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Rick Shapiro
Rick Shapiro
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Fatal Car Seat Failures Are ‘Public Health Crisis’

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National safety advocates argue that automakers and federal regulators have acted with ‘criminal negligence’ in not fixing a car safety flaw that has been known for years, which they say has played a role in hundreds of deaths.

The issue is car seats that malfunction and sometimes collapse to the rear when the car is rear ended. The crash impact and the collapsing of the seat can cripple or kill the driver, and also passengers in the rear. Many of those are children.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director at the Center For Auto Safety in Washington, D.C, noted that 64 adults per year died or suffer serious injuries from car seats that collapse. She also said that about 50 children per year die from collapsing seats.

Collapsing seats have been scrutinized for many years, but many auto industry experts say that little has been done to fix the problem.


Automakers often note that their car seats do meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for seat strength. However, safety watchdogs argue that the standard is very old and has not been updated in 40 years.

The NHTSA stated this year that rear impact crashes are only 3% of all traffic deaths in the US. It noted that fatal crashes where seat failure occurs are extremely rare. This would indicate that the NHTSA does not believe the issue is a serious problem.

However, those who have been injured or have had loved ones killed due to collapsing seats in a rear end crash would disagree.

The type of product failure described in the above case is truly alarming. Our product liability attorneys in Virginia have represented many clients who have been injured due to a defective product in automobiles. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed by a defective product, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company that made the product.

Expert testimony normally is needed to show that the problem is inherent in the design of the product or in how it is produced. The injured person must show that the car or the product was unsafe for use at the time it left the manufacturer’s hands.

Product liability cases when properly handled by experienced counsel can lead to significant settlements, such as this $750,000 settlement in a product liability case.