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Seatbelt | Safety Belt Defects

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of teenagers and adults between the ages of 20-44 years die in a motor vehicle accident where they were not wearing a seat belt or safety belt. Unrestrained victims in a crash are twice as likely to die in the accident as if they were wearing a seat belt at the time of impact.

Aop vehicle defects

If you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident involving seat belt or safety belt failure, then please feel free to contact our offices for a free consultation.

Recognizing the safety that wearing a seat belt provides, many people opt to wear them. Coupled with state laws that mandate drivers and passengers wear a safety belt when the vehicle is in motion, lots of lives are saved because of the safety restraints.

Of course, this is dependent upon that restraint working properly in the event of a crash. A safe seatbelt is designed to protect an occupant from injury during impact. The car maker installs a complete “seatbelt system.” The safety belt system is composed of different parts including a “D-ring”, which secures the belt to the frame of the vehicle. Some seatbelt systems are secured directly to the seat.

If you are ejected, or partially ejected, from your vehicle in an accident, even though you were wearing your seat belt at the time of the crash, this is a sign the seatbelt system was defective.

Unrestrained Victim and Defective Seat Belt System

Additionally, if the police or others at the scene report that the accident victim was not restrained at the time of the accident, this may not exempt the car maker from responsibility. If the victim could not wear the seat belt because it didn’t work, or if the seat belt disengaged during the crash, then he or she may be a victim of seat belt failure.

This is another form of defect within the seatbelt system that brings liability for the manufacturer.

    Liability for Seat Belt Accidents

    Determining liability after an accident must involve investigation of the possible causes, and often the seat belt system reveals itself as the reason for the victim’s serious injuries because of the position of the injured person after the crash. Unrestrained, or partially restrained, the victim will be tossed around during impact in ways that proper restraint would prevent.

    However, investigation must also consider the type of seat belt system provided by the car maker. Was there a shoulder strap for passengers in the back seat? Did it allow the passenger to use the shoulder strap without the lap belt (“passive restraint systems”)? Was the layout of the system flawed, allowing the seat belt retractors to cause over-spooling (failure to lock up during the accident)?

    Usually, defective seatbelt systems fail during a crash when:

    • The webbing separates
    • The buckle unlatches
    • The retractor spools out
    • The pre-tensioner does not fire
    • The fit (geometry) does not restrain the occupant.

    Experienced Safety Belt Accident Attorneys

    Defective seat belts, in their failure to restrain and protect, can cause disastrous bodily injuries and are often fatal. After the failure of a safety belt in an accident, the victim may suffer permanent harm to their head, neck, or spine, and face a lifetime of coping with spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injury.

    It is not uncommon for safety belt system failures to become the basis of wrongful death lawsuits filed on behalf of grieving loved ones. Particularly for drivers and front seat passengers, the failure of a restraining seat belt at the time of impact may mean death for the victim who is thrown from the vehicle or through the windshield.

    Wigington Rumley Dunn & Blair LLP represents accident victims who have been seriously injured or killed due to a flawed or defective product, including accidents caused by safety belt or seat belt system failures.

    For more information regarding Seatbelt and Safety Belt Defects, please review our settlement history and read summaries of some of our past cases.