Seat belts do save peopleís lives. However, sometimes those involved in car accidents suffer worse injuries because of a defect in the seatbelt. In those situations, the manufacturer of the car may be held liable for the increased harm to the victim.
There may be a defect in the design or construction of your seatbelt. For example:
Lap and Shoulder Belts vs. Lap Belt Only Ė Some older vehicles are only equipped with lap belt only seat belts, which do not contain an upper torso restraint. These seat belts have caused severe abdominal injuries, head and facial injuries, and fractures of the spine during a car accident.
Tension Relieving Device Ė Some systems will include a devise to create slack on the shoulder belt. This is meant to keep the belt from restricting the occupantís movement. However, the problem arises when these devices do not retract the belt back after the occupant has moved forward, resulting in permanent slack. This can result in spine fractures, head and facial injuries, and abdominal injuries during an accident.
Defective Buckles Ė Sometimes, the buckle of the seatbelt will malfunction. If this happens, the occupant will not be fully restrained during a car crash and can suffer severe injuries.
Passive Restraint Systems Ė Some safety belt restraint systems include an automatic shoulder restraint coupled with a manual lap belt.
Sometimes car occupants will forget to buckle their lap belt because the shoulder belt is automatic. This shoulder belt may fail to completely restrain the body during an accident. The risks include strangulation, liver lacerations, paraplegia, and even decapitation.
One should note, however, that, even with the above risks, wearing a seatbelt is always a better idea than not wearing one.
If you are injured in a car accident and believe that your injuries were worsened by a defective seatbelt, an experienced products liability lawyer can evaluate the merits of your claim. A products liability attorney can file any necessary paperwork and represent you in court.
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