For the last 50 years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required vehicle manufacturers to equip all of their cars with seat belts. While seat belts have saved thousands of people’s lives since the 1960’s, they have also caused serious injuries, in many cases because their design was somehow defective. In these situations, injured parties are often able to collect compensation to cover their medical bills and other losses. Unfortunately, filing this type of claim against large corporations like vehicle manufacturers can be difficult, so if you were injured in an accident because your seat belt failed or was otherwise defective, please call our experienced car accident legal team for advice.
How do Seat Belts Work?
Seat belts were initially designed to strap only at the waist. However, in an effort to increase the protection they offered, manufacturers began using belts that strapped across both the waist and the chest. When properly manufactured, this design helps keep vehicle occupants from suffering a second impact against the window, dashboard, or windshield during collisions. When improperly manufactured, designed, or installed, however, occupants can be put at serious risk. This is especially true for certain types of defects, including:
- Retractor failure, which causes a belt to go slack during a collision;
- Defective latches, which make a seat belt come undone during a collision or appear as though it is latched although it isn’t;
- Defective seat belt webbing that tears during a collision, causing the belt to fail; and
- Defective seat belt anchor pretensioners that overheat, causing the seat belt cable to snap when it is deployed.
How do I Know if My Seat Belt was Defective?
Some of these defects are obvious, so vehicle owners can address them in time to prevent or avoid their failure during a crash. Unfortunately, other defects don’t reveal themselves until an accident actually occurs and victims may not even realize that a faulty seat belt was the cause of an injury. However, the following signs are usually a good indicator that a seat belt defect caused or contributed to an injury:
- Both of an occupant’s seat belts remained intact during an accident, but both parties still sustained serious injuries;
- A seat belt becomes loose after a collision or is found to be torn or unclipped;
- A passenger who was wearing a seat belt when an accident occurred is ejected or strikes the windshield;
- A vehicle occupant sustains a serious injury even though he or she was wearing a seat belt and the vehicle only sustained minor damage; and
- A vehicle’s occupant was wearing a seat belt before a collision, but is unbelted after the collision occurs.
If you were involved in an accident and have evidence that a defective seat belt was the cause, it is important to speak with an attorney who can begin investigating your case and explain your legal options.
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Please call the SAM LAW OFFICE LLC at 847-255-9925 to speak with an experienced car accident attorney about your case.