Defective Seat belts and How to Start Your Claim Now
Statistics have shown that wearing a seat belt can significantly lower your risk of injury during a motor vehicle accident. Almost all states require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts. Unfortunately, a faulty or defective seatbelt may fail to serve as a restraint during an accident resulting in an injury or death. In those cases, the vehicle manufacturer may be legally liable.
An expert can look at the seatbelt system and can often determine whether the belt performed as intended or not. If a vehicle occupant is injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident under suspicious circumstances, then precautions should be taken to evaluate if a seatbelt failure occurred. If the seatbelt does not adequately contain an occupant then a claim may arise.
Millions of vehicles on the road have defective seat belts that do not provide reasonable protection in the event of a crash, and unfortunately, some of us don't find that out until a crash occurs, resulting in serious injuries or sometimes death. The purpose of a seat belt is to protect the occupants of the vehicle in the event of a crash or minimizing their injuries sustained. Most of time, seat belts do work as intended, however, in a significant number of cases, the injury would not have occurred if there was not a defect in the seat belt system.
What Causes a Seat Belt Malfunction?
Seat belts fail to retrain occupants of the vehicle due to both poor design and faulty manufacturing. Some of the more common defects include:
Torn or Ripped Webbing: When a seat belt tears or rips during an accident, this could mean that there is a defect or manufacturing flaw in the webbing. Webbing is designed to withstand the forces of most survivable crashes without ripping or tearing. However, ripping or tearing could be a sign of another defect.
Inertial Unlatching & False Latching: Inertial unlatching occurs when the seat belt becomes unlatched in the event of a car crash. The latch plate is then pulled out of the buckle, causing the occupant to no longer be restrained. False latching occurs when the latch plate looks, feels and sounds like it has unlatched when inserted into the buckle. When a seat belt is falsely latched, the occupant can become unrestrained in the event of a crash. These occupants are often ejected from the car.
Cases involving inertial unlatching or false latching arise when either a survivor or other occupant of the crash insists he or she was belted at the time of the incident.
Retractor Failure: During a crash, the seat belt retractor will lock the seat belt webbing and hold the occupant in place. We've all experienced this at sudden stops. When the retractor fails to properly lock, this will cause slack in the webbing, failing to properly restrain the occupant. A retractor may fail to lock because of design defects as well as manufacturing defects.
The Angle of the Seat Belt: If a seat belt is manufactured to be at a shallow angle, this can permit excessive excursion toward the roof in a rollover accident. The best location for seat belt anchors is on the seat itself, yet many vehicles have anchors located on the floor or behind the seat on the floor.
"Windowshade" Seat Belts: Introduced in the late-1970s to late-1980s, these seat belts were intended allow for slack into the shoulder belt. When the belt is pulled out of the retractor, the device engages and the belt remains in its new position. This product can form an excessive, dangerous amount of slack in the event of a crash.
Automatic Seat Belts: You remember these. These were the seat belts that automatically "buckled you" when you turned on your car. These systems can result in occupant ejection when the door opens during a crash.
System Failure: If the seats fail or there is significant roof crush, seat belt effectiveness is reduced. Occupants are sometimes killed or injured due to a combination of vehicle system failures, such as excessive roof crush.
When Should I Call Finkelstein & Partners for Representation?
- If you or a loved one has a serious injury from a car crash and were belted at the time of the incident.
- The seat belt webbing is torn or ripped or the seat belt is pulled from the anchors.
- If an occupant of the vehicle was in a frontal collision and makes contact with the windshield.
- If you or a loved one is found wearing a loose-fitting belt that could be the result of too much slack.
- If an occupant of the vehicle has serious injuries in a minor or moderate collision. This could indicate a restraint system failure.
- If you or a loved one is found unbelted at the time of the crash and the other passenger(s) insist the injured occupant was belted.
How Finkelstein & Partners, LLP Can Help You
If you suspect a seatbelt defect to be the cause of a serious injury or death contact us today for a free consultation. We have years of experience in litigating accidents involving seatbelt defects.