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Seat back dangers: What drivers need to know about car safety

When you're in a car accident, what do you rely on to keep you safe? Do you expect your seat belt to hold and keep you from being propelled out of your vehicle? Do you count on your airbag to be in full force and protect you from hitting your head on the steering wheel or dashboard?

What about your seat? Do you expect it to provide a decent cushion when you're jolted back into place?

Unfortunately, you can't. Modern car seats look plush and are nicely cushioned. However, some of them have all of the capabilities of lawn chairs when it comes to your safety in a crash. They can collapse -- putting your life and the lives of your back seat passengers in danger. If you're a parent who regularly ferries your young and pre-teen children around, that may give you additional cause for worry.

The chief danger comes from rear-end collisions. In many vehicles, testing shows that the front seats of many cars can collapse backward. A seat back failure can lead to serious injuries to the spines of the people in those seats. Car manufacturers are also quite aware of the issue. At least one auto manufacturer described the collapse of the seat backs in an accident as something that was designed to "yield in a controlled fashion to absorb and dissipate the energy of an accident."

Critics say that the seat backs simply collapse. Even worse, some seat backs are purposefully designed to collapse into the rear seat of the car. Manufacturers count on those rear seats to provide a cushion for drivers in the event of an accident. If a child is in the back seat, however, that child is suddenly crushed by not only the broken car seat, but also the weight of the adult in that seat.

Drivers count on their cars to provide some kind of protection in ordinary accidents -- not make a bad situation worse. If you were hurt or your loved one was killed in a car accident due to a defective seat back, take steps to make sure that you're treated fairly by the insurance companies and protect your rights by seeking legal help right away.

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DelVecchio & Miller, LLC

DelVecchio & Miller, LLC
1300 5th Ave., Suite 2
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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