Arguments are constantly made regarding the effectiveness of seatbelts in preventing and reducing the severity of injuries sustained in auto accidents. Since the implementation of laws requiring seatbelts, there has been a marked difference in the amount of life changing or ending injuries sustained by occupants involved in accidents. Seatbelt systems are only effective safety tools when they work properly, however; and defective seatbelts contribute to severe injuries that would have otherwise been prevented if the seatbelts worked as they should have.
It is no secret that there are millions of vehicles on the road today that have poorly designed seatbelt systems that have proven unreliable in accidents and that auto companies are well aware of these issues. Instead of recalling the affected vehicles, they have taken a gamble that the cost of settlement with those affected will cost less money than it would to issue a recall. Those who are involved in accidents that affect their quality of life have every right to compensation when the impact and severity of their injuries could have been greatly reduced had the manufacturer not willfully refused to address valid safety concerns.
Ways in Which Seatbelts Fail
There are numerous ways in which design and materials can cause seatbelts to work improperly or to fail entirely. Examples include, but are not limited to the following.
- Material tears or wears prematurely— The webbing used to produce seatbelts needs to be able to secure the occupant in place and not tear during an accident, causing the occupant to strike the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield or roof. If defective materials contribute to injury and the manufacturer was aware of the defect, the company is liable for damages.
- Retractor doesn’t work properly— The retractor is the most important component of the seatbelt system because it is what locks the seatbelt and occupant in place during the course of an accident. Design flaws and poor materials may cause the retractor to lock improperly and give enough slack in the belt to cause injury. In some cases, the retractor fails to work at all and the occupant may strike surfaces in the vehicle in the same manner as if he or she were not wearing a seatbelt at all.
- Poorly designed systems— Seatbelts are part of an entire system that is designed to restrain occupants in their seats during an accident. Each component of that system has the potential to contribute to injuries. The anchor point of the seatbelt impacts the position of the occupant during the impact and in rollover incidents, poorly anchored belts can be the cause of injuries to the head and neck that can potentially leave the victim paralyzed.
How to Determine if Seatbelts Were Defective
If you are involved in a car accident and notice that you are the only one of the occupants involved in the incident who sustained unusually severe injuries; a defective component of the vehicle’s seatbelt system may be to blame. It can be extremely difficult to prove that your injuries are the result of seatbelt failure without access to the system itself, so be sure to make sure that the vehicle and seatbelt systems are preserved so that professionals in the field of accident reconstruction are able to examine them properly. Auto product liability attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have access to experts in this field as well as in the medical field— allowing us to look into your case from every angle possible so that we can determine the cause of your injuries, the financial cost of medical treatment, recovery and ongoing care and who is financially liable for covering those costs.
The lawyers here at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have the knowledge, experience and resources needed to win your case and hold auto companies accountable for their negligence. Contact us today to set up a risk free consultation so that we can review your case and advise you on how to take the next steps toward physical and financial recovery. It is our promise to treat you with respect and confidentiality and we will never ask for payment unless we are able to collect damages on your behalf.