The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into certain Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep vehicles following complaints that vehicle headrests are bursting open without warning, resulting in head injuries and hospitalizations.
The issue affects a number of popular vehicle models including certain model-years of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Caravan, Chrysler 200, Chrysler Town & Country, and many more.
News reports have revealed complaints of “popping” headrests were first reported in 2018. Some drivers of Fiat Chrysler vehicles reported their headrests would burst open without warning, causing pain, distraction, and injury.
The vehicle defect is actually tied to a safety feature called an “active head restraint” (AHR) that is supposed to reduce the occurrence of whiplash in the event of a collision. Upon impact, the headrests in some vehicles will actually pop open to provide additional support for the head and reduce forces on the neck. However, the drivers are reporting the feature is deploying without collision, exposing drivers to injury and an increase risk of collision.
At least one driver was diagnosed with a concussion at a hospital emergency room after his Jeep’s headrest burst open as he was driving near Sacramento. Another driver had their headrest burst open while she was sitting in a parking lot.
NHTSA reports it has received nearly 500 complaints of headrests bursting open with at least 71 complaints involving injury.
In a proposed class action, five drivers claim the active head restraint (AHR) headrests in their vehicles suffer from the defect. In all instances, the AHRs were manufactured by Grammer AG, an auto parts manufacturer based in Amberg, Germany.
The 65-page complaint states the defect can be traced back to the failure of a “cheap plastic component” inside the AHRs that are unable to withstand the 75 pounds of constant pressure applied by the AHRs springs. The plaintiffs claim this “cost-saving measure” puts the AHRs at risk of failure and vehicle occupants at risk of injury.
At least once complaint states Chrysler was presented with evidence of the defect, but refused to cover the cost of replacing the defective AHRs. It further alleges that Chrysler exercised the “fraudulent concealment” of the defect, depriving buyers and lessees of the benefits of their bargain in paying for the affected vehicles.
The lawsuit seeks to compel Chrysler and Grammer AG to notify owners of all affected vehicles of the defect and fix the problem for consumers.
According to a class action lawsuit filed against Fiat Chrysler, the following vehicles are prone to the headrest defect:
Drivers have enough to worry about while traversing the roadways on a daily basis. When a person gets behind the wheel of a car, there is a reasonable expectation that the car is going to perform in a matter that would not put the operator’s life in jeopardy. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of vehicle recalls each year due to manufacturer defects, from the tires to the ignition switches, that can cause catastrophic injuries and in some cases death. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a defective part in a vehicle, contact Thomas J. Henry.
Our experienced defective vehicle lawyers have handled a multitude of injury claims caused by recalled vehicles. We continue to handle cases involving faulty and dangerous GM ignition switches and Takata airbags. Call us today for a free legal consultation — our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.