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Woman’s Crusade Leads to Demands for Fix to Faulty Seatbacks

December 21, 2016

Faulty Seatbacks May be to Blame for Hundreds of Deaths, Including Children

While defective and deadly airbags may have occupied the headlines for the past year or more, one woman has been waging a decades-old war against another vehicle design defect that claimed the life of her young daughter in 2000. According to the woman, a faulty design in her vehicle caused her seatback to collapse in a crash and tragically crush her daughter, who was seated in the rear of the woman's Ford Escort. The woman had pulled off to the side of the road to allow an emergency vehicle to pass when she was struck from behind by another vehicle. The force of the impact allegedly caused the woman's seatback to fall backwards with such force that the woman's seven-year-old daughter was killed.

The Scope of the Defective Seatback Problem

According to the Center for Auto Safety (and as reported by, approximately 750 children riding behind occupied front seats in cars have been killed in rear-end collisions by defective seatbacks since approximately 2001. While these statistics may not seem impressive, recall that as of October 2016 the Takata airbag defect had only been linked to 11 deaths and about 180 injuries. While government agencies placed considerable pressure on Takata and auto manufacturers that used defective Takata parts to recall and repair vehicles with the defective airbag assembly, there has not been a similar push to fix defective seatbacks – or even an acknowledgement that seatbacks may pose a danger to children riding behind occupied front streets. In a congressional hearing, 15 automakers claimed their seatback assemblies met or surpassed current seatback strength requirements.

The Remedy for Defective Seatbacks

The aggrieved woman whose daughter died due to an allegedly-faulty seatback believes that a simple fix is available – a "seatbelt" for seatbacks that would catch the seatback in the event of a failure and keep it from falling backwards onto passengers riding in the rear of the vehicle. Before automakers can be required to implement this remedy, however, more evidence will be needed to establish that current seatback strength standards unnecessarily and unreasonably place children and others at risk and that the proposed remedy is not unduly burdensome for automakers to adopt.

Others Who May Be Responsible in a Georgia Defective Seatback Incident

Thus far, it appears that all incidents involving defective seatbacks that have caused death to children are connected to traffic collisions in which the vehicle wherein the children are riding is struck from behind by another vehicle. This means that even if a parent or guardian whose child is injured or killed because of a faulty seatback is not able to recover compensation from the automaker, he or she may still be able to recover some amount of monetary damages from the driver who caused the wreck.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 38 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Claim

The Atlanta car accident law firm of Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, endeavors to assist car accident injury victims and their families in exploring all avenues of recovery from which they can recover compensation under the law. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck due to another's negligence and/or a defective car part, our attorneys can examine the facts and circumstances of what happened and advise you on the necessary steps to protect your legal rights.

Our firm has over 38 years of experience in representing car accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.