You might not realize that when you recline the driver or passenger seat of your vehicle, you put yourself at great risk of injury in a car accident. Actually, you don’t even have to be reclined very far to be at risk for great injuries.
19-year-old Sarah Goodner, was killed in a car accident when she was ejected from the reclined sear of the Hyundai Tucson SUV. Sarah was taking a nap in the front passenger seat when she was thrown out of the car when it rolled over on the highway they were traveling on. The jury returned a $1.8 million verdict against Hyundai for using a defective reclining seat system.
The trial showed that the lap seat belt was supposed to provide the primary safety protection, but it failed to keep Ms. Goodner from sliding out from under the seat belt when the seat was fully reclined.
Hyundai told the jury that the reclining seat was only supposed to be used when the car was not moving. The carmaker blamed Sarah for not reading the fine print in the owner’s manual. Hyundai has failed to use the available accident safety technology that would prevent reclining seats from being tilted back at more than a 45-degree angle. Many lives could have been saved if only Hyundai had used a system currently used by another automobile company that automatically returns a reclining sear to the upright position in the event of a car accident.