convince them to improve their cars and make them safer for consumers."
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.