Seat Bottom Failure

This case involved an automatic (passive) seat belt system which caused a paralyzing neck injury to the front seat passenger. The concept behind the restraint system was that the combination of an automatic shoulder belt, a supportive seat bottom structure, and a knee bolster would provide sufficient protection for the occupant during a frontal collision. However, downward collapse of the seat bottom structure allowed the occupant’s body to drop precipitously, causing the shoulder belt to engage the neck instead of the upper torso. Forward momentum of the head with the shoulder belt directly loading the neck resulted in a paralyzing neck injury. The neck injury occurred at the C3-C4, resulting in quadriplegia.