A seatback is the back support of a seat in an aircraft, automobile, or some other type of vehicle. Seatback failure occurs when a seatback collapses in a rearward direction. One of the most common injuries associated with vehicle accidents would be a defective or broken seatback.
This is largely due to the fact that automobile manufacturers often overlook the safety of seats, and design them in a defective way which can result in severe injuries. This is especially true for injuries resulting from being rear ended.
Car manufacturers who design a defective seatback which causes injuries to passengers can be held strictly liable for the defective design. What this means is that the car manufacturer can be held liable for any harm resulting from certain activities, without any fault or negligence, due to the fact that they created a dangerous seatback. Strict liability will be further discussed later on.
When the seatback fails, it falls back toward the rear of the car. While in this position, it can act as a sort of ramp, allowing a passenger to fly out of the back window or an open back door. Even when the passenger is not thrown from the car, it may be possible for the passenger to be thrown within the car, which can also result in catastrophic or serious injury.
What Are Some Common Injuries Associated With Seatback Failure?
Defective seatbacks pose dangers to all passengers, including those in the front and back seats of the vehicle. Such defects generally result in catastrophic injuries and even death, largely associated with the sudden blunt force to a person’s head or body.
An especially common example would be how the front seat passenger could be thrown backwards into the rear seat. This can result in spinal injuries and even paralysis. Many seatback failures injure children passengers, due to the fact that they weigh less and can be easily thrown out of or around the inside of the vehicle during an accident.
Some other common injuries associated with seatback failure include, but may not be limited to:
- Spinal injuries, which are frequently caused by the passenger being thrown violently into other objects or into the rear seat once the seatback fails;
- Neck and back injuries;
- Head and brain injuries due to sudden blunt force to a person’s head; and
- Death from a seat being launched from them, or from being ejected from the vehicle.
Do I Have a Legal Claim For Seatback Failure?
As previously mentioned, car manufacturers who design a defective seatback can be held strictly liable for the defective design. Strict liability refers to a type of civil liability which does not depend on actual negligence, or the intent to harm.
According to this legal principle, the plaintiff can hold an individual or entity liable for damages or losses without needing to prove intent or carelessness. This doctrine generally applies to circumstances which are considered to be inherently dangerous or hazardous.
Although the fault of the defendant is not an issue, it is necessary for the plaintiff to prove that injuries or damages occurred. They will also need to prove that they occurred because of the inherently dangerous or hazardous actions of the defendant.
One major category of strict liability is based on defective products. In order to be successful in a products liability claim, the plaintiff must prove that:
- There was a defect in the product present when it left the defendant’s possession;
- The plaintiff was a foreseeable, average user of the product who used the product as it was intended, with no considerable alteration;
- The plaintiff was injured by the use of the product; and
- The injury was directly due to the product’s defective nature.
Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are all parties that can be held strictly liable. This is because of the principle that consumers should not be injured without compensation, simply because they cannot prove who in the distribution chain was actually responsible for the defective product.
A design defect denotes that the product was manufactured correctly, but that there is something in the way in which the product is designed that makes it dangerous to average consumers. Because the design defect is a flaw in how the product is designed, the defect generally affects the entire product line, as opposed to just one particular item.
If you have suffered injuries because of a defective seatback, you will most likely bring an automotive products liability claim against the manufacturer who designed the seatback. Once again, you will not need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent when designing the seat. Rather, your task will be to prove that the seatback was designed in a defective way, and that is what caused your injuries.
What Will I Need to Prove In a Seatback Failure Claim?
If you are the plaintiff and need to prove that there was a defect in design in the seatback, and that that was the cause of your injuries, you can do so by meeting the following elements:
- The manufacturer designed the seatback, as intended;
- The design of the seatback is inherently dangerous for its intended use;
- An alternative design exists that would have made the seatback considerably safer;
- The cost of making a safer design for the seatback would not be unreasonable when compared to the cost of manufacturing the dangerous design;
- With the implementation of the safer modification, the seatback would have performed in the same manner for which it was intended to perform; and
- The plaintiff was injured or suffered loss when using the seatback as it was intended.
To put it another way, the plaintiff must prove that using a safer way to design the seatback would not have been much more costly, and the alternative design of the seatback would have performed in the same manner as the manufacturer intended.
When an injured party files a personal injury claim or lawsuit, then they will generally be requesting some form of financial compensation from the party responsible for causing the accident. These are also referred to as compensatory damages, because they are compensating the recipient for the injuries they suffered.
Compensatory damages are intended to cover costs associated with the accident, such as:
- Medical bills;
- Vehicle repair costs;
- Loss of wages or income; and
- Other quantifiable losses.
Do I Need an Attorney For Seatback Failure?
If you were involved in an accident and have injuries from seatback failure, you should speak with a local and experienced auto lawyer as soon as possible. Many aspects of personal injury and liability law vary from state to state, such as the amount of damages that a plaintiff may be awarded. As such, working with an experienced and local personal injury attorney will ensure you receive the most accurate legal advice according to the laws of your specific state.
A personal injury attorney can help you determine whether there are any class action lawsuits associated with your issue that you can join. An attorney will also help you determine which parties you should sue, and can inform you regarding what evidence you should gather to support your case. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, protect your legal rights, and will work towards a suitable damages award for you.