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Seatbelt Failure Accident Lawsuit

iStock_000084654947_seat beltSadly, car accidents seem to be an inevitable consequence of sharing the roadways, though seat belt systems go a long way toward reducing the number of motorists killed and injured each year. However, when the restraints on which we all rely fail in a discernible way, victims have the right to seek compensation from seat belt manufacturers and other responsible parties. The attorneys of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye stand prepared to fight for the rights of those harmed by defective seat belts and secure the resources to which they are entitled.

Types of seat belt failure

For most of us, putting on a seatbelt is a nearly automatic habit to which we give little thought. We rely heavily on these restraint systems to protect us in the event of a collision, and research has suggested that that confidence is well-placed in a large percentage of situations.

However, there are times when the seat belt systems designed to save lives do indeed fail in some pivotal way, thus causing injuries or deaths which would otherwise not have happened. There are several types of seatbelt failure which tend to be the most common:

  • Vehicle systems failure: In order for a seat belt to work effectively, the entire vehicular system of which it is a part must also be properly designed. Defectively designed or manufactured seating or roof systems can dramatically reduce the ability of a seat belt to save lives.
  • Retractor failures: When a collision occurs, a seat belt’s retractor is intended to lock the webbing material, keeping the occupant stationary. When these devices fail to do this, excessive slack in the webbing can allow a vehicle occupant to make deadly contact with the steering wheel or other parts of the vehicle.
  • Weakened or compromised webbing: The webbing material used to manufacture seat belts is meant to stand up to a great deal of physical force. Webbing that is torn or damaged after an accident is indicative of a major manufacturing or design defect.
  • False latching: An event involving a false latch happens when the internal latch plate seems to properly engage, but in fact remains unsecured. Even small amounts of force can result in complete failure of the restraint.
  • Unilateral unlatching: This type of failure involves a seat belt coming unlatched in a collision event, with the latch plate disengaging from the buckle mechanism.
  • Faulty geometric alignment: If a seatbelt itself does not hit the occupant at the proper angle or point on the body, ejection or other harm can occur, especially during rollover events.

Defective seat belt injuries

As is always the case in automobile accidents, the injuries that can result from a seat belt failure can leave victims with a lifetime of physical, cognitive, emotional and financial challenges.

What injuries can seat belts cause?

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Bone fractures
  • Internal organ damage
  • Deep lacerations
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Amputation
  • Spinal cord damage/paralysis
  • Death

Seat belt malfunction statistics

Though auto manufacturers go to great lengths to keep true defective seat belt statistics out of the public light, failures of this type are responsible for an unacceptable number of injuries and deaths on an annual basis. In the mid 1990s, over eight million Takata seat belt buckles were the subject of a recall campaign due to widespread reports of cracking, false latching, partial unlatch and inadvertent unlatch.

Given the frequent reluctance on the part of car and component manufacturers to alert citizens to potentially problematic seat belt systems, it is vital that victims of seat belt failures pursue justice when defects become apparent and occupants suffer significant losses.

Who is liable for seat belt car accidents?

When it comes to seeking justice and accountability in the aftermath of a seat belt failure, victims need to consider the full range of potential defendants who may share in liability. In addition to major car makers themselves, it is often also possible to pursue compensation from the original equipment manufacturers from whom those automakers purchased the restraint systems installed in their vehicles. Any entity involved in the design, manufacture and marketing of seat belt systems ultimately shown to be defective can be found to share liability.

Defective seat belt attorney

Nobody ever hits the open road with the expectation of incurring serious injury or being involved in a fatal accident. Most drivers and passengers buckle their seat belts in full reliance on the design, engineering and manufacturing expertise of vehicle and equipment manufacturers. Unfortunately, too many individuals each year are seriously harmed by defective seat belt systems, leaving entire families to pick up the pieces, cover mounting medical bills and replace lost wages.

The accident attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye understand the difficulties faced in the aftermath of a seat belt failure and stand prepared to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the facts, align with engineering and medical experts and diligently fight for every available dollar of financial compensation. To schedule a no-cost consultation and learn more about your legal rights, contact us at 1.800.469.7429.

Safety belt defect resources

  1. Public Citizen, Rolling Over on Safety: The Hidden Failures of Belts in Rollover Crashes, https://www.citizen.org/documents/belt_report.pdf
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Webbing Sensitivity As A Means For Limiting Occupant Excursion in Rollovers, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv21/09-0501.pdf
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Seat Belts: Get the Facts, http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/seatbelts/facts.html
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Seat Belt Use in 2015 – Overall Results, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812243
  5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2014 Data: Occupant Protection, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812262